The pop-up dinner concept brings the joys of a fine-cooked meal outside of the confines of a restaurant and into a home, a vacation spot, an office building, or really anywhere you’d like it to be. This intimate culinary adventure allows chefs to share their passion for the craft in a unique way. For Chef AJ Rodriguez, La Vivencia is a new way for her to do just that.
Chef AJ’s love for cooking began roughly sixteen years ago when her interest grew into a passion. “I started learning how to cook for my great-grandparents, who I grew up with,” she says, “I remember staying up late at night watching the Food Network and trying to grasp the ideas and recipes the chefs had on there.” As time went on, she continued to learn and grow by observing her grandmother and sister cook together. From there, dedication and adoration for the craft would continue to develop AJ’s skills.
It was at the King Ranch Main House that Chef AJ first began cooking professionally and truly discovered her particular interest in fine dining. “I have learned a lot from the chefs at the King Ranch. I’ve gained many tools and tricks for cooking for large numbers of people and using the highest quality ingredients, especially ranch to table style,” she states, “Mostly though, I have gained the confidence I needed to venture out on my own and bring my own flavors and ideas to the people I serve.”
This month, you can join Chef AJ for a gourmet 5-course meal hosted by Coral Bean Cafe, which will offer a delicious preview of all that La Vivencia has to offer. The event will take place on June 25, with the first course being served at 7:00 pm.
To start, guests will enjoy smoked wild-caught lobster on a crispy polenta cake made with Hopi blue heirloom corn, smothered in white wine cream sauce with a sweet pea puree. Next, a modern riff on a classic French Nicoise with seared Ahi tuna, organic asparagus, parsnip puree, locally grown microgreens, and soft-boiled quail eggs. Sturdy greens braised in red wine and beef consomme with carrot and leeks, topped with crispy pancetta and shaved gruyere follow. For the entree, a prime beef tenderloin slow roasted in fresh herbs and garlic, sitting on a bed of creamy wild mushroom risotto and drizzled with a red wine reduction will be served. For dessert, you’ll find tiramisu, Coral Bean coffee ice cream, and coffee caviar. The dinner will be served alongside still and sparkling water, with complimentary cocktails.
To Chef AJ, this business endeavor is about much more than just food, it’s the “smiles and gratitude” that keep her so passionate about her craft. “I cook with so much heart and soul,” she says, “and I’m so excited for the Coastal Bend to experience it too.”