March is coming up faster than you think, and there’s quite a few events, so I’m splitting this into two posts! But before we get there, here’s one last one happening this week before the end of February…
Wednesday, February 22nd – Whiskey Festival: Fresh off their Best New Restaurants celebration, Los Angeles Magazine is throwing its second Whiskey Festival at the La Brea Tar Pits Museum. Featuring whiskeys (or if you prefer, whiskys), scotches, bourbons, and ryes from the likes of Bruichladdich, Four Roses, Kikori, Macallan, Whistle Pig and more, if last year’s shindig was any indication, it should be a great time! Tickets are $95 + fee for unlimited pours and some food–can’t drink all night on an empty stomach. Remember to rideshare!
Thursday, March 2nd – PPLA Food Fare: This long-time fundraiser, held annually since 1979, raises money for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, which provides critical women’s health services. Chef of the Year for 2017 is Annie Miler of Clementine, and the participating restaurants include a mix of new restaurants like 71 Above, Holbox, Kali, and established ones like a.o.c., Michael’s, and Thyme. Looks like just the AM session (11a-2p) is available now. Tickets are $150.
Wednesday-Saturday, March 8th through 11th – All-Star Chef Classic: This multi-day mega-event takes place at L.A. Live and has flair to spare! The four Masters Dinners held each night take place in Restaurant Stadium and have such chefs as Ludo Lefebvre, Antonia Lofaso, Curtis Stone, and more for each themed night. The “strolling” events this year are Southern Eats on Friday night, with The Hart & The Hunter, Hatchet Hall, Howlin’ Rays and other non-“H” named restaurants participating; and Saturday night’s annual “Grill & Chill” featuring Ford Filling Station, The Cannibal, Mexikosher, Broken Spanish, and more! Tickets range from $125 to $425 depending on the events.
Sunday, March 12th – COCHON555: Easily one of my favorite events of the year, the L.A. stop for this national heritage pig cooking competition takes place once again at Viceroy in Santa Monica. This year’s competing chefs are returning challenger Bruce Kalman (Union), Kyle Johnson (Bourbon Steak), Dakota Weiss (Estrella), David Féau (Wally’s), and Jonathan Granada (Otium). Each chef will be paired with a whole heritage pig, a different breed each, and will have to come up with 5-6 dishes. 20 judges, and all attendees, will get to vote for their favorite dishes and chefs, and one will be crowned Prince/Princess of Porc and go on to Aspen to compete to be the King/Queen of Porc! Tickets are $125 for GA, $200 for VIP (1 hour early entry), and $400 for the BeSpoke experience, which includes a charity dinner the night before at Otium hosted by chef Timothy Hollingsworth.
Tuesday, March 14th – L.A. Cooks for the James Beard Foundation: This year’s James Beard Foundation nominations had many names from Los Angeles, including many personal favorites in the Best Chef: West category: Wes Avila (Guerrilla Tacos), Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon), Bryant Ng (Cassia), Carlos Salgado (Taco Maria), Kris Yenbamroong (Night+Market), to name a few… This year the short list of nominees will be announced at Lucques on Wednesady, March 15th, but on the eve of the announcement the restaurant will host a dinner featuring a bunch of past JBF winners and nominees including host Suzanne Goin, Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Nancy Silverton (Mozza), Susan Feniger & Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill), Vinny Dotolo & Jon Shook (Animal), and more! Reservations are $285, or $1,000 for the VIP Chef’s Table Experience! Call 323.655.6277.
Throughout March (and beyond) – Hanging with Harris Dinner Series: Professional master of ceremony Billy Harris is literally the host with the most … events, that is! In addition to hosting two of my favorite food events–L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade and the aforementioned COCHON555 (all stops on tour!)–he somehow finds time to host a bunch of dinners here in L.A. The first just happened this weekend, but two are happening in March, including dinners at Lucques on the 6th and at The Rose Cafe on the 27th. Tickets are $125.
