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)