Taste Talks Los Angeles 2016

Badmaash's Pumpkin Toast at Taste Talks LA 2016

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.


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 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!


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.

14. November 2016 by The Offalo
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November & December 2016 Food Events in Los Angeles

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.


02. November 2016 by The Offalo
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Children’s Bureau Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting 2016

Children's Bureau Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting

On Thursday, October 20th, the 7th annual Children’s Bureau Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting fundraiser took place at Casa Vertigo in Downtown Los Angeles.  Children’s Bureau is a non-profit that works to prevent and assists in treating the victims of child abuse and had a packed turnout of folks all helping this great cause by attending and bidding on the silent and live auction items.  Of course, plenty of food and wine were to be had from a dozen or so participating restaurants and chefs.

One of the bigger booths was the Border Grill, and both owners/chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were on hand to serve their two delicious dishes: green corn tamales and seared greens with griddled panela cheese!


Chef Ray Garcia of B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish served a diminutive in size, but certainly not in flavor, bite of plaintains with a rich oxtail sauce.  David Lentz handled out simple and fresh seared albacore on a tostada.  And Bistro 45 had the most delicious spoonfuls of pork belly!


There were a couple of dessert options, but the one that blew me away both in presentation and in taste was Providence’s kawa-ishi, a Japanese dessert made by pastry chef Jessie Liu!


The wine at the event flowed freely as well, but since I’m not an oenophile I don’t feel qualified to speaking on that.  I’ll stick to the thoroughly delicious food, thank you.  There were many other food items I didn’t post above, like a pair of dishes featuring stracciatella, the creamy centers of those decadent burrata balls, from chefs Steve Samson of Sotto and Bruce Kalman of Union.  You can find post of their dishes and others by going to #offaloccwt2016 on Instagram.

This was the first time I attended Children’s Bureau’s Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting, and while it’s relatively small in scale, compared to, say, LA Loves Alex’s Lemonade, the well curated list of participating chefs and restaurants meant all the food was delicious, making for happy attendees eating and drinking for a great cause!

25. October 2016 by The Offalo
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Los Angeles Magazine The Food Event 2016

The Food Event 2016

Los Angeles Magazine‘s The Food Event would easily “podium” in a Most Beautiful L.A. Event Venue contest, probably winning top prize too.  Saddlerock Ranch in Malibu is a vineyard, winery, retirement home for exotic animals who worked in show biz, and more!  And for one day a year, it becomes one of the hottest food and wine festivals in L.A.!

On Sunday, October 16th, 30 Los Angeles-area restaurants, some veterans, some new, some that are yet to open, brought out some great grub to The Food Event.  I think I managed to try almost all of them, and posted at least two dozen dishes on Instagram at hashtag #offalofoodevent2016!

One noticeably popular ingredient at The Food Event was octopus!  No less than four restaurants–Baltaire, FIG, Hatchet Hall, and Felix–served the eight-legged beasts in all their char-grilled glory.  And they were among my favorite bites of the event:


Not to be outdone, beef also had strong showings, with the following dishes from Scopa Italian Roots and Everson Royce Bar garnering raves from the attendees, myself included:


Vegetarian dishes were also quite good, with the best entries from The Bellwether, FIG, and Erven:


The restaurant with the most interesting looking dish goes to Terranea, while Jitlada’s booth won best celebrity hangout, and Love & Salt had the best dessert, in my opinion!


As far as what my favorite dishes were from The Food Event, Felix’s octopus, ERB’s burger, and Erven’s dates were probably my top three, in no particular order!  Again you can check out most of the dishes I tried on Instagram at hashtag #offalofoodevent2016!  Thanks Los Angeles Magazine for another great event!

19. October 2016 by The Offalo
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Pier Del Sol 2016

Pier Del Sol 2016

The 20th Annual Pier del Sol fundraiser for Special Olympics Southern California, took place at the Santa Monica Pier on Sunday, October 9th.  The event honored chef Josiah Citrin (Melisse, Charcoal) for his consistent support of the fundraiser over the past two decades. He served up one of the more beautiful, innovative, and, yes, delicious dishes of the event:

Beyond that, my other favorite bites were from the likes chefs Michael Cimarusti (Providence, Connie & Ted’s), Alain Giraud, Danny Waked (The Arthur J), Brooke Williamson, and The Strand House:

(For more images from Pier Del Sol 2016, check out my hashtag #offalopierdelsol2016 on Instagram.)

Pier Del Sol is a great event for families, with unlimited rides to the Pacific Park amusement park on the pier.  If you missed it, you can support Special Olympics Southern California buy purchasing a cookbook featuring 31 recipes from 28 chefs who have supported Pier Del Sol throughout the years.

14. October 2016 by The Offalo
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