LA's Best Restaurants Shine At The Food Event

On Sunday, The Food Event presented by Los Angeles Magazine, made its return to Malibu, and once again, it lived up to the hype. Foodies converged on Saddlerock Ranch to sample cuisine from 40 of L.A.'s best restaurants, sip premium cocktails, and watch live cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.

This year's lineup might have been the strongest in the 12-year history of The Food Event, and that's saying a lot. There was longtime L.A. hotspot Spago, serving up slow-cooked brisket over horseradish cream. Nearby, the highly anticipated L.A. bureau of Eataly doled out panettone and cold limonatta to grateful patrons looking to beat the 90-degree heat. Meanwhile, 800 Degrees, known for its authentic wood-fired pizza in a city starving for it, was slinging slices steps away from Instagram celebrity Stanley the Giraffe.
As one might expect from a bash featuring exotic animals, there were some delightfully unorthodox plates to be had. République, a beloved Francophilic restaurant on Miracle Mile, showed its versatility with a hamachi crudo set in a coconut-galangal cream with bits of watermelon and peanuts. One would be hard-pressed to find a hamachi crudo in Thailand, but the dish was balanced, delicious, and proved to be a perfect, if unexpected, vessel for the cuisine's best flavors. A different twist on hamachi crudo was offered by the nearby Guerrilla Tacos stand – they served theirs with raw tomatillo chile, white miso, shiso leaf, and furikake seasoning.

The veggie-lovers in the crowd were treated to a number of choices anchored by eggplant and cauliflower, a popular pairing since their seasons presently overlap. A charred Japanese eggplant over pureed tofu from Hayden Cafe reminded us that food doesn't have to be overly complicated to shine and made us forget about meat – for a moment, at least. Ditto for Norah's cauliflower over eggplant puree with pickled onions and cucumbers.

The cocktails were strong, both in the sense of quality and potency. St-Germain combined its elderflower liqueur with champagne, sparkling water, and ice to concoct a killer cocktail worthy of its ten-minute queue. The cucumber cooler made with Hendrick's Gin also dialed down the thermostat while Glenfiddich gave generous pours of its 14- and 15-year Scotch whiskeys.

In a town that has seen countless parties, The Food Event was one to remember.