2011 Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival
Today on The Daily Meal
The first ever Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival kicks off, and The Daily Meal's senior editor (and one-man media team) Arthur Bovino is in L.A. to cover events with pen, paper, camera, and video. Check in for updates and culinary comings and goings throughout the weekend.
6:30 p.m. The sun's going down, there's a buzz in the J.W. Marriott's cavernous lobby and the inaugural Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is officially underway with a private reception with Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis. From the rooftop bar you can see photographers setting up on the red carpet and you get the feeling with the L.A. approach to celebrity, the rise of the chef is far from cresting, it may just be about to get even more life. Heading over to the red carpet for as many video interviews as can possibly be gotten. It's tremendously exciting to have been invited to cover the festival here in L.A. Here we go.
7:05 p.m. RED CARPET PREMIERE: The sun is down, Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is playing, there are video screens everywhere, velvet ropes, food papparazzi, public relations people, and excitement in the air. The red carpet features a parade of chefs, celebrities, and food media making a grand entrance at Nokia Live, outside the Staples center. Wolfgang Puck, Dana Cowin, Randy Jackson, Kathy Griffin, Floyd Cardoz, Roy Choi, Daniel Boulud, and Jonathan Waxman were just a few of the personalities mingling on the carpet as music blasted and Cristal was poured. (Read an interview with Wolfgang Puck on the inaugural Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, Led Zeppelin, and Retirement.)
9:00 p.m. Tonight's all about video and The Daily Meal was a bit late to set up on the carpet because the tripod was in the trunk of the rental car that the valet misplaced for 20 minutes, but these little speedbumps happen and it didn't stop The Daily Meal from scoring interviews with Wolfgang Puck, Food & Wine's Dana Cowin, Kathy Griffin, Roy Choi (left), Jonathan Waxman, Floyd Cardoz, wine expert Anthony Giglio, and winners of the 2011 New York City Wine & Food Festival's Meatball Madness, Michael Chernow and Daniel Holzman.
Red Carpet Observations: Mental note, Kathy Griffin is a great person to cut your chops with as a video interviewer if you want to learn through trial by fire. Do not call her Kathy Griffith even when her handler confirms to you that that is her name (watch the video). Not to put down the L.A. doughnut scene, but Kathy said she wished someone would do the same thing for L.A. doughnuts that Doughnut Plant has done for them in New York City. And speaking of doughnuts, Dana Cowin noted that one of her musts on this trip would be Fonuts, the recently opened doughnut shop that's getting attention, partly for doing vegan and gluten-free versions.
Jonathan Waxman said he thinks the kind of food his friend Floyd Cardoz is cooking is the way things are heading. Floyd, for his part, smiled and said after being asked what he thought about the rise of the celebrity chef, and walking the red carpet in L.A., "I'm just a damn cook, man!" He wouldn't give precise details on his new Danny Meyer restaurant North End Grill, but said it would be an homage to grilling. And was that Roy Choi talking about a new restaurant with a Caribbean feel? (At left, chef Lydia Shire slices porchetta at the red carpet kickoff)
10:00 p.m. There's a huge spread provided by well-known chefs like Susan Feniger, Daniel Boulud, Graham Elliott, Elizabeth Falkner, Michael Ginor, Hubert Keller, Mary Sue Milliken, Michael Mina, Lydia Shire, Daniel Boulud, Elizabeth Faulkner, and Tim Love. With about 100 participating wineries, there's good wine too, Nicolas Feuillatte and Quintessa among them (and six kinds of champagne in the lounge where this reporter took a breath in airplane seats after an exhausting run of videos). Two of the night's best bites were the abalone from Post Ranch Inn and Hubert Keller's gazpacho. But the longest line had to be for Lydia Shire's porchetta sandwich, which far from being an amuse, was more like a grand tasting buffet on one plate: porchetta sandwich, flan, and bacon-wrapped scallops. Off to Pigs, Pins, & Pinot with Todd English at Lucky Strike Lanes.
2:00 a.m. PIGS, PINS, & PINTO: Lucky Strike Lanes was packed for this party, and it was a real blast. You don't expect to see chefs like Susan Spicer serving food in a bowling alley, but then again, as previously noted... bowling and good food are no longer strangers. It was loud, crowded, and the pinot was flowing. After manning his station, chef Todd English made his way over to one of the lanes, where his entourage "happened," and soon, with it, the party at the lanes really got started. Whether they were throwing spares, strikes, or gutterballs, no one seemed to want to leave.
