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Contests and Awards

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bean and Cheese Burrito at Al and Bea's Mexican Food - S. RASHKIN
  • S. Rashkin
  • Bean and Cheese Burrito at Al and Bea's Mexican Food
Nate Silver and his Burrito Bracket team have spoken. The best burrito in Los Angeles is at ... Al and Bea's Mexican Food in Boyle Heights.

The Burrito Bracket arrived in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. We covered this playful, semi-rigorous national burrito contest, run by Silver and the statistical data analysis website FiveThirtyEight, back when they announced their selection process. They’ve since posted an official burrito bracket graphic to make following along at home easier as they choose a single champion "burrito selling establishment" from the 64 restaurants and food trucks selected to compete.

All the L.A. restaurants have now had their chance in Round 1, and only one is advancing in the bracket.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Do you love potato salad? Maybe you're one of more than 4,000 backers who collectively contributed more than $40,000 in less than a week to Zack Danger Brown's now infamous potato salad Kickstarter, whose goal was initially set at $10. With ample publicity from nearly every corner of the mainstream media — earlier this week, Brown was interviewed by Good Morning America, Buzzfeed, and participated in a Reddit AMA — the donations are still pouring in by the minute. It seems everyone wants a piece of this potato salad.

In fact, Brown is struggling to come up with new rewards for his thousands of backers. He initially promised backers a bite of the potato salad, but now he's upped the ante by offering to live stream the making of the potato salad, use better mayo and multiple recipes. He's even contemplating ordering trucker hats that say "I love potato salad." But the truth is, not everyone's going to get a bite of this Ohio-made potato salad.

It turns out, Kickstarter is flooded with a new crop of local campaigns inspired by Brown's success. Here's a look at the best L.A.-based Kickstarters from Brown wannabes — who might actually share their product with you if you go fund it. 

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Manuel's Special Burrito at Manuel's El Tepeyac Café - JARED COWAN
  • Jared Cowan
  • Manuel's Special Burrito at Manuel's El Tepeyac Café
Star statistician Nate Silver wants to find the best burrito in the country, so he's done what any stats-genius sports fan with a blog would do: He's designed a Burrito Bracket modeled after the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Silver announced the project last week on FiveThirtyEight.com, his statistical analysis blog, now owned by ESPN.

Naturally, California is currently predicted to sweep this thing. California is home to so much of the nation's burrito riches that our state is its own "region" in Silver's contest - the four regions represented in the burrito championship are Northeast, West, South and California. 

Los Angeles has three players in the fight: El Chato Taco TruckManuel's Original El Tepeyac Cafe and La Azteca Tortilleria.  But La Taqueria and El Farolito in San Francisco are the favorites to win. Of course, the bracket system also leaves open the chance for a dark horse from Iowa or Florida to take it all.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

"There's a couple things out there that America can unanimously agree on," says Matt Timms, the creator of the competitive food event The Takedown. One of those things is mac 'n' cheese, the kid-friendly pasta dish that will be the focus of this Sunday's Takedown in Los Angeles.

The Takedown is a New York-based renegade food competition that started as a chili cook-off and has since evolved into a traveling, nation-wide spectacle where amateur chefs bring their best dishes to the table for others to try. 

By design, there are very few rules to The Takedown: Anyone can participate by bringing a dish they've made themselves - in this case, a mac 'n' cheese dish - and everyone can judge. There are three appointed judges, but there's also an audience vote on the best dish.  At this Sunday's L.A. event, the grazing period begins at 2 p.m. at the Bootleg Theatre and runs until 4 p.m. when the judges and the audience takes a vote on the three best homemade mac 'n' cheese. 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vegan

The Second Annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off Is Coming

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Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 7:01 AM
For some of us, when it comes to food, vegan is synonymous with bland, boring and utterly unsatisfying. But here in L.A., the growing movement towards local, plant-based food sources has left us with plenty of hearty, flavorful, vegan-friendly versions of our favorite comfort foods. On Sunday, March 2, five teams of Los Angeles-based chefs are putting this to the test in the second annual Vegan Chili Cook-Off.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

