As Angeleno foodies, we’ve crawled all over the sprawl that is our hometown, exploring the best bites our town has to offer. Imagine our delight when we received invitations to the 8th annual “Food Event“, hosted by Los Angeles Magazine, an event featuring dozens of our very favorite chefs and restaurants. It’s as if we had a wish-list of all the chefs we’d love to sample in one day, and somehow still had our expectations exceeded. It was truly that grand of an event.
It is of no surprise that this list of restaurants was hand-picked by Los Angeles Magazine’s Lesley Suter, perhaps the top advocate L.A. has in bringing prominence to our great and varied food scene. Her articles exploring the cultures and cuisines all across the city have garnered nationwide attention, culminating in a James Beard award in 2012.
And it was with this great anticipation that we and several hundred of our fellow foodies made the trek through the hills overlooking Malibu to Saddlerock Ranch, a picturesque venue with rolling vineyards and exotic animals. White tents dotted the perimeter, each housing one of forty restaurants and eateries. From the south, live music drifted in next to beer gardens serving Stella Artois and Shock Top. Also present were about 20 local vineyards and cellars touting their craft; I was pleasantly surprised by the Zinfandels offered from Santa Barbara’s Cordon Winery. We tasted cocktails that played on your tongue with perfect fall flavors.
But of course, at a gathering so aptly named “The Food Event”, the food shone brightest. At a central tent, celebrity chefs held hourly cooking demonstrations using ingredients we usually leave to the pros; we caught Chef David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach Post as he showed the audience how to prepare sea urchin.
At the tents, all hands were on deck as chefs and sous chefs churned out dozens of perfectly prepared bite-sized morsels of deliciousness. Chef Ricardo Zarate was all smiles as he presented some beautiful peruvian dishes for his restaurants, Mo-Chica and Picca. The preeminent chef himself, Wolfgang Puck, was on hand with his enduring restaurant, Spago, serving up a delicious hamachi-melon appetizer that had a fantastic texture on the tongue. Ice Cream Lab served up delicious freshly made ice cream, courtesy of a liquid-nitrogen powered cooler. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Son of a Gun took home top honors from the judging panel for their adventurous hamachi curdo dish.
As the sun began to set over the vine-covered hills, you could see the joy on the faces of guests as they began to trickle out, some debating whether their stomach could handle just one more bite of LA’s best eats. Others stopped to pose for pictures with camels and zebras on the way back to their cars. From the perfect weather, venue, food, and drinks, there is no doubt that Los Angeles Magazine’s “The Food Event” is one of the finest foodie gatherings you’ll find anywhere.