On the Scene: The Taste by The LA Times

Photography Courtesy of LA Times The Taste; by Devin Berko

Los Angeles Times Highlights Southern California’s Culinary Scene with Two Installments of The Taste

Food lovers flocked to Paramount Pictures Studios backlot in L.A. and to The MET in Costa Mesa to enjoy cooking demos, signature dishes and seasonal cocktails from SoCal’s renowned chefs and restaurants.

Following its ninth successful run at Paramount Pictures Studios backlot over Labor Day weekend, Southern California’s beloved food and drink festival, The Taste, made its Orange County debut at The MET in Costa Mesa on Oct.19th-21st. The Los Angeles Times festival delighted thousands of culinary enthusiasts by offering two distinct installments for the first time. Hosted by The Times Food staff – Jenn Harris, Andrea Chang, Amy Scattergood and Noelle Carter – the events brought together acclaimed chefs, master bartenders and award-winning restaurants to celebrate Southern California’s dining and cocktail culture.

Over the course of six events in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa, attendees enjoyed unlimited food tastings and pours from wine, beer and spirits purveyors, while sitting in on a number of engaging cooking and mixology demos and wine seminars.

The Taste Costa Mesa kicked off on Friday with classic flavors and cultural mash-ups. Chef Linda Johnson (Filomena’s Italian Kitchen) shared her Italian roots through a demo of one of her signature dishes, champagne chicken on risotto, and Chef Hop Phan (Dos Chinos) revealed the artistry behind his collaborative Vietnamese-Mexican cooking.  Saturday saw Geeta Bansal (Clay Oven) provide a glimpse into how traditional and modern techniques make the most flavorful Indian dishes with a step-by-step of her shrimp and roasted bell pepper curry, and Chef Carlos Salgado (Taco María) took the stage to showcase his seasonal, Mexican-influenced cooking. The Taste’s inaugural event in Costa Mesa concluded on Sunday afternoon when Claudia Gonzalez (Chunk-n-Chip) rounded out the food-filled weekend on a sweet note with a demo of Chunk-n-Chip’s signature sweet treats and Southern Glazer’s Wine Seminar guided guests through a tasting of its world-class wines.

Over Labor Day weekend at the Paramount Pictures Studios backlot, The Taste paid tribute to the late Jonathan Gold, who celebrated the incredible food and people throughout the city. The food critic was honored with a special tribute wall in Café L.A. Times, a light installation displaying his 5 rules for dining in L.A. and a mural of his silhouette painted during the three evening events. Additionally, several restaurants served dishes inspired by Gold, including Faith & Flower, Herringbone, Chiguacle Sabor Ancestral de Mexico and Pacific Dining Car.

The L.A. block party kicked off on Friday, Aug. 31 with a demo of Cajun-by-way-of-Compton cuisine from Chef Michael Lawless (Shad’s New Cali Catering)Timothy Hollingsworth (Otium) showcased his famous foie gras funnel cake that evening, while Ricardo Zarate (Rosaliné) and Jonathan Yao (Kato) provided a glimpse of what makes their dishes imminently Instagram-able. Cari Hah (Big Bar) showed guests how to make the ultimate martini, while Ira Norof and Giancarlo Lauro of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and Diane DeLuca of Frederick Wildman discussed white wines of Italy. On Saturday, Sept. 1, Briana Valdez (HomeState) celebrated breakfast all day with a demo of her signature dishes. Ira Norof was back with J. Wilkes Winery’s Wes Hagen to give attendees 101 reasons to enjoy wine and Adrienne Borlongan (Wanderlust Creamery) hosted an ice cream social. Burt Bakman of Trudy’s Underground BBQ showed off his grill skills and the event concluded with a celebration of the diversity of flavors in L.A. when Sean Lowenthal (Little Beast Restaurant) and Noelle Carter came together for a Southern-style cooking demo. Niki Nakayama and Carole Iida-Nakayama showcased Japanese cuisine and Minh Phan (Porridge + Puffs) shared her technique for elevating porridge. Charles Olalia (Rice Bar/Ma’am Sir) gave a master class on Filipino cuisine, wine expert Christine Dalton raised a glass to rosé, and Kim Stodel (Providence) shared how to make a zero-waste cocktail.

Throughout each weekend, key sponsor activations brought additional interest to The Taste while live bands and DJs provided the soundtrack. Activations included branded pop-up bars by Maker’s Mark, Ketel One Vodka, Don Julio, Stella Artois and Aperol Spritz.

Los Angeles Times’ The Taste was presented by Pacific Sales Kitchen & Home, with the Costa Mesa event co-presented by Travel Costa Mesa. All events were produced in association with Best Events. The Collins College of Hospitality Management, L.A. Regional Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County are the event’s charity beneficiaries. Zero Waste Co. was on hand throughout each festival diverting waste to compost.