Last month, Los Angeles Magazine held it’s annual Best New Restaurants Celebration at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in the Arts District. The event is known for its tight line-up of new restaurants that opened in 2016, plus a few slightly less shiny but no less delicious participants like The Bellwether and Manhattan Beach Post:
@thebellwether_la's Nancy's Day Boat Scallops, duck bacon, sprouted lentils, orange crème fraîche. @tedhopson @ms_sassafras #scallops #duck #bacon #thebellwetherla — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
Even though nearly all of the restaurants were new, the chefs behind them have all made their name in L.A. Howlin’ Ray’s chef/owner Johnny Zone and wife/partner Amanda Chapman and their crew were on-hand, frying up wings fresh and lacquering them with their spicy cayenne seasoning! Alvin Cailan of Eggslut and Unit 120 used his booth to showcase a new venture by former CUT chef Ken Concepcion called Now Serving.
@howlinrays had the longest lines, of course! They were frying up wings on the spot, piping hot, and dashing their hot shake right on their chicken for all to see! #hotwings #chickenwings #wings #nashvillehotchicken #hotchicken #howlinrayshotchicken #howlinrays — Lighting by @losangelesfoodiegirl, plate held up by @juliainezz! This Instagram stuff, it's a collaborative effort! — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
@unit1twenty/@nowservingla's Salt Cod Chowder, chorizo, green garlic, mussels, chickpeas. Super comforting on a cold, rainy night! #bacalao #saltcod #chowder #chorizo #garlic #mussels #crostini #filipinofoodmovement #unit1twenty #nowservingla — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
Speaking of Alvin, he and the Badmaash bros. Arjun and Nakul Mahendro were on hand recording their Super Amazing Restaurant Show podcast, interviewing chefs and attendees, and generally having a great time, as they always do!
@kalichefkevin singing some opera for @superamazingrestaurantshow! Catch the next episode and you might hear me blather on about random shit for a minute… @alvincailan @arjunbadmaash @nakulbadmaash #superamazingrestaurantshow #podcast #alvincailan #arjunmahendro #nakulmahendro #kevinmeehan — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
For such a small line-up, not even a dozen restaurants, the food was delicious! As mentioned in the caption above, Howlin’ Ray’s line was longest and they served right up to the end. Wolf’s pun-tastic “Let the Beet Drop” had a great little liquid nitrogen gag, while 71 Above kept it classy with an amazing octopus dish.
@wolfdiningla Let the Beet Drop, yuzu, citrus, berries, almonds, nasturtium, liquid nitrogen. @marcelvigneron #letthebeetdrop #beets #yuzu #citrus #berries #almond #nasturtium #liquidnitrogen #wolfdiningla — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
But my favorite dish of the night was Here’s Looking At You’s soft-shell prawn! You just pop the whole thing in your mouth and crunch it up! So good!
@hereslookingatyoula's Soft Shell Prawn, sauce diabla, avocado, rau ram. This picture doesn't do the dish justice–it was my favorite of the night! I had at least 3 there, and I still wanted more at the end! Fortunately, they come six to an order at the restaurant. @jonathanwhitener @lientigre #softshellprawn #prawn #shrimp #avocado #hereslookingatyoula — For @lamag @lamagfood #bestnewrestaurants celebration. #foodevent #foodfestival #lamag #lamagfood #artsdistrict #losangeles #theoffalo #offalolamagbestnew
LA Mag’s Best New Restaurant Celebration is a great way to kick off the year and get me back in the swing of food-eventing! Great job everyone involved!
Sorry folks for being MIA recently–just lots of stuff going on IRL. Will be posting some recaps of events that I went to last month as well as a few restaurant reports, so look for that. But first, here are two food events and festivals on my radar, one for each of the first two months of 2017!
Wednesday, January 18th – Best New Restaurants 2017 Celebration: Los Angeles Magazine’s annual shindig celebrating their, you guessed it, Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2016. The line-up is interesting… Whereas last year’s event had I think all restaurants that opened roughly in 2015, this year we have at least one classic spot, like chef David Lefevre’s MB Post, and a repeater, The Bellwether. But there are plenty of legit new restaurants participating, including 71 Above, Erven, Here’s Looking at You, and Howlin’ Ray’s! Tickets are $75 + fee.
Saturday & Sunday, February 18-19 – LA Cookie Con and Sweets Show 2017: If you’re not careful, you can overdo the sugar at this event quite easily, but if you pace yourself and take advantage of the various talks and demos, you can have a blast without the crash at the end. Rosanna Pansino of Nerdy Nummies and Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes will be on hand, and there will be plenty of samples and a couple of contests too! Tickets start at $25 for a one-day pass to $55 for VIP, with child admissions at a discount and weekend passes available too.
As always, if I’ve missed any events happening this month or next, please let me know!
