In a city of food festivals, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of dinners, chefs panels, markets and tastings, but hear this: The L.A. Times’ second annual Food Bowl kicks off on Monday, and it’s not one to miss. The monthlong event celebrates local cuisine, international greats and the way food affects our lives, and this year includes dinners from visiting chefs, festivals within festivals and specials that give back.
Given that there are more than 200 events to pick from at this year’s fest, it’s easy to get lost scrolling through the full calendar, and we bet you’re already bracing for the FOMO ahead. Because it’s impossible to do it all, here are our picks for making the most of this year’s Food Bowl—guaranteed to incite some FOMO yourself.
Things-in-a-Bowl Launch Party (April 30)
Is the theme so dad jokey it hurts? Sure, but the Food Bowl’s kickoff party, serving food in bowls, should be a hit—it’s hosted by Rossoblu, after all. Steve Samson won’t be the only one cooking; Night + Market will be there, as will Chengdu Taste, Shibumi and more. This is also where the Times’ new “Gold Award” will be presented to an honored chef and the paper’s restaurant of the year will be congratulated, so keep your eyes peeled for a Jonathan Gold sighting.
$95 per person, 6:30–9:30pm
Power of Food (May 1)
One of the food world’s most compassionate figures touches down in L.A. for a panel on the importance of food as aid. Chef José Andrés, recently dubbed humanitarian of the year by the James Beard Foundation, is sitting down with the Times’ Jonathan Gold, actress and sustainability advocate Zooey Deschanel, designer and urban-garden expert Ron Finley, Blue Window and Border Grill’s Susan Feniger, Native’s Nyesha Arrington and Scratch Food Truck’s Tim Kilcoyne, who’ll all be discussing the ways in which food can change lives. L.A. Kitchen will be cooking up a hearty dish for all guests, so that they can experience the type of meals being served to those receiving post-disaster aid.
$20 per mezzanine seat, $30 per lodge seat, $40 per floor-level seat; 7–10pm
The Immigrant Dinners (May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31)
Every Thursday in May, Momed Atwater Village is showcasing the cuisine of a different immigrant culture through a menu of small plates. The best part? The restaurant’s donating 50 percent of the profits to a number of organizations that aid refugees and immigrants. This is one of the Food Bowl’s smaller and individual-restaurant events, but it’s a great dinner option for an even greater cause, week in, week out.
$10–16 per small plate, 5–9:30pm
Street Elite (May 6)
Turn up the heat with E.P. & L.P.’s Louis Tikaram at a seven-course, family-style meal celebrating Asian street food. Guest-cheffing will be Matt Abergel of Hong Kong’s RŌNIN and Yardbird, and Dan Hong of Sydney’s Mr. Wong and Papi Chulo. Expect country-crossing dishes such as a Fijian-Chinese-Indian-inspired snapper curry and asparagus with crab meat, with a pinch of Australian-Chinese cuisine, Taiwanese flavor, Vietnamese sensibility and Hong Kong street food culture. Plus, each ticket includes a welcome beer to get the party started.
$85 per person, 6–9pm
Tribute to Tui Sungkamee (May 8)
Celebrate one of L.A.’s culinary trailblazers, icons and upstanding members of the community with an all-star dinner full of recipes and spice that honor the late Tui Sungkamee, former chef and owner of Jitlada. Find food stations, tastings and a DJ in this Line Hotel dinner party, complete with bites from Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada, Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, Roy Choi of Kogi, Kris Yenbamroong of Night + Market, Jet Tila of Modern Asian Kitchen and Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P.
$75 per person, 6:30–10pm
...A Tutta Pizza! (May 13)
What could be better than an all-day fest devoted to pizza? An all-day fest serving unlimited pizza. Hometown heroes Daniele Uditi of Pizzana and Zachary Pollock of Alimento and Cosa Buona will be there repping, as will Tony Tony Gemignani, a pizza world champion—a title to which we should all aspire—and Enzo Coccia, visiting from Naples, Italy. There’ll be live demos, endless slices and unlimited beer, plus panels featuring Jonathan Gold and Mozza magnate Nancy Silverton. You can even opt for intimate cooking workshops—for pizza, pasta and general Italian flavor—to make some magic at home. Celebrating Mother's Day? The fest now offers free entry to any children under 12, plus free VIP seating upgrades for moms.
