As a food, wine and restaurant critic, I am invited to a lot of events. A lot. At last count this year alone I have had 47 such invitations, most of which I gently refuse 'cause I can only handle so much....stuff. Of course I attended the 40th annual Concern Cancer Benefit at Paramount Studios, which raised over $1.7 million this year. I support the upcoming Alex Loves Lemonade event, which some chef friends have been putting on for several years and has raised over a million dollars for children's cancer research. My personal charitable endeavor is the Special Olympics Pier de Sol on October 12th at the Santa Monica Pier, for which I help round up several dozen restaurant particpants.
I must admit that my favorite event of the year is the upcoming Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival, which will be celebrating its fourth annual such celebration from August 21st to August 24th in events held all over town. Why this one? Probably because of its enormous diversity. Where else will you ever see 200+ wines being served? Or find 100+ celebrated chefs from all over the world in one place? The main venue is downtown, on Grand Avenue directly alongside the majestic Walt Disney Hall. It is produced by David Bernahl II's Coastal Luxury Management people, and how they ever got those multitude of city agencies to go along with this ambitious venture is beyond me. I will attend several of the bigger downtown events, starting with the star-studded Lexus Grand Tasting on Thursday night, followed by the Asian Night Market on Friday night hosted by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. There's a spectacular Dining with Michelin Stars dinner on Saturday night, honoring one of my heroes, French chef Pierre Gagnaire, but the $500 a ticket tab is a little too high for this critic so I will go instead to the Lexus Live on Grand event. I know that on Friday evening I will be at L'Ermitage's rooftop for a Champagne and Caviar party. That same night culinary legend Nancy Silvertn will be honored at an aptly-named Tribute to a Legend.
In between there are a series of Power Lunches on Friday all over town which should be great fun. I think I will attend the one closest to home, at Hinoki and the Bird in Century City, where Kuniko Yago will join with the San Francisco master Charles Phan for an Asiatic fantasy. Rock star Fergie of Black Eyed Peas will be in the Tasting Tent showcasing her wines. The musical live entertainment each night will feature top acts on the master stage set against the glittering skyline of downtown L.A, and believe me, that is spectacular.
All of this would not happen without the sponsorship of several high-powered entities, from Food and Wine Magazine to Lexus, Jenn-Air, Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and Delta Airlines. I must note that none of this is free, and it can be expensive, with tickets ranging from $50 to $500 an event, but what astonished me in previous years was that so many young affluent people attend all of the events. To get tickets, go the www.lafw.com website or call 855-433-5239. I am told tha the Festival supports Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign and other L.A.- based charitable endeavors. See you there.
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