The Taste Returns to Paramount Studios over Labor Day Weekend

The Taste. Photo by Elise Thompson.

The LA Times’ Taste event is a Labor Day tradition, something we look forward to every year. This familiar food event features the best of both high-end and little mom-and-pop restaurants and sets the tone for the coming culinary year. Hosted by the Times’ Food section staff, it is a good combination of demos, classes and strolling food sampling around the Paramount backlot.

This year The Taste is making some major changes. Instead of hosting five events over three days, they have chopped it down to three events–one each on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. It’s actually a relief because sometimes the sweltering heat detracts from the daytime events. And it was difficult for me to attend and cover two events a day. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the chefs and other workers to turn everything over for a new event in just a few hours.

Of course, there will still be unlimited drinks and tastes. Some of our favorite participating restaurants this year include Sichuan Impression, Aqui Es Texcoco, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Holbox/Chichen Itza, Herringbone Santa Monica, Poppy + Rose, Border Grill, Same Same Thai, Trois Mec, Coni’Seafood, Pacific Dining Car and Maple Block Meat Co.

Michael Fiorelli’s Peach Crumble from The Taste’s 2012 “Field to Fork” (Photo by Elise Thompson)

According to The Taste press release, the three events will be:

Friday, August 31, 2018 – 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

“L.A.’s pop-up and underground restaurants will take the stage with a demo of Cajun-by-way-of-Compton cuisine from chef Michael Lawless (Shad’s New Cali Catering). Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec, Ludo Bird) will showcase his French flair. Master of the grill, Burt Bakman (Trudy’s Underground Barbecue), will lead a barbeque how-to. Ricardo Zarate (Rosaliné) and Jonathan Yao (Kato) will provide a glimpse of what makes their dishes imminently Instagram-able. The Bar Stage will be serving up white wines of Italy with Wes Hagen of J. Wilkes Wines. Restaurants include: Amor y Tacos, Baltaire Restaurant, Bone Kettle, Casa Vega, Chao Krung, Farmhouse, Hinoki & the Bird, Otium, Pop’s Bagels and Wanderlust Creamery.

Saturday, September 1, 2018 –  7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

“Delicious food will be the special of the night as Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama (n/naka) showcase Japanese cuisine and Briana Valdez (HomeState) celebrates breakfast all day with a demo of her signature dishes. Sommelier Ira Norof will give you 101 reasons to drink wine. Restaurants include: Cento Pasta Bar, Border Grill, Crustacean Beverly Hills, Jaffa, Kali Restaurant, Madre Oaxacan Restaurant & Mezcaleria, Mayura Indian Restaurant, Prawn, Taste of Tehran, Trois Mec and Winston Pies.”

Sunday, September 2, 2018 – 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.

“Experience the diversity of flavors in our fair city when Sean Lowenthal (Little Beast Restaurant) and L.A. Times Test Kitchen Director Noelle Carter highlight Southern cooking, Minh Phan (Porridge + Puffs) shares her technique for elevating porridge, and Charles Olalia (Rice Bar/Ma’am Sir) gives a master class on Filipino cuisine. Wine expert Christine Dalton will raise a glass to rosé. Restaurants include: 71Above, Banh Oui, Coni’Seafood, Holbox/Chichen Itza, Hotville Chicken, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, Inko Nito, Kobee Factory & Syrian Kitchen, Meals by Genet and Prince of Venice.”

A bemused Mr. Gold at The Taste. (Photo by Elise Thompson)

Another big change this year is the impossible task of filling the huge void shaped like past Taste host and LA Times food writer Jonathan Gold.

To have him there in spirit, there will be a silhouette of Gold at Cafe L.A. Times for photo ops, as well as a light installation displaying his famous “Five Rules for Dining in Los Angeles.”

Santa Monica’s Herringbone will honor him with a namesake dish, a “Golden Snapper Ceviche” with chilies, cilantro, citrus, and crispy nori chips. Pacific Dining Car, whose aged steaks were a favorite of Gold’s, will offer a classic steakhouse plate. A number of other participating restaurants, including Faith & Flower and Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico will also be serving special dishes inspired by the memory of Jonathan Gold.

Standard tickets for each event are $115. The VIP tickets are already sold out. Boo. Get your tickets here before they all sell out!

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.
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