Next weekend, April 30th through May 1st, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books celebrates the book. You know, those text-y files you download and read on your Kindle or iPad or, as they were once known, those pieces of papers inked on both sides with words, bound together between soft- or hardback covers.
In addition to celebrating Madeline illustrator John Bemelmans Marciano and cobbling various authors together on discussion panels, the free Festival will feature chefs and other food personalities on an outdoor Cooking Stage. Thomas Keller, scheduled to appear on Sunday, May 1st, possibly is to the Festival as Lauryn Hill was to this year's Coachella: highly anticipated, if not a little intimidating.
Before Keller's panel on Sunday, however, is a Saturday full of cooking demonstrations. On Saturday, April 30, Erin McKenna, who brought vegan-friendly BabyCakes downtown last year, starts cooking at 11 a.m. Graham “The Galloping Gourmet” Kerr pulls from his new book, Growing at the Speed of Life: A Year in the Life of My First Kitchen Garden and demonstrates how to cook healthy and locally at 12:30 p.m. Bob Blumer, author of Glutton for Pleasure – not to be confused with this book with the same title – demonstrates his, er, creative cookery at 2:00 p.m., and Laurie David and Kristin Uhrenholdt (The Family Dinner) share the stage at 3:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Kathy Freston (Veganist) and Tal Ronnen (The Conscious Cook) demonstrate vegan cooking at 11 a.m. Keller follows at 12:30 p.m., in conversation with the LAT's Russ Parsons. Duff Goldman has the somewhat unenviable position of following Keller at 2:00 p.m.; hopefully, the fondant king of Ace of Cakes will talk about opening a Los Angeles location of his Charm City Cakes. And, at 3:30, Fabio Viviani, Top Chef alum, author of Café Firenze Cookbook, e-author of e-cookbook Did I Really Make Breakfast??? (Well…Grandma Did Help A Lot), and brand ambassador for almost everything in your kitchen, is the final act on stage.
Elsewhere on the festival grounds on Sunday, the food discussion continues: the LAT's own food writer and test kitchen manager, Noelle Carter, talks about her favorite cookbooks in a question-and-answer session at the Los Angeles Times Pavilion at 11:30 a.m., and Rene Lynch takes to the Los Angeles Times Stage to interview Alison Sweeney about her book, The Mommy Diet, at 3:40 p.m.
For the first time since it began in 1996, the Festival will not be held at UCLA and instead will move across town to Trojan territory. The organizers promise more event space and better parking at USC, which we hope translates to enough room for everyone hoping to see Keller, et al., and plenty of water readily available if the weather is anything close to the heat over this past weekend. Kind of like Coachella.