Many dishes highlighted the changing, seasonal menus of L.A.’s best restaurants. // © 2013 Blessing Yen
Last month, Bon Appetit named Alma, the downtown Los Angeles restaurant headed by 27-year-old chef Ari Taymor, as the year’s number one new eatery in the U.S. Four other Los Angeles spots — Allumette in Echo Park, Bar Ama in downtown Los Angeles, Chi Spacca in West Hollywood and Hinoki & the Bird in West Los Angeles — also made the magazine’s list of the year’s top 50 newcomers. Driving around the entire city to experience the fresh additions to Los Angeles’ celebrated food scene — if you can even get a reservation — can be quite the challenge for someone visiting Los Angeles. That’s where Los Angeles Times’ The Taste, a food and wine festival, comes in.
Each year, the event, held in Hollywood at the New York City backlot of Paramount Pictures Studios, offers a curated culinary experience hosted by the editors of the Los Angeles Times. This year’s Labor Day weekend event marked the annual festival’s third year and, once again, visitors were treated to unlimited tastes from the city’s range of restaurants; cooking and bartending lessons from the city’s best chefs and mixologists; and thoughtful discussions on topics that reflect what is important to the Los Angeles food scene, from sustainable seafood to pop-up restaurants. Events are priced at $85 each, though a limited amount of weekend passes are also available.
While some guests don’t go beyond sampling food and drinks, the real reasons to go to the festival are to learn about the special food experiences L.A. offers and to see the city’s talent in action.
One highlight was Ari Taymor’s cooking demonstration, where he discussed Alma’s food philosophy and showed how to dissect a duck before roasting it in lavender wood chips. I have to admit, though, that the cooking demonstration by Evan Kleiman (host of KCRW’s Good Food podcast) was more my taste — her tomato pie was the best thing I ate all weekend. I also enjoyed watching Nancy Silverton, the chef behind one of my favorite Los Angeles restaurants, Osteria Mozza, demonstrate how to prepare eggplant toast and grain salad.
Though SunCafe Organic’s kale shake — voted one of the city’s best shakes by SeriousEats — helped me survive the daytime heat, my other favorite drinks were those prepared during a cocktail demonstration hosted by Betty Hallock, deputy editor of the Los Angeles Times, and Jessica Gelt, a food and nightlife writer for the newspaper. Instructions and samples were provided by Allumette’s Serena Herrick as well as mixologist-around-town Matthew Biancaniello, Brady Weise of 1886 and Christiaan Rollich of Lucques/A.O.C./Tavern. Rollich’s concoction — featuring homemade absinthe and arugula simple syrup — was among the weekend’s best reminders of the creativity and hard work that put Los Angeles’ craft food and drink scene on the map.
Why Agents Should Go
- Learn about the Los Angeles food and drink scene through tastings
- Network with the city’s best chefs, who typically man their own booths
- Discover unique dining experiences in L.A. and how to reserve them
- Create unique itineraries for foodie clients
- Visit one of Los Angeles’ best television studios