Zarate, Urasawa, Ludo, and Cimarusti Unite Over Nine Courses at Providence
Michael Cimarusti’s fresh water eel in soy milk espuma

Last night, four of L.A.’s most sought-after chefs came together to cook nine courses at Providence. Peruvian sensation Ricardo Zarate, sushi master Hiro Urasawa, barrier-busting French chef Ludo Lefebvre, and Providence’s own seafood sovereign, Michael Cimarusti, each prepared two signature dishes for guests that included Lefebvre’s mother visiting from France. The four chefs, though disparate in approach, share supreme skills with seafood and a deep passion for Japan, resulting in staggering scapes of delicacy and beauty like Cimarusti’s uni housed in an eggshell, Urasawa’s summer truffle-layered chawan mushi, aji amarillo-blanketed tiradito from Zarate, and Ludo’s infamous caviar-topped panna cotta. The four chefs united in the first of a national series of themed dinners organized by New York food writer Steve Plotnicki, who is promoting his 2011 dining guidebook Opinionated About U.S. Restaurants. How did he get these chefs to come together?

Plotnicki knows just about everybody in the world of dining today. The guy is kinda awesome, not only because he invited us to the dinner last night, but because he wrote a hit-song called “Love Insurance” in the seventies, helped make records by Run DMC, Dana Dane, and Down By Law in the eighties and nineties, and is now a big man on the NYC food scene who refers to friends like David Chang by their first names.

Plotnicki says he organized the dinner following a story that kicks off Jay Rayner’s memoir, The Man Who Ate the World. Rayner’s quest for perfection at the table begins in NYC, where Plotnicki is asked to organize the perfect meal. Baffled by the request, he takes Rayner to a collection of the city’s best restaurants for two dishes each and both are surprised at the congruity between each chef, despite their different approaches.

With this in mind, and a new book to promote, Plotnicki started out with this dinner in L.A., and is intent on doing a similar feast in Chicago with molecular chefs and most likely something rootsy and farm-directed in a regional part of the country, before moving to different markets and assembling teams of highly valued chefs and menus to highlight the similarities and shared threads between the toques.

Check out our slide show of how the first dinner went down, where Cimarusti, Zarate, Urasawa, and Ludo each made two dishes on a nine-course menu of captivating seafood dishes.

From left, Hiro Urasawa, a Providence manager, Ricardo Zarate, Michael Cimarusti, Steve Plotnicki, and Ludo Lefebvre.
Hokkaido scallop and monkfish liver topped with caviar, and red snapper with half-cooked botan ebu wrapped in seaweed.​
A Providence chef prepares soba.
Here the chef, who just returned from Aspen and is opening Picca for friends and family tonight, was grilling his Santa Barbara spot prawns.
Left, a mojito gelee, and right, a screwdriver.
Of chorizo and squid followed a similar skewer propping up a bite of abalone.
The chef’s first course featured a coat of aji amarillo with a centerpiece of sweet potato puree.
The sushi master prepared red snapper and half-cooked botan ebi wrapped seaweed (left), Hokkaido scallop and monkfish liver with caviar, pickled turnip, wasabi, shiso, and miyoga (center), as well as marinated radish with shiso, miyoga, and plum sauce (right).
Santa Barbara spot prawn anticucho with yuzu koshu on Picca’s faux newspaper.
Providence’s Santa Barbara sea urchin in champagne beurre blanc and fine herbs.
Chawan mushi, covered.
Chawan mushi (Japanese egg custard) revealed. This rich dish had a layer of ikura over a reef of summer truffles.
Japanese fresh water eel with daikon, micro flowers, and soy milk espuma.
Ludo brought back two dishes from his Bastide days, starting with this incredible lobster vadouvan.
Another dish of notorious repute, the French chef served a creme fraiche panna cotta topped with Alverta President caviar.
The Providence pastry chef’s mochi cake with blackberry and lichi, and coconut-kaffir sorbet.
Zarate, Urasawa, Ludo, and Cimarusti Unite Over Nine Courses at Providence