Food event season rolls on, and this week the L.A. Times continues its Labor Day weekend tradition of putting on one of the better food festivals of the year with the Taste at Paramount Studios. The three-day festival has a number of events to choose from, and we're here to help you do that choosing.
Unlike some other festivals that have multiple dinners, lunches, tasting events and seminars, the ticket structure here is pretty simple: There are five events, all of them tasting events, and all of them held in the part of the Paramount backlot made to look like the streets of New York. So which should you go to? Here's some advice:
If you just wanna eat: The opening-night party is probably for you. Less crowded, and with none of the talks, cooking demos or other stuff to distract you, this event is really all about wandering around and eating and drinking. Many of the chefs who participate throughout the weekend attend as guests. Restaurants serving include Alma (serving its signature seaweed and tofu beignet with yuzu kosho and lime), BierBeisl, Chichen Itza, Coni'Seafood, Eveleigh, Faith & Flower, Fundamental L.A., Little Sister (serving grilled prawns, Malaysian cashew curry, butter-fried shallots, crushed peanuts and herbs) and Sotto. $150, tickets here.
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For those who love to cook: Most of the events (apart from the opening-night party) have some kind of cooking component — chefs will demonstrate and discuss throughout the festivities. But the event that looks most helpful for the home cook is the Saturday afternoon Field to Fork event. There will be cooking demos by Sqirl's Jessica Koslow and n/naka's Niki Nakayama, among others (I'm pretty impressed with the lineup of badass female chefs at this event). L.A. Times food writer Russ Parsons will be leading a panel discussion with Ari Taymor (Alma), Bruce Kalman (Union) and Gary Menes (Le Comptoir) on how to make the most of great ingredients. The conversation will cover how to achieve zero waste, and the growing trend among chefs to use all parts of the vegetable. $100, tickets here.
For the cocktail nerd: While all of the events allow for plenty of drinking, Saturday night's Dinner With a Twist is the most cocktail-focused. All of the cooking demos (including one by Ludo Lefebvre and his barman, Ryan Dominguez) have mixology components. There's a seminar on how your thoughts and emotions affect your cocktails. At 10 p.m., Jonathan Gold and Jenn Harris will host a mixology demonstration and tasting featuring Zach Patterson (Melrose Umbrella Co.), Josh Goldman (Belcampo Meat Co./Soigne Group) and Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza). There will also be a Knob Creek cocktail academy, where attendees will have the chance to pair up with a bartender and make their own drinks. $125, tickets here.
Pro tip: LA Times subscribers get $25 off tickets for Saturday and Sunday events. Details here.