It’s like being invited to an exclusive club, where all the cool kids are the top chefs of the world. The club is Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza, a restaurant owned by celebrated master chef, Charlie Palmer. Fortunately, there is no air of exclusivity or secrecy here as the restaurant regularly has an offering of wine events, special dinners and cooking classes for the gastronomy-inspired guests wanting to learn techniques, tips and recipes from a name brand that has won many culinary praises and accolades throughout the years.
I was lucky enough to be an invited guest of Travel Costa Mesa to experience one of the restaurant’s classes on slow cooking. As a self-proclaimed, ahem, top chef of my own kitchen, there was no doubt that I would turn down an invitation to learn a cooking technique coveted by so many in the culinary world.
Located in Costa Mesa’s renowned shopping mall, Charlie Palmer is one of the city’s finest dining destinations in Orange County. The restaurant shares a space next to luxury retailer Bloomingdale’s, allowing guests to enjoy a unique shopping and dining experience. This partnership has enabled the restaurant to host classes and events utilizing the cooking demonstration area of Bloomingdale’s basement floor.
After a short ride down the escalator to the basement floor, I see Executive Chef Seakyeong Kim at the kitchen area prepping for the class. The chairs are lined in neat rows facing the kitchen with guests being served a specially selected wine pairing for the evening. As someone who appreciates service-oriented details in life, I was especially impressed with the 15-page color printed packet they provided for the guests, which included information on all the recipes and techniques for the class.
The next two hours were nothing short of a wonderful sensory overload — the sight of colorful and fresh ingredients, the mouth-watering smell of braised garlic kale, the sound of the sizzling short rib on the pan, the thought of can I do all this myself at home, and the feeling that good food makes me happy.
The happiness lingered for another couple of hours after the demonstrations were done and dinner was finally served. That last sensory overload of taste did not disappoint. The menu:
- First Course — East Coast Bass Escabeche
- Second Course — Slow Poached Seafood Salad
Bay scallops, shrimp, calamari, piquillo peppers, ambrosia apple, watercress, apple cider vinaigrette.
- Main Course — Red Wine Braised Short Rib
Creamy truffle polenta, braised tuscan kale, sautéed maitake mushrooms, baby turnips.
- Dessert — Passion Fruit Soufflé Tart
White chocolate cream, blackberry coulis, coconut meringue, champagne granita.
Yes, very happy indeed. While I did not get to personally taste most of these dishes since I’m a vegetarian, my fellow diners reported back with words of praise and complimentary salute to the chef. And Chef Kim was kind to create a couple of beautiful dishes for me to enjoy as well — an heirloom beet salad to start and vegetable pasta for the main course. Not only were they flavorful and unique, but the presentation made them almost too pretty to eat.
A special thank you to General Manager Aaron Murnighan, Chef Kim and their team for providing such an exquisite experience at Charlie Palmer. For updates on future events and classes, click here.
To see more photos and to read about happy hour at Charlie Palmer, click here:
Disclosure: I was an invited guest of Travel Costa Mesa, but all opinions are my own.