user's guide

Which Tasting Event Best Fits Your Appetite and Budget

You'll only catch Nobu and Keller at one, but it'll cost you

You'll only catch Nobu and Keller at one, but it'll cost youPhoto: Hadley Tomicki

No one claimed it was easy (or cheap) to be a foodie and with four major tasting festivals (and lots of little ones) planned for the weekends to come, it seemed the right time to try and make some sense out of them. Two veteran events, Angeleno's Chef's Night Out and Wolfgang Puck's AWFF, and two very ambitious newbies from Food & Wine and L.A. Times, are all vying to get your patronage. Enjoy our attempt to make sense out of the costs and rewards of each festival, the special and repeat appearances from valued chefs at each one (you can find Michael Voltaggio and Ludo at three), what makes each event distinct, and who benefits from the ticket sales in our user's guide to L.A.'s tasting season, now upon us.

Name: Chef's Night Out
Dates: Sunday August 1st
Time: 4:30 VIP, 5:30 P.M. general
Location: The Fairmont Miramar Hotel
Organizer: Angeleno/Modern Luxury
Cost: $95, $150 VIP
Number of restaurants/chefs currently involved: 18
Hook: Angeleno restaurant critic Brad A. Johnson will gather the chefs and restaurants he recently gave his annual awards too, showcasing a tight selection of chefs who have made a big impact and left major buzz this last year.
Highlights: The Bazaar, WP24, Bistro LQ, Petrossian, Michael Cimarusti
Repeat Offenders: Michael Voltaggio, Ludo Lefebvre, Ray Garcia
Performers: No big names
Non-Profit Supported: L.A.'s Best, an after-school program
Experience Level: Eight-Year Veteran

Name: Taste of Beverly Hills
Date: September 2nd to 5th (9.02.10 -get it?)
Time: Various
Location: Various
Organizer: Food & Wine
Cost
: $125-$150 per event
Number of restaurants/chefs currently involved: Over 100
Hook: Six different tasting events from L.A. chefs, bartenders, and restaurants along five themes including "date night," "BBQ in the Hills," "The Art of Mixing," "The Art of Brunch," and "Secrets from the Kitchen and Cellar." Clearly the most ambitious event for a first-timer, with a packed four-day schedule interspersed with musical performances, contests, lectures, and cooking demonstrations.
Highlights: The North American LG Cooking competition, wine sessions with master sommeliers, and Evan Kleiman's pie contest.
Repeat Offenders: Wolfgang Puck, Animal, Voltaggio, Ludo
Performers: Natasha Bedingfield, Jason Bentley of KCRW will curate the music elsewhere
Non-Profit Supported: Beverly Hills Education Foundation (BHEF)
Experience Level: 1st Year Rookie

Name: Los Angeles Times Celebration of Food and Wine
Date: September 5th
Time: 12:00 to 8:00 P.M.
Location: Paramount Backlot
Organizer: Los Angeles Times
Cost: $55 ($65 at the door)/ with VIP Tasting $125, $40 for just the concert
Number of restaurants/chefs currently involved: Over 100
Hook: Eight hours of chef demos, book signings, panel talks, booze and food tastings, and a concert. In addition, the paper will have staff from the food section and test kitchen giving talks, moderated by editor Russ Parsons
Highlights: Rivera, food trucks, Jimmy Shaw, demos from Suzanne Goin and Mark Peel
Repeat Offenders: Ray Garcia, Michael Voltaggio, Ludo, Animal
Performers: M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel's She & Him
Non-Profits Supported: Share Our Strength and the Los Angeles Times Family Fund.
Experience Level: 1st Year Rookie

Name: American Wine and Food Festival
Date: September 25th
Time: 5:00-11:00 P.M.
Location: Universal Studios Backlot
Organizer: Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff
Cost: $300
Number of restaurants/chefs currently involved: Over 50
Hook: Wolfgang Puck and Barbara Lazaroff's annual fundraiser for Meals on Wheels. The Universal Studios Backlot becomes a walking smorgasbord of creme de la creme local chefs and international chef friends of Puck's, along with excellent winemakers like Au Bon Climat.
Highlights: A high caliber of established talent like Thomas Keller, Gino Angelini, Nobu, Piero Selvaggio, Paul Prudhomme, plus Sherry Yard's "sweet sanctuary and champagne and port lounge."
Repeat Offenders: Rivera, Mark Peel, Michael Cimarusti, Wolfgang Puck
Performers: No big names, but live bands
Non-Profit Supported: Meals on Wheels
Experience Level: 28-Year Veteran

Earlier: What You Missed at The 27th Annual Wine and Food Festival [Grub Street]

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