Marea, Chef Michael White is the best for Special Occasions

“Watching people eat my food is like watching people have sex”  – Michael White

Sunday was Z’s birthday and is, like I’ve mentioned numerous times, obsessed with Chef Michael White [who isn’t right?] and his pasta….  Both of us haven’t been to Chef White’s baby, Marea yet so OBVIOUSLY, taking him here was the obvious choice.  We got there a few minutes before our reservation and was promptly seated in a nice cozy table.

Yep Marea. THE Marea. “Seafood Porn” Marea.. [or so says Tony Bourdain]

And yes, we did eat those uni lardo crostinis :]

After two glasses of some delicious cold bubbly… I picked out a delicious bottle of Red, VERY delicious… seeee… Italian but with a hint of German… I like a good looking bottle… :]

To be honest, it took a long long time just to get someone to take our order, let alone give us bread or refill our water glasses.  Our “waiter” actually went to tables that sat way after us and took their order, helped them out and gave them bread – WAYYY before us. Sad. And it’s a shame too, the sommeliers actually ended up giving us the most service and we barely saw our waiter until after Z complained towards the end of our meal, when they were getting orders wrong and serving us the wrong dishes at the wrong times.. and taking a long time. Nevertheless… we finally got our order in… towards the end of dinner we got our apology and yes we got bread. OH and everything was delicious. FYI, Manager and all the sommeliers are SUPER nice and attentive.

Breads…  Foccacia, Muti-Grain and Sourdough

They were delicious.  Chewy sourdough… a dense but full of flavor ansd still managing to be light, multi-grain…. BUT OMG the Foccacia was amazing… CHUNKS of huge green salty, flavorful olives in it.. and all the breads were even more delicious when dipped in the olive oil – which was super grassy, fresh and delicious – to be honest I was ready to make like an Asian and steal the bottle for consuming at home hahaha.. no worries, I didn’t find my inner Asian ghetto :]

Amuse Bouche
Spring Pea Soup Shooter

I even got a delicious fat spring pea in my soup – super sweet, naturally of course…. blended to a creamy smooth consistency and a lightly tart foam on top.  It was a nice change up from the usual asparagus soups that I’ve been tasting lately… speaking of which I kind of miss autumn/winter pumpkin/squash soups :] Hehehehe….

Sea Urchin, Lardo, Sea Salt

This is actually one of the sole reasons that I’ve been wanting to come to Marea.  I love Michael White‘s food and pasta, but before I really fell in love with him and his food, I knew about these…. oh oh oh joy.  These were everything and MORE than I ever could dream about. SOOO rich and decadent.  You have the creamy creamy uni.. not one, but TWO lobes.. [and according to Andrew Zimmern and Michael White on the newest epi of Bizarre Foods those white splotches you get on Uni means it’s EXTRA good.. it’s also Sea Urchin sperm haha] Layered on top is a large fat thick delicious piece of perfectly melted lardo. MMM pig fat makes EVERYTHING taste better. Even the freaking crostini on the bottom holding two of the most delicious morsels in the world is perfection.  Crisp, chewy, toasted to perfection – just enough bread to hold up to the richness.. but not overly so that all you get is extra bread.

PERFECTION in a bite [well for me three or four haha, I like to savour]

Sidenote: You also may remember the Top Chef All Stars team who went to White’s restaurant to eat and “mimic” the restaurant’s food… yep, those guys ate this[Team Marea: StephenTre, Blais, Spike].. [and remember, Tre doesn’t like uni and Stephen was saying how THIS dish would change his mind? Haha.. Yes I’m a Top Chef Trivia nerd]

I couldn’t help it… I made it so fuggggg but that’s the best part :D OMG am I a nerd that I just tweeted about this pic I drew and can’t stop laughing at myself? I’m such a dork!

Okay while I just totally ruined the whole classiness that I wanted this blog to exude… OOOOOOZEEEEE… EXUUUUUUDE… I’m tired and delirious :] And it’s my blog so in the words of Cartman “I do what I wannnnnnnttt!!!!”

