A Taste of the Los Angeles Foodshed
I just had the most exhilarating experience and it happened in a church. Well, a cathedral actually. A very old cathedral… 1870’s old! And it was quite fitting because it involved some divine food! It happened when I was invited to cover the October 6th “Good Food For All – A Taste of Los Angeles Foodshed” reception.
“Huh?” you might ask. Well, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has made ‘good food for all’ a priority for Los Angeles because of its high poverty rate coupled with the city’s high obesity rate. This event kicks off California’s Roots of Change (ROC) Network Summit and honors the LA Food Policy Task Force and its commitment to work toward the day when everybody will be able to eat “healthy”… and features some of the greatest chefs in Los Angeles (and the country)… and I got to ‘taste’ their food.
It had been raining all day, but as Richard (who served as my photographer) and I arrived at Vibiana’s the rain stopped and rays of sun from the heavens beamed down on the former St. Vibiana’s Cathedral. As we headed to the press desk to check in some of the wait staff seemed to have formed a reception line to greet us.
The space is simply stunning… all white pillars and what appeared to be a floor to ceiling white marble altar.
The chefs were setting up their dishes on long tables covered in white cloths and burlap – the white linen highlighting the urban atmosphere – the 'earthy' burlap (the ‘new’ fabric trend) honoring the state’s farmers. Behind each chef and his/her assistants was a prep table to keep their delicacies coming for hours. A lot of work! And there were more than 40 chefs and double as many assistant chefs from every corner of Los Angeles… downtown – Santa Monica – Beverly Hills – Hollywood – West Hollywood – doing that work to help raise money and awareness for Good Food For All.
Ian Gresik, the Chef de Cuisine at Drago’s in downtown LA was the first chef I talked to.
He prepared a celery root panna cotta w/ braised pancetta and basil crouton. What can I say? Does “yum” do it for you? It was definitely a ‘yum’ moment for me.
And look at this…
… like falling into oyster heaven in search of a pearl. Further down the aisle, I found the table of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza’s owner and chef, Nancy Silverton (she’s also the baker/founder of La Brea Bakery). Her ‘offering’: melt-in-your-mouth burrata cheese w/ 2 peas in a pod fagioli alla Genovese and La Brea Bakery grilled garlic felt’unta bread. The evening had just started and I was ready to burst into a hymn!
Not far from Nancy, Chef Ray Garcia of Fig was setting up his tartare of maple leaf duck.
Jaclynn Balas, his publicist, told me that part of Ray’s commitment to LA’s “Good Food For All” program is working w/ a Los Angeles public school teaching kids how to cook and eat healthful, delicious food. LA’s own Jamie Oliver.
Just in time for a little something to sip to enhance my eating experience, I found Jim Clendenen’s Au Bon Climat wines.
First up – a pour of Au Bon Climat 2007 pinot noir. OK – this is soooo not a communion wine. Next was the 2005 Clendenen Family Vineyard syrah which was 90% syrah and 10% viognier. Delicious! As was the 2008 Tocai Friulano – an Italian varietal.
With a full wine glass, I headed out in search of more good eats…
… and found Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse prime Elkhorn Valley Farms steak tartare w/ olive crostini and crispy capers which were sooooo good, I wanted to wrap up every morsel and take them home…
… and from Joan’s On Third - a wild mushroom quesadilla w/ goat cheese and mozzarella – chanterelles, lobster, hen of the woods and shitake mushrooms in a white corn tortilla. Oh, my! So sinful I should have gone to confession…
… and actually did. I confessed, I needed a rest. I needed to extract myself from the crowd and sit down for a bit, but there was no seating. I spotted little wooden booths with little wooden benches at the side of the large room. Found an empty one and sat down. You guessed it – my confession was heard as I sat comfortably in one of the old cathedral’s confessionals. Bless me father, for I have zinned... Well, not really, it was the Italian varietal I was still sipping... before I rejoined the throngs…
There was more tasting to be done before the Mayor arrived... but I will fill you in on all that - the food and the benefit – tomorrow.
For more information on Roots Of Change (ROC) visit: http://www.rootsofchange.org/
And for more information on how Good Food For All hopes to increase access to healthy, affordable and sustainable produced foods visit: http://goodfoodla.org/
All the produce for the event was donated by local farmers and all the chefs volunteered their time, energy and their tasting creations.
525 S. Flower Street
LA, Calif. 90071
6602 Melrose Avenue
LA, Calif. 90038
641 N. Highland
LA, Calif. 90036
101 Wilshire Blvd.
(Fairmont Miramar Hotel)
Santa Monica, Calif. 90401
Au Bon Climat Winery
Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
330 South Hope Street
LA, Calif. 90071
Joan’s On Third
8350 West Third Street
LA, Calif. 90048