Wahine Chefs Say Bon Appetit!
Women are big in Hawai‘i’s vibrant food scene and an invitation only group of female chefs and culinary professionals is planning a sumptuous fundraiser: French champagne with delectables from Julia Child’s arsenal of recipes. Les Dames d’Escoffier trace their lineage to France’s king of chefs in the early 20th century and seek to support women in the food industry. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports on the tasty way they plan to do that.
Les Dames’ d’Escoffier’s Julia Child Celebration is set for Sunday, August 14, from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Graystones at 1302 Nehoa Street, Honolulu. Tickets for members are $150 per person and include valet parking. Proceeds will support Hawai‘i’s women in culinary professions through scholarships, educational programs, externships, and networking. Link to tickets here.
Participating chefs include Liz Anderson of Hawaiian Nougat Company, Clare and Dan Bobo of Island Thyme Gourmet, Holly and Moumen El Hajji of Pacific Catering & Events, Abigail Langlas of Cakeworks, Jackie Lau of Kitchenette Custom Catering, Kathy Masunaga of Sweet Revenge, Ivy Nagayama and Axel Colobong of Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, David Passanisi and Jocelyn McCann of EatHonolulu, Michelle Karr Ueoka of MW Restaurant, and Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Café.
Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka of MW was finishing her externship with Thomas Keller at French Laundry. Her mother was in to dine, and looked casually at the garnishes. Chef Michelle says she pointed to them saying, "You have to appreciate that. That took me three hours to cut. And it would be a little vegetable!" Karr Ueoka laughs at what could seem like obsessive compulsive behavior.
“Take the tomato diamonds that we would make. The love and discipline that it takes to get that---it really taught me attention to detail." What it takes to delight people!
Chef Kathi Saks concurs, following recipes does require attention to detail.
"But when you think of an iconic Julia Child, she’s smiling, she’s laughing, she’s having fun and that’s what I think she brought to everybody in those shows is cooking can be fun and the result can be great. All you have to do is pay attention to what you’re doing, and chefs obviously take it to another level."
I had Julia out last weekend on the hollandaise page. She admonishes everyone to get the last clear drool
from every egg—calling it the thirteenth egg in a dozen. Zesting lemons, whisking eggs are such sunny pursuits. For their upcoming fundraiser, Les Dames d’Escoffier Hawai‘i are basing their menu on Julia’s recipes. There will be boeuf bourguignon by Chef Lee Ann Wong, plus a terrine, a quiche, coquilles St. Jacques, and a lot more. Of course chefs take liberties, but if you’ve never tried making a Julia Child recipe, maybe start with her chocolate mousse.
Chef Michelle says she and Chef Abigail Langlas of Cakeworks were talking about good starter recipes the other day, and the chocolate mousse came up. "It’s very approachable, it’s not intimidating. It’s impressive and it tastes good!"
Asked whether she's ever experienced discrimination in the workplace, Chef Michelle responds,"I’ve been very fortunate in the sense that at all the restaurants I’ve worked at, it was all about your attitude and your work ethic. It wasn’t whether you’re male or female. It was about, can you do the job? What is your attitude? What is your desire? What is your dedication?”
When Karr Ueoka applied for her French Laundry externship, she sent legendary chef Thomas Keller a toothbrush, saying , I’m willing to scrub toilets six months with a toothbrush for a day in your kitchen. Two days later she was in.
“When I went and worked with Chef Keller he told me it’s all about finesse. It’s about attention to detail, and creating memories for people.”
That’s what Les Dames d’Escoffier hope to do for you!
The culinary world is both fast paced and detail oriented, demanding and unforgiving much of the time. Those who work in it are seen as stars today, even in the US which had been slow to recognize the artistry in cooking. Julia Child was America’s first chef/ personality, bringing the art of French cooking, but more importantly, the appreciation of cuisine into our homes. With their upcoming soiree, Les Dames d’Escoffier Hawai‘i are celebrating Julia’s contributions and raising funds to further women in the field.