Los Angeles Food & Wine will occupy two main hubs this weekend: one in the middle of Downtown’s Grand Avenue in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and another at Santa Monica’s expansive Barker Hangar. The festivities kick off tonight with an Emeril Lagasse-hosted dinner on Grand Avenue, and they end on Sunday afternoon with the Lexus Grand Tasting.
I’ve been going to this event for the past three years and I’ve found that as it compares to other massive national-level food events, it’s definitely vying for a top spot. I’d still rank Pebble Beach and Hawaii Food & Wine ahead of it in terms of scope, while I’ve heard that South Beach and Aspen are still the top tier. Still, LA Food & Wine is a bit younger than the other events and is figuring out for its unique flavor. From the lineup that I see this year, there’s a bit more in the way of up and coming talent versus more established personalities, though there are certainly plenty of the latter in the mix.
Let’s run down five notable events worth checking out (I’ll be attending these as well):
Emeril’s back, and this time with a new Amazon Prime show that features him traveling around with friends like Mario Batali, Aaron Sanchez, and Nancy Silverton. Priced at $115, it’s the cheapest main event happening over the weekend, and with unlimited food and drinks, it’s a relative bargain. The other tastings tend to start at $125, so the early bird gets the worm (or in this case, gumbo) here. Notable chefs cooking at this event: Fabio Viviani (for the Top Chef fans), John Tesar (in case you love meat), Walter Manzke (Republique), Alvin Cailan (Eggslut), and Ayara Thai’s Vanda Asapahu. You’ll also see Chi Spacca’s Ryan Denicola, Officine Brera’s Angelo Auriana, and Matt Bata from Alexander’s Steakhouse. My overall feel for this event is that it’ll be meat heavy, based on the lineup. August 25, 7 p.m.
Jessica Largey, who won the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef last year in Chicago, announced earlier this year that she’d be opening a restaurant named Simone in Los Angeles. Formerly the chef de cuisine at Los Gatos’s lauded Manresa, it was quite a coup for Los Angeles to steal her away from the Bay Area. So I’m excited about what Largey going to be cooking up here with Simbal’s Shawn Pham in Little Tokyo for $125 tomorrow for lunch. Definitely not cheap but it does come with at least five paired wines from Roederer Estate (mid-day champagne for the win), Faust from Napa Valley, and more. The lunch runs from noon until 2:30 p.m., making it the perfect Friday long lunch out of the office. August 26, 12 p.m.
This event has a heavier street food and Asian cuisine angle, with Badmaash, Little Sister, and Sumo Dog presenting dishes. Girasol’s C.J. Jacobson, Blue Ribbon Sushi, and Mr. Chow are also repping the street food format. Also a hot tip: Barcito’s Andrea Borgen will be mixing cocktail in the Eater Young Guns lounge. August 26, 7 p.m.
Some heavy hitters on Saturday evening’s even on Grand Avenue include Bestia, The Cannibal, STK, Starry Kitchen, and Joe’s Stone Crab. I’d especially opt to go early for Joe’s Stone Crab, with is one of the best pieces of seafood you can possibly eat in the world. I’m guessing they’ll run out because whenever Joe’s Stone Crab is at one of these events they pack the longest lines. Of course Food Network’s Tyler Florence is bringing food from his restaurant Wayfare Tavern, and as a big fan of his TV work, I’ll definitely be waiting at that tent. August 27, 7p.m.
If you’re dead set on staying on the Westside, there are two Grand Tastings happening on the weekend. Each boast 30 vendors and over dozens of winemakers, making it a bit more of an even for oenophiles. Notable chefs here: Hugh Acheson, Stephanie Izard (Chicago’s Girl & the Goat), Charles Phan (The Slanted Door), George Mendes (NYC’s Aldea), and Antonia Lofaso (Scopa). The food lineup’s definitely really solid but the wine that’ll be poured here catch a bit more of my attention. August 28, 12 p.m.