One of the many culinary casualties of the pandemic was the long list of sun-drenched food festivals throughout Southern California. While its future hung in the balance for the past two years, Masters of Taste will return to the Pasadena Rose Bowl on Sunday, April 3 to celebrate its fifth anniversary.

Possibly the largest festival yet, there will be more than 100 participating restaurants and beverage masters including Lunasia, Ramen Tatsunoya, Gracias Madre, Poppy + Rose, Georgia’s Restaurant and Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery. One-hundred percent  of  the proceeds from Masters of Taste 2022 will directly benefit Pasadena’s nonprofit, Union Station Homeless Services.

Ayara Thai owner and chef Vanda Asapahu will be the festival’s first female host chef. Asapahu is a UCLA grad and went to graduate school at Yale, after which she spent four years living, traveling, and working her way through Thailand before returning home to Los Angeles. 

This year, Masters of Taste falls in April, during which Thai New Year, Songkran, also is celebrated. Chef Vanda has invited three other L.A. Thai restaurants, along with Thai Select, to participate in a Thai Pavilion Songkran celebration in the Rose Bowl’s end zone. The transformation will reflect a traditional Thai sundry general store and Songkran festival. As a culinary challenge, each Thai restaurant will prepare a dish, dessert, and/or cocktail, using a common paste, sahm kler, an aromatic mixture used in a variety of Thai dishes.

Masters of Taste

The Pasadena Rose Bowl (Courtesy Masters of Taste)

Top beverage masters will be featuring signature cocktail tastings from more than 25 spirit brands and bars. There will be a Maker’s Mark Lounge and premier House of Suntory Tiny House featured on the 50-yard line, as well as select wineries like Hitching Post Winery, local craft breweries, cold-pressed juices, cold brew coffee and live entertainment.

“I have had the pleasure of participating in Masters of Taste since its inaugural year,” Asapahu said in a press release. “As a proud UCLA alum (Go Bruins!), I’d give anything for the opportunity to cook, eat, and dance on the field of the Rose Bowl.”

A VIP Power Hour will be held from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and general admission will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets to this event only are available for guests 21+ and over. For a complete list of participants and ticket info, go to Masters of Taste.

LA Weekly