The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival attracted throngs of food lovers this past weekend. With over 150 chefs and over 200 wineries represented, there is no other place you would want to be if you’re a food and wine lover. Offering two venue locations, one could visit the Santa Monica or downtown location. I attended two days…at both locations to take in the full experience.
2018-LAFW-KL-CurtisStone
Chef Curtis Stone with me – Kathy Leonardo from LAArtParty.com

LAFW is a perfect place to find out about new restaurants. The Barker Hangar (Westside location) offered a more intimate vibe with a curated group of eclectic restaurants. I was delighted to see celebrity Chef Curtis Stone shucking oysters at his booth. Owner of two restaurants – Maude (Beverly Hills, CA) and Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant (Hollywood, CA), this down-to-earth brawny Australian was all smiles as he stopped to take photos with many of the attendees including me.

Established restaurants came to participate from all over, such as Nixtaco from Sacramento, The Compound Restaurant from Santa Fe, Terrace by Mix Mix Kitchen Bar from Costa Mesa, 5 & 10 from Athens, GA, and many more. Other well-known Los Angeles restaurants included La Vecchia Cucina,  Avecnous, Tumbi Bar, J.Trani’s Restaurant, Beauty & Essex, and many more.
2018-LAFW-LumenWines-ownerWillHenry
Will Henry of Lumen Wines

At this venue, the wine was flowing. I had a delicious full-bodied pinot noir from Lumen Wines – poured by its affable owner Will Henry. San Antonio Winery featured a tasty Maddalena Cabernet with hints of plum and vanilla. Next, I sampled another delightful pinot from Bernardus. Much to my surprise, I even enjoyed a rosé in a can provided by noMadica Wine. There were many more wonderful wine companies, but alas, I cannot list them all. 

The Peninsula Beverly Hills was situated right in the center of the Barker Hangar. Chef David Codney outdid himself with two enticing options. One was a Crab Falafel (crab, corn, chickpeas, spices) and the second was a Lobster Waffle (yukon gold potato waffle, lobster, béarnaise sauce)…yum!
2018-LAFW-ThePeninsulaBeverlyHills-LobsterWaffleThe Peninsula Beverly Hills, Lobster Waffle (yukon gold potato waffle, lobster, béarnaise sauce)

Colorado Lamb Ribs (Jamaican jerk rub, passion fruit-scotch bonnet bbq, and radish pickle) were presented beautifully by Preux and Proper...they tasted just as good. The Butter Chicken (boneless leg meat, butter tomato curry) and Butter Paneer (charbroiled paneer chicken tikka butter tomato curry) from Tumbi were out of this world.

Chef Barb Batiste of B Sweet and Big Boi fame kept up with the demand by using a conveyor belt to distribute plates filled with Pork Adobo, and Pork Longanisa over garlic fried rice.

Brendan Collins from Wilshire Restaurant brought humor to the table with his boisterous personality and charming wit. Serving Hamachi with shaved Foie Gras, (pomegranate, radish, cucumber, sea salt and olive oil), this dish was so fresh and tasty with the pomegranate adding a burst of flavor.
2018-LAFW-Wilshire-ChefBrendanCollinsWilshire Restaurant, from left to right Chef Brendan Collins from, Chef de Cuisine Weston Ludeke

I attended the downtown venue on Thursday night right in front of Disney Hall. It is a beautiful setting with the backdrop of downtown and the striking architecture of Frank Gehry presiding over the festival.

First we enjoyed some Day Boat Scallops (pine nuts. golden raisin butter, summer peas, and puffed rice) from InterContinental Hotel. Chef Igor Krichmarhe perfectly browned the scallops to perfection – delicious!

As always wine companies occupied the middle area of the food festival. I love to learn about the various wines being poured at the festival. I met wine producers/owners such as Abe Schoener of Scholium Project, along with brand representatives like Regina Sanz of Kosta Browne and Jeff Chaney of Grimm’s Bluff who were there to answer all my questions.
2018-LAFW-RappahannockOysterBarRappahannock Oyster Bar, Bay Scallops on the Half Shell

Rappahannock Oyster Bar‘s Chef Nickolas Erven offered an attractive presentation of Bay Scallops on the Half Shell (yuzu burnt orange, poppy seed, and tarragon). These were so tender with a fresh subtle, yet magnificent flavor.

No one could resist the fantastic dumplings (Squid Ink Xiao Long Bao) prepared by Little Fatty’s chef David Kua. We went back for more…not just once, but three times. Chef Caleb Orth from Belcampo Meat Company offered a sumptuous pastrami sandwich with emmenthal coleslaw and Russian dressing on rye bread. 
2018-LAFW-STK-JoshuaFanningSTK Restaurant, from left to right, Meagan Mullen (Events Assistant), Chef Robert Liberato, Joshua Fanning (Regional Director of Marketing)

I was excited to see STK Restaurant, a popular Westwood haunt that I recently discovered. It was serving up Linz Heritage Prime NY Strip (torpedo onion, charred sungold tomato, grass fed bone marrow vinaigrette) prepared by Chef Robert Liberato. It was so tender and flavorful – delish! I will definitely be visiting this restaurant again very soon. 

As always, I had an amazing time at this annual event. All of the restaurants offered unique and delicious samples of their cuisine. Don’t miss next year’s Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival…it is a one-of-a-kind experience. Visit the website for more info https://lafw.com/