If you have yet to make it to La Mar and try Gaston Acurio's Peruvian fare, you might want to mark your calendar for next Tuesday, September 23, because the celebrity chef will be making an appearance at Brickell Key's snazzy cebicheria.
In benefit of the James Beard Foundation, La Mar and executive chef Diego Oka are hosting a special Friends of James Beard benefit dinner filled with Peruvian specialties. Think raw fish and pisco sours.
Priced at $75 per person, with proceeds going to the James Beard Foundation, the Friends of James Beard Benefits Dinners are modeled after the famed dinners of the James Beard House in New York. It's an honor for any chef to be selected to cook one of these dinners, so it only makes sense that Acurio be present to support Oka on this big night.
Oka, who got his start with Acurio at the young age of 19 when he spotted the chef in a supermarket and fearlessly approached him, has traveled the world opening La Mar's in many cities before settling down in the Magic City.
For the evening, he's put together some of the menu's greatest hits to give an overall understanding of the restaurant to anyone who perhaps has yet to visit. Upon arrival, you'll walk right into a reception. Pisco sour reception. Drink up and watch out for trays coming directly from the cebiche bar and loaded with things like cebiche clasico, tuna Nikkei, crab causas, and Nikkei tiraditos.
Then you'll sit family style and bond with strangers over chaufa aeropuerto and whole fish Nikkei. The menu at the tropical incarnation of La Mar is unique to the city, and these dishes the most popular since the restaurant's opening. Both are an Asian fusion, with the chaufa aeropuerto mixing Chinese sausage with roasted pork, pan-fried rice, shrimp omelet, Nikkei sauce and pickled salad in a smoldering stone bowl. The whole fish Nikkei fries whatever the catch of the day whole in a Peruvian-Japanese sweet and sour sauce that's also got a kick to it with bok choy.
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Authentic chicha morada (purple corn) sorbet will be the sweet ending to a charitable evening. We suggest taking a pen and paper if you have one of Gaston Acurio's books. It might be a good night to get him to personally sign it.
Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner takes place Tuesday, September 23, at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at jamesbeard.org.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha