Monday, May 4, 2009

Las Olas Wine and Food Festival

Wok Star Eleanor Hoh at the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival last Saturday, May 2. The festival was a fundraiser to benefit American Lung Association. It was the first year the Festival had a Culinary Pavilion, so I was honored to be invited to participate in this worthy cause. Thanks to all the staff at American Lung Association who helped coordinate with me, not forgetting my friend, Linda who took all these photos and of course, many thanks to prolific writer, Sara Liss, editor of Urbandaddy who included us in their weekend mention plus her own blog, Allpurposedark. Oh, thanks for a lovely bottle of wine from Bonterra Vineyards as a gift for my participation.

Here's a summary of the Festival for those who didn't make it...

The Culinary Pavilion had all Viking appliances and cookware. But, being a Wok Star, I had my own Wok Star Kit and portable butane gas stove to show folks how easy and convenient it is to set a gas stove on an electric glass flat or coil cooktop which many of us have in South Florida. I wrote quite a lot about this topic under a Note about Heat Source because wok cooking requires HIGH HEAT which can only be achieved with a gas stove.

Gary Cuica is the Director of the Coconut Grove Art Festival, Culinary Pavilion and was instrumental in helping the Las Olas Wine and Food Festival's Culinary Pavilion in their first endeavor, great job. Gary is also a graduate from Johnson & Wales but his day job is a financial consultant with Wachovia Securities!

Gary and I first met when I was sponsored to give a presentation pairing with Tiger Beer at the Anheuser-Busch VIP event during Superbowl in Miami. Subsequently, he's invited me to present at the Coconut Grove Art Festival 3 years running, always so much fun but a real pleasure and honor since it's attended by 40,000 visitors annually.

I am preparing Pineapple Stir Fried Rice using the Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet pineapple. Folks are constantly surprised to see pineapple in this dish but in Asia, it's quite popular. The cubes give sweetness to the dish without adding sugar and the juice makes the dish moist and fluffy. Del Monte features my video on which also has tips for other fruits and vegetables. You can submit your review and rate me there. I gave away San-J tamari (Japanese version of soy sauce) samples with a free recipe postcard for the Pineapple Stir Fried Rice and they were a big hit. San-J is my favorite tamari because of it's rich depth, I've used it for 18 years and LOVE IT! They give me a lovely 5 oz. bottle to include in my Wok Star Kit, people really like all the goodies that come in their kit, like opening prezzies at Christmas.

Hayli, a Johnson & Wales student, has been assisting me in my Wok Star classes and volunteered that day to help chefs in the Culinary Pavilion together with Carla, another assistant who will be helping me as well (thanks Hayli and Carla). The wonderful thing about having these students is that they have food and service experience so makes my events go smoothly. Since Asian cooking is not covered a lot at the school, they are eager to learn and love what I do.

Even though there were forks, I insisted they try using chopsticks, as someone said,"slows them down", ha, ha.

My buddy, Chef Hugh of Irie Spice specializes in Caribbean cuisine. We met at the Coconut Grove Art Festival and bump into each other frequently at cooking events around town. He made a delicious plantain soup and added enough rum in there to get me tipsy. I cannot really "drink" alcohol, just a little wine / beer and only when I am eating, not on an empty tummy, otherwise I'll be like a 'flashing beacon'. Sorry, I diverse.

Chef Hugh has a lovely personality and actually studied to be an architect! I know a lot of chefs who wore other hats prior to their current hat. For myself, I taught computers and helped Wang launch products worldwide when I lived in UK for 17 years. What I did with computers (simplify a complicated topic, I am now doing with wok cooking (showing a simple approach.) My bio details more "hats" I've worn.
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