This past weekend Top Chef, Paul Qui, came to town to help celebrate the 2012 Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) Fundraising Gala at the Westin Bellevue. ACRS throws an annual “Culinary Journey” benefit featuring Asians chefs, both local and renowned. The experience takes you through different Asian cultures as each chef constructed a course on the menu with influences from their heritage.
This year’s event headlined one of the hottest chefs in the nation, Paul Qui, to prepare the main course. On Top Chef, Paul showed his humbleness, hard work ethic, and creativity to win over many fans (including myself). Local standout chefs Mark Santiago (Westin), Sam Ung (Phnom Penh), and Helen Noh (Cake Envy) helped round out the rest of the menu.
I really enjoyed Paul’s braised pork belly mushroom adobo. The pork was very succulent and the adobo seasoning complimented the flavor profiles in the mushrooms and rice. Mark Santiago’s crispy ahi tuna ball on a dried pineapple chip topped with caviar was a combination of savory and sweet. Sam Ung’s salad was flavorful and spicy with shrimp that was breaded to perfection. Helen Noh provided a creative spread of her most popular assortment of goodies which included the green tea matcha cupcake, almond cake with chocolate frosting, and a coconut cake pop minus the stick.
On top of the food, I got to learn more about the ACRS organization and the important mission they uphold in the community. During the event an ACRS client shared his experience battling schizophrenia. A Chinese interpreter translated eloquently his struggle on gaining power over his illness with the help of ACRS mental health services. This was a very moving speech and made me value the under-appreciated work that ACRS does in our community.