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June 25, 2008

Hand-Fed Jamon by Chef Jose Andres

Cocktail party
Fellow DT-er Julia Bainbridge
opts for a hand-feeding, too.

by Mollie Chen

Of all the things I thought I would be doing on a muggy Monday night, having Chef Jose Andres hand-feed me a jamon iberico-and-caviar taquito was not particularly likely. For one, I have a knee-jerk aversion to being fed anything--a holdover from a particularly traumatic restaurant experience when the couple sitting next to me fed each other four courses with their fingers. But how do you say no when one of the world's most exciting chefs comes at you with a hundred dollars worth of caviar rolled up in a translucent slice of ham? At Monday's party for SLS Hotels at Beverly Hills, the Moss store was taken over by Andres and his crew for a playful preview of what guests can expect when the Philippe Starck-designed spot opens this August. Amidst the museum-like collection of huge black trumpet-like chandeliers, gothic Studio Job jewelry, and whimsical Friedrich Elais Meyer plates, Andres and his crew served up high-concept party fare: a creamy deconstructed Spanish omelet in a tiny shot glass, a tiny cone with crème fraiche and salmon roe ("bagel and lox," the chef said with a wink), and a squid ink "olive" that exploded in the mouth. Beverly Hills will be the first property from the brand-new SLS Hotel group and will set the tone for future development. Instead of a single restaurant, Andres' bazaar concept will include a traditional dining room, a tapas bar, and a jewel-box patisserie. In the lobby there will be carts doling out of upscale riffs on carnival and street food--think foie gras cotton candy and steamed buns. Libations are similarly forward-thinking: at last night's soiree, bartenders were creating refreshing tangerine-hued cocktails with a globe of liquid melon topped by sherry, champagne, and melon foam.

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