I am certain that most of my Huffington readers know who Gustavo Dudamel is, but just in case you don't he is the 32-year Venezualan-born Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In the four years he has been here, he has revitalized the orchestra and brought it to even greater heights of achievement and excitement. Once you have seen this curly-haired wonder conduct the musical ensemble with all of his body (and hair) flying about, you will forever understand why the L.A. Phil is now considered one of the world's greatest orchestras. Much of the credit for this sustained success must also go to a woman named Debra Borda, who is the President of the organization. It was she who realized that bringing Gustavo to L.A. would revitalize the music scene here and was determined to win him from under the noses of larger and richer locations. She followed him from city to city, country to country, as he guest-conducted other orchestras....and finally wooed and won him for us. (The orchestra's charismatic chairman, David Bohnett, provided her with all the support - and money - she needed to make it happen.) This all flashed through my mind as I sat on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl last week as Dudamel and Borda announced the program for this summer's Hollywood Bowl season.
LA Phil President Debra Borda and Music Director Gustavo Dudamel
The fact that Joachim Spichal's PATINA RESTAURANT GROUP was also giving me tastes of many of the dishes available to Bowl patrons both in their restaurants there and in meals delivered to the boxes was a powerful incentive for me to be there. For many years I had a box for four on a classical music night at the Bowl, and as the food maven I was responsible for delivering the food. I would spend days shopping and cooking for my guests, finally wearying of that task when Joachim and his guys took over the catering operations 14 years ago and offered up delicious meals delivered to every boxholder. Each year they have enlarged and expanded upon the offerings until, this year, I realized that a trip to the Bowl can be as much for the food as for the music. I recently spent an evening exploring the 17 unique food outlets located in the historic performance venue. It came about when I had lunch with Joachim at his PINOT PROVENCE in the wonderful Costa Mesa shopping emporium, South Coast Plaza, and he invited me to tour the Bowl premises and see what they were offering. Wow, it was a revelation. I realized that they have captured the essence and excitement of the local culinary landscape with all their food places. Especially intriguing was the new full-service al fresco wine-and-tapas bar which was almost completed when I stopped by....it's perched above the main entrance to the box seats. Chef Joe Vasiloff from Ray's will be ensconced there, and he promised me a few interesting dishes if I came back...raw fluke, deviled quail eggs with smoked salmon roe, and skirt steak with warm bone marrow.
Artist rendering of the new Wine-and-Tapas Bar at the Bowl.
After entering the gates of the famed venue, you first see the Staccato pick-up window (where you can get 'eveything' fries, golden fried chicken, Thai chicken sausages, sushi, and HB veggie bowl options. Different picnic baskets are here for the hungry. You can proceed to the Rooftop Grill (where the tantalizing odor of mesquite-grilled meats will be incentive enough to order a juicy steak or slab of prime rib.) I asked to see some of the menu offerings for box seat holders...and saw some very enticing dishes...cacao-and-pepe pasta with roasted wild mushrooms, golden fried chicken, and platters of farmhouse cheeses and meats.
Patina chef prepares my roast beef sample.
I had a chance to talk to Dudamel for a moment, and he said that he was very excited about conducting a performance of Verdi's AIDA on Sunday, August 11th. Oh, yes, I will be there...since it is one of my favorite operas, so majestic and romantic. (In my lifetime I have seen at least a dozen performances of that opera, from the ruined Roman gardens in Italy- with real elephants - to the Met in New York.) We both looked out in wonder at the empty Bowl, and I told him of coming here my first week in L.A. in the early '50s and paying a buck for a seat in the very last row.) He said that he was looking forward to being a guest on opening night, June 22nd, when Steve Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, while Patti Austin and John Legend will also perform. We marveled at the Tchaikovsky spectacle on Friday, August 16th and Saturday, the 17th, when the fireworks erupt over the shell. We looked at each other and laughed at how good life could be!
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