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Lights, Camera, Fork Action: THE TASTE Showcased LA's Brightest Culinary Stars During Three-Day Celebration

LOS ANGELES – September 3, 2013 – Los Angeles Times' fourth annual food and wine festival, THE TASTE, shined at Paramount Pictures Studios over Labor Day weekend, bringing the cream of LA's dining crop to the heart of Hollywood. The three-day affair featured five distinct events hosted by The Times editorial staff, Russ Parsons, Jonathan Gold, Noelle Carter, Betty Hallock and Jessica Gelt, and the city's most esteemed tastemakers, Chefs Michael Cimarusti, Sang Yoon, Nancy Silverton, and Cocktail Chef Matthew Biancaniello. During the weekend, nearly 10,000 people descended on the Paramount lot to raise a glass to LA's food and cocktail scene with myriad tastings from their favorite restaurants, 26 cooking and mixology demonstrations led by the town's top talent, as well as thought-provoking panels moderated by the Times staff.

At Opening Night Presented by Don Julio, Friday, August 30th, revelers rubbed elbows with The Times hosts and their co-hosts, along with LA's most beloved chefs and food personalities, from the iconic Chef Susan Feniger (STREET, Border Grill) to rising stars like Chef Chad Colby (Chi Spacca). While Beatles tribute band Britain's Finest dazzled the crowd with their spot-on rendition of "A Hard Day’s Night," attendees enjoyed focused tastings and libations from the truffle-topped corn agnolotti from Chef Ian Gresik of Drago Centro, to Thai shrimp ceviche from Chef David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach Post/Fishing With Dynamite.

After enjoying an evening under the stars, Parsons (Times Food Editor & Columnist) and Cimarusti (Chef/Owner of Connie & Ted's, Providence) returned to kick off Saturday's events with Field to Fork, a tribute to the joys of cooking and eating seasonal dishes that included a dynamic panel discussion on "Fish or Famine: Sustainability & the Seafood on Your Plate." In between bites from locavore favorites like Farmshop and Canelé, and sips of wine stolen during the session's two tasting seminars, guests also enjoyed demos led by Alma's rockstar Chef Ari Taymor, Chef Ray Garcia from Fig, and LA's pastry queen Sherry Yard (Helm's Bakery), who wooed the audience with freshly fried raspberry jam-filled donuts.

The daytime affair set the pace for Gold (Times Restaurant Critic) and Yoon's (Chef/Owner of Lukshon, Father's Office) celebration of Southern California's culinary melting pot with the sold-out Flavors of LA event. An epicurean crowd turned out to savor global eats, from Yoon's lip-numbing dandan noodles at the popular Lukshon booth, which he demoed that evening, to Chichén Itzá's grilled shrimp with creamy habanero sauce. Appetites were further whetted by demos from Brooke Williamson (Hudson House/The Tripel), Bryant Ng (Spice Table), Josef Centeno (Baco Mercat/Bar Ama), and a mixology demo with Robin Chopra (Corazon y Miel). The Gold-moderated panel "The Power of Pop-ups" with Gary Menes (Le Comptoir), Craig Thornton (Wolvesmouth) and Nguyen Tran (Starry Kitchen) rounded out the evening with insights into how the phenomenon has changed the LA dining scene.

The Sunday sessions launched into full swing with the family-friendly Labor Day Block Party hosted by Carter (Times Test Kitchen Director) and Silverton (Chef/Owner of Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza). The crowds cooled off with honeydew "fluff" from Monterey Park's Fluff Ice and freshly shucked