If the food and the crowd at the Restaurant Week kickoff at Pirch are any indication, this year’s 10-day promotional event, May 30 to June 8, is likely to break records.
A mixture of restaurateurs, chefs, marketing folks, media reps and local foodies showed up May 12 for the soiree that featured a bounty of bites, drizzly dishes and tasty treats from Sysco food service company, one of the event’s major sponsors.
This year more than 100 restaurants, hotels and attractions have signed on for the Restaurant Week promotion. Participating restaurants are offering three-course, prix fixe dinners priced at $26 or $38 per person; tax, beverages and gratuity are not included.
Restaurant Week director of communications, Bob Schneider, owner of Desert Adventures, told the group, “The Eat.See.Stay promotions get locals and the drive market to come out for a great opportunity to experience all the different things we have to offer,” he says.
While Pirch, a high-end kitchen and bathroom appliance store in Rancho Mirage, seemed an unlikely setting for Restaurant Week’s preview, its big demonstration kitchen, large butcher block communal tables and ample retail space full of faucets, sinks, kitchen and bath modules made a fun and lively atmosphere.
Sysco chefs Kevin Cloud, Antonio Torres, Russ Barber, and sales reps Martin Lopez (pouring at right) and Matt Christopher orchestrated the prepping, cooking and plating of such goodies as assorted sushi rolls, ahi wontons with wasabi aioli, tender pink shrimp skewered bottoms up in a flat of wheat grass.
There were platters of salami and cheeses, kale and green wheat and ancient grain Greek salads, plus tasty nibbles of lamb lollipops with mint mojitos, and bites of beef seared rare over barley and vegetables cream sauce.
Tiers of cupcakes by Sweet Streets beckoned next to a pitcher of chilled pink lemonade with floating orchids.
Drinks were equally diverse with Coachella Valley Brewing Company, Palomar Spring Water, wines from PDML Wine & Co, plus cocktails from Tequila Alderete and Selvarey Rum – such as a Grilled Pineapple Daiquiri and a Selvarey Cacao with coconut milk.
“Sysco has been a premier partner and supporter of restaurants in the desert,” says Eric Morcus, vice president of the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, and partner of Kaiser Family of Restaurants. “It’s one of the best places for restaurants to go, not just for food, but ideas, supplies and resources. They are here to give chefs new ideas and better products.”
Morcus adds Sysco’s recently opened distribution center in Riverside is the largest in southern California, with state-of-the art robotic handling of products, and a test kitchen larger than most hotel kitchens.
“Sysco invites chefs to the test kitchen to get creative with their products,” says Morcus.