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Regina Varolli

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LUCKYRICE Festival 2012 Recap

Posted: 05/29/2012 5:46 pm

With a week of back-to-back Asian food and culture events all over New York City, The LUCKYRICE Festival brought together some of the best chefs and mixologists from across the city, and the world, and left the sold-out crowds with heavy bellies and light heads. Again proving itself among the best food festivals in America, it's hard to believe that creator Danielle Chang has only been at it for three years, and is now bringing it to Las Vegas June 23 and Los Angeles August 10.

Some of the highlights of this year's festival were a Chinese Wedding Banquet hosted by Chef Susur Lee, where he served up -- among other delicious dishes -- a scrumptious grilled lobster, his wonderful Asian Slaw, and a light yet flavorful soup with a foie gras dumpling. James Beard Award winner Andy Ricker, who recently came east from his Pok Pok in Portland hosted a traditional Thai dinner at his newly opened Pok Pok in Brooklyn, and Pichet Ong hosted a super spicy dinner at The James Beard House.

Another notable participating chef was Theresa Lin from Taiwan, now living in Los Angeles. Lin is perhaps the most famous chef in Taiwan, and she's been dubbed "The Julia Child of Taiwan" because of her easy-going style and her many TV shows and cookbooks. Lin was the consulting chef for the original film Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and is currently the consulting chef on the upcoming film Life of Pi.

At The Grand Feast, my favorites were Lin's octopus, Damien Herrgott's macarons in Asian flavors (among them were wasabi, sesame, and caramel-miso), and Jehangir Mehta's pork dumpling. But really, with over 30 chefs, it would be hard to name every dish that I loved (and I ate them all)!

For me, the highlight of LUCKYRICE 2012 came at the very end, the last cooking demo of Talk+Taste, when Shuichi Kotani of Soba Totto took the stage and prepared perfect soba noodles from scratch. A small, high-energy chef, Kotani started with buckwheat and water in a large bowl, working rapidly with his hands, and getting his whole body into it. When he was deep in the process, he appeared as if he was both dancing and praying at the same time, often with his eyes closed.

Rather than rattle on describing the wonderful events, check out these two slide shows. The first is a pictorial overview of all the events, and the second is an in-depth look at Shuichi Kotani making soba noodles. If you're hungry for more, check out the LUCKYRICE blog recapping more of this year's festival.

LUCKYRICE Festival in Pictures

Opening Night Cocktails
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Dave Arnold, Booker and Dax
Cliff Old Fashioned: Hibiki whisky, coriander syrup (Vanessa Rees, Photo Courtesy LUCKYRICE)
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Soba Totto's Shuichi Kotani making soba noodles

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Kotani adds filtered water after sifting the buckwheat flour into his clay bowl
(Regina Varolli)
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