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Hoppy Valentine’s Weekend of Beer, Food, Lovers

Nothing speaks more directly to the heart than farm-to-table meals and locally brewed beers.

Chef Paul Buchanan’s Primal Alchemy, together with brewer Brian Mercer and the anticipated Brouwerij West will host Hoppy Valentine’s: A Night of Perfect Pairings, from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 13, at The Port of Los Angeles.

Buchanan and Mercer will share their love of their crafts with couples and singles alike at the 26,000-square-foot warehouse. Buchanan’s Long Beach-based catering company will be providing appetizers, main course and desserts. Mercer is serving five different, complimentary Brouwerij Belgian beers. Local quartet Hedgehog Swing will perform French-gypsy swing music throughout the night.

Aphrodisiac appetizers, labeled as “Love at First Bite,” include: rose petal ravioli with creamy leek and housemade Berkshire bacon, octopus tartare on wonton chip with wasabi and yuzu reduction, and bruleed strawberries with balsamic syrup and goat cheese. The main courses include five options: juniper spiced pan seared duck on a bed of farro with bing cherry chutney; shaved fennel, frisee lettuce with reggianito parmesan, smoked almonds, citrus segments and blood orange vinaigrette and roasted root vegetable ménage à troisparsnips, golden beets and weiser farms heirloom carrots. The dessert, called Happy Ending, is a bittersweet dark chocolate cake with farmer’s market berry compote and chantilly cream.

Buchanan took some time recently to talk about this upcoming lover’s day event and his career as chef.

Katrina Guevara: Where is Primal Alchemy based out of?
Chef Paul Buchanan: Primal Alchemy Catering is based in Long Beach with our kitchen by the sea at the Belmont Pier. We cater from two to 2,000 people focusing on local, seasonal and sustainable handmade foods.

KG: Exactly how many years have you been a chef?
PB: I graduated culinary school in 1992 and got my first chef position in 1996. So, I guess I am going on 20 years now.

KG: How did you initially come to collaborate with Brouwerij West?
PB: [Brian and Primal Alchemy] have known each other for about a year now. We have been with them since the time they first started building out the brewery. Wecatered their first press conference. I love their beers, and they love our food. I also believe they feel our passion and integrity in our approach to food complements their own passion and integrity in beer-making.

KG: How did you become a chef?
PB: After spending 10 years working in defense electronics, I switched careers to my passion of cooking. I then graduated with honors at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. I worked for the best restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County, until I worked my way up to executive chef.

KG: What are some lessons in life that preparing and cooking food have taught you?
PB: Finesse in cooking, timing and execution. Anticipate the needs of others. Put yourself in the clients’ shoes. Cook with the seasons, be prepared and have a plan. Don’t be wasteful, and learn to preserve foods at the height of the season.

KG: I have heard that using dark-beer based marinade can lower carcinogen levels in barbecue. Beer also makes for a tasty chicken. Do you ever use beer as an ingredient for your dishes?
PB: We use Guinness Beer in our chocolate cake. We also use beers for making vinegars for some salad dressings. We have braised beef short ribs in beer. Also, we have been known to make our own beer on several occasions.

KG: Are you a beer, wine or hard liquor aficionado yourself?
PB: Beer? Yes! Wine? Yes! Whiskey? Getting there.

KG: Why should couples, and those celebrating S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day), attend the Hoppy Valentine’s event on Feb. 13?
PB: For a unique and delicious experience of family style dining. You will be in good company, in the hands of a talented chef, in a fantastic location with live music and happy people.

Hoppy Valentine’s will take place two weeks before the grand opening of Brouwerij West on Feb. 27.
Tickets for two are $90 each and a ticket for a Singles Awareness Day celebration is $100 with additional service charge. For details visit:

Time: 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 13
Cost: $100, $180 for two
Details: (310) 833-9330;,,,
Venue: Port of Los Angeles, 110 E. 22nd St., Warehouse No. 9, San Pedro



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