Assagio Di Tre – Tasting of Three Crudo

Japanese Greenling, Pickled Ginger, Charred Celery

The second favorite of the crudos, we tried first… which was perfect. It was SO delicate, sweet and light – the perfect way to start off the appetite.  Like an aperitif. I’ve never had Japanese Greenling before but it’s such a pure clean tasting fish…. the pickle in the ginger could’ve been a little stronger, but since the char and the celery flavors were also very light and just adding that little bit of needed texture, this was the most delicious bite.

Cuttlefish Tagliatelle, Soffrito Crudo, Bottarga Di Muggine

This was the most anticipated but the most disappointing of the three.  It was missing acidity and oomph.  The cuttlefish was REALLY tender and had that milky texture to the slight rubbery chew to it [just think raw squid which I eat all the time as sashimi at Japanese restaurants]  The Soffrito was really refreshing and delicious… the slight salt, barely noticeable was from the Bottarga.. but like I said, totally missing acidity. :[

Pacific Jack Mackerel, Olives, Marcona Almonds, Mushrooms

This was definitely the winner of the crudos.  A perfect balance of the sweet silky fish, the salty olives, the soft mushrooms and the crunch of the Marconas [which was funny because when the server brought it over they said Walnuts, HELLO, HUGEEE difference there!!!]

Braised Snails with Mushrooms, Croutons and Fennel

This was simple and complex at the same time.  When I first saw this on the menu, Z showed me a pic of whole briased snails – kinda freaky looking – but these were cut into small pieces and perfectly braised to a tender chew.  Full of flavor, and the lightly cooked fennel added SO much flavor to the dish.  The croutons were buttery and crunchy while the mushrooms, also braised with the snails were tender and full of flavor. I LOVE MUSHROOMS!

Poached Egg, Spring Garlic, Bone Marrow, Baby Eel, Passatelli, Barley Brodo

This was totally not what I expected.. probably because usually when I get these sortrs of Uovos they look foamy or creamy or thick. And they’ve been like that in multiple restaurants that I’ve been to – not just Michael White’s.  Le Cirque. Per Se. Le Bernardin. Bouley. This was SO beautiful. A perfectly poached egg not hidden in anything but with a nice broth poured around it.  Deliciousness surrounding it but the star was most definitely the creamy warm yellow yolk that spilled out after slicing through it.

BTW, Passateli is a sort of pasta formed out of breadcrumbs. Yep, *the more you know theme song plays*

Of course I had to do an after picture :] It was DELICIOUSNESS and I totally could have made do with another bowl or two of this :] ALL to myself too… haha but then again #sharingiscaring.

Since they had gotten our orders wrong and had actually took the pastas out before we got the snails and uovo, they comped up a few dishes :] And some chamapagne.. but the waiting for the next course was KILLER – it took forever.. and because of the super slow service, we were slowly getting “full” fast….

Red Wine Braised Octopus, Bone Marrow

After seeing this on Bizarre Eats, Z & I KNEW we HAD to get this.  The fusilli were cooked to a perfect al dente, maybe slightly under… the sauce, while not very “original” tasting, was very very homey.. and while the waiter said it was a heavier richer sauce, I thought it was a lot lighter than our second pasta.  The octopus was also cooked to perfect – very very tender and full of flavor. MMMM… CHUNKS of bone marrow were in the sauce – YES, like VISIBLE chunks of soft delicious buttery fatty bone marrow surrounded the pasta and of course the nice crisp sprinkle of bread crumbs on top. Amazing.

Eel, Sage … delicious a little less than al dente pasta… looked like unstuffed tortellini.. totally forgot what they’re called and can’t find it on the websites :[

I hate myself for not remembering then name of this pasta.  It was such a unique shape and while it was undercooked  The sauce was definitely unique tasting so I didn’t know what to think upon first taste.  But the sweet sauce paired perfectly with eel [I mean how often do you eat eel aside from Unagi at Japanese restaurants?]  While a bit on the heavily sauced side, the basil gave that nice pop of herby flavors – maybe a bit TOO much… but in the end it somehow worked and balanced each other out – maybe cause the pasta was so dense.

And after another long wait….

Grilled Creekstone 50 Day Dry Aged Sirloin, Braised Romaine, Bone Marrow Panzanella

Not Black & Blue like Z asked for but the aging and the marbling was beautiful. I could smell the aged meat from across the table and the meat was delicious, so so tasty…  the Bone Marrow Croutons were to DIE for… and there were two pieces of braised [which looked just kind of like grilled cooked down] Romaine.

