SundayBest Pop-Up

The last time I enjoyed a pop-up restaurant was in October 2013.  I had recently moved to Los Angeles to be with my husband who was completing his fellowship.  As an avid viewer of Top Chef, I attended the pop-up at Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena under the direction of Chef Laurent Quenioux.  It was such a great experience (you can read more about it here:  (

After watching this past season of Top Chef, I was quickly drawn to Chef Adrienne Cheatham. I have watched the show since the first season, and many chefs lack direction in the beginning.  Chef Adrienne Cheatham was one of those chefs, but something was different about her when she was on the screen.  Did she lack direction when she first entered the competition?  Sure, but it reminded me of my journey in medicine.  She was under-estimated when she first entered the competition.  I often felt lost or ignored in the field of medicine, especially when I entered in the arena of dermatology.  Did Chef Cheatham stumble a bit when she completed some of the tasks?  Sure, but I also remember doubting myself during my dermatology training.  Did she find her groove during the middle of the competition?  Sure.  I also found my groove in the midst of my training when I focused on my skills and talent.  When Chef Cheatham found her flow, boy, did she find it!  She was no longer overlooked and others took notice.  She was humble and her food resonated through the screen. While she did not ultimately win the competition (on International Women's Day nonetheless), I was a fan, not only of her food, but for what she stood for.

So of course, when given the chance to meet this Top Chef, I was going to jump at the chance. Chef Cheatham was having her SundayBest, Pop-up Series, and I was not going to miss it.  So with hubby in tow, I planned on having a great time at Red Rooster Harlem. We waited patiently to be led past the red velvet rope to the dining area.  Soon afterward, we were greeted with a delicious cocktails (I am still obsessed with the cocktail that contained rosemary and gin) and seated to our table filled with other Top Chef fans.

We started with cornbread madeleines accompanied by honey butter and tomato jam.  The madeleines were so moist, and I wish I had that honey butter and tomato jam wrapped up to go home!

Her first course was her blackened octopus with squid ink grits (yes!), and sweet pepper chow chow.

The second course was prepared by Chef Edward Brumfield of Red Rooster Harlem, in which he prepared a fried chicken skin ball with candy stripe beets, pickled ramps, and mushroom dashi.  Honestly, I didn't think the dish needed the fried chicken skin ball...all the other components were adequate.

Now before the third course, we were handed these macaroons.  Now, they were not your average macaroons.  When Chef Cheatham announced they were her red velvet macaroons with foie gras mousse filling, I must admit that I was a bit perplexed.  When this beautiful specimen of red velvet, foie gras macaroon with aged balsamic and sea salt entered my mouth, I was just in heaven.  I was secretly hoping that my husband wouldn't complete his, but he also ate his piece.  After a moment of sadness, I was hoping that Chef Cheatham would sell them one day.  Yes, it was that good and I am drooling at this moment.

The third course consisted of her seared pork tenderloin with Hoppin' John, boudin, and 5-spice mustard jus.  The pork simply melted in your mouth, and I absolutely loved the crunch provided by the black-eyed peas.

Lastly, we ended the evening with her banana pudding accompanied by yuzu and meringue.  Did you know that I do not like banana pudding?  Well, it ended this evening after I scraped the last piece of dessert with my fork.

The ultimate course for me was finally meeting Chef Cheatham.  Meeting her was so much more than her innovative and delicious food.  She is a mirror of hope, ambition, and tenacity.  Thank you Chef...can't wait for more!


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