The second Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival wrapped up yesterday afternoon in Downtown, following four of the most scorching days the city has suffered so far this year. It was hot in more ways than one, actually, given the high wattage of electric chef power, pulsing with local heavyweights, who were joined by quite a few national names, all to celebrate L.A. as an epicurean epicenter. Through a continuous series of tasting events and chef-driven restaurant demos, lunches, and dinners, thousands of big appetites jostled through long lines for a bite, slurping down wine and beer, and narrowly avoiding hitting the wall or the floor. Through it all, Grub Street hit many of the grand tastings held in or around Nokia Plaza, brushing shoulders with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Andrew Zimmern, Ricardo Zarate, Kerry Simon, Paul Prudhomme, Ming Tsai, John Sedlar, David LeFevre, and Akasha Richmond, among the many talents assembled. We came, we saw, we stole a couple of Knorks. Come take a look at some of the red-hot, sweltering fun in our slideshow recap of this past weekend’s L.A. Food & Wine Festival.
Most of the festival’s grand tasting events were held in or around the corporate courtyard in Downtown, feeling a bit like Las Vegas at times, given all the lights, pop music, and a mock-up Cosmopolitan Hotel suite at the entrance.
Was the host of Friday’s Asian Night Market with Eater, holding down long lines for the chef and T.V. star’s pork ribs.
Last year, L.A. Food and Wine became the officially sanctioned replacement for Puck’s long-held Meals on Wheels food and wine benefit.
Susur Lee’s caviar-topped duck sausage in pastry greeted guests, of which there were many, at the entrance to Friday’s Asian night market.
Co-founder Colin Fukunaga, dripping honey on his Okinawa-style beignets, which were paired with fried chicken.
SinoSoul’s Tony Chen made sure the San Gabriel Valley had a prescence among the famous chefs and restaurants, bringing the Taiwanese restaurant’s beef-filled sesame rolls to the table.
Pastry chef Sally Camacho
Co-founder Nguyen Tran, who re-opened Starry Kitchen for friends and family the night before at Fred Eric’s Tiara Cafe.
The next morning, Perfecto Rocher and his team shaved paper-thin slices of Iberico at Saturday’s Grand Tasting event.
Unfortunately, the air conditioning broke that day, turning the tented venue into a sauna. This made dishes like Rocher’s Iberico-topped gazpacho a crucial survival tool to fend off the heat.
One of our favorite new dishes this year has been Ricardo Zarate’s preparation of the Amazonian river fish, paiche at Mo-Chica. The chef tells us this new, lettuce-wrapped paiche may soon be served at his Beverly Hills restaurant, Picca.
The legendary West Coast chef behind L.A.’s Simon and L.A. Market.
Chef Jeremy Berlin had the ideal dish for a swletering day, serving a simple plating of perfect heirloom tomatoes in vinaigrette.
Gabriel Ask shaved uni on top of a corn puree.
Why is this man smiling? The Florida favorite made mojitos in a balloon, which may have delivered a joyous blast of nitrous along with the intoxicating fumes of a minty cocktail. The crew also offered edible paint, making them the most fun restaurant to hang around.
Chef Paul Shoemaker prepared a delicious burger, medium rare and topped with kim chi on a brioche bun.
Chef Paul Shoemaker, a dedicated forager for his Malibu restaurant.
Mark Estee’s Reno restaurant paired blood pudding with a polenta cake, which despite the heat, was a favorite of our’s.
Helped kick off Saturday’s Grand Tasting event, hosted by Wolfgang Puck, with Mark Peel and Christopher Eddy’s truffle duck sausage, one of the more memorable bites we enjoyed this weekend.
For the second straight year, the Scampo owner drew the longest lines for her full meals of New England seafood served in a picnic box.
The master of Angelini Osteria, always a crucial component of the festival, both in its current and previous incarnations.
And the cutest little person ever were serving a crowd-pleasing uni-topped salmon with salmon eggs.
Danny Elmaleh, the chef behind Mercato di Vetro and Cleo, served what may have been our very favorite dishes of the weekend, including this fried, stuffed squash blossom with shaved summer truffle.
William Bradley, of the brilliant, refined restaurant at San Diego’s Grand Del Mar.
Gale Gand’s team from Chicago offered minature banana cream pies on a spoon.
Sonny Sweetman served seared, speared ahi with pandan.
The celebrated Cajun chef.
The band played a short set on Saturday night to the joy of its fans.
Ming Tsia hosted a dim sum brunch on Sunday morning at WP24. He didn’t cook and there was more bacon, sausage, and frittata than dim sum (only three types of which were served, including these shu mai), but the chef won the crowd over with his sharp humor.
Heavy on charm, Tsai pitched a new sambal to the amassed senior set, quipping, “I use it on everything but my wife…and that’s because it’s expensive.”
David LeFevre helped conclude the weekend at Sunday’s final grand-tasting in Downtown. His lamb belly with peaches was another favorite. Fortunately, the air conditioning also worked that day.
Akasha Richmond nailed summer in a serving of Tenerelli peaches.
Celebrated his new restaurant, Osteria Drago, with a delicate handmade gnocchi covered with shaved truffles.
L.A. hero John Sedlar had a busy weekend, as festival goers joined with post-concert Red Hot Chili Peppers fans on Saturday night at his Downtown restaurant, Rivera, making the place a little rowdy.
Praises be to Ilan Hall, who had the smarts to serve sno-cones, topped with a marshmallow cream and bacon.
The San Diego chef behind such restaurants as Seersucker, Burlap, and Garbardine, signed off on a full weekend by offering lobster rolls. Until next year…