For department stores, the big rush is around Christmastime. For schools it’s all about September. For LA foodies, it all happens as August slides into September. It is the peak of event season, with two of the biggies happening on consecutive weekends. So how do you decide which one is for you?
August 25 – 28, 2016
LA Food and Wine is a 4-day food extravaganza. There are a number of intimate lunches at acclaimed restaurants around the city, along with five gigantic food events culminating with The Grand Tastings and Live on Grand. Saturday night’s Live on Grand also features a concert. This year the featured act is De La Soul. This is the fourth year of the annual event, which was founded with partners like FOOD & WINE and Lexus. The vibe is a bit elegant, with some guests sporting suits and high fashion. High-end ingredients like foie gras and uni usually make an appearance.
Lunches take place at happening new restaurants like Otium, 71 Above and The Arthur J. The larger events take over Grand Avenue at 1st Street Downtown, covering the entire street with a giant red carpet. The Disney Hall and the lights of the city create a stunning and glamorous background. This year there is a new location for the Lexus Grand Tastings on Saturday and Sunday. The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica will be transformed into a culinary wonderland.
Chefs come from all over the country to join the LA locals. Hometown heroes include Nyesha Arrington of LEONA, Alvin Cailan of Eggslut, Walter Manzke of Republique, Jon Shook of Animal, Ben Ford of Ben’s Filling Station and Michael Kahikina of Barrel and Ashes. Some of the participants from the national culinary scene are Emeril Lagasse, Elizabeth Faulkner, Hugh Acheson, Jet Tila, Rick Bayless, and the ever-popular Andre Bienvenu of Joe’s Crab Shack.
The Friday Night Market. Inspired by the flavors of traditional Asian night markets and influenced by West Coast sensibilities, Night Market is an adventure in street food from over 30 participating restaurants and eateries. You can also enjoy custom cocktails, sake, beer and free-flowing wine. Participating chefs this year include Jet Tila of Pakpao Thai, Kyle Johnson of Bourbon Steak, Tin Vuong of Little Sister, and Pawan Mahendro of Badmaash.
Not too bad considering the caliber of participating chefs. The intimate lunches range from $125 to $175. The bigger events with limitless food and drinks are $125. VIP tickets which get you in 30 minutes before the teeming masses are $175. Buy them here.
September 2 – 4 2016
The Taste Takes place over Labor Day weekend with four themed food events hosted by various Times Food writers and eminent chefs, as well as a big opening night soiree with all of the hosts and many of the event’s participating chefs. Demos, seminars and panels will be taking place on three stages throughout the events. The vibe is low-key, and dress is casual. Sundresses are the order of the day and you can feel free to wear shorts and Levis. There will be some comfort food along with high-end offerings, and the food can be a little daring, especially when Jonathan Gold is involved. Elaborate cocktails mixed by some of LA’s best bartenders share the spotlight.
Paramount Pictures Studios New York back lot. Although it is New York, the quirkiness and novelty of partying on a set, along with a bit of Hollywood stardust, makes the location perfect for a truly Los Angeles experience.
Homegrown and adopted local heroes. Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Connie & Ted’s, Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish and BS Taqueria, Bruce Kalman of Union and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar, Kris Morningstar and Ryan Wainwright of Terrine, Nyesha Arrington of LEONA, Mary Sue Milliken, Co-Chef/Owner of Border Grill, and Alvin Cailan of EggSlut, UNIT120, and AMBOY. Participating restaurants include Aqui es Texcoco, Doomie’s Home Cookin’, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, The Bellwether, The Raymond 1886. and Hinoki & the Bird, plus LA Beat favorites Salazar, Church & State, and HACHÉ LA.
Flavors of L.A. Jonathan Gold hosts the last event of the weekend on Sunday night with Kris Yenbamroong, Chef/Owner, NIGHT + MARKET. With this event we are able to explore LA’s “glittering mosaic of culinary influences.” This year Gold will host a roundtable on Filipino cuisine, L.A. native Yenbamroong will demo his classic Thai cooking and Baroo’s Kwang Uh will provide a glimpse into the future with his freestyle Korean food. Participating restaurants include Badmaash, Chichén Itzá, Baroo, Lukshon, Guisados, Herringbone, El Coraloense, The Little Jewel of New Orleans, WOLF by Marcel Vigneron, and what would this event be without Jitlada?
Pretty standard for this type of event. $100 to $150 for each event. There is a $25 discount for subscribers to The LA Times. Buy your tickets here.
So which event should you choose? They each have their merits, so I say attend both! Then you get to wear all of your cute dresses, and you may never have to eat again.