G&B Coffee's Charles Babinski competing at this weekend's Barista Competition - T. NGUYEN
  • T. Nguyen
  • G&B Coffee's Charles Babinski competing at this weekend's Barista Competition
Over the weekend, baristas from all parts of the western part of the country made their way to a warehouse in the Arts District of Downtown to compete in the Big Western Regional Barista Competition. And after all the shots were pulled, the coffee brewed and the scores tallied, Los Angeles-area baristas - competing against their counterparts from, among other cities, San Francisco -  swept the podium in the the South West division of the competition: Charles Babinski of G&B Coffee finished in first place, Eden Marie-Abramowicz of Intelligentsia finished second and Frank La of Copa Vida finished third. 

"It feels surreal," La said a few minutes after the winners were announced. "I'm still shaking."

And how did the champion feel after winning?

"Good," Babinski said. "Really good."

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Contests and Awards

Butterball Seeks Male Spokesman -- Sorry Ladies!

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Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 12:41 PM

Turkey - BUTTERBALL
We realize this could be a fool's errand for Butterball, since there are no aspiring actors or chefs in Los Angeles. However, for the first time ever, the company is looking for men to be, er, spokesmen for the company, and wannabe actors/chefs would be just the ticket.

To qualify as the Turkey Talk-Line spokesman, you must be a U.S. resident, at least 25 years old, love to cook, be willing to travel, and, most importantly, you must "self-identify as a man."

The company is also enlisting men for the first time to dispense turkey-cooking advice for their Turkey Talk holiday hotline, but you must live near Chicago to score that gig.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

chef Evan Funke at Bucato - AMANDA LOPEZ
  • Amanda Lopez
  • chef Evan Funke at Bucato
The L.A. Weekly's 2013 Web Awards honor the best of what's online. Check out the complete list of winners.

A chef puts his art on the plate, the white expanse of porcelain standing in for the blank field of the stretched canvas. In this era of social media, the logical extension of the chef's tabula rasa is Instagram. In the hands of a creative chef, an Instagram feed can operate like a combination interactive menu/visual diary. It can be -- should be -- a far cry from a catalog of what he had for breakfast.

Chef Evan Funke, who recently opened his first restaurant, Bucato, in Culver City, after years helming the stoves at Rustic Canyon, has such an Instagram feed. His posts function as a mosaic rather than a random list of pictures: an assemblage of beautiful plates, yes, but also of artwork, of food not always his own, of colleagues, of tattoos, of old Italian restaurant signage and of the red pig -- the one painted on his Porchetta Truck -- that wanders through the pictures, a recurrent motif.

In short, it is curated, as any good photography collection should be.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kobayashi in 2007 - SAERU/FLICKR

You could, if you really wanted to, create a Harper's Index of sorts based just on Takeru Kobayashi's culinary feats: Number of eggs eaten in 1 minute: 32. Number of Twinkies eaten in 1 minute: 14. And, of course, the one that made him famous in 2001: Number of hot dogs eaten in 12 minutes at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest: 50. All of which may be reasons why you may be curious about the 35-year-old competitive eater -- if not the world of competitive eating in general -- and why you would be completely fascinated by Buzzfeed's recent profile on Kobayashi and his continued attempt to make something of a career, as well as build a brand, out of sheer jaw muscle.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fig's lemon-ricotta pancakes at the 2011 Pancake Breakfast - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Fig's lemon-ricotta pancakes at the 2011 Pancake Breakfast
Welcome to summer in Los Angeles. Time to go to the beach, monitor your backyard fire and BBQ hazards -- and eat pancakes with us at Vibiana. LA Weekly's third annual Pancake Breakfast is returning this August 11, curated by your favorite pie and radio personality Evan Kleiman. You'll have the opportunity to eat breakfast, lots of it, and wander around downtown's beautiful deconsecrated cathedral in a glorious caffeinated haze. This year we're also doing something even more fun than packing chefs and baristas and hungry people into a church: We're holding a pancake recipe contest!

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