Roasted Beets, Ricotta Salata

Super super sweet and perfectly roasted beets.  Deliciously red… and a creammmmmmy delicious ricotta salta shaved on top.  Looked like heaven… looked like dessert. MMMM.. so delicious.

Roasted Black Bass, Roasted Eggplant, Fava, Grilled Ramps, Apricot Mostarda

By the time I got this, it was so late.. it was past 11 and I was really full already.  The fish was delicious, cooked brilliantly.. soft, flakey.. and yes, my favorite word, tender…   The skin as crisp and had the most amazing crunch to it.  Then there was the grilled ramps, YUM.. and thin slices of eggplant.. MMMMM, so delicious.  So refreshing… tasted so seasonal.

Panna Cotta
Formage Blanc Panna Cotta, Mandarin Orange, Pink Peppercorn, Thyme

The most creative way I’ve ever been served Panna Cotta.  The Pink Peppercorn crunchy meringue pieces were SOOOO delicious and dotally made the dish.  A bit of everything, all textures, tastes, flavors, sensessss of all sorts – and the pop of thyme – OMG I’m so in love [yes now I have Usher stuck in my head]

Fried Doughnut Holes, Lemon Cream, Prickly Pear Sorbet, Cassis

Fluffy but still dense, but not overpoweringly so.  They reminded me of the fried doughnut holes you get at Chinese buffets.. yep, those really ghetto ones :] No, I totally mean that in the best way, the ghettoier the better.. probably because of the extra “flavoring” in the “AGE-ED” hot penaut oil they fry it in hahahah… come on, us Asians waste not ;D

But no, these doughnuts tasted super fresh, piping hot, melted in my mouth but tasted VERY clean [no dirty oil!]

Petit Fours
Apricot Bonbon, Berry Pate de Fruit, Financiar, Salted Caramel

Started with the bonbon, next came the cookie/cake and then the pate and lastly – save the best for last – salted caramel… DELICIOUS!  Full to the point of popping… we decided to call it a night and watch Hangover back at home to end the birthday celebration.

Happy Birthday Z.

Spring is here, Ramp Tasting Menu @ Marc Forgione

Last time I was supposed to come eat at Marc Forgione the day I got back from Miami… I met Marc at the Let Them Eat Cake Party in South Beach for the SOBE Wine&Food Festival 2011 earlier this year… SUPER nice guy!!!!

Totally rocks the fauxhawk!.. I think Z might want to get one too now haha PLUS the newest, and super BAD ASS Iron Chef!!!! :] Who knew even though he’s all sorts of awesomeness, fame and DELICIOUS cooking that he was SO down to earth and so hands on, still, at his restaurant – SO awesome. RESPECT! I love it when a chef still cooks at his own place!

He’s freaking ONLY 32 years young and already has accomplished SO much….

“Marc was most recently coveted with a single Michelin star in the 2011 guide, making him the youngest American-born chef and owner to receive the honor in consecutive years (2010, 2011). In addition, Marc received a two-star review from Sam Sifton of The New York Times.[5]

The restaurant also earned the distinction of being named “Key Newcomer” by Zagat Guide 2009, “Top 25 Restaurants in NYC” by Modern Luxury magazine and “All Star Eatery” by Forbes magazine. Marc was awarded “Star Chefs Rising Star of the Year Award 2010,” named “Rising Star 2008” from Restaurant Hospitality magazine and mentioned “New Formalist” by Esquire magazine in 2008.”

Anyways I was sad I missed last time’s reservation due to a super delayed flight *sad face* – BUT he wasn’t gonna be cooking there that night anyways so I hoped he would this time. I tweeted him and soon got a tweet back! WOOHOO!!!…

Look how freaking excited I am. I’ve been SO busy with work lately and been working til around 730 every night, so I made some resos for 845. NOM NOM NOM. So freaking excited.

LOVE the ambience.  We got a nice corner table in the back and just loved the rustic coziness of the place. It was late and it was PACKED. On a weekday – amazing!!!!  I also freaked out the table of Southerners next to me, I couldn’t stop talking to them and asking them about their food :] Silly me….

Bottle #1… and #2 — yeahhh we got two bottles of this :D It was really really good!!

