Breeze Restaurant Chef Ali Parvinjah, who designed both the Paleo and the Vegan Menu at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, had us fooled with how rich and sumptuous his healthy dishes could be. In fact, he so impressed diners so much that the hotel sent him to help the London Hyatt hotels launch their vegan menus, and master chef classes on Vegan and Paleo cooking for all London Hyatt Regency hotels.
The delicious Paleo meals are thoroughly satisfying, even though they are served in small portions. In fact, it was surprising just how filling the refined dishes could be.
That’s because the ingredients are so fresh, balanced, colorful and healthy. And let’s accentuate the word, “balanced.” Actually for me, more than the guys at the table, it was even enough for two meals for at 800 calories. What was most surprising to me (a carbo-phobe at times) was my initial reluctance to eat the “potatoes” even though I read on the menu that they were actually leeks!
At a recent dinner in the regal yet intimate private dining room adjoining Breeze, vibrant Adrienne DeVore, of the Hyatt, introduced the Paleo lifestyle to the uninitiated. In her words, “it is based on the idea of consuming what our ancient ancestors did in the Paleolithic era -- whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods like grass-fed and pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught seafood, fruit, fungi, roots, nuts and vegetables. Followers believe that that the advancement of agriculture and grain-based diets is a large cause of modern disease and obesity so the diet excludes grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes, refined salt and sugar, and processed oils.”
The new menu fits right in with the powerful and modern Hyatt philosophy of “Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served. ” Chefs Felix Nappoly and Ali Parvinjah are encouraged to work with neighboring farmers to seek out the finest in regional and local organic produce and to continue their endeavors to provide guests with options in Vegan, Gluten Free, Perfectly Portioned Dishes (500 calories or less), and now Paleo offerings.
A fitness fanatic boxer who regularly completes in high level boxing matches, Chef Ali is an ardent follower of healthy culinary trends. So it was natural that he took the lead in designing both the Vegan and Paleo Menus. The concept also fit in with the Hyatt’s global commitment to sourcing and serving food and beverages that are “good for our people, planet and communities” with dishes appealing enough to tempt any palate.
The Breeze Restaurant’s Paleo Summer Menus feature choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. It can’t be overstated that no matter how small the plate looks (or the calorie count is), it is filling and light.
The Starters/Soups/Salad menu starts with a Baby Organic Kale with bacon, pomegranate and preserved lemon vinaigrette has pork in it but is still light. Part of the reason is that the bacon is cured with celery juice! ($9). The Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque is silky, rich. One year-round salad is Pear and Arugula with citrus cranberry vinaigrette made with fresh cranberries, juices instead of vinegar, and honey to sweeten instead of sugar.
The Char Grilled NY Steak is layered with a grainy mustard pan sauce and served with a sweet potato leek gratin and sautéed field greens ($39). On the paleo diet, sweet potatoes are allowed though starchy white potatoes are out.
Equally filling but deceptively small on the plate is the Seared Seabass paired with roasted artichokes, Greek kalamata olive-tomato ragu and cauliflower “rice” pine nuts. It is almost impossible to tell that it is pine nuts and not sugary rice on the plate!
For poultry lovers there is a Sage and garlic Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast. It is served with caramelized Brussels sprouts with bacon, parsnip puree and seasonal herbs.
Above all, Chef Ali preserves the fun of food. His Mason Jar Paleo Pumpkin Pie with coconut whipped cream is put together with a crust made with coconut flour, agave, sea salt, coconut oil and egg whites. The filling is made with eggs, maple syrup, spices, fresh roasted pumpkin, coconut milk. And the whipped “cream” is whipped coconut fat.
The chef was so excited about his Mint Chocolate chip Ice Cream with Almond Butter Banana Cookie. That’s because the “ice cream is made from raw cashews, maple syrup, vanilla beans, fresh mint and raw cocoa nibs. ($8) The cookies are made with dates, bananas, almond butter, lemon, spices, egg and pecans. And yet it feels decadent and delicious enough to satisfy the sweet tooth.
Los Angelenos may remember the former “Century Plaza” for the luxurious yet somehow homey “Terrace Restaurant” family occasions or even prom parties in the glassed in restaurant overlooking the magnificent back lawn that felt as though it reached to the ocean. The rest of the world had its eye on it for the goings on of resident U.S. Presidents and international celebrities inside.
I did all that and more. Executive Chef Raimund Hoffmeister, who presided over the kitchen during its heyday was a culinary mover and shaker – and a raconteur who always made us laugh with stories about the secret service “tasters” looking over his shoulder. I was lucky enough to be involved in the first National Seafare Competition he directed at the hotel -- decades before Iron Chef.
Happily, the spirit of Chef Raimund lives in on, it seems, in the dynamic new culinary events at the hotel’s award-winning, signature restaurant, Breeze Restaurant. What’s more wonderful is that the exuberant hotel staff is as excited about the new culinary projects as the chef, not only sharing them with Century City hotel diners but other Hyatt hotels as well.
About Hyatt Regency Century City
Located at 2025 Avenue of Stars in the heart of Los Angeles’ fashionable Westside, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza is often frequented by celebrities, politicians and dignitaries. For and more information, call: 310-228-1234 or log onto www.hyatt.com.