So it’s finally time for me to put the fork down, slip into my stretchy pants and introduce myself.

Family and friends know me as Mimi, and I’ve been eating, feeding and drinking in Los Angeles for a long time. I grew up in Santa Monica and my first job was at La Barbera’s Family Restaurant on Wilshire (ask Bob Dylan, he knows the place). My summers were spent apprenticing in Bavaria.

I’ve peeled melted chocolate off of Curtis Stone’s kitchen counter to make curls, celebrated the Feast of the Seven Fishes with Jimmy Kimmel and helped Michelle Branch blister Brussels sprouts in the kitchen. I’ve harvested strawberries and tomatoes with farmers in Oxnard and wrangled rockfish off the Channel Islands. I’ve fed hundreds raising funds for organizations such as Safe Place for Youth in Venice and to fight human trafficking for the Women Like Us Foundation. Food has always been my passion.

By way of a long detour via the Associated Press, People, the Gemini Kitchen and local papers, I finally landed my dream job, Food Editor at L.A. Weekly.

I’ve stepped into some very big shoes. But thanks to the amazing support from seasoned journalists like my managing editor, Susan Gill Vardon, publisher Brian Calle and a warm reception from the entire L.A. restaurant community — I’m cooking with gas.

The downtown explosion in Los Angeles has resulted in the biggest renaissance in local food yet, with scores of new chefs, restaurants and hotels. While we revere our local institutions — Lucques celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and Pann’s in Inglewood has been family-owned for 60 years — nothing is more exciting than covering new concepts, such as those from Dérive’s Loretta Peng and Luigi Fineo’s Luigi al Teatro. Their talent and passion is infectious and just plain makes me hungry.

Fresh and new is the focus of this year’s L.A. Weekly Essentials event at the California Market Center on Sunday, March 25. We’ll feature cuisines from a variety of neighborhoods and cultures. Get a taste of Eataly (the Italian foodie island to get lost in at Century City’s renovated mall) and Pedalers Fork, a cyclist’s rustic oasis in Calabasas known for its burgers, brunch and bike shop. Market-driven dishes from the Mar Vista’s Jill Davies, such as wild boar ragout and gemelli pasta, will make your mouth water.

Susan Feniger, left, with Michele Stueven; Credit: Dale Berman

Susan Feniger, left, with Michele Stueven; Credit: Dale Berman

I’ve been obsessed following Susan Feniger and her travels to China, which have been translated to her Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House at the historic Huntington Library — a highlight at the Essentials event. Her pork and Napa cabbage water dumplings are a favorite.

Foodie icons also will be on hand, such as Philippe the Original serving the French dip sandwich invented there many years ago.

Dining for me is not just about the food; it’s the full experience. I can make great food at home; I get paid to feed people. So when I go out I expect the food to be ace, but environment and service are crucial, too. The more local history to the venue, the better.

I am thrilled to share those experiences with you from an Angeleno’s perspective. Spring is bringing in a tidal wave of new restaurants that you will read about here, and they will come to life in videos with chefs and mixologists who will share their secrets with us.

Stay hungry, L.A. We’ll keep you fed…

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