Event - Riviera's To Live and Dine 2013

What happens when you put together 19 star chefs, multiple amazing vendors, a summer night in a great location, free-flowing specialty cocktails, and charity benefiting CASA? 900+ people eager for tasty treats. Riviera Modern Luxury Magazine's 2nd Annual "To Live & Dine" event took place on August 14th at the popular South Coast Collection outside and inside the OC Mart Mix. Chefs from restaurants around Orange County, including many from the OC Mart Mix itself, dished out small samplings of some of their best food for all the guests who flowed in from 6-8pm, vying for a vote via gold coin to win the challenge for the night. We came in early to try and escape the crowded madness but eventually it found us, luckily not hungry.

The event was hosted by Chef Jet Tila and Chef Stan Frazier who got us all pumped up at the end as we waited to hear who won the best dish of the night.

In addition to beers, cocktails were being poured courtesy of Roy's and Nekter. We tried Roy's Super-Berry Sage Libation (Tres Sietes tequila, Veev Acai spirit, organic agave, fresh blackberries, fresh sage, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and a dual citrus salted rim) and Nekter's Cucumber Sublime Margarita (Tres Sietes tequila, nekter ON THE ROCKS Sublime Margarita, diced cucumber, and a lime wedge. The other available drink was the Basil Berry Splash. Michelle Haut Chocolat provided cute little bags of their rose chocolate turtle inside as Seventh and Portola were pouring teas and coffee. Shuck's beautiful oysters lined platters outside their door which we slurped to our delight. Family owned and operated Bread Artisan Bakery was there too with an assortment of impressive breads.

The Cheese Shop at the Mix brought out the big guns with on-the-spot melted Raclette cheese over chips and topped with mini gerkins, pickled red onions, and speck for an artisan nacho boat. They also featured OC Baking Company breads with Alle Pia Nouja (spreadable salami). The newly opened Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop at SOCO had a colorful display outside their storefront of their Grilled Deliciousness in a tart shell - this season, it was a grilled peach with burrata, crispy prosciutto, pecans, and balsamic reduction.

Jizake Sushi (formerly Waiiha Sushi) made it a point to let all guests know of their name change as they served out thick cucumber rolls. ARC Restaurant, up for Best New Restaurant for the Golden Foodie Awards, piqued everyone's curiosity with their small bite called Land. Air. Sea. consisting of pork, duck, quail, and caviar beautifully presented on a crisp. The Iron Press skewered waffle, fried chicken, bacon, and tater tots with a cocktail toothpick and drizzled it all with sriracha ketchup.

The food truck turned brick-and-mortar Taco Maria made its debut with amazing presentation and taste via a soft-boiled egg in a cut shell topped with green chorizo and sherry cream; the bottom of the container had whole peppercorns and sea salt for extra seasoning as desired. The crew at Mastro's were just about the first plate every guest got to try, and what a preview! They provided a hefty chunk of smoked Scottish salmon with parsnip puree, shaved root veggies, crisp prosciutto, radish, and smoked tomato vinaigrette. Sandy's of HB had a variation of their layered seafood cocktail (lobster, shrimp, orange chili sauce, and avocado) in a cucumber cup with shiso leaf. Wild Goose Tavern was also there with a spicy slider made with cornmeal buns and a side of black beans.

Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas had special food items to try as well: Crispy Pork Belly Sliders (with pickled watermelon salad) and Octopus Ceviche (yuzu vinaigrette and basil). Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's brought out their own grill to smoke and cook their Smoked Bulgogi Philly Steak Sandwich (with yuzu kosho aioli on a jalapeno mini brioche roll). POSH Events had guest chef David Fernandez who made Spicy Tuna Wonton Cups topped with avocado, Sushi Dave's jalapeno sauce, and garlic aioli.


Chef Alessandro of Mare and Alessa spoiled the crowd with Lobster Ravioli (with a housemade limoncello pasta dough and fava beans topped with sweet peruvian peppers and Italian marinated artichokes). Mesa at The Camp in Costa Mesa had Tuna Tartare Wonton Crisps pleasantly formed into handheld cones. The beloved Brasserie Pascal boldly served oysters carefully topped with microgreens.

Wildfish did not hesitate to impress guests by using whole scallop shells as the tasting plates of their Pan Seared Jumbo Scallops (with corn and ginger puree, cilantro gastrique, and Gremolata seasoned popcorn). The Winery talked about their second location soon to open in Newport Beach as they caught everyone's attention with their Duck Confit with Black Truffle over kale risotto. Of course, The Ranch, defending champion of To Live and Dine 2012, brought their A-game with the impossibly delicious (we wish we had chef's skills) Sea of Cortez Diver Scallop (with black mission fig wrapped around Prosciutto di San Daniele atop farm carrot and hazelnut), Heirloom Tomato Tortilla Soup (with house smoked chicken and sweet corn), and Hand Crafted Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches (caramel popcorn, mint n' chip, and strawberry swirl). We were certain that they were going to win.

However, the surprise for the night was the results of the voting: Chapter One - The Modern Local! Chef "Chicken Wang" (Jason Montelibano) took the win for this year's event with his Lamb Neck Ragu over potato gnocchi topped with curry granola and kale crisps. Their crew made an ecstatic hullabaloo once the victory was announced, even carrying the chef on their shoulders to say thank you. Everyone attending seemed to have a great night but who wouldn't? With some of the best food around Orange County and ample amount of cocktails to soothe your alcoholic desires, To Live and Dine was once again a success. We're definitely looking forward to next year's!

Photography by Duc Duong. More photos available on Facebook here.