If you’re in LA over Labor Day weekend and you like to eat three weeks worth of calories in four days, there will be no better event to check out than The Taste. Like a non-stop high-end buffet, this “4-day culinary spectacular” (as it’s being billed) covers three different parts of the city and offers nine events that feature the big names of LA’s food scene plus Top Chefs galore and a baseball team’s worth of Food Network personalities. The Food Republic Street Team (one guy, fairly short) will be out in full force trying to capture the best of the weekend. If you can’t make it to the City of Angels for the event, we’ll be happy to be your eyes, ears and mouths.
The whole thing kicks off on Friday night with two events. If you’re up for burgers, head to Beverly Hills at 7pm for the very creatively named “Burgers & Beer” event. While the mighty hamburger may be the favorite sandwich of the masses, Beverly Hills isn’t exactly known as a place that welcomes the masses. Not to worry, because these burgers are elevated to haute cuisine and paired with craft brews specially selected by beer sommeliers The Beer Chicks (Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune). Make sure to check out LA’s own Craftsman Brewery as well as the Estrella Damm/Inedit – a collaboration between Spanish brewery Estrella and el Bulli’s wizard chef Ferran Adria.
The second Friday event takes place at Paramount Studios in Hollywood from 9 to midnight. It’s “The Art of Mixing” and the name of the game here is mixology. There will be a cooking and mixology demo from 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef Ricardo Zarete, Top Chef Master John Rivera Sedlar, and master mixologist Julian Cox. You can also dance the night away with DJ set and a live performance from Latin punk band Mariachi El Bronx. Just don’t dance too hard – you don’t want to spill your cocktail on anybody.
On Saturday, you can hit both events without any overlap. Score. In the morning, you’ve got “Secrets from the Kitchen & Cellar” where you can sample thirty different LA restaurants while watching Scott Conant make spaghetti. You can also hear French pop-up master Ludo Lefebvre try to speak English which is always more fun in person than on his Sundance Channel show “Ludo Bites America.”
At night, get yourself back to Paramount for the “Taco Tequila Tryst.” Continuing the theme of pairing food with specific types of drinks, this event features tarted-up tacos from traditional taqueros and taqueria newbies alike. Food truck legend Roy Choi is hosting, so put on your favorite hipster costume if you want to fit in.
Sunday is the most packed day of the event with four different options for your dining pleasure. If you’re not hung over from Saturday night’s tequila, make your way back to Beverly Hills for the Fashion Bites Brunch because there’s nothing that says delicious more than fancy clothes on Rodeo Drive. In the afternoon, hit up “Street Eats” in Hollywood, hosted by Top Chef Master Susan Feniger. Food trucks and restaurants from all over LA will be serving up their specialties and you won’t want to miss the panel discussion called “Food City: The New Language of L.A.” It’s moderated by L.A. Times Deputy Food Editor Betty Hallock and the panelists include Kogi’s Roy Choi, Mario Alberto of Chimu, Jet Tila (who’s leaving Vegas to open up a restaurant in LA this fall), and Sang Yoon of Father’s Office and Lukshon, who’s best known for one of the city’s best burgers and one of the city’s worst “no substitutions” policies. The panel runs from 5:45-6:45pm.
If you’re not stuffed by the time the sun sets, you’ve got two more Sunday choices. Beverly Hills plays host to “Desserts After Dark” which offers exactly what the name implies, while the only Downtown event of the weekend is called “Food Noir.” If you’re having trouble choosing one, just ask yourself this simple question: would you rather indulge your sweet tooth with Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes, or are you feeling more into savory foods with a mini film festival at the historic Orpheum Theater? Either way, you can’t lose.
The four-day weekend comes to a close on Monday with a “Picnic in the Hills,” hosted by human smile Giada De Laurentiis. Panel discussions, wine seminars, and cooking demos will keep you busy while you chow down on L.A. favorites like Huckleberry, Kate Mantilini, and Wurstkuche. Tons of wine and spirits companies will be there, too, so you can enjoy your Labor Day like you always do: patriotically drunk.
Tickets are being heavily discounted right now, so make sure you find the promo code on the website (shhhh, it’s “WEB”) or check out their Twitter feed @TheTasteLA. Get all the information you’ll need at http://events.latimes.com/taste/ and if you see the Food Republic Street Team (despite the fact that we’ll be completely unrecognizable), make sure to say hi.