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  • Chef Vincent Michael

Monrovia Christmas Party

You never know how people will respond to food at a gathering when it's paraded in front of them. Sometimes they are too preoccupied with conversation and wine to take the time to truly indulge. It is that very scenario, where food feels like too much of an effort while socializing, that can make a chef rather melancholy in the moment. In contrast, if you get the right kind of folks together, conjure up some amazing smells and great wines, the food can move like nobody's business. In those scenarios, the client, the guests, and the chef are all appeased, and a lasting memory full of great food, wine, and conversation is made. Last Saturday was one such success at my client's biannual bash in Monrovia.

The oak wood fire billowed out an intoxicating savory aroma as the octopus grilled. I had simmered it in a court bouillon the day prior, and the tender interior was complemented dynamically by a light charring. The client fired up his Santa Maria grill, which boldly features a brilliant wheel designed to precision heighten/lower your protein to the fire. The flexibility is a chef's dream, and the octopus was a huge hit. People gathered around me to watch the cephalopod in respect and anticipation.

The small staff, led by my amazing wife Esther, were on-point. As I got into a solid groove, they tray-passed and created stationary positions for the food throughout the client's beautiful backyard. They would call for what they needed, and I would quickly put together a new batch. The guests were truly interested in the food and ate for a solid 2 1/2 hours.

Esther served Devoción coffee (her preferred brand) and an array of dessert indulgences that wrapped the party on a brilliantly high note.

Oak-Grilled Octopus with Greek Yellow Pea Spread, Shaved Vegetable Salad & Olives