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Three must-eat events at this year’s L.A. Food & Wine Festival

Written by
Stephanie Breijo

Food & Wine magazine’s sprawling annual L.A. takeover is back, bringing some of food’s biggest names to venues all over the city for power lunches, collaborative dinners and some of the year’s biggest walk-around tasting events. This year’s Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, held August 22 to 26, is packing four nights and five days with hundreds of wines to sample, unlimited bites from some of L.A.’s best chefs, a mini Latin-food festival—and even a DJ set by Questlove. You can find the festivities and full schedule here, but to help you find fullness nirvana, we’ve put together a guide to three events you shouldn’t miss.

Kick-Off Dinner at LASA

Chad Valencia helms the kitchen at LASA, the restaurant recently named one of Food & Wine’s 2018 “restaurants of the year.” Across town, Kato’s Jon Yao was just tapped a “Class of 2018 Best New Chef” by the magazine. Together, who knows what kind of award-worthy meal they could cook up—but we’re about to find out. One of two options in the festival’s new Kick Off Dinner Series, this collaborative dinner will blend Valencia’s modern-minded but tradition-honoring Filipino food with Yao’s wildly imaginative, intricate takes on Pan-Asian but Taiwanese-leaning classics. 

This is a chance to taste greatness from not one but two excellent L.A. chefs who are not only modernizing their cuisines, but the way Los Angeles eats. Better get your ticket fast; LASA’s space is intimate, making this an event that’ll probably sell out quickly.

LASA. Wednesday, August 22 6:30–9:30pm. $150 per person.

Ultimate Bites of L.A.

We love a visiting chef, but it’s hard to deny the otherworldly talent we’ve already got right here in L.A. Celebrate some of our city’s most iconic and mouthwatering bites at this walk-around tasting, where Eggslut’s Alvin Cailan and Scopa’s Antonia Lofaso host an evening of small plates from L.A. restaurants new and old. At the intersection of Grand and First, enjoy bites from Factory Kitchen, the Bazaar by José Andrés, Patina Restaurant Group, Hayden, DAMA, the NoMad, Yarrow and more, then cast your ballot to vote for the title of “Ultimate Bite”—which will be featured at Pebble Beach Food & Wine next spring.

For an extra $50 you can snag VIP admission which means you’ll have an extra half hour on the rest of the crowd with early admission. Sure, 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but when those small plates start flying and crowds start amassing, you’ll be grateful for every extra minute you had to snag those oysters, cocktails, sliders, wines, slices and salads.

Grand Ave and First St. Thursday, August 23 7-10pm. $175 per person, VIP admission $225 per person.

Grand Tasting

This is it. You’ve made it through the lunches, the kickoffs, bites from some of L.A.’s top chefs, and thousands of hungry Angelenos descending upon DTLA. Now it’s time to end the festival with a bang and, oh, more than 200 wines. LAFW’s signature, Lexus-sponsored closing event is always a big one, and this year, you can catch it on either Saturday or Sunday (or both), with more than 25 celebrity chefs daily serving unlimited small plates and signing cookbooks at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. Lest you forget the name of the mag is Food & Wine, this event will offer the festival’s biggest and best wine selection.

Some big names can be found on both days—Michelle Bernstein, Curtis Stone and David Codney—while most will only be in attendance Saturday (John Tesar and Hugh Acheson) or Sunday (Alex Seidel and Brian Redzikowski). There's also early entry available here both days, and you know what they say: The early bird gets the first crack at whatever Curtis Stone brought from Gwen and Maude. Or something.

Barker Hangar. Saturday, August 25, and Sunday, August 26 noon-3pm. $175 per person, VIP admission $225 per person.

The Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival runs August 22 to 26. Find tickets and the full schedule of events here.

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