A Preview of May’s Masters of Taste Food Festival

Porto’s Arroz a la Inca at Masters of Taste Preview (Photo by Elise Thompson)

The third annual Masters of Taste luxury food and beverage festival will return to The Rose Bowl on Sunday, May 6th, 2018 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to raise funds for Union Station Homeless Services, a nonprofit organization committed to helping homeless men, women and children rebuild their lives.

Masters of Taste will bring together more than 40 Culinary Masters and restaurants, with sweets prepared by L.A.’s top Sweet Masters, and cocktails created by top Beverage Masters. Enjoy signature handcrafted cocktail tastings from 25 spirit brands and bars, plus beverages from select wineries, local craft breweries.

Local chefs from Los Angeles and Pasadena include Chef Neal Fraser of Redbird and Fritzi’s, Chef Calogero Draggo of Celestino Ristorante, CHAYA Chef Joji Inoue, Chef Tim Guilitinan from The Raymond 1886, Bourbon Steak Chef Kyle Johnson, Chef Lee Hau Fu of Lunasia Dim Sum House and Chef Erwin Tjahyadi from Bone Kettle and Komodo.

Last week we were treated to a special press preview at the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl felt even bigger when practically empty, with one welcoming corner lit up with fairy lights. Chef Tony Esnault of Church & State and Spring, impressed us with a Hamachi Crudo with pickled grapes, puffed quinoa, nasturtium, and a lemon puree made from whole roasted lemons blended and intensified with fresh lemon juice.

Chef Vanda Asapahu of Ayara Lūk served a memorable Braised beef with khao soi rice noodles in a multilayered and intense curry garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro and pickled mustard. They are still a pop-up in Westchester across the parking lot from their permanent space while it’s being renovated.

The Bellwether welcomed spring with Chef Ted Hopson’s lovely plate of burrata and asparagus, green goddess dressing and puffed black quinoa. The dish was paired with a twist on a gin and tonic, a truly vernal mix of house-infused English cucumber gin, English peas, mint and tonic. That’s right, peas, it is the ingredient of the future.

Also focusing on the fresh, Cafe M served a plant-based “Lazy Sushi” with organic natto and sea plants. Although they are vegan-friendly, they are a macrobiotic restaurant, focusing on healthy natural foods and whole grains based on Taoist principles of the balance of yin and yang.

It was great to see Chef Michael Hung again and try out food from his new place, XO in mid-town. He went for some serious fusion cuisine with “Photza Ball soup.” Just like it sounds, it was a heavenly chicken pho broth with coriander-scented matzoh balls. I will confess, I kind of wished it was a nice, simple chicken meatball.

On the cocktail front, Raymond 1886 served a “Grog Cutter” with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Jamaican Rum, Citrus oil, Grade B Maple syrup, spices and apple cider. I did not know that maple syrup was graded, and I am a Canadian-American. They also poured a version of a Manhattan. Selvarey Rum prepared my favorite drink of the night, “A New Jungle Punch” with white rum, lime, blood orange, mint, sugar and black tea. For teetotalers, Dry Sparkling had lightly sweetened sodas in flavors like lavender, cucumber, ginger and Fuji apple.

Porto’s was a welcome sight, as always, and did not disappoint. Betty Porto and her team served a couple of fancy treats, like Arroz a la Inca with layers of rice pudding, a dulce de leche ganache, air cake, straight-up dulce de leche, and caramel crispy pearls. We were enchanted by the mango and passionfruit dark Belgian chocolate tart, with a touch of dulce de leche, and topped with an elegant gold curl. They also brought their famous almond and guava galettes, because we would have rioted without guava!

Other sweets we are looking forward to sampling are from Butter Cake Shoppe, Crème Caramel, Fatamorgana Gelato and Helados POPS, among others. Brewers include MacLeod Ale Brewing Co., San Fernando Brewing Co., State Brewing Co., with varietals from the likes of Anderson Valley’s Navarro Vineyards, Hitching Post Winery, and Wrath Wines. There will also be cocktails from some of the area’s best mixologists.

100% of the proceeds from Masters of Taste 2018 will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services. In the last two years Masters of Taste has raised nearly $1 Million in support of Union Station’s life-saving programs. On Sunday, May 6, 2018, a VIP Power Hour will be held from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., with General Admission tickets joining in from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., 21+ and over.

Get your tickets here. Pasadena Rose Bowl – 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA 91103. Complimentary parking will be available at the event, but consider using a car service as there will be lots of yummy drinks tempting you.



Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
This entry was posted in Cocktails, Beer, Wine & Weed, Food, Photo Essays, Upcoming Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply