The Family Meal menu. All photos: Wes Rowe Photography).
Boulevardier punch and Sbagliatos in carafes.
Spoonfuls of Mote Caviar (on our wrists) and chilled SKYY vodka shots (thanks Campari America!).
Chef Anthony Strong and his amazing crew.
Shenanigans at the table.
Host Craig Stoll and his famous spaghetti.
The magnificent croquembouche!
Nope, it’s not every day you get to throw your dream party. This past Tuesday evening (December 2nd, 2014), I was so honored to co-host a special event with Sosh called The Family Meal. Sosh approached me about throwing a special event for chefs, and we wanted to do it before the holiday season as a big thank-you to all our chefs who work so hard to feed us during the holiday season (oh so many dinners!). Fortunately Sosh loved the idea I’ve been keeping in my back pocket for at least the past five years: holding a spaghettata.
When I lived in Italy, I (hazily) remember these late-night spaghetti feasts after a night of drinking with my friends. We’d all sit (and stand!) around someone’s kitchen, inhaling steaming bowls of hot spaghetti. Spaghetti never tasted so good, trust. So who better to host a spaghettata than the man himself, Delfina Restaurant Group’s Craig Stoll, who has wooed so many diners with Delfina’s classic spaghetti al pomodoro over the years?
We actually held this chefs-only after-hours party in the chic back room at Locanda, and with wingman Anthony Strong also behind the menu, things got ridiculous. They set up an abundant raw bar, complete with a kilo of Mote Caviar, chilled SKYY vodka shots (a generous donation to the chefs from Campari America, grazie!), and at least five kinds of shucked oysters. There were passed apps like arancini with black truffles and others with Dungeness crab, foie gras torchon on warm gingerbread (whoa), uni, and fried coppa di testa.
Passed Negronis, carafes of Sbagliatos, and a punch bowl of Boulevardiers made with Russell’s Reserve 10 Year Old Small Batch Bourbon and topped with Cinzano Prosecco got the party going, plus beverage director Sally Kim pouring prosecco and Italian wines en magnum.
At 10pm, the room started to fill with some of SF’s finest chefs just getting off service, from the old guard to the up-and-comers, including Daniel Patterson and many chefs from the Daniel Patterson Restaurant Group, the Frenchies (Roland Passot, Hubert Keller, Dominique Crenn, Gerald Hirigoyen!), Charles Phan, Melissa Perello, Jason Berthold, Bruce Hill, Evan and Sarah Rich, Ravi Kapur, Suzette Gresham, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns, Mark Dommen, Hoss Zare, Mark Sullivan, and more. It was great to see everyone milling around, talking, eating, doing caviar and vodka shots, and not having to work for a change! The event was designed to be chefs only, and it easily could (and should) have been twice its size, but room size limitations were in charge. And of course some chefs were still working too late to make it (we missed you!).
Eventually it was time to sit down (“Tutti a tavola!”), so the next wave of food could come out: radishes and anchovy butter, puntarelle “Californese” salad, plates of La Quercia prosciutto, charcoal-grilled shrimp “in porchetta” (so outstandingly good), and Locanda’s famed (and fried) Jewish-style artichokes. The main event, the famous spaghetti, came out piping hot and gorgeous, and Craig was running around the room grinding Parmesan over everyone’s bowls.
The showstopper for dessert was a croquembouche, lovingly made by pastry chef Jessica Sullivan, who filled the profiteroles with chestnut cream. Magnificent! I also made sure everyone got a digestivo shot of Averna or Cynar before their way out the door (so good with a little lemon rind and a couple of espresso beans in there). Everyone also got a “hangover helper” takeaway bag stuffed with chicken pho from Turtle Tower, a bottled Negroni for a little hair of the dog, and Advil (thanks Sosh!).
This event was a rare one for chefs, because they didn’t have to work an event first before going to the after-party. More than anything, it was so great to see a room of happy people hanging out, eating family style, laughing, and being taken good care of. It’s so important for any community to get together and break bread, and it was long overdue for this particular industry. As Acquerello’s Suzette Gresham so poignantly stated in a Facebook post: “Way too much fun! Makes me wonder why it’s taken us so long to actually gather like this? Imagine how enhanced our culinary community could/would be, if we simply spent a little time together.”
Mille grazie to Sosh, the Delfina Restaurant Group, and Campari America for letting me throw one hell of a party—here’s hoping there will be more in the future. I think I see a new holiday tradition forming.
A donation was made to CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), our local organization championed by many of the chefs in attendance. Here’s a photo album of the night on Sosh’s Facebook page (pics by the talented Wes Rowe). Baci a tutti! And Happy Holidays!