Cook on television; nab a book deal. That could be one of the takeaways of the Cooking Stage lineup at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books happening this weekend at USC. Of eight chefs who will give cooking demonstrations, speak and sign books, five are known for appearing on food shows, including Top Chef and Iron Chef. The other three include two of L.A.'s most esteemed chefs as well as a nine-time cookbook author.
Michael Voltaggio kicks off the Cooking Stage events at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 21. A Top Chef winner, Voltaggio is co-author with his brother, Bryan, of VOLT ink. The book, according to The Washington Post, “isn't designed for amateur cooks, at least not amateur cooks whose kitchens are bereft of thermal immersion circulators, smoking guns, vacuum sealers, combi-ovens, food dehydrators and other tools of the modernist chef.” As you would know from eating at Voltaggio's restaurant, Ink. At 2 p.m., he joins Nancy Silverton, who recently published The Mozza Cookbook, for a discussion moderated by Times food editor Betty Hallock. The Mozza Cookbook, based on recipes from Osteria Mozza, is “not your ordinary restaurant cookbook as much as a translation of technique and ethos,” we wrote on Squid Ink.
Gail Simmons takes the stage at 12:30 p.m. A Top Chef judge who also works for Food & Wine, Simmons is the author of Talking With My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater, a memoir with recipes. At 3:30 p.m., Anne Burrell demonstrates a recipe from her recent book, Cook Like a Rock Star: 125 Recipes, Lessons and Culinary Secrets. The book aims to pump home cooks with confidence, just as Burrell does hosting Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Worst Cooks in America on the Food Network.
On Sunday, April 22, Melisse chef-owner Josiah Citrin starts the day at 11 a.m. with a dish from his first cookbook, In Pursuit of Excellence. Next we hear from Chris Cosentino, who competed on The Next Iron Chef and recently opened Pigg inside Umamicatessen. His new cookbook, Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal, includes starters inspired by Incanto, his Italian restaurant in San Francisco. The book is slated for a May release.
At 2 p.m., we move from Italy to Korea with Debbie Lee, author of Seoultown Kitchen. A finalist on The Next Food Network Star, Lee opened Ahn-Joo in Glendale last fall, serving just the kind of “Korean pub grub” featured in her cookbook.
The day ends with a presentation at 3:30 p.m. by Alice Medrich, aka “the first lady of chocolate.” Her newest book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, comes out April 24 with recipes for super-quick tarts, puddings, tortes and other sweets.
You might want to check out the panels with food writers, too. On Saturday at 3 p.m., Times food editor Russ Parsons leads a panel titled “Nonfiction: The Food Chain” with Kathleen Flinn (The Kitchen Counter Cooking School), Julie Guthman (Weighing In) and Tracie McMillan (The American Way of Eating). The next day, critic Jonathan Gold moderates a discussion at 2:30 p.m. on “Food Writing: American Potluck.” The panelists are Gustavo Arellano (Taco USA), Aaron Bobrow-Strain (White Bread) and Jennifer Lee (The Fortune Cookie Chronicles). All events are free.