This weekend Los Angeles played host to its second annual food festival. I have been patiently waiting for this festival, and this was my time to pounce. I got my passes, and Thursday evening I headed to the Nokia Center with an empty belly and a skip in my step. For days I had been dreaming of sampling some of the best food from some of the world’s greatest chefs. I was nervous with anticipation at the possibilities of meeting some of my chef heroes.
Night one, I met the host of the evening, Giada Delaurentis. It was her Italiana night, and all the chefs that participated offered up their best Italian fair. Not two minutes after doing an interview where they asked me who I would like to sous chef for, my answer was standing right next to me! Scott Conant!!! I told him I was going to his restaurant the next day for the lunch at Scarpettea, and he said, “No problem, you can jump on the line”. Was he just being nice?? Or did he mean it? I hope he meant it. Tori and I are huge fans of Scarpetta, and we spent our 5th wedding anniversary at the chefs table at his restaurant. I wanted to tell him that, but I didn’t want him to think I was a babbling idiot.
The evening was amazing, the Nokia Center was buzzing with energy. The wonderful smell of food cooking, the music, and the beautiful warm summer night swept me away. I completely forgot I was in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I felt like I was in another country, another world.
Friday, I had passes for the lunch at Scarpetta and Andrew Zimmern’s Asian Market night at the Nokia Center. In the afternoon I was in Italy, watching the two Italian Masters Scott Conant and Michael Chiarello working side by side creating culinary magic. The delicate balance of bold and subtle flavors from around Italy were put together with such a deft touch, it really was a sight to be seen. Oh, and no, I did not work the line with them. I was nervous just being there, let alone jumping on the line with them. Something would have gotten burnt for sure!!
Friday evening was the Asian Market night. Again, I was transported to a different world. I was in a hustling bustling Asian food market, where I sampled some of the most complex foods I have ever had. The skill in which these chefs combine ingredients and create flavor profiles is astounding. So astounding that I forgot to write down names of dishes or even take photos. Actually, who am I kidding, I did that everywhere I went. I was so entranced with the offerings, I just went on eating autopilot. It wasn’t until I was in the car heading home that it dawned on me that I hadn’t taken pictures.
As much as I told myself, “today you take pictures of everything”, once I got there the food trance took over my body and soul. It started at 10:30 am at The Swine and Wine seminar Saturday morning. As soon as I took my first bite of pork, I was a zombie again.
Once I returned to the living ,after taking part in the marriage of Pig and Pinot, it was off to the Grand tasting. The air conditioning broke down in the huge tent where the tasting was being held, and it was well over a hundred degrees in the tent. Did that stop me from continuing the tasting? Hell no. In fact, the heat helped me get into my culinary coma much quicker. All I can tell you is, it was hot, sweaty, and the food and wine were amazing. So were the cookbooks. I bought four of them.
Now it was time to go to the Guy Fieri cooking demo. I am a huge fan of Diners, Drive ins and Dives, so I was excited to see how this guy works up close and personal. Let me tell you something, this guy is a Rock Star. He comes out on stage and throws it down to his own soundtrack. He has a DJ with him and he spins rock and roll tunes while Guy cooks, chops, dices and mixes bad ass cocktails for the audience. He’s larger then life at getting people interested in cooking and grilling, and having fun doing it. It truly was an entertaining show. I got to meet him after the demo and he is a good guy. What you see is what you get. Nothing is put on. It’s not a gimmick. This cat is a rock and roll, culinary gangsta.
At this point I’m starting to slow down, but there is one more event to go. There is no way I am going to skip out on it. It was the Lexus Wolfgang Puck and Friends event. It was an evening with Wolfgang’s 30 chefs and over 200 hundred wines. Again, the food was brilliant. And to close out the evening, a concert with Third Eye Blind. Wolfgang sure knows how to throw a party. Before heading home, I hit the Nickel Diner one last time as I know I won’t be in this neck of the woods anytime soon. There are events all day Sunday, and the final tasting event, but I’m going to give my generous and gorgeous wife a break. She knows how important food is to me and she encouraged me to go to everything all weekend long. She’s a saint for taking care of the kiddies all weekend, and it’s my turn to take over. Well, that, and my pants don’t fit me anymore, so I can’t really go out in public. So home bound I went.
The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival is an incredible event, and if you get the chance to go, seize it! You won’t be disappointed. And if anyone tells you Los Angeles doesn’t have a good food scene or top notch restaurants, tell ‘em to go to the LAFW in 2013. That’ll shut ‘em up real quick.
Registered users, see more of the delicious foods and top chefs that attended the event here.
What’s YOUR ultimate food fantasy? Leave your answer in the comments below.