Merced County Times Newspaper
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‘Top Chef’ coming to Merced for ‘culinary weekend’

Vietnamese American Chef Tu David Phu brings focus to the importance of food as a conduit for memory and sustainability through his Emmy-nominated PBS documentary Bloodline and a very special collaborative dinner in Merced with Rainbird Executive Chef Quentin Garcia.  
Vietnamese American Chef Tu David Phu brings focus to the importance of food as a conduit for memory and sustainability through his Emmy-nominated PBS documentary Bloodline and a very special collaborative dinner in Merced with Rainbird Executive Chef Quentin Garcia.

Executive Chef Quentin Garcia of the El Capitan Hotel’s Rainbird restaurant — the first-of-its-kind fine dining restaurant in the Central Valley—will be welcoming acclaimed Oakland Chef Tu David Phu for a weekend of conversation, learning, and a collaborative culinary experience in historic downtown Merced, Jan. 27-28.

The weekend will kick off with a screening of PBS’ Emmy-nominated film co-executive produced by Phu, “Bloodline,” at Mainzer on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6 p.m. An intimate profile of Chef Phu and the evolution of his culinary aesthetic, the documentary follows him as he returns home after competing on “Top Chef.”

The film showcases his journey from growing up as the son of refugees in West Oakland to becoming a professional chef with acclaimed culinary creations heralded as the next wave of Asian fusion representing Vietnamese culture.

Following the film, Phu will host a talkback session with the audience. Seating can be reserved online at: holdmyticket.com, (search for “Chef Tu”) with tickets ranging from $5 for general admission to $20 for a reserved table for four.

On Saturday, Jan. 28, Rainbird will host two seatings (5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.) of a special collaborative five-course dinner experience from Phu and Garcia priced at $155/person. Reservations can be made online at: opentable.com. (Enter dinner date and search for “Rainbird.”)

Ticket sales from Bloodline as well as a portion of the proceeds from the collaborative dinner will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Merced County’s Sunshine for All Cities Kids Cooking Camp. This event is co-sponsored by UC Merced’s Lakeside Catering and The American Culinary Federation – Monterey Bay Chapter.

Chef Phu has extensive experience cooking in some of the nation’s top restaurants, including Daniel, Acquerello, and Chez Panisse. What he calls “the memory of taste” pulled him back to his roots in the practices, ingredients, techniques, and flavors of Vietnamese cuisines. His involvement with food recovery and regenerative practices stems from his family’s experience of multigenerational food insecurity impacted by war and poverty. These principles are not only applied to his kitchen but, but also as a medium for food and a vessel for meaningful work. This led to Tu producing “Bloodline.”

Meanwhile, Garcia’s love for California’s Central Valley’s unique bounty of the very best and freshest produce drove him to create a true destination restaurant for the region, while finding ways to give back and support the community. With more than 200 crop varietals, Central Valley presents Chef Garcia with a vast palette of local flavors and ingredients. Garcia’s cooking celebrates his cherished relationships with the surrounding agricultural community and personal relationships with local farmers in Merced and beyond, including J. Marchini Farms, Burroughs Family Farms, Humble

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