As I stumbled back into the office this morning, I realized two things. One, I had a friggin' amazing time this weekend at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. And two, my pants are now too tight.
To say there was an abundance of food would be an understatement. I only grazed the surface of the events that the festival had to offer and I was still left in awe and stuffed. The fact that so many talented chefs from all over the country came together to celebrate the common love for their craft is quite amazing when you think about it, and the fact that they are sharing their favorite dishes with you, well, that's just a privilege.
The first event I attended was Giada's Festa Italiana on Thursday night. This was like the "Opening Ceremonies" of the festival. The event was sprawled out on Grand Avenue right in front of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, talk about a beautiful backdrop! As you entered the event you grabbed a wine glass and were quickly immersed into the party. There were hundreds of wine vendors in attendance to keep your thirst quenched and plenty of Italian eateries serving up carb-filled dishes to soak it all up.
Some highlights from the night included the amazing burrata and tomato jam from Stella Barra in Santa Monica, the raw bar from Bouchon, and of course meeting the host of the night herself, Giada Di Laurentiis.
The next night it was back to "Grand @ 1st" (where Grand Ave meets 1st Street) for Asian Night Market. Imagine the best of K-Town and Chinatown mixed in with the likes of Mr. Chow, Seoul Sausage, and other great Asian restaurants from all over the country, that's what this night was all about.
My favorite dish of night was a roasted pork and shrimp pancake from 610 Magnolia, too bad I later found out it's in Kentucky! Other highlights were the Duck Bahn Mi from Lola, Kimchi Rice Balls from Seoul Sausage and the Nitris Cotton Candy from Patina. Take a look at what made that dish quickly get the nickname, "The Dragon".
I also had the chance to meet one of the greatest chefs of Asian cuisine on the planet, Chef Masaharu Morimoto. You may remember him from the hundreds "Iron Chef" episodes he's done, but I will now remember him as the guy who got me to eat Octopus Balls.
As if I didn't have enough by now, Day 3 of the event brought me face to face with the "Culinary Comedian" (at least that's what I call him) Chef Fabio Viviani! For those of you who may not know his name, search for any videos of his online and you'll instantly fall in love. Every word that comes out of his mouth cracks me up, and the cute Italian accent doesn't hurt either. Fabio and I have had the chance to meet before so it was great catching up at his live cooking demo where he prepared Fresh Gnocchi and Pesto Sauce.
After hanging out with Fabio, I headed over to LA Center Studios for the Lexus Grand Tasting. This event was seriously the "Who's Who" of the cooking world. Any foodie would have felt like they had died and gone to heaven, I know I did. Chef Brain Malarkey was there, Ziggy Marley's Organics, cheese expert Laura Werlin, and my new friends, Katherine and Sophie of Georgetown Cupcakes. These two were as sweet as could be! They were handing out BOXES of their famed cupcakes and I have to say, I am a convert. These are my new favorite cupcakes in LA. Yup, I said it.
The event was a stellar success. I am beyond grateful that I was able to be part of it. A special thanks to the team at Wagstaff PR for making me feel like a rockstar! Counting down the days (and saving room in my belly) for next year!
See all of Kasey’s pictures from the event on Facebook.