Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hip-Hop Artist, Common, "We All Gotta Eat!" Headlining the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival 2014

By Laura Medina

Common serenading a much-deserving girl chef trainee, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAAjDu59Nwc

"We all gotta eat!" was the rallying cry for the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival's fashionable foodie crowd, mostly celebrity publicists sneaking away for scrumptious gourmet meals, delectable array of wines, and an headlining concert by hip-hop artist, Common.  Truth be told, they were fueling up before taking off to the Emmy parties the Saturday night before Monday's broadcast of the Primetime Emmys.

These experienced movie and tv publicists crowd, intermingling with restaurant sommeliers, went "fan girl" and "fan boy" ecstatic enough to crowd-surfed a girl chef trainee (taking a breather from prepping meals) onto the stage so Common can serenade her then romancing  her with impromptu, "I want a lady who can cook gourmet meals and graduated from the Cordon Blu."

For Common, this headlining performance was a warm-up to the next night's MTV's Video Music Awards.

But for the Los Angeles Food & Wine foodies, a fifty/fifty split between equally highly educated and cultured Gen-Xers (the Emerging Establishment) and rising Millennials, his concert was the highlight of the festival.

There have been multiple food festivals sprouting up like crops, each best representing regional cuisine and culture.  Being Los Angeles, a.k.a. "Hollywood,"  the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival out-did them all and out-doing themselves every year when they got a Grammy Award-winning Hip Hop Artist, Common to perform a full-out concert.  He's really thankful he got both ends of the stick, all you can eat gourmet dishes from the country's best chefs then attending Video Music Awards the next night.  Lucky dude!

Sure, Common maybe the headliner but remember Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is all about the chefs...the celebrity chefs who chopped, grilled, and flambe their way into our tv consciousness and heart by competing on Food Network's "Iron Chef" and Bravo TV's "Top Chef", reflecting our educated and wandering palette. 

Here's Harrison Ford's chef son, the equally down-to-earth Ben Ford. https://www.tastemade.com/@the_arriviste/ekgNkf3USHqPPgU7CQ6Eww

Bravo's "Top Chef" "Team Euro" Fabio Viviani on his way to compete with Ray Garcia in the Ultimate Bite Cook-Off on Opening Night....https://www.tastemade.com/@the_arriviste/ekgNkf3USHqPPgU7CQ6Eww

Recent San Diego transplant, Richard Blais doling samples from his new restaurant, Juniper & Ivy.

Elizabeth Falkner, Iron Chef and Top Chef pro...https://www.tastemade.com/@the_arriviste/ekgNkf3USHqPPgU7CQ6Eww

Ray Garcia competing against Ben Ford and Graham Elliot, with Fabio Viviani on Opening Night's Ultimate Bite Cook-Off...https://www.tastemade.com/@the_arriviste/37fnuzzTQpmKOEsGTada3Q

Graham Elliot dicing alongside Ben Ford, against Ray Garcia and Fabio Vivian, in the Ultimate Bite Cook-Off...https://www.tastemade.com/@the_arriviste/37fnuzzTQpmKOEsGTada3Q

Last but not least, Jonathan Grahm of Compartes' Chocolates, the same night as Common's concert.

It's palpable that Food Network's and Bravo TV's cutthroat cooking competition shows, from the venerable Iron Chef (a Fujisankei Japanese TV Network import) to the more ramp-up "Chopped" on Food Network, are what fuel the thrilling aspects of cooking as something exciting, physical, and macho.  As in, there is nothing more masculine...or sexy than knives a blazing over shooting flames of fire.  This brought a new level of street cred respectability never witnessed before.

To least think that today's top crop of celebrity chefs are testosterone-driven...and male, the most innovative yet the most classical upholders of tradition are the women chefs.

Elia Aboumrad, Second Season Top Chef top four finalist and Top Chef All-Star, survived apprenticeship at Le Cordon Bleu's 'Grand Diplôme' then trained under Joël Robuchon in Paris, as his very first woman sous chef.  

