Miss A Columnist

Melissa Curtin covers charity and style related events and loves to cover LA's best in beauty, fashion, and culture. She is an educator who recently returned to the classroom to motivate and inspire third graders at a private school in Pacific Palisades. In 2012, she launched an educational T-shirt line called Wear2learn. When she is not working out, hiking a canyon, or at the beach, she is writing. Her latest dream come true has been travel writing for Johnny Jet.

After teaching in the Maryland public school system for almost a decade, she left the conservative East Coast environment in Washington, DC for West Coast living. Eager for adventure, inner growth, and a new environment, she packed her car and took to the open road on her own landing in her new home - Hollywood, California. As a Connecticut Yankee at heart, she has now lived in Los Angeles for six years surrounded by the stars.

Melissa graduated from Gettysburg College with a double major in psychology and art history. Soon after, she earned a Master's Degree in education. Melissa traveled around the world on Semester at Sea, and earned a Fulbright Scholarship which enabled her to teach in England. A lust for travel and learning has fueled her globe trotting ever since. Some of her favorite destinations are Costa Rica, Thailand, Fiji, Morocco, Vietnam, Belgium, Italy, Sicily, Prague, Egypt, Australia, Greece, and Paris.

Los Angeles has won over her heart. She is constantly taking advantage of what LA LA Land has to offer - new boutiques and restaurants, finding great deals, discovering new hikes and beaches, music, and West Coast fashion.

Recap: America’s Best Young Guns Chefs Display Their Talents At LACMA

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LACMA in full swing for Young Guns 2013 (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

As the sun sets in the glowing hazy Los Angeles sky, we are surrounded by palm trees and the interesting architectural design of LACMA. We dine on mind blowing bites from around the US as the rising young chefs come up with concoctions to make our taste buds want more. Surrounded by hip uniquely dressed Angelenos, I think to myself THIS is why I love LA so much!

I am giddy from the gin and grapefruit juice, agave and fennel that were being expertly brought to us all night. I want to dance and flit around. This event may be my favorite way to enjoy exceptional food. Each station had one or two of their signature selections that you could bring to your table to try. Party goers have to mingle as they sample bites from all over the outdoor courtyard.

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

The Master Young Gun Chefs included:

Mike Brown, Travail and Pig Ate My Pizza, Minneapolis

Jeremy Hoffman, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA

Ryan Lachaine, Underbelly, Houston

Matt Lackey, Flyte, Nashville

Jessica Largey, Manresa, Los Gatos/San Fran, CA

Mitch Lienhard, Grace, Chicago

Hourie Sahakian, Short Cake, Los Angeles

Jason Wang, Xi’an Famous Foods, New York

Kris Morningstar, Ray’s & Stark Bar, Los Angeles, CA

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Matt Lackey’s of Nashville’s restaurant Flyte tantalizes us with this food bite. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

My favorite dishes included Flyte’s 60 day aged beef with beets and strawberries and the perfect salt crystals; LA’s Ray’s & Star Bar’s octopus with toasted broccoli, burrata, salsa calabrese, and sunflower seeds; San Francisco’s restaurant Manresa’s strawberry gazpacho with lemon verbena. The nut, flowers and creme-friache added a wonderful touch. Restaurant Eve’s pork belly on a mini stick provided a melt in your mouth experience, and Ryan Lachaine of Underbelly has me dreaming of another bite of his juicy meat on top of a lettuce leaf.

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Mitch Lienhard from the restaurant Grace in Chicago created this artistic food porn. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

The most beautiful looking Meyer lemon I have ever seen came from Mitch Lienhard from Grace in Chicago. The Meyer lemon was like an artistic portrait filled with curd, tapioca and fennel. Patina even served this wonderful crudo, or giant pieces of white raw fish, with pigskin cracklings like a ceviche that was just divine.

The longest line of the night was for Jason Wang’s lamb burgers from Xi’an Famous Foods. We missed  making a burrata dish from Mike Brown and his Travail/Pig Ate My Pizza team as they presented the dish on the backs of party-goers’ hands and followed it up with Pop Rocks frozen in liquid nitrogen. Burrata seemed to be the most popular ingredient, which I think goes well with everything. The band Yellow Red Sparks created the night time ambiance as the food and drinks flowed.

We met some interesting people at our table who thought my friend Brian Lee was famous, and that I was Kat O’Dell, the Editor of Eater LA or the maestro of this extravaganza. We sat next to the very proud mother of Austin chef Shion Aikawa of Ramen Tatsu-Ya and her husband lawyer Bruce Friedman. They made our table eating experience tons of fun as they snapped pics of us and devoured bites in unison.

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LA’s Ray’s & Star Bar’s octopus with toasted broccoli, burrata, salsa calabrese, and sunflower seeds. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Apothic Wines were also being handed out. I ran to get a chilled ice coffee from LA’s Short Cake as an in between mixer and enjoyed their tart cherry mini biscuit pastries. Generous sponsors included Bombay Sapphire EastAgave In the RawKettle Chips, Trumer Pils, The Bruery, Apothic Wines, Eco-Eats Partyware and Choose Chicago. The night ended as hilariously fun Mike Brown of Travail and Pig Ate My Pizza gave the Young Guns and crowd a fervent champagne soak. The revelry was a great way to end their night of hard work.

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San Francisco restaurant Manresa’s strawberry gazpacho with lemon verbena. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

The Eater Young Guns Class of 2013 comprises a group of 15 of the most distinguished young chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and hospitality industry professionals in the country. These are the junior statesmen of the culinary world who have most distinguished themselves this year, and who are its next stars. The class of 15 include four women and 11 men; seven chefs, three beverage pros, two pastry chefs, and three front-of-house leaders. The youngest on the list just turned 25 (Jayce McConnell). The oldest, with just four years in the business, is 38 (Ryan Lachaine).

Cool Fact I learned online: 75 percent of the Young Guns ate at Son of a Gun and Animal while they were in town. Other favorites included Bestia, Gjelina, and Bay Cities.

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Attorney Brian Lee with writer Melissa Curtin (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

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Eater Young Guns (Photo credit: Elizabeth Daniels)

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