There is a fine distinction between gourmet and gourmand in French, according to Anna Polonsky, the U.S. associate director of Le Fooding. “The whole idea of Le Fooding is to speak with people who like food but are not necessarily foodies. Gourmet is more foodie in a geeky way, whereas gourmand is just enjoying food for pleasure. It includes being curious about any kind of pleasure — music, art and food.”
As founder Alexandre Cammas told Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker, “We want food to be a series of provocations, not mechanical pleasures. Food must belong to its time.”
For the first time since it came to America nearly six years ago, a Le Fooding event will take place in Los Angeles, taking up temporary residence at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, starting at 6 p.m.
Each night of Le Grand Fooding Crush Paris-L.A. will feature pairings of various manifestations from food to art. Four Parisian chefs are slated to collaborate with hometown chefs, including Roy Choi, Nancy Silverton, Carolynn Spence, Ludo Lefebvre, Jordan Kahn and Josef Centeno. Paris is represented by Inaki Aizpitarte of Le Chateaubriand, Greg Marchand of Frenchie, Sven Chartier of Saturne and Jean-François Piege, who owns an eponymous restaurant in the city.
Artists Shepard Fairey and André each will design a collector's T-shirt in honor of the other one's city; a limited quantity of both will be sold in benefit of L.A. Food Bank. Kitsuné — a fashion and music label in Paris — will showcase music with as-yet-unannounced L.A. musicians.
“We tried to bring people in from different movements. We didn't want to force them to collaborate over a recipe. Practically speaking, the French chefs are going to prep at L.A. chefs' restaurants. It's really exciting to see them work together,” Polonsky says.
The two-night outdoor picnic was a year in the making, with founder Alexandre Cammas and Polonsky making frequent trips to Los Angeles. As in previous events held in New York, there will be a meeting of cultures: L.A. and Paris, art and food, street and haute dining.
As it turned out from our conversation with Polonsky, Paris and Los Angeles have more in common than it would seem, complete with tensions between food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“Street food is out of control in France right now. One of the most famous street carts is called Cantine California. What's interesting is that food trucks [are] illegal in France. From my understanding, restaurant owners are against the trucks because they feel like they're a big competition for lunch,” Polonsky says.
“We thought L.A. would be perfect, because it's so up-and-coming,” she adds.
In fact, Ludo Lefebvre was one of the first to see the potential of a Le Fooding event in town. “He sent us an email. At the time we hadn't even started Le Fooding in New York. We didn't really know him because he is in L.A. We thought, 'Wow, this guy is really ambitious.' We'd never thought Le Fooding will do anything in L.A. And voila, years later, we're having him involved in it.”
Polonsky has found L.A. chefs to be more free than their NYC counterparts in their approach. She counts Animal, Ricky's Fish Tacos, Mozza, Pho Café and Red Medicine among her favorites to stop by when she's in town.
Ticket prices are $50, $80 and $125, ranging in levels of access including pre-tastings and/or a VIP backstage pass. They are now available for purchase online at Le Fooding's website. Twenty percent of each ticket sale will go toward L.A. Food Bank and MOCA.
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