The theme at this month's smartypants gathering is food, specifically how local Santa Monicans are transforming their community. After cocktails and mingling, there will be a discussion with chef and radio host Evan Kleiman and investment banker-turned farmer Mark Anderson.

WHEN: 6 p.m, Feb. 2

WHERE: William Turner Gallery

COST: $25 (buy tix here)

The burger at Comme Ca.; Credit: Guzzle & Nosh

The burger at Comme Ca.; Credit: Guzzle & Nosh

Soba Movie Night

Seijun Suzuki's cheeky 1967 gangster flick Branded to Kill, which features a hit man with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, and A Japanese Village: Furuyashikimura, a 1982 documentary about rice, will screen alongside a bar featuring artisanal soba, grilled onigiri and a variety of sakes. UCLA professor Anne McKnight will give an informal lecture.

WHEN: Feb. 3-4. Soba bar opens at 5 p.m. Screening & lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. on Feb. 4.

WHERE: Atwater Crossing

COST: The screenings are free. The food costs money.

Cupcake Challenge

The baking gloves come off as dozens of bakeries from around L.A. and Orange County compete to see who makes the best cupcake. Contenders include previous winners Sugar Jones, Polkatots and Jus Minis as well as Sweet Dreamery, Sweet September, ButterSweet, Sugar Babies, Double “D” Cupcakes, Friandise Pastries and Secret Marmalade.

WHEN: 4-7 p.m., Feb. 4

WHERE: Hollywood Renaissance Hotel & Spa

COST: $40 (buy tix here)

Burger Night

After nearly achieving perfection with his gourmet burger, David Myers recently launched a weekly burger night features five more burgers — lamb merguez, a Swiss, a porky breakfast burger topped with an egg sunny-side up and a veggie burger made with cashews and pine nuts — along with a list of “Cellar Finds,” rare wines at slightly more affordable prices.

WHEN: every Tuesday evening

WHERE: Comme Ca

COST: burgers cost $14-18

A Cook's Tour to Mexico

Cook, teacher and intrepid food explorer Nancy Zaslavsky will lead a small group (10 people) on a weeklong trip to explore the food, drink and culture of Veracruz. Staying at a waterfront top hotel with views of the port, the group eats all meals together for a week, from top-notch restaurants to palapa-roof shacks. There's also a nighttime tacos and tamales crawl, plus tours to the Cempoala, La Antigua and Tlacotalpan.

WHEN: Feb. 2-8

WHERE: Veracruz, Mexico

COST: $2200. Includes six nights in a hotel (double occupancy), all meals taken with the group, all tastings, demos, tours, museum/site entrance fees and local tour transportation. Does not include airfare and transport to/from airport/hotel.

Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at eshatkin@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly