Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – “Party Jocs” Coasters and Top Chef Masters at Street

Submitted by Allee Willis May 30th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

In anticipation of the Memorial Day holiday tomorrow and the many glasses that are about to be lifted these Party Jocs drink cozies make it easy to keep track of your drink and keep your hands moisture free as you chug it down.


Wednesday night I went to my favorite restaurant, Street, in anticipation of lifting a glass in celebration as Chef Susan Feniger won another round of Top Chef Masters on TV. Not only was she one of the final four but she had won 75% of her battles so far.


I went with my good friend, Stu James, who was also Harpo in my musical, The Color Purple. Although I didn’t have the Party Jocs with me and no glasses are evident in this photo we took with Susan we were all in a glass-lifting celebratory mood as the show began.


What’s great about being at Street on the nights that Top Chef Masters airs is that not only can you order any of the completely and insanely inventive food on the menu but also little trays of whatever Susan cooks on the show that night are passed around. We started out with Lamb Kakta Meatballs drizzled with date and carob molasses…


… followed by the Tatsutage Fried Chicken marinated with soy, mirin and sake and crispy fried in rice batter, topped with spicy kewpie mayonnaise sauce.


Then came the Burmese Lettuce Wraps with gin thoke style lentils, toasted coconut, peanuts, fried onions and sesame ginger dressing…


.. and the Paani Puri, spiced potato, chutneys and sprouted beans in crispy puffs of yogurt-cilantro water dipped dough…


… with the Brazilian Acaraje not far behind – black-eyed pea fritters with palm oil, garlic and cilantro stuffed with citrus cabbage slaw and malagueta chile sauce.


Then we topped it off with barbecued pork sliders:


Obviously Stu and I spent as much time taking photos of each other eating as we did talking, all the while watching Susan toil away on TV. The chefs’ challenge this week was to make food “fit for the gods of the heavens”.


Susan was assigned Aphrodite, goddess of love. She went for it with one of the signature dishes at Street, Kaya Toast.


Kaya Toast is a Singapore street cart experience – toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam and sweet butter that you dip in a soft fried egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper. When you bite into it it fills your mouth with such an unexpected burst and multi-textural slide down the throat that your whole body jolts with the sensation. I can always tell when someone orders Kaya for the first time because there’s always a long drawn out ‘oohHHhhhh’ that accompanies it. That’s love. And it’s certainly fit for Aphrodite.

As individual servings of Kaya Toast were passed around to all of us in the restaurant Susan raced to finish the dish on the show.


As the judging began, the whole restaurant got ready to lift their glasses to celebrate yet another triumph. At that moment I wished I had brought the Party Jocs with me so Stu and I could have toasted in style not to mention hand comfort.


But the only thing about the Kaya Toast is that it looks like a very simple dish. Everyone always thinks it’s going to taste like a grilled cheese sandwich.


And that’s what judge Jay Rayner couldn’t get out of his head, that it looked like a PB&J and he didn’t find that very sexy. So Susan went down in flames…


But I’m here to tell you that it took balls to make a dish like that, on first impression so plain and simple but upon tasting it a cornucopia of textures, tastes and sensations. So come to Street if you want to taste food fit for the gods. And to Jay Rayner and the remaining three male chefs I lift my glass, now adorned with its comely 1960’s fashion statement, and wish them all very happy highballs as they cook to the finish.


15 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – “Party Jocs” Coasters and Top Chef Masters at Street”

  1. k2dtw

    OMGOMGOMG… you had me at…”little trays of whatever Susan cooks on the show that night are passed around”….
    wonderful and amazing…really sorry Susan is not winning???…

    • Allee Willis

      I know. it’s a travesty! She’s soooooooo good and that Kaya dish is soooooo insane. And, yes, it’s beyond great to watch someone cook something on TV and to have it placed in front of your face so you taste it as the judges taste it.

      Have you ever been to Street or any of Susan’s other restaurants, Border grill or Ciudad?

      • k2dtw

        Not yet… Hoping for expansion???… We get to travel to NY, Chi, Mia and PSP, gotta find a show in Lax…smile..

