Bless The Chefs: Paying homage to the chefs of Cafe Del Rey

In the Kitchen with Chef Jesse Hernandez
When six chefs come together in one kitchen, you have to wonder what it would be like working in a small space together. Such was the case when Café del Rey in Marina Del Rey put together Bless the Chefs Dinner.

Marina Del Rey Cafe Del Rey

The chefs were from both Café del Rey, Marina Del Rey, and its sister restaurant Napa Valley Grille in Westwood, which is currently undergoing a remodel. All chefs are working in the Marina until the construction is completed. The idea behind Bless the Chefs was that each chef would come up with a culinary dish that they felt would pair with the Restaurant’s Tavistock wine. It also was to inaugurate the changes that will occur once Napa Valley Grille will reopen.

Brian Cousins
Brian Cousins, General Manager

The Tavistock Restaurant Collection owns the two restaurants in Los Angeles.  They also produce their own private label wine consisting of a portfolio created from various recognized wineries in California, Italy, and Argentina.

The patrons attending seemed to be regulars of the restaurant. Some specifically attend for the winemaker dinners making it obvious that Café del Rey and its restaurant manager Brian Cousins put on a good spread and after sampling the dinner, and wine they certainly do.

Dining at Cafe Del Rey, Marina Del Rey
Dining at Cafe Del Rey

The meal was superb showing that these six chefs could find their own space in the kitchen to create a yummy and delicious course that accented the wines, which were quite impressive.

First Course

Our meal began with a Garlic Butter Poached Lobster with scallop mousseline, asparagus puree, beet emulsion, and basil blossoms created by Chef Jess Hernandez. The textures in this dish were marvelous and were accompanied by the Tavistock Prosecco. This Prosecco from Veneto, Italy was a splash of spunk with its citrus and pear notes.

Second Course

Our second course was the Octopus Carpaccio with piquillo peppers, kalamata olives, capers, pickled fingerlings, fennel & frisee salad, and blood orange. This dish created by Chef Clinton Dunn paired with the Tavistock Sauvignon Blanc. Having sampled the Octopus Carpaccio the week before, it was just as delicious and was a favorite of the evening.

Octopus Carpaccio Cafe Del Rey
Octopus Carpaccio

The wine made by Greg Gauthier was a more viscous, smoother and creamier Sauvignon Blanc with notes of Meyer lemon, and lemongrass. The grapes are grown biodynamically at Block House Vineyard in Yountville.

Chef Eduardo Osorio
Chef Eduardo Osorio

Third Course

Our next course was a Baked Black Grouper with oyster mushroom, Peruvian Lyonnaise potatoes and arugula blooms in a champagne sauce. Chef Eduardo Osoria prepared this dish to accompany the 2012 Pinot Noir. Summerland Winery creates this Pinot Noir. The fruit comes from Santa Maria and Sta. Rita Hills. This is a medium-bodied that evokes bright berry, cherry, and cranberry.

Fourth Course

The most inspirational course was Executive Chef Adrian Vela’s Veal Tongue Braised Cheeks with pickled Brussels sprouts, charred pepper, pepper cress, smoked salt, salsa verde, and a house-made tortilla. With tears in his eyes, the chef said this dish “pays homage to his mother.”

Veal Tongue Braised Cheeks
Veal Tongue Braised Cheeks

The wine with this course was very together Malbec from the Lujan de Cuyo region of Mendoza, Argentina. The combination of volcanic soils and the aging in concrete makes for a softer, more balanced wine. Considering this was the 2014 vintage, it was by far the best wine of the evening.

Fifth Course

The fifth course consisted of Coffee Crusted Port Tenderloin with roasted pepper polenta, braised fennel, and stewed green tomatoes. The dish was created by Executive Chef David Vilchez and paired with the 2011 Bacarre Rhone Blend. This is a big wine and a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mouvédre from Santa Barbara County.

Coffee Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cafe Del Rey
Coffee Crusted Pork Tenderloin


Our last course, a Deconstructed Tres Leches created by pastry chef Ana Cervantes paired with Moscato d’asti Nivole. The flavors of apricot predominated this dessert wine.

Deconstructed Tres Leches
Deconstructed Tres Leches

The evening ended with a Bless the Chef’s Toast, celebrating all the efforts put into the evening’s feast.  It also signified the send-off of all the chefs onward to their new endeavors. The yet to be released 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon honored these culinary experts. Another Summerland Winery, Santa Barbara County wine, which seems ready for release because of its smooth balance.

Toasting the Chefs Marina Del Rey Cafe Del Rey
Toasting the Chefs in Marina Del Rey at Cafe Del Rey

If you frequent Café Del Rey and Napa Valley Grille, in the upcoming months, you will find Chef Vela is leaving Marina Del Rey to become the Executive Chef of the Napa Valley Grille. Chef David Vilchez will move from Sous Chef to the Executive Chef at Café Del Rey.

Whether leaving this event or any meal at Café Del Rey, you will depart well satisfied by the excellent food. For wine enthusiasts discovering the quality of this restaurant’s private label was even more extraordinary.

Café Del Rey
4451 Admiralty Way
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292