After a near two years in the making, the first annual Los Angeles Food & Wine became not just a hopeful myth but an explosive, gluttonous reality. For four days (October 13-16), all of Los Angeles welcomed chefs from around the world in its restaurants -- but the epicenter of LAFW was certainly LA Live, where vital Downtown blocks got clad in red carpet, and traffic signs pointing to the 110 on-ramp were mere backdrops to snapshots. The festival’s cheerleader, of course, was none other than Wolfgang Puck, who for decades now has championed and pioneered the excellence of California cuisine. Upon Puck’s introduction of Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor declared Los Angeles "America’s food town."
It was impossible, of course, to attend every single event, but we hit up six (Thursday's Red Carpet Premiere at LA Live, Friday's Lunch at Providence, Friday's I Heart Champagne and Caviar at L'Ermitage Hotel, Saturday's Lexus Grand Tasting (Day 1) at LA Live, Sunday's Pretty in Pink: Sparkling Rosés Around the World, and Sunday's Lexus Grand Tasting (Day 2) at LA Live).
Over the four days, we couldn't help but observe five oddities:
1. A curious, but welcome use of abalone. (Thank you, chefs Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Cimarusti and Craig von Foerster.)
2. The Knork. An endless number of knife/forks for us to slice and stick into food.
3. The absence of non-chef celebrities -- the blown-up posters of Robert Downey Jr. clad in a chef's coat notwithstanding.
4. The port-o-potty, nay, the all-too-luxe mobile-trailer restrooms. We left the ladies' trailer as chef Rick Bayless left the men's, who exclaimed: “Wow! With the A/C and everything, I was going to stay there for awhile.”
5. The deliciously lowbrow giveaways: Delta’s infamous Biscoff cookies and Kind bars. We hoarded dozens of each.
Plus, the five things that made us smile real big:
1. The self-serve caviar at Friday's I Heart Champagne and Caviar event (thank you, Spago!), which we used with the complimentary caviar spoon hung around our necks via a ribbon.
2. The hundreds of chefs' coats embroidered with the chefs' names (even the sous chefs!), courtesy of LAFW and ChefWorks.
3. The amount of available book signings. We purchased the new Mozza cookbook, and chefs Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina scribbled a personal "Cin! Cin!"
5. The virtual oyster shooter at lunch at Providence –- best explained in the photo gallery below.