(Originally published August 29, 2015 on Examiner.com).
Friday night on a closed off Grand Avenue in front of the Disney Concert Hall, the 5th Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2015 held its “Night Market” event. This event featured bites from many of L.A.’s top chefs as well as bites from other visiting chefs participating in the activities through Saturday, August 29th.
One of the chefs participating from Los Angeles was Akasha Richmond ofSambar in Culver City with two items from her new restaurant’s menu. She was kind enough to take some time to go over these items and their inspiration as detailed in the discussion below.
LAC: What is the name of the dish?
AR: Sevpuri chaat with mango and avocado which is a street dish andvindaloo porchetta which is our house made porchetta with vindaloo spices on a turmeric focaccia
LAC: When was it put on your menu? Or is this dish on your menu?
AR: They are both on the menu at Sambar.
LAC: What is the inspiration or precedent for the dish?
AR: We thought they’d both be great little bites for this event. Regarding the inspiration for the vindaloo porchetta, I think pork vindaloo is a little heavy so we kind of deconstructed it and my chef de cuisine Kirk Plummer did aporchetta with Indian spices instead of Tuscan spices. And then the other dish, typically in India could be done with potatoes and garbanzo beans. We wanted to lighten it up and do it more Californian, so we did mango and avocado.
LAC: What’s your preferred sourcing for key components, plus are ingredients seasonal?
AR: Pork is either Niman Ranch or similar pastured program. The sauces and chutneys we make in house. All our produce comes from the farmers market. The mangoes are from Wong Farms which is in Mecca near Palm Springs. We get imported organic spices from all over the world from various vendors
LAC: Was any special prep or cooking used for any of the ingredients in this dish?
AR: A lot of prep including all the spices and masalas. All the spices are roasted, then ground fresh weekly or every two or three days whenever we need them We make almost everything in house. The porchetta is a pork shoulder wrapped in the skin. For today we slow roasted the porchettas overnight. Sometimes we slow roast them in a combi-oven but since we needed to do so many for this event, we did them overnight.
LAC: What’s the inspiration for the plating?
AR: Just a make it easy to pick-up and eat with your hands, plus have some color and texture with the fresh baked focaccia and pork skin.
LAC: How does this plate reflect the restaurant’s menu and chef’s cooking philosophy?
AR: Yes, this is pretty typical of Sambar. At Sambar some of the dishes are really authentic, some of the chutneys are totally authentic. And then there is a little fusion with California ingredients and modern techniques.