Chicken Soup With Stars
L.A.’s top chefs come together—and cook kosher—to honor Project Chicken Soup founder Mollie Pier
Pier’s two surviving sons will be among the celebrants coming to town for the fundraising event, the first of its kind. Also in attendance will be Nathaniel’s partner, Michael Hannaway, who lives in New York City and remains close with Pier. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s my fourth son,” she said. “He still calls me every weekend.” In all, approximately 200 guests are expected.
The chefs assembled for Sunday’s benefit come from a wide range of backgrounds. Kleiman operated the casual Italian trattoria Angeli Caffe for 27 years, for instance, while Feniger is affiliated with the Mexican-themed Border Grill restaurants and Hollywood’s eclectic Street. Richmond gets raves for the fig-and-prosciutto flatbread pizza at her eco-chic Culver City restaurant Akasha, while Paris-trained Greenspan is about to open Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, where his short-rib-and-grilled-cheese sandwich will figure prominently.
Despite the chefs’ diverse tastes, the brunch menu came together with relative ease, and every dish carries the distinctive stamp of its author. A meal featuring pickled herring and smoked whitefish (Reznick), parsley frittata with breadcrumbs (Kleiman), chilled Asian noodles with deviled egg and sriracha sauce (Feniger), kale Caesar salad with olive oil croutons and parmesan (Richmond), potato and apple kugel with garlic horseradish crust (Greenspan), and roasted vegetables with fresh herbs (Tracht) defies many expectations of what a kosher brunch can and should be and reflects the benefits of joining culinary forces.
“In the past there’s been a competitive nature,” said Reznik. “But now we love collaborating and coming up with ideas and expressing and sharing our work together.” Of all the chefs, he is arguably the most comfortable working within the laws of kashrut since he previously helmed the kitchen of a now-closed upscale contemporary kosher restaurant called La Seine in Beverly Hills. “Anything I can do to support the Jewish community,” Reznik added. Greenspan agreed: “To be associated with such a great list of talented chefs, it’s a great opportunity.”
And all seem in agreement that honoring Pier with a soulful Jewish meal felt just right: “What Mollie has done is take the past tradition of breaking bread around the table and expand the table to include those who are isolated and in need. It’s a beautiful thing,” Kleiman noted.
As for Pier, she still seems inspired by the son she tragically lost. “I can’t dwell on my losses. Because there’s no emotion in the world that’s more devastating than the loss of a child,” Pier said. “But I was determined when I saw that I’m still living that I’m going to make the most of it.”
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