It’s the last Saturday of August in Hollywood, California. The weather was over 85 degrees with 60% humidity at eleven in the morning when we arrived to the Paramount Pictures studio lot. We knew it would only get hotter and the humidity was here to stay—uncommon for southern California—but we were hungry for what was to come. Joining me was my partner in crime and photographer, Ben Hunter, as we stood looking upon the massive Paramount walls that housed what would be the Disneyland of food: The Taste hosted by Los Angeles Times.
The Taste is a celebration of the very best that Los Angeles has to offer. Over 200 exhibitors within the food and drink space all in one place for a weekend. Michelin-star restaurants, pop-up restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, mixologists, winemakers, brewers, anything and everything that’s under Los Angeles’ food umbrella. Top chefs such as Michael Cimarusti (Providence), Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza), Ari Taymor (Alma), Craig Thornton (Wolvesmouth), Michael Voltaggio (ink.), Sang Yoon (Father’s Office), and many others took the stage for cooking demonstrations and panel discussions. We ate sample after sample and, obviously, never said no to anything that was offered.
The two cooking demos that caught my attention were of Chef Ari Taymor and Michael Cimarusti. Ari Taymor’s restaurant, Alma, has been named the top new restaurant in all of the United States by Bon Appétit magazine. He also worked with our friends at Flour+Water in San Francisco before opening Alma in Los Angeles. On stage, the 27-year-old chef cooked smoked duck with a miso, corn purée.
“Never use a recipe,” Taymor said, because ingredients change and it allows you to cook more honestly.
Michael Cimarusti, who requires little to no introduction for one of the most esteemed seafood restaurants in the nation, Providence, arrived on stage with a giant salmon. Pacific wild king salmon from Washington state to be exact. He argued to give salmon a chance by only buying sustainably and wild-caught, as farm-raised salmon has tainted people’s perception of it. Chef Cimarusti then proceeded to slice the enormous fish and debone it to get the perfect fillet. His technique and precision was mesmerizing.
Often, a certain situation feels familiar and exhilarating at the same time. These environments make us feel like we are in the right place, and with the right people. Events such as The Taste hold a special place in my heart because I know I am among my people: lovers of food, incredible chefs, and people that are genuinely interested in moving food culture forward. There is a lot that’s “wrong” in the food industry. So when a community of people join together to talk about, demonstrate, and taste what is “right” in the food world, it’s a beautiful thing.
I applaud Los Angeles Times for its incredible work organizing such an event, as we came hungry and left full and happy.
Follow Life & Thyme on Instagram to view the tastings we enjoyed most.