Coming Soon: A lot of food events coming up in March, including but not limited to PPLA Food Fare (March 2nd), All-Star Chef Classic (March 8-11), COCHON555 (March 12th), Latin Food Fest (March 24-25), LA Weekly’s The Essentials (March 26th). Will do a more in-depth round-up next month!
The first weekend in November saw the inaugural Los Angeles edition of the Taste Talks conference, consisting of a kick-off party on Friday, all-day sessions at on Saturday followed by a limited seating dinner, and an afternoon BBQ on Sunday, with an after party immediately following. Unforunately, I could not attend the opening night party or the Saturday night dinner, but I did attend the conference sessions on Saturday and the BBQ on Sunday.
The conference took place at The Line Hotel and consisted of various discussions, panels, and cooking demonstrations. Many were overlapping, so I wasn’t able to attend them all, but the ones I enjoyed were a live recording of the Snacky Tunes podcast with chef Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, a panel of Los Angeles food writers and journalists, and a Kellogg’s sponsored cereal bar throwdown, where chef Nyesha Arrington of Leona took first place.
Chef Wes Avila talking to an attendee before going on the Snacky Tunes live podcast at Taste Talks LA. @djwes @guerrillatacos @snackytunes @darinbresnitz #wesavila #guerrillatacos #tacowesday #snackytunes — From @tastetalks LA @thelinehotel #thelinehotel #koreatown #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Matt Rodbard moderating a panel w/Andy Wang, Gillian Ferguson, Garrett Snyder on local and national coverage of the L.A. food scene. @mattrodbard @andywangnyla @gillian_ferguson @g_sny #mattrodbard #andywang #gillianferguson #garrettsnyder — From @tastetalks LA @thelinehotel #thelinehotel #koreatown #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Caption this post, comment below! — Taste Talks LA's Kellogg's cereal bar throwdown winner Nyesha Arrington w/Nguyen Tran (sans banana suit, but w/banana-colored jacket). @nyeshajoyce @leona.venice @starrykitchen @kelloggsus #nyeshaarrington #nguyentran #starrykitchen #kelloggs #tonythetiger — From @tastetalks LA @thelinehotel #thelinehotel #koreatown #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Sunday’s All-Star BBQ featured pairings of artists and musicians with restaurants, who ostensibly collaborated to come up with the dishes served. One collaboration, between restaurants Baroo and Simbal served my favorite bite of the event, followed by a delicious grilled yellowtail taco by Chichen Itza, and some scallop poke from Mainland Poke.
The "Vietko": ddeok-galbi, banh hoi, radish pickles, gochujang fish sauce spread, shiso. Favorite bite of the event! @simbalrestaurant X @baroo_la #vietko #ddeokgalbi #banhhoi #simbalrestauranr #baroola — From @tastetalks LA #allstarbbq #bbq @moo #tasteofmoo @macksennettstudios #macksennettstudios #silverlake #losfeliz #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Mesquite Grilled Yellowtail Fish Taco. @chichenitzala X @freetherobots #yellowtailtaco #yellowtail #chichenitzs #freetherobots — From @tastetalks LA #allstarbbq #bbq @moo #tasteofmoo @macksennettstudios #macksennettstudios #silverlake #losfeliz #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Sweet Scallops in citrus with crispy onion, wasabi aioli, and sriracha. @mainlandpokeshop @arikahan #scallop #poke #mainlandpoke — From @tastetalks LA #allstarbbq #bbq @moo #tasteofmoo @macksennettstudios #macksennettstudios #silverlake #losfeliz #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
The after party had more grub by Delicious Pizza and Badmaash. I didn’t get to have the pizza as I had to take off early, but Badmaash’s dishes were very much welcome by the chefs and crew who worked the BBQ, and even some of the media attendees like myself, who, despite not being very hungry, still devoured the delicious Indian offerings. That pumpkin toast though!
Punjabi Spiced Pumpkin Toast! 'Tis the season! After a full day of eating, I still wanted to scarf this down! Great job at the after party @badmaashla! #punjabi #pumpkin #toast #badmaashla — From @tastetalks LA's Closing Night Chef Party! #afterparty @macksennettstudios #macksennettstudios #silverlake #losfeliz #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
For more images from the event–and all of them food even–check out hashtag #offalotastetalks2016 on Instagram! Thank you to Taste Talks and Baltz & Co. for inviting me to attend this inaugural Los Angeles conference, and I hope you’ll be back next year! Sorry this report is a little short. If you have any questions about the talks, feel free to hit me up in the comments.
Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran w/Taste Talks organizer Brian Quinn! Had a great time this weekend, hope Taste Talks comes back to L.A.! @starrykitchen @brianquinn #starrykitchen #nguyentran #brianquinn #peacesign #victory — From @tastetalks LA #allstarbbq #bbq @moo #tasteofmoo @macksennettstudios #macksennettstudios #silverlake #losfeliz #losangeles #theoffalo #tastetalks #tastetalksla #offalotastetalks #offalotastetalks2016
Food festivals and events get a bit sparse during the last two months, with Thanksgiving and Christmas and other holidays. Right now I only have 3 on my radar, but please let me know of any others that I should be aware of!
November 4-6, 2016 – Taste Talks LA: This multi-day event, which includes several tasting opportunities as well as a full day conference of talks, panels, and demos, is coming to Los Angeles for the first time after starting in New York and running in Chicago as well. Hosted and curated by musician Kelis, the conference schedule includes discussions on the economics of the restaurant industry, food journalism, gender equality in the kitchen, and more. The participants include journalists like Evan Kleiman, chefs like Michael Cimarusti (Providence) and Karen Hatfield (Ody + Penelope), and others. The conference schedule is jam packed!
In addition, several food events are scheduled, including an Opening Night Party on Friday, a multi-course Mother of Pearl Dinner on Saturday night, two sessions of the All-Star BBQ on Sunday afternoon, and a Closing Night Chef Party on Sunday night. A Kitchen Sink Pass for $495 + fees grants access to all of the events, while other passes grants access to the conference. Individual tasting-only tickets are available for the All-Star BBQ for $49 + fee, with food from Simbal x Baroo, The Cannibal, Mainland Poke, and more (menu)! The Mother of Pearl dinner goes for $95 + fee (menu). All tickets and passes are still available!
November 12th – Baby2Baby Gala: The 5th annual fundraiser for this non-profit organization that provides essentials for low-income children up to age 12, such as diapers, clothing, and other necessities. Information on this year’s gala is a bit sparse, but based on what I’ve seen of past events, it should be a star-studded affair. Participating chefs and restaurants from past galas included John Shook & Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun), Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec, Petit Trois), Ben Ford (Ford Filling Station), Walter Manzke (Republique), Steve Samson (Sotto), Ori Menache (Bestia), and more! Keep an eye on their website in the coming weeks for more info on the event, and I will update this post when I find out more!
November 13th – Japanese Food Festival: The Japanese Restaurant Association of America and the Japanese Food Culture Association are throwing a Japanese food festival, featuring unlimited ramen and other food samples, unlimited sake and beer tasting for those 21+, screening of Tsukiji Wonderland, a documentary about the famous fish market, demos, performances and more! Event is all ages, with tickets at $55 and $28 for adults and kids 4-12, respectively (prices go up on November 10th).
November 19th – California Coffee and Tea Trails: This self-paced tour of Uptown Whittier includes a half dozen or so stops at local restaurants and shops, with materials provided to inform participants of coffee’s and tea’s histories, cultural significance, cultivation, and other facts and backgrounds about the two most popular beverages in the world. Enjoy great food at Colonia Publica, beer and wine tastings at The Celler Bottle Shop, sweets at Emmy Doo’s Ice Cream Shop, and end at Falak Hookah Lounge. It’s a great way to explore Whittier! Tickets start at $40 and include coffee and/or tea at each participating venue, savory or sweet food pairings, and more.
December 2nd – LA Weekly’s Sips & Sweets: This indulgent event features over 15 bakers and pastry chefs and over 20 mixologists. Enjoy sweets from Bearclaw Kitchen, Creme Caramel, McConnell’s, Ococoa, Salt & Straw, The Gourmandise School, and WP24 by Wolfgang Puck. Sips will be provided by 1886 Bar at The Raymond, Birch, Broken Spanish, Chaya Venice, E.P. & L.P., Hinoki and the Bird, Otium, Sotto, The Lucques Group, The Roger Room, and more! Tickets are currently $45/$65 for GA/VIP respectively (they go up $10 on December 1st, if not sold out), and for the amount of alcohol flowing, it’s a tremendous deal.