On the Town: Chef puts gourmet meals into practice, Gingerbread Boutique in Arcadia
Hailey Grace Travisano, 4, wanted a big candy cane at the Gingerbread Boutique in Arcadia. Her mother, San Marino teacher Mom Stacy Travisano, approved. (Courtesy photo / December 3, 2012)
On Thursday, 47 reservations were made by patrons who plan on enjoying good food, wine and conviviality. Pasadena patron Nicolasa Garcia planned to arrive hungry. “My neighbor told me about these dinners, and I didn't want to be left out,” said Garcia. She brought along good friend and former Pasadena resident Cecelia Walker.
As on “Chopped,” a mystery basket of four ingredients accompanies each course. To match the format of the show, Recess Manager Christopher Chacon chooses the ingredients in advance and will not reveal them to Abdessian until preparation time. Customers are also kept in the dark until the first course is served at 6:30 p.m.
Earlier on Thursday, the chef's wife Tamar Kevonian revealed the “secret” ingredients for each of the evening's three courses. Appetizer ingredients were pumpkin salsa, shrimp, Snickers and endive. Kevonian assured that the predominant ingredient was the shrimp, but she wouldn't tell her husband until preparation time. Entrée ingredients were short ribs, sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, pineapple and cioppini onions. And if that didn't satisfy, there was still dessert with apples, bananas, vanilla ice cream and cookies.
In “Chopped” one chef is eliminated after each course. After dessert, there is one chef standing. He or she is the winner. To prevent being “chopped” by well-known New York restaurateurs, Abdessian is determined to win for each of the courses he presents on the show. He plans on becoming the best chef in the San Gabriel Valley. Two days after the last Thursday dinner, Abdessian flies to New York for the “Chopped” taping. The show's airdate on the Food Network is to be announced.
Why practice your heart out and go on a reality show? The effort fulfills one of Abdessian's missions for Recess: “It's the people [diners] that create the energy in your staff,” says Abdessian.
The last Thursday evening practice dinners are Dec. 6 and Dec. 13. Get your reservations in now.
Several times a year, a consortium of crafters show their work through Holiday Traditions gift and craft shows. Locally, fans of the handmade and homemade flock to the Gingerbread Boutique in Arcadia.
It's held annually on the three-day weekend following Thanksgiving and attracts hundreds of shoppers each day.
The boutique publicizes itself as the place to go for economic, one-of- a-kind “Christmas and Hanukkah gifts galore, holiday goodies and sooo much more.” The “goodies” also include homemade jams, jellies, cookies, taco chips, dips and doughnuts.
On Nov. 25, the place was jumpin'.
There is even a bargain section for holiday items for pennies on the dollar—the place where many shoppers hit first. Found nearby the bargains was Stacy Travisano, a fifth-grade teacher at Carver Elementary School in San Marino.
Her 4-year-old daughter Hailey Grace Travisano preferred the more upscale gifts. This little charmer clutched a fancy candy cane nearly as big as she was. Mom was considering the purchase.
After a busy hour or two, shoppers carried their brimming baskets to a bank of cashiers. Cheerful volunteer crafters made it easy for customers to part with their money.
The Gingerbread Boutique will next be held in Glendora on March 28, 29 and 30.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.