          • k2dtw

            We have a antique business…
            Wanted to comment how great it was to see the dapper Mr Charles Phoenix at your party….very handsome..
            We met Charles in PSP at the Modernism Show a few years ago, he was there for a book signing….so funny and very charming..

            • Allee Willis

              Charles is one of my best friends. We take at least one Sunday drive a month and go to kitschy spots outside of LA. Always includes photos, both commercial and residential architecture and as vintage a food spot as we can find.

              Where’s your shop? Do the antiques include kitsch? My main collection used to be Atomic and Modern. I was the first person I know of to have a massive collection of both back in the 70’s. My house is in the Bible chronicling houses and furniture of that period, Mid Century Modern. I never considered what I collected as kitsch back then and I certainly consider Atomic and Modern completely separate genres from that but looking back my stuff always tipped toward kitsch.

              • k2dtw

                What a great road trip…
                No shop…we mostly do shows…The Times They Are a Changin’.. so we are very eclectic. We’ve had some drop dead kitsch thru the years…and sadly no pictures..
                I own that Bible, bought it as soon as it came out.. That was where we first saw your fab-u-lous home and collection… it was in the “First Edition” of the Cara Greenberg, Mid-Century Modern Furniture Book.

                • Allee Willis

                  Oh great. Though I was actually very upset with Mid Century Modern when it came out (albeit very happy to be in it which I appreciated more and more through the years as I saw it in every significant shop as reference to the period). There were unbelievable liberties taken with many of the photographs. It took me years to even be able to open the book because the double-page photo of my living room was reversed so the whole room was backwards. It still makes me choke when I look at the photo because it’s so wrong. To make matters worse my downstairs was put into someone else’s home, the person who was the next house in the book. We had different takes on the period so It was upsetting to both me and the person who now had a room in their house they didn’t decorate. I was friends with just about everyone in the book and we all knew each other’s collections and there was some kind of outrageous editing faux pas that befell all of us. But, I repeat, I’m very happy to be in that book.

                  • k2dtw

                    LOL…So it’s not me…or maybe it still is.. In the book on the page featuring your yard… she writes about your Bowling Balls???… I was sadly never able to find the Bowling Balls??… I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at that page… I gave up…I finally talked myself into…you buried the bowling balls and they looked like the stepping stones…that’s what they meant to say???…
                    no really, it has driven me crazy since when??… 1985??? …what??….LOL..
                    Was that even someone else’s yard???…smile

                    • Allee Willis

                      I don’t have the book in front of me and I’m too lazy to run out in my backyard to the Tiki hut that serves as the library but if memory serves that photo wasn’t included in my house nor was it mistakenly placed in anyone else’s. It was nowhere. Which is a shame because I think the bowling ball garden is what most people remember most about my house. Tim Street-Porter, the photographer who shot everything in Mid Century Modern, had a photo of a detail of the bowling ball garden in his next book but I’m completely blanking on the name of the book now.

                      When I first ‘planted’ the balls they were sunk into sand with only the top quarter of the ball showing so they looked like moon rocks. Once a year I would pull them out of the ground to polish them as the sun seriously dulled them down. Once I got over 100 bowling balls I decided that I couldn’t devote a week of every year for the rest of my life to harvesting them so I pulled them all out of the ground and let them sit on the surface of the sand and age gracefully and naturally as I, their mother, does. I’ve gotten very used to the dulled down look after all these years. Some of them eventually crack but I like them even better that way as they look like aged ruins.

  2. windupkitty

    wow….i am speechless about those high ball jocs……..holy crap! you reign supreme as always!!!!

    i always love how you so thoroughly photo-document things….these pics of everyone and the food at Street are fabulous! So nice to see people partying with good food…hell yes!!! i can’t wait to try Street someday….couple of my best friends are going to have to go with…they’re more food obsessed than i am…the best kinda neighbors and friends to have!!!

  3. hoarderrehabseller

    Interesting… it appears that you are missing hi ball coaster #1 too! Do they just come that way?

    I love all your food pics! ANd I love Border Grill!, especially because it’s across the street from Harvelle’s. Nothing like dancing off a great meal to great live blues!