As soon as we sat down we ordered a delicious bottle of red… and while we had planned on ordering from the regular menu and the special [spaghetti] as soon as I saw RAMP TASTING on the bottom of the menu, I KNEW I had to get it…. RAMPS RAMPS RAMPS… I love Ramps, now it really feels like Spring is here and Summer is coming *swoon*

We got some delicious Hot Rolls.. buttery salty tops and some butter…

Tasted like a soft soft pretzel, the skin wasn’t chewy like a pretzel – in heaven! LOVE! Look at that glistening crust… an the little specks of salty crunchiness, YUM!

Amuse Bouche —
Local Fluke Crudo, Shaved Ramps, Ramp Oil
White Asparagus Gazpacho, Ramp Chips
Hangtown Fry, Ramp Remoulade

We were told to eat the Local Fluke Crudo, Shaved Ramps, Ramp Oil first.  Just wrap up the fluke in the ramp leaf and chew chew chew. Cheers and down the hatch. So much flavor. The fish was so fresh and perfectly seasoned. MMMM, the ramp had so much delicious flavor. Simple and yummy.

Next up was a nice cooling “shot” aka spoon of White Asparagus Gazpacho, Ramp Chips… a slight crunch with the nice cooling gazpacho. Delicious. The asparagus flavor was definitely very subtle but great.

OH EM GEE.  The Hangtown Fry, Ramp Remoulade tastes like Honey BBQ Frito Chips!!! NO LIE!!! And I mean it in the best way.  The top is an omelette and underneath is delicious fried goodness. Creamy remoulade on the bottom – OH EM GEE x 100 So much texture and flavors.

Yep, after this course I had serious ramp breath, ALREADY — delicious!!!! So satisfied and yet still craving more and moreeee…… I even tweeted about it.. yep, my delicious RAMP BREATH.. so SEXY!!! Come on guys, you know you love a girl with stinky ramp breath…. no? NO? :[ Not even an Asian one? Any yellow fever guys raising your hands? HAHAHA.. jk jk :] My mommy loves me for who I am… sometimes, but my puppy always loves me and my stinky ramp breath. As does Z [hopefully teehee]

So for the next course…

You take the Sechuan Button, which is like a chinese mint leaf but has a numbing effect like a sechuan peppercorn….. AMAZING and TOTALLY opens up your palate!!! And then you take the spoon, which is basically the “first bite”

Hiramasa, Ramp Essence, Avocado, Sechuan Buttons, Saratoga Chips, Pinenuts

Amazingly fresh fish atop HUGE chunks of beautiful vibrant green avocado.  The sauce was a bit on the sweet side, but unlike the last time I was faced with a sweet sauce, I really adored this dish. The chips also paired SO well beause it gave a needed crunch with the tartare.  This was SO refreshing and the Sechuan Button, I COULD NOT GET OVER IT!!!!


Sechuan buttons, a trade name for Brazil’s native “Toothache Plant,” don’t actually taste like much, but chew a few petals and the tongue tingles fiercely for a few moments, and then a curious half-numb, half-effervescent feeling spreads through the mouth. 

Source: Esquire


Still Attached Diver Sea Scallop, Ramp-Roe Vinaigrette, Marcelli’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, American Caviar

Up close, sexy and personal!

The scallop was just QUICKLY cooked, like SUPER quickly so it’s basically JUST cooked on the outside but raw on the inside.  It was warmed through perfectly and the salty caviar added SO much flavor to it.  The ramp wasn’t as pronounced as the other previous dishes but it was extremely delicious.  I love scallops as simple as possible! #scallopaddict

And then came what we really wanted… okay not the finger bowl, but as soon as the finger bowl was brought out we KNEW what it was..

This wasn’t part of the Ramp Tasting [obviously] but I had been daydreaming about trying Chef Forgione’s FAMOUS Chili Lobster for awhile now….

Chili Lobster, Texas Toast

Chef brought it out to us himself! OMG. So awesome. Even more points added to his fantastic-ness!!!! MAD PROPS!!! RESPECT x 100

While I wish there were more lobster in it the lobster was SO perfectly cooked. PERFECTLY COOKED. Now, mind you, I’m SO picky with my lobster and usually ONLY eat it steamed… and I also avoid lobster from NYC and tend to just go back to New England [Boston or Maine] to give in to my lobster cravings. OMG. This stuff is CRACK. This SAUCE is AMAZING.. and the Texas Toast?!?!?!… We had to order another plate of it.

