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la-food-and-wine-festival-guide

When the LA Food and Wine Festival first started in 2010, many of today’s great restaurants like Alma and The Church Key did not yet exist. In recent years, LA’s culinary scene has grown tremendously and the LA Food and Wine Festival encompasses the best of it in a matter of four days. Beginning on the evening of Thursday, August 21 and ending on Sunday afternoon, the festival spans the entirety of the county from Downtown to Santa Monica with more than two dozen unique events.

Navigating the landscape of this event can be overwhelming, especially since there are so many locations to choose from, celebrity chefs to see and dishes to taste. Here are some highlights from the fest and tips on how to navigate them with ease.

August 22, 7-10 pm: Ultimate Bites of LA
Opening night is usually the best night when it comes to food festivals. The excitement is fresh and the dishes are innovative. But we don’t suggest this event only because it’s on opening night, but because it unites chefs from Downtown, Westside, Hollywood and Beverly Hills for a grand sampling of LA-centric bites that can’t be had the rest of the weekend. Big names in the culinary scene will be there, including Alma’s Ari Traymor, Jessica Koslow of Sqirl, Faith and Flower’s Michael Hung, Food Network competitor Elizabeth Falkner and Ray Garcia from Santa Monica’s Fig.

Getting there: This event takes place outside on Grand Avenue, so the major thoroughfare will be closed and getting around could pose a problem. For anyone driving from the Westside, taking 6th Street all the way may be the best option. There are many parking lots in the area for $10, so finding a spot won’t be an issue.

In terms of public transit, those coming from Hollywood can take the Metro Red Line, Santa Monica residents can take the Rapid 10 bus straight to Grand Avenue and the Metro Gold Line will work for those coming from Pasadena.

August 23, 12-2:30 pm: Hinoki and the Bird Lunch
Hinoki and the Bird opened its doors in early 2013 and was immediately greeted with rave reviews from critics and Yelpers alike. Executive chef Kuniko Yagi is highly lauded for her innovative style and Asian-inspired cuisine that can be found in the restaurant’s lobster roll with green curry and Thai basil and the summer pepper toast with coconut miso jam and goat cheese. Yagi will be joined by James Beard award-winning guest chef Charles Phan to create a sampling of hors d’oeuvres and a four-course meal to be enjoyed al fresco at Hinoki and the Bird.

Getting there: Hinoki and the Bird is located on Avenue of the Stars which doesn’t allow parking at any time. If parking is sparse on side streets, the restaurant offers valet and a self-parking garage. Those taking public transit from Santa Monica can take the 5 bus. Downtown residents can take the 28 to the 728 bus and San Gabriel Valley folks can take the Gold Line to the 728.

August 23, 12-2:30 pm: Osteria Mozza Lunch with Nancy Silverton
The trifecta of Italian cuisine, James Beard award-winner Nancy Silverton, Celebrity Chef Jonatan Waxman and Chi SPACCA’s Chad Colby will share the kitchen to bring diners a tasting of hors d’oeuvres, a four course meal and wine from Qupé winery for three hours of culinary bliss. This lunch is the only opportunity to experience Nancy Silverton’s talents at the festival.

Getting there: Luckily, Osteria Mozza is centrally located on Melrose with ample amounts of metered street parking. Public transportation from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and the Eastside involves getting on the 4 bus, then catching the 704. Travelers coming from Downtown should take the 10 bus to the 48 and will arrive right in front of the restaurant.

August 22, 7-10 pm: Asian Night Market with Iron Chef Morimoto
Downtown LA and the 626 may have their own night markets to highlight LA’s diverse culinary scene, but the Asian Night Market with Morimoto will unite not only the great chefs in our county, but the best across the nation. For this event, Grand Avenue will be transformed into a vibrant market reminiscent of those in Taiwan. Enjoy a leisurely evening stroll, but don’t miss the bites provided by Yamashiro’s Brock Kleweno, Michael Ginor from New York’s Lola, LA’s Jet Tila and Jason Benavente from Nobu.

Getting there: Because it’s held on Grand Avenue, the parking and transportation situation will be the same as Thursday night’s Ultimate Bites of LA event.

August 23, 6:30-10:30 pm: Dining with the Michelin Stars
The Hundred-Foot Journey film comes to life with this Michelin Star-studded dinner. This unforgettable event will showcase the talents of Pierre Gagniere, David Kinch, Dominique Crenn and Michael Cimarusti.

Before opening Twist in Las Vegas’ Mandarin Hotel, Pierre Gagniere kicked off his career by earning three Michelin stars at St. Etienne in France. David Kinch, on the other hand, founded the award-winning Manresa in Los Gatos, CA and has earned two stars for six consecutive years. As the only female American chef to be awarded two stars, Dominique Crenn is the chef and owner of San Francisco’s Atelier Crenn, known for blurring the line between poetry and cuisine. And although the other three chefs of the night hail from various parts of the state and country, Michael Cimarusti, the executive chef of Providence, is the only chef in LA with two Michelin stars.

Getting there: This dinner will be hosted downtown at the Vibiana so metered parking will be difficult to come by. There are three parking lots by the venue on Main Street and Los Angeles Street. Similar to the Grand Avenue events, Santa Monica residents can take the R10 bus while Eastsiders can take the Gold Line.

August 24, 10:30-11:45 am: Scott Conant Cooking Demo
As the true foodies we are, we’ve all probably seen Scott Conant judge dishes on Food Network’s Chopped and we may have eaten at his James Beard award-winning restaurant Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. Conant fans can see the celebrity chef live at his cooking demo held at Los Angeles Center Studios, then stick around for the Lexus Grand Tasting, one of the festival’s last events.

Getting there: Although the Los Angeles Center Studios has its own parking garage, it may fill up quickly. Street parking is also an option with lots of metered and unmetered spots.The LA Center Studios are located downtown, so public transportation is the same as it would be to Grand Avenue.

August 24, 12-3 pm: Lexus Grand Tasting
The Lexus Grand Tasting event also takes place Saturday afternoon so guests can easily fit the event into their weekend itinerary. Diners can take their pick from a long line-up of pedigreed chefs: Sunday’s event will feature bites from Riva Bella, Girasol and Fundamental LA while Saturday will highlight chefs from Cliff’s Edge, M.B. Post and Ink.

Getting there: See above.

Scenes from previous LA Food and Wine Festivals, courtesy of the festival:

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