On Dec. 12, L.A. Weekly will host one hell of a holiday party inside Magic Box at the Reef downtown, featuring an unprecedented lineup of world-class bartenders and award-winning dessert makers. For its second year, Sips & Sweets will be a nighttime affair. We think that makes more sense for indulging in cocktails from some of the industry's biggest names and decadent bites from more than 20 of L.A.'s best bakers, confectioners and pastry chefs.
As rare as it is to find many of these bartenders in the same room making drinks for the public, it's even more rare for their cocktails to be accompanied by sweets you'd otherwise find on the menu at restaurants like bld, Broken Spanish, Belcampo Meat Company and Superba Food + Bread.
Here are five bakers and pastry chefs we're particularly excited about. You can see the full lineup of participants here.
Frederic and Fabienne Souliès, Pitchoun! Bakery & Café
Downtown's 8-month-old brasserie-style bakery and cafe, Pitchoun!, has an insanely long case of house-made goodies. It holds close to 20 kinds of French-style pastries, from the common (almond croissants and macarons) to the more obscure (tarte tropéziennes, chouquettes), each baked fresh on site each day. The masterminds behind Pitchoin! are Frédéric Souliès, who trained as a baker in his native France, and his Monaco-bred wife, Fabienne.
Luis Ayala, Broken Spanish
A Southern California native, Luis Ayala is the man behind B.S. Taqueria's boozy paletas and Broken Spanish's spicy poblano sorbet. Like the restaurant's chef, Ray Garcia, Ayala riffs on Mexican comfort-food favorites in a way only L.A. natives know how. If you've had Ayala's flan, made with goat's milk and topped with roasted apricots and ground pistachios, or his futuristic mango con chile — a mango panna cotta with habanero caramel, passion fruit curd and cayenne meringue — then you know why he is the city's modern Mexican dessert master.
Carlos Enriquez, Superba Food + Bread
Before being hired to help revamp Superba's pastry and bread program earlier this year, Carlos Enriquez spent three years at the prestigious Patina Group. Before that, he put in time at top Vegas hotels, at downtown's Bottega Louie and as a finalist on Top Chef: Just Desserts 2. The L.A. native grew up in a small, family-run bakery and today is responsible for the development of Superba's mill-to-oven breads, as well as its pastries, which are made with herbs and other ingredients found at local farmers markets.
Paige Russell, Hatchet Hall
Named one of Zagat's 30 Under 30 this year, 25-year-old Paige Russell makes down-home desserts that fit right in with the Southern-via-SoCal food at chef Brian Dunsmoor's Hatchet Hall. Though her restaurant menu includes takes on comforting desserts like banana cream pie (it's a banana cream panna cotta with cardamom and espresso vanilla wafers) and warm apple pie (a sundae topped with apple cider doughnuts), she says she'll be bringing gingerbread cream puffs and assorted cookies to Sips & Sweets.
Heather Kuklin, the Shugah Mama
Heather Kuklin doesn't have a restaurant to call her own — or even more than one product — but her vegan, gluten-free cookies are enough to convert even the staunchest of wheat eaters. After being diagnosed with a wheat allergy eight years ago, Kuklin found a way to make chocolate chip cookies she could eat without sacrificing flavor. The result is a blend of carob, almond and coconut that tastes even better when used to sandwich mint chocolate chip coconut-milk ice cream (she calls it a Scoop Dawg).
Tickets are on sale now for $40 ($60 for VIP). From Friday, Dec. 4, at 10 a.m. through Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 p.m., general-admission tickets will be $20 in honor of National Cookie Day.