Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dinner for Japan Disaster Relief

On Sunday evening Alex, Cass and I attended a dinner at Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco to raise funds to help with the recovery from the recent disaster in Japan. The dinner – entitled “Chefs Unite for Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami Aid Dinner” – had been organized by the following group of Bay Area chefs:

~ Paul Canales (formerly of Oliveto) ~ Bruce Hill (Bix, Picco & Zero Zero) ~ Sho Kamio (Yoshi's) ~ Ravi Kapur (Prospect) ~ Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (Ame & Terra) ~ Staffan Terje (Perbacco & Barbacco)

A couple of years ago, that group (without Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, but including a writer, Ella Lawrence) had visited the area in and around Miyagi Prefecture in order to learn more about traditional Japanese ingredients which could be incorporated into different cuisines here in the US. Upon their return they gave a presentation about their trip sponsored by the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO), which had organized the trip, and also shared some recipes for dishes incorporating Japanese miso. Ella also did this series of posts on her blog about their trip.

Sunday’s event started with a cocktail hour during which the chefs visited with the crowd. It was the first time Alex, Cass or I had ever been to Prospect (a spinoff from Boulevard, which has long been one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco) and it is certainly an elegant space. We set up shop at the bar and enjoyed some of the cocktails (something green which I think involved cucumber, sake and Pisco) and appetizers that were circulating.

Then it was time to head into the dining area for the 6-course dinner. Here is a copy of the menu for the evening.

Each chef had come up with a dish and a sentiment. I hope that Prospect will not object to my use of the shots from their Facebook site.

“Brotherhood” – Bruce Hill - American Miyagi oysters poached with pork belly and pickled Spring garlic

“Hospitality” – Ravi Kapur - Zuckerman Farm asparagus, Dungeness crab, Brokaw Nursery avocado, local uni and Oro Blanco grapefruit

“Collective Consciousness” – Paul Canales - Smoked Hoffman Farm hen with tomato sauce, tosaka salad and crunchy shallots

“Home” – Staffan Terje - Riso Carnaroli di Acquerello with butter poached mushrooms and Sendai red miso

“Persistence” – Sho Kamio - Land Three Ways: ~ Rib eye with tamari honey caramelized cipollini and bourguignon sauce ~ Lamb loin with wild ginger confit, lemon grass and veal jus ~ Beef tongue with Spring garlic mousse and cognac sauce

“Family” – Hiro Sone & Lissa Doumani - Matcha panna cotta with Albion strawberries

At the end of the evening the chefs gathered at the end of the room and each said a few works about their experiences with Japan (both Sho Kamio and Hiro Sone come from area most directly affected by the disaster) and the dish they had prepared for us.

Earlier today I happened across the blog Presentation Zen and this post entitled “Fall down seven times, get up eight: The power of Japanese resilience.” It is worth reading and reflecting on the admirable qualities and behavior of the Japanese people both in this time of tragedy and under more normal circumstances which hopefully will return soon.

It was an emotional but fun evening, and the event ended up raising about $42,000. For any who may be interested, a variation on this theme will be held at Yoshi’s this weekend, and, of course, there are many organizations where contributions may be made to assist with recovery in the affected areas in Japan (among them, the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, and Give 2 Asia).

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