Last night saw the kick-off to Los Angeles Food & Wine, the massive conglomeration of collaborative chef lunches, food-intensive workshops, and celebrity tasting events that are replacing Wolfgang Puck’s longstanding American Wine and Food Festival with four days organized by founders of Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Under the blinding electronic billboards hugging Nokia Plaza and deafening strains of Top 40 gar-bage, the event was often overwhelming. The good news is that each dish was every bit as awesome as the music was detestable. Want to come take a look?
Even if we feel stuffed by a surplus of food events these days, it’s still always a pleasure tasting what our local heroes like John Sedlar, Mary Sue Milliken, Roy Choi, Michael Cimarusti, Susan Feniger, Josiah Citrin, Kerry Simon, and Ricardo Zarate are cooking at these types of things. Thursday’s thrills were heightened by the chance to welcome chefs like Hubert Keller, Daniel Boulud, Lydia Shire, and Graham Elliot to our city for a change, as well as the visiting chefs we’ve come to love from AWFF, like Sam Choy, Hiro Sone, and Robert Del Grande.
Altogether, even if the person who paid Randy Jackson to press a bunch of buttons deejay needs a prolonged head-check, the debut was a well-organized, rewarding premiere that set up the glitzy tone for this ambitious new food festival now upon us. Check out just about everything we ate and everyone we saw in our slideshow of the red carpet premiere and a few scenes from the Pigs, Pins, and Pinot after-party held at Lucky Strike.
The Red Carpet premiere at L.A. Live
With his team from San Francisco’s Fleur de Lys.
Made yellow gazpacho topped with crab meat.
Of Big Sur’s Sierra Mar Restaurant
Kobe carpaccio topped with crumbled bacon.
The chef’s tender, lightly breaded abalone with cherry tomatoes was a hit of the night.
And his Kogi/Chego/A-Frame team gave us the news that Beechwood’s reinvention is humming along quickly and that the place would soon be renamed “Sunny Spot.”
The Peruvian sensation was there with the team from his Picca and Mo Chica.
Brought a supply of alpaca meat, his latest innovation at Picca.
The Chicago chef tells Grub Street he is hoping to open something in L.A. in the future.
Elliot served what he calls “foie-llipops,” topped with Pop-Rocks.
The French chef is being honored at a special lunch and dinner today.
Even in the thick of L.A.’s current craze for charcuterie, we’ve seen and tasted nothing quite like Boulud’s. The chef prepared head cheese terrine with Orleans mustard and parsley; terrine of slow cooked spiced leg of lamb with eggplant, carrot-cumin puree, and sweet potato; pulled ham hock rillette; coarse country pate with foie gras, truffle juice, port, and pickled chanterelle; and shredded slow-braised beef cheek onion confit, with shallot marinade, and Sicilian pistachio.
The master behind Providence.
Prepared this gorgeous arrangement of smoked creme fraiche panna cotta with red caviar-topped trout.
The blasting Top 40 and Euro dance music at the event was 100% stomach-turning, a situation that wasn’t one bit alleviated by American Idol’s Randy Jackson taking the stage and pushing a bunch of buttons on a laptop with a spazzy sidekick. He waited all of three songs before playing “Don’t Stop Believing” and had a very Jamaican approach to using the air-horn sound-effect. We would have preferred to see Hubert Keller DJ anyway.
Flew his Texas pride in a dish of brisket wrapped in piquillo peppers.
Chatting with Hawaiian chef Sam Choy, an old veteran of Puck’s AWFF, which L.A. Food & Wine has replaced.
Consistently had the longest lines of the night to try her food and was a workhorse on that meat slicer.
The great Hawaiian chef from his own Kai Lanai saluted Grub Street with a hearty Shaka!
Was serving what he calls “Hawaiian comfort food” of brown sushi rice topped with wagyu beef.
Celebrating his recent win for Best Chef from Esquire, the ever humble Sedlar spent the night speaking with fans and friends.
The Southwest pioneer served wagyu beef in watermelon aspic with red chile ginger sauce from his Houston-based Restaurant RDG.
One of our favorite winemakers, Clendenen was a mainstay of Puck’s AWFF. We felt bad he was placed immediately next to the deafening noise coming from the stage.
Always manages to bring something tasty to the table from Simon LA and LA Market, like his ahi tartare with black caviar.
The Vegas property, which boasts restaurants from Jose Andres, Scott Conant, David Myers, and Eric and Bruce Bromberg, among many others, provided a mini mock-up of one of its rooms, one of the few places to escape the night’s swelter.
Was there with his team from Los Olivos’s Root 246.
From San Francisco’s Citizen Cake prepared a salad of baby summer squash. San Francisco chefs are totally not afraid to put figs on a plate.
Of San Francisco’s Terra spent the night making okonomiyaki.
Jonathan Grahm’s incredible range of gorgeous truffles awaited those in the mood for dessert.
The New Orleans chef behind Bayona greeted guests at the Pigs, Pins, and Pinot after-party at Lucky Strike. Todd English was supposed to be hosting, but we never saw him.
One of our heroes, the super-sustainable chef from FIG was a natural choice at Pigs, Pins, and Pinot.
The chef’s bacon-wrapped bacon.
Of Tahoe’s Moddy’s Bistro and Lounge created this BLT with pork belly on brioche and arugula ice cream.