She then moved to Las Vegas to open his restaurants at the MGM Grand Hotel. Later, she was recruited as Executive Chef of The Café at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. The Hotel garnered their fourth AAA Diamond under her realm.[3]   

Two years ago, she opened her own idea of a French cafe/bistro, Gorge, on the Sunset Strip, gorgela.com

Since the Opening Night was themed Ultimate Bites, a casual take-down on the more appropriately apt "amuse bouche," fancier, steroid-sized hors d' oeuvres where a snack is a portion-controlled single dish, something like the women-focused buffet, The Wicked Spoon at the femme-focused Cosmopolitan Hotel (which was also at Opening Night of Los Angeles Food & Wine).  

In other words, Los Angeles Food & Wine's Opening Night Ultimate Bites was Ladies' Night where patrons (an equal mix of straight women checking out the mostly male chefs) were testing and fueling on portion-controlled variety of amuse boches, requiring no more than one or two bites then moving onto the next tidbit, without busting out a gut.

This is where Elia Aboumrad's Gorge comes in.  Among a sea of "standard dishes with a twist," she revived long-forgotten French amuse bouches such as savory cream puffs piped and stuffed with duck mousse rilletes, the savory cream puffs are called pate a choix.  A meaty but delectable meal in one bite.  She also served "Mad Men-sque" chicken liver mousse piped onto puff pasty squares of golden and crispy toasts.  Okay, one, two pops on the mouth.  Time to move onto...

Stephanie Boswell's whimsical "Alice In Wonderland-sque" candies from The Cosmopolitan's new social club, Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

After a night of savory bites, people were lip-smacking craving for something sweet to balance out the palette. 

They were grabbing Stephanie's thick chunk of sesame brittles, roasted hazelnuts enrobed in dark chocolate and dusted in confectioner sugar, her surreal marshmallows, and her creamy chocolate truffles encased in solid chocolate shells, and macaroons, the next dessert to upstage cupcakes.

In fact, this is where Los Angeles Food & Wine gets the legs up on other regional food festivals.  Whereas the majority of food fests promote and uphold their own unique but traditional food fares,  Los Angeles has always work on being the first to launch trends and fads, the innovators and the outliners over-throwing the apple cart.

Once cupcakes landed in third-tier towns,  macaroons set the dessert beat in Los Angeles as the new standard bite-sized sweet.

During Los Angeles Food & Wine's lunch fare, the huge Lexus Grand Tasting, the lunch-time version of the night-time feasting, debuts the niftiest of food trends, frozen alcoholic popsicles and dried sea cucumbers as the new puffy, crunchy pork rinds.

In fact, liquid nitrogen is gaining a foothold as common place, mostly in frozen desserts for the sweltering Summer, like right now.

Think of "frozen macaroons," freeze-dried meringue in berries or coconut flakes, again another sweet amuse bouche pop in the mouth.

The Church Key's frozen tequila popsicle sticks, freshly freeze-dried by pouring in vats of liquid nitrogen into cooler boxes, were the adult afternoon treats for grinning grown-ups on a sweaty, stinky Summer, Downtown LA day.

Another trend that Los Angeles have set sail and, thank god, will never go off into the sunset, All-American burgers and sandwiches done justice, yes...the gourmet, upscale burgers and fries and sandwiches.

Sang Yoon sparked the onion marmalade, blue-cheese slathered kobe beef burger and shoestring fries revolution at My Father's Office, a decade ago, saving the burger and fries from being thrown into junk food chute which a many copy cats followed.

The heir apparent to the gourmet fast food gone good and right is Steven Fretz.  When he isn't going high on the hog at the more formal The Church Key, he's doing the roast beef sandwich right by operating the down-home, retro, Fifties' simple sit-down fast food, The Top Round Roast Beef, simple chic roast beef sandwiches spread by handmade gourmet cheese sauce and BBQ or drenched in Beef Au Jus,  crunchy fries, and concrete-slurry thick frozen custards.  Yes, it's Arby's done right. His Gravy and "Dirty" Fries sound like hangover meals.  What's better, everything is no higher than $8.

This fashionable foodie has found her tribe and we're all whetting our appetite for next year's Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival and waiting to be the first to taste and sip the newest and latest and best in food and beverage...and okay, hopefully the next concert.

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