11:15 a.m. SIP LIKE A PRO: Too many wine events happening at the same time! Do you go to Caviar, Bacon, & Bubbles hosted by Andrea Robinson? The Rare Wine Tasting with Formagier Kent Torrey? Easy answer. Whenever wine expert Anthony Giglio is around it's time to clue into the wines he's discussing. A few excerpts from his event at the J.W. Marriott, Sip Like a Pro — Wines That Drink at Twice Their Price:
• On Finding Great Values: "If I'm spending my own money, I'm buying Spanish wines. it’s the same as it was 15 years ago."
• The Right Temperature to Serve Reds: "What’s the proper temperature for red wine? Room temperature? It’s a complete falsehood. Red wine should be served between 55 and 65 degrees. Period."
• Two Great Wine Adjectives: Anthony mentioned two great adjectives passed along to him some time ago that he likes to use when coming across a wine with funk. The first, for a wine with a little funk, "car-nale," described as grilled meat and steamy sex. The second, "ani-male" for wines that should be described as "Just sex, only sex."
The wines Giglio noted as drinking at twice their price were: 2006 Tenuta di Capezzana Carmignano "Trefiano" Tuscany, Italy ($50); 2008 Capture Fleuron Red Wine, Alexander Valley, Calif. ($45); 2008 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon "Old Vines" Columbia Valley, Wash. ($75); 2006 Garcia Figuero "Tinto Figuero Crianza" Ribera del Duero Castilla y Leon, Spain ($22); 2006 Baronia del Montsant "Englora" Monsant, Spain ($17); 2008 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo "Perbacco" Piemonte, Italy ($27). Click here for An Afternoon with Wine Expert Anthony Giglio.
Chefs Sang Yoon (Lukshon, Father's Office) and Chris Cosentino (Incanto).
11:15 a.m. One of the really cool thing about the festival is that there are events happening all over the city. Case in point, the lunches going on this afternoon. Iron Chef Morimoto is cooking at WP24, there's a lunch at Mozza, another with Michael Chiarello and Meadowood's Chris Kostow, another with chef David LeFevre, Cansey Thompson, and Lincoln Carson at M.B. Post, and others at Cut, Melisse, Nobu, Patina, Providence, and the Red O.
One of the coolest of the lot, indeed, of the entire festival has to be the lunch hosted at Lukshon by chefs Chris Cosentino (click here to read an offal interview with the Incanto chef) and the restaurant's chef, Sang Yoon: Meat in the Middle. Two of the most skilled whole animal chefs in the country showcasing "the amazing decadence one animal can provide as they start from nose and the tail and finally 'meat' in the middle. Trotters to tongue, belly to brisket, tail to tenderloin." If you're a fan of either chef, of offal, or are just a food geek, this event has to be on your list. Heading over now.
5:30 p.m. So the biggest event for tonight is undoubtedly, the tribute dinner to Daniel Boulud. But there are two big-time events going on at the same time. One, is the I Heart Champagne & Caviar at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills. The other is the Colicchio Clambake, which has had the gloss taken off a bit by the fact that its host won't be attending for unforseen reasons (a rare issue during this festival).
10 p.m. Not even a little mist and chill could dampen spirits at the I Heart Champagne & Caviar at L'Ermitage Beverly Hills. It helps when there's plenty of both being served. Spotted at the event were its host, chef Morimoto, Wolfgang Puck, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, and Joey Campanaro, the recent winner of the New York City Wine & Food Festival's Meatball Madness event. He took a few minutes to talk about what it meant to win, his philosophy on the perfect meatball and gave some advice on what you can do to help fight hunger in America.
5:30 p.m. Guy Fieri brought his enthusiasm to the Santa Monica Pier where he hosted his new event, Brew B'Que. While Guy roused the crowd on stage and displayed his signature off-the-charts energy, he made a point of showcasing the great lineup of talented chefs serving food at an event with a fantastic setting. There were previews of food at upcoming restaurants. For instance, Tim Love served the bulgogi and kimchi tacos he’ll be serving at his new taqueria on the Trinity River in Fort Worth (“We have about another four weeks of construction,” he noted). Similarly, Roy Choi served the short ribs he’ll be dishing out at his new place in Venice, Sunny Spot. Charles Phan served a fried chicken with Sriracha butter that could fend off any critic contesting that the Ferry Building is making him soft.
Still, it was Fieri who couldn’t walk five steps without fans looking to get a moment with him. The Daily Meal scored a little more time with the star than that, in this interview where he discussed the new festival, his nonprofit Cooking With Kids, and the rumor reported by Food Republic that he may be opening a restaurant in New York City.
10:30 p.m. At the Lexus Live on the Plaza event and Train is performing, but perhaps more exciting is the chance to talk to the legendary chef Paul Prudhomme whose booth was serving gumbo and pralines. The chef was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time to talk about festivals and how New Orleans' food scene has recovered since Katrina.
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