Note: This blog post was written submitted by contributor Michelle De La Cerda, author of The Complete Savorist.
Many people feel 2016 was a rough year and for others still, 2017 began a bit rocky as well. If you’re in this group, worry not, Chinese New Year, which officially began on January 28, gave you a second chance for starting the New Year right.
There was no better way to start Chinese New Year than attending ‘Dinner and a Show’ at the Eccles Theater. Chef Katie Chin and the Cuisine Unlimited team put together an impressive and delicious evening that included attending the live comedy show by Kathy Griffin. If that wasn’t enough temptation to attend, all the proceeds of this event went to CHOICE Humanitarian, whose mission is to eradicate poverty.
Held in the Regent Street Black Box, the room was spectacularly adorned to fit the occasion. A serpentine dragon slithered in the ceiling rafters as red lanterns and ornate parasols hung down. The room shimmered in black, gold, and red—the color of happiness and abundance.
Cocktail hour began at 5:30 and the guests slowly trickled into the warmth of the room from the frigid Salt Lake winter evening. As they arrived, guests were treated to appetizers and cocktails in a room adjacent to where dinner would be served.
Each year of the Chinese calendar is associated with an element: water, fire, earth, metal, and wood. 2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster. Chef Katie Chin must have kept this in mind when creating her menu. Two of her appetizers incorporated the fire element, which symbolizes fidelity or trustworthiness and punctuality.
Her Chicken Sriracha Meatballs and Firecracker Shrimp were exceptional and hard to resist as the trays continually refilled and the staff circulated frequently. The Edamame Hummus with its creamy texture and smooth taste was equally difficult to eat in moderation, knowing the full meal was mere moments away from being served.
During the cocktail hour, guests were also served the traditionally scrumptious Pot Stickers, but the real treat was a live cooking demonstration by the chef herself. Pot Stickers are eaten all year long in Chinese culture. However, during the New Year celebration they invoke wealth and prosperity. So maybe the more you eat, the more wealth you bring upon yourself? I like this idea and would happily eat a dozen or two.
The meal was a simple yet elegant fare. Dinner began with a crab and mango salad, another item eaten for luck in the New Year. Each attendee had the option between steak, salmon, or the vegetarian favorite ‘Buddha’s Feast.’ These options were served with noodles and green beans.
After the main course, the attendees were sent downstairs to enjoy the comedic adventures of Kathy Griffin, who from the start of her show made no apologies for the content. She also gave everyone in the audience a pass if they walked out on her. A few did leave, but by and large the audience stayed and laughed at the outrageousness of her life and exploits.
Following the show, dinner guests returned upstairs to finish their evening with a tasty Banana Walnut Wonton served with ice cream. The bar was open again should the palate need quenching before departing into the even colder Salt Lake evening air.
The Cuisine Unlimited team did an outstanding job during the event. They were ever present to assist with anything a guest might need, but never intrusive. The menu created by Chef Katie Chin was hearty and warming, much like this author found Chef Chin to be in person. She has an infectious smile and a welcoming personality. She beams when she discusses her food and treats you like a friend she’s known for years.
For one of their inaugural events of this nature, I am eager to see what other amazing and delicious events Cuisine Unlimited organizes and tantalizes us with.
Michelle De La Cerda is originally from the culinary diverse Southern California now residing in the exploding culinary scene of Northern Utah. Her heritage is Mexican and Italian, therefore her food style reflects that. But she also grew up in a southeastern Asian community. Her love of those flavors is also reflected in her cooking style. She attempts to bring these international flavors to the home cook by removing the fear of ingredients and technique. You can find her recipe creations on The Complete Savorist.
Read additional coverage of this event from Michelle at: thecompletesavorist.com/night-cuisine-unlimited-katie-chin-kathy-griffin