L.A. Times The Taste 2015, Sunday Brunch and BBQ, Flavors of LA

[This is the second part of my coverage of The Taste event, covering Sunday of Labor Day weekend.  For my favorite bites from Saturday’s two events, Field to Fork and Dinner with a Twist, check out my previous post.]

L.A. TimesThe Taste held two events on its second full day:  Sunday Brunch and BBQ and Flavors of LA.  I was very excited about these two events because several of my favorite chefs and restaurants would be present!

Sunday Brunch and BBQ

Hosted by L.A. Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter, Food editor Amy Scattergood, and Canelé‘s Corina Weibel, the event was described on The Taste’s website thusly:  Leave the cooking to the best chefs in L.A. as they redefine brunch with some of the most over-the-top eats this city has to offer. New for this Sunday event is the addition of barbecue, which is sure to be a crowd favorite. After all, who doesn’t love some ‘cue?

I didn’t actually come across that much ‘cue, but fried chicken seemed to be on many of the chef’s minds.  Several restaurants were serving chicken and waffles, with Toca Modera‘s rendition besting the others.  The ever popular Free Range LA, sans truck, did not serve waffles, but did serve its signature fried chicken sandwich and honey sriracha chicken biscuit, which were some of the top bites of the event for me.

The best fried chicken, though, and probably the best dish I had at Sunday Brunch and BBQ, was undeniably Howlin’ Ray’s Hot Chicken, which did bring its truck onto the Paramount backlots.  From my review and my copious posts on Instagram of their food, it’s clear I’m already a fan, but chef Johnny Zone continues to improve his hot chicken recipe, and it truly was better than ever!  It was especially good with some frozen Kirin slush.

Other (non-chicken) highlights included The Front Yard‘s shrimp and grits, and Coni’Seafood‘s shrimp aguachile and shrimp and octopus ceviche.

Having missed out on the talks and cooking demonstrations on my first day, I made sure to check out a few on my second day.  At Sunday Brunch and BBQ, I watched Roy Choi of Kogi, Chego, Pot, etc., make pork belly with rice porridge and avocado toast.  Roy spoke candidly about cooking with passion and his desire to feed people from all walks of life.  At the end of his demo, he gave a quick shout out to LocoL, the restaurant project he started with chef Daniel Patterson in San Francisco to provide healthy, affordable meals in underserved communities.  The Los Angeles location in Watts should be open by the end of the year.

Flavors of LA

Hosted by Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold and chef Carlos Salgado of Taco María, the event was described on The Taste’s website thusly:  Let our hosts take you on a guided tour of the culinary melting pot that is L.A. You’ll explore an eclectic collection of the city’s best restaurants and see many of its most talked-about chefs — all without ever having to leave the Paramount lot.

The evening event did feature a large array of cuisines, ranging from Spanish to Thai, French to Mexican, Indian to Italian.  But then so did the other Taste events.  Of course, I didn’t care so much about the theme as whether the food was great, and it was!  Chef Ray Alvarez of Toca Madera continued to impress all festival long, including his fried shrimp tacos for this event.  Kenta Ikehata of Tsujita created a new mazesoba dish for the event that was delicious and comforting.

Chef Charles Olalia of Ricebar (review) was serving whole links of his housemade pork longganisa sausages at the beginning of the evening, but had to re-portion his servings a bit as the lines stretched from his stand!  Chef Michael Hung, of newly announced Viviane (in partnership with Stephane Bombet), was serving petit portions of beef carpaccio, but they packed quite a meaty punch!

My favorite bite of the evening was from chef Ryan DeNicola and Chi SPACCA.  They served a grilled lamb skewer on a bed of fregola sarda pasta and some yogurt sauce on top.  It’s a pretty classic preparation, but the lamb was just so tender, well seasoned, and had a nice char.  They must have been popular with the rest of the crowd because they ran out relatively fast!

I attended one cooking demo that evening, with Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, who I’ve written about many times.  Wes was making his mom’s albondigas (meatball) soup and trying not to cuss on stage.  I also caught part of Jonathan Gold’s “Things in a Bowl” talk with chefs Alvin Cailan of Eggslut, Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs, and Christine Moore of Little Flower and Lincoln, but left the talk early when I realized I hadn’t explored an entire section of food and rushed off to try some more dishes before the event ended!

The Sunday events were somewhat mellower than Saturday’s.  That’s not to say they were subdued.  However, after two days in the sun and heat, I could definitely feel myself slow down a bit on Sunday evening.  Consequently, I did not try nearly as many dishes at Flavors of LA as I would have liked.  However, I still left the event sated.

I’m so glad to have been able to attend my first The Taste this year.  Thanks to L.A. Times for the media credentials, to Times staff and JS2 Communications for throwing such a great event, and Times Food staff for curating such a fantastic list of participating chefs and restaurants!

To see all my shots from The Taste, check out hashtag #offalotastela on Instagram.  And check out my coverage of the two Saturday events too!

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Los Angeles Times The Taste
Paramount Pictures Studios
5555 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90038

09. September 2015 by The Offalo
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