This sauce is NOT going to waste!!!! Sopped it up with the delicious toast – NOM!

Ok, after licking the bowl CLLLLLLLEAN…. onwards with our Ramp Tasting…

Ramp Ice Cream, Shaved Foie Gras

This would be an AMAZING dessert… the saltiness with a, kid you not, SWEET ramp ice cream. I mean who would’ve thought… totally should put this at the end of the meal, ALTHOUGH it’s a nice creamy cool “palate cleanser” of some sort hehe. YUM!… I love shaved foie!!

Ramp Spaghetti, English Peas, North Country Bacon, Morel Mushrooms

This was like a Carbonara… except even richer and super delicious!  The night “meaty” morels were amazing.. the pasta was cooked al dente – perfect and was just SO delicious… the peas were SO fresh and a vibrant green color… unlike last time we ate [or didn’t eat because they looked mush narsty] some peas – I could’ve eaten a HUUUUGE bowl of this stuff, what a tease… so creamy and succulent. Totally naughty :] In the best way possible…

“Steak & Eggs”, Yellowfin Tuna, Dickson’s Tasso, Feather Ridge Farm Egg, Grilled Ramps, Ginger Ketchup, Koppert Kress Pea Shoots

PERFECTLY cooked egg. This was a freaking 40 minute egg – INSANE… cooked at a low temp… OOOOOOOMG. Z’s came out a little bit more cooked than mine, but still yolky just a little more solid than mine:

Isn’t it so freaking sexy?!?!!?… I usually don’t like Seared Tuna [unless in Nicoise Salads] but this was really good…, definitely cooked a little more than I’m used to… all the flavors and textures weren’t even overwhleming…. the plate looks like SO much but it all went together SO well.  The crisp tasso.. the silky egg… the egg whites were so creamy… the grilled ramps and a nice solid tuna. YUM!

Ramp Crusted Lamb Loin, Green Garlic Croquettes, North Fork Asparagus, Ramp Sea Salt, Natural Jus

I must admit, this was pretty delicious. Rare and not lamb-y [gamey] at ALL!  Z adored it and thought it was perfectly cooked. Demolished!

But since I’m not a huge lamb eater, I asked to replace my main entree with the Monkfish. Chef did suggest either the Steak or Duck course [I guess since it’s all red meat] but I was pretty set on Monkfish before we even got to the restaurant that night haha.

Maine Monkfish, Satur Farms Carrots, Currants, Walnuts, Thai Red Curry 

… I spy with my naked eye, some ramps in there, Chef, you clever thing you :D SO delicious. I LOOOVE red curry, it’s my favorite type of Thai curry, in fact [other than Jungle curry hehe] the carrots were glazed and super sweet, yum.. cut right through the curry sauce and the SUPER succulent monkfish. Monkfish is amazing, why don’t I eat it more?  I don’t remember walnuts in here… but I got the description off the website haha…  but yes let me talk about those sexy ramps again <3 RAMPS!!!!

Bottle #3

Kitchen Tour after the savory courses…

It’s pretty small, SO insane that SO much food comes out of it and such a good pace and absolutely delicious! Props!!! MADDDD props :] We talked to the sous Chef, SO nice and then he said that it was NOT even CLOSE to the end yet.. wait what?! We didn’t even look at dessert menus.. but they have it prepared for us already ;D I don’t know if it was on the house or not but they were amazing choices.. and I was already onto our third bottle of wine… but this is good.. its’ always so hard to make choices for myself when it comes to dessert… and lushed up. I want ike 10 of everything at that point.

Jameson Ice Cream Cones

If I wasn’t such a lush I TOTALLY would’ve gotten drunk off of these. HOLY MOLY. The most amazing Jameson infused ice cream. Creamy, sweet [but not too sweet] and BOOOOOOOZEY!!!.. What’s NOT to love. Ice cream always makes me happy :] When I’m sad, an ice cream cone always puts a smile on my face. [and rainbow sprinkles of course hehehe… but I forgive you Chef, you didn’t know haha]

Blueberry Cobbler Sundae, Candied Walnuts

I saw Chef’s tweet about this just recently.. and OMG… this was amazing. I don’t even remember breathing inbetween bites of this deliciousness… nom nom nom nom nom… all sorts of textures and the crumble, the blueberry.. the ice cream OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG… even just thinking back on it makes my brain turn to mush. THAT good! Get it while you can!

Cooked to Order Chocolate Chip Cookies and a Shot of Milk

YES. YOU HEARD ME RIGHT.  Cooked to F-ing ORDER! WARM, GOOEY, delicious. And the shot of milk – GENIUS. Dip dip in the WHOLE FAT milk [hahaha as you can see I was deprived as a kid, I’ve only ever drunken skim milk]

AND THEN… OK.. I was pretty tipsy by now… Z and I both think this was some sort of Toffee Brownie Bite… it’s like if a BLONDIE and a Brownie had babies… but definitely more of a Blondie taste :D NOM!

I feel like I’m cheating on Resto… but SHHH don’t tell Bobby, I’m in love with Marc’s food tooooooooo :D We were still drinking and nibbling when Marc left for the night, and he even came over to say byeeeee… and during the dinner he even said he saw my tweets *blush* I’m such a #twitterwhore HEHE. OMG coolest chef!!!


Most Fabulous, Per Se


I woke up to a delivery of this….

Gorgeous, isn’t it?!… It was funny because I was super annoyed being woken up by our security downstairs.. they kept calling and calling and calling me…. and at first I was avoiding picking up the phone… but finally I gave in…. hahahaha


I was told that I was bring brought to Gordon Ramsay at the London – which is also fab but I had my heart set on Per Se for the special occasion…… BUUUUUTTTT I was sooo surprised when I was taken into Columbus Circle… I was like.. this isn’t where Gordon Ramsay is….. SURPRISE!!!!

He told me he had booked it over a month in advance already and was just PRETENDING that he did’nt try til a week ago. Silly guy.. I was all smiles :]

He got the Chef’s Tasting and I got the Vegetarian Tasting so that way instead of just the same 9 courses, we get 18 different courses to try :D We also got a wine pairing for every 2 dishes of ours…

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner & a Cookie Party at Midnight

First thing’s first…. I had fresh ramps and fiddleheads… and didn’t know what to do with them. So what do I do? Tired and cranky I needed to whip something up quick and delicious….

Crisp Pan-fried Chicken thighs with Ramps…

I crisp up the skin and then add some white wine and the ramps… no extra things except for salt&pepper

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Putting things in my mouth….

Apologizing in advance – Best Meal. Worst Photos.

You guys already learned about my love for Resto. Just one bite and I was hooked…. once again, they did not disappoint.  Resto totally and completely “(S)wine’d and Dined” us and everyone left drunk, full and happy!!! — Okay maybe not completely full, R & I probably could’ve eaten all the food at our table between the two of us… haha but to keep classy I tried to be good :]

We were greeted by Chef Robert when we came in and told him how excited we were to eat his food again :] LOVES

TONS of people were there and I even got to see Natasha, Breanna and Rodrick who were in ton and on an eating expedition :D

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Another reason why Primehouse is a MUST when you’re in Chicago…

Everytime with PH is like the first time ;D

When you’re in Chicago the your first stop  should be… well the James Hotel cuz you should be staying there bitches ;D…. For three reasons… 1. It’s in the center of everything :] 2. It’s GORGEOUS.. lovely rooms and staff… 3. It’s home of one of the bestest restaurants in Chi….Primehouse… we’ll get to that in a second though…

SO AFTER you’ve settled in… put on your best shoes and head over to Primehouse [if you’re NOT staying at the James Hotel, I forgive you but you need to get a drink at  J Bar and eat some of their truffle chocolate popcorn… MUST, got it? So get there early and mingle…have a glass of champagne or two [they have great cocktails as well] and then get ready to eat [and drink] your heart out.

Me all dressed up and ready to eat [I gots my gameface on] in our GORGEOUS suite at the James…

After sitting us down [the place was packed] and being welcomed back [yay they remember me!!!] we met out waitress, Heather, our sommelier for the night [Ms. Rachael Johnson Hussar] and I got to catch up with the most awesome Chef Rick Gresh – Exec Chef at PH :]

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