$40 per person and 1pm entry, $80 per Birra Moretti VIP ticket (including complimentary prosecco, gift bag, noon entry and VIP lounge and panel access) or $125 per Workshop ticket (includes noon entry, a workshop of your choosing, VIP lounge and panel access, complimentary prosecco, gift bag and more); noon–6:30pm
Happy birthday, Factor’s, you look great. If you feel like celebrating this L.A. deli legend, this is the event for you. Sure, it’s one of the festival’s pricier shindigs, but each ticket includes beverage pairings, a cocktail hour, passed Factor’s apps, and food from Nancy Silverton of Osteria Mozza, Bruce Kalman of Union, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Micah Wexler and Michael Kassar of Wexler’s Deli, Adam Perry Lang from the forthcoming APL, Hedy Goldsmith of Sweet Hedy and, to top it all off, the celebrated Jonathan Waxman of NYC’s Barbuto, set to open a location here in L.A. this year. If you can get a posse together, the VIP here might actually be worth it: Each table of 10 receives Williams Sonoma gift bags, cookbooks and chef meet and greets. Of course, you may want to save that extra ticket money for the live auction hosted by emcee Billy Harris (full story on this character right over here).
$218 per person or $4,018 for a VIP table for 10; 6:30–9:30pm
Night Market (May 16-20)
For a little bit of everything, head to the fest’s marquee event, a multi-day soirée featuring bites and sips from more than 50 vendors including Burgers Never Say Die, Locol and Fat Dragon. Look for live cooking demos, DJ sets and performances throughout—there’s even an Outstanding in the Field dinner on opening night. This event is free and food and beverage are all available à la carte, but if you want access to some of the premium vendors—such as Momofuku, Jitlada and Secret Lasagna—you can snag $10 ticketed entry to the “supermarket area” right over here.
Feel like flying to Italy and eating your way through great food there, too? You're in luck, because the Italian National Tourist Board's teamed up with Norwegian Air for a giveaway that could put you and a friend on a flight to Rome. The Tourist Board will be set up at the Night Market with a special dome, which will be projecting photos and videos of Italy's gorgeous scenery. Stop by throughout the event and snap a selfie with it, or simply snap a selfie of you with your favorite Italian dish, and upload to Instagram using the hashtags #ItaliaFoodBowl2018 and #FlyNorwegian. Be sure to tag @LAFoodBowl, @FlyNorwegian and @Italia_USA_CAN. Winners will be announced on May 29—may the odds be ever in your favor.
Free to enter. Wed, Thu 5–10pm; Fri 5–11pm; Sat 3–11pm; Sun 3–9pm.
Beast Feast (May 22)
Roam if you want to, roam around Curtis Stone’s Gwen, where chefs will be setting up tables slinging all things meaty. Make your way through a number of preparations, cuts and varieties of poultry, beef, pork and game as you sip craft cocktails and catch butcher demos. Stone, Redbird’s Neal Fraser, Rossoblu’s Steve Samson, Mélisse’s Josiah Citrin and the team from Electric City Butcher will all be there
$200 per 5pm admission and VIP party, $175 per 6:30pm admission, $150 per 8:30pm admission; 5–10:30pm
Vegan Beer & Food Festival (May 26)
But of course it isn’t just the omnivores who know how to do it right; Eat Drink Vegan’s curating a full-on vegan fest at Brookside at the Rose Bowl, where you’ll find unlimited pours of more than 250 vegan drinks, bites from 100 plant-based restaurants and retail from more than 100 vegan-friendly vendors in the marketplace. Dubbed “vegan Coachella,” this massive dairy- and meat-free festival includes goods from beloved vegan spots all over, including L.A.’s Little Pine and Donut Friend, Portland’s cult classic Sizzle Pie and San Diego local favorite Donna Jean.
$20 per child, $50 per general admission, $120 VIP noon entry (includes exclusive pours, and food fast pass valid 2-7pm); noon–midnight