The festival game has come a long way from corn dogs and funnel cakes.
Based on the lineup, one might argue that this year's Coachella brought as much culinary talent to the Indio desert as it did music stars.
For a few years now, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival has been raising the bar on dining options. From popular local street food vendors and healthy choices, to gourmet coffee offerings and now, world class chefs and restaurants.
The main stage for this year's diners and kitchen headliners was a 250 seat nightly dinner called Outstanding in the Field and it was indeed one of the hottest tickets to the festival. The special event took place each night, with two seatings inside the Rose Garden on the festival grounds against the stunning sunset backdrop.
Naturally, Chef Nyesha Arrington and our LEONA team were thrilled to be invited for the opening night alongside Chefs Antonia Lofaso (Scopa, Black Market) and Elia Broumand (Gorge). The following days included international chefs like Michael Voltaggio of INK in Los Angeles, Bradley Kilgore of Alter Miami, and Francisco Ruano of Alcalde in Guadalajara.
Chefs were asked to serve two dishes, with the first course on the table as guests were seated and a dessert to finish.
For a taste of LEONA, Chef Nyesha selected two seafood dishes as a starter and entree course.
The first, was a Tai Snapper Ceviche served in a chilled coconut shell with Black Quinoa "Sand", Purple Potatoes, and Plantains inspired by a recent trip to Peru and the fact LEONA sits just a few yards from the beach.
What made this dish truly unique was the coconut it was served in.
Back in the restaurant, the coconuts were prepped days before the festival. After chopping them in half, the meat and coconut water were reserved for a housemade coconut ice cream special. This yielded more product for the event, created a special menu item at the restaurant, minimized prep time on site, and became a biodegradable serving dish. The circle of life, for a coconut.
Throughout the day, Chef Nyesha prepped and kept the ceviche at a low temperature. For service, she chilled the coconut shells filling them with ice and placing on a dry ice bath before serving. The result was a sensationally refreshing dish after a long day in the desert heat.
Check out the kitchen in this awesome 360 degree video. Grab the screen and move around to see the different angles.
The second dish of the evening was a beautiful Ocean Trout, a fish we serve in the restaurant at both lunch and dinner. For the desert edition, it was finished with a golden raisin and carrot-top pistou.
Through the service, guests complimented the three chefs for the delicious and vibrant dishes served in such an amazing setting. It was a truly unique experience to enjoy such a great meal in the middle of a massive event in the desert. And no easy feat.
After the dinner, our crew took off to catch some shows and spent the rest of the weekend hanging by pool, cruising the festival, and visiting our friends at The Do-Over. A fine weekend indeed.
Bravo to all the chefs, thank you to the organizers and Outstanding in the Field, to all the staff and security that worked the service, and everyone that came together to pull it off. We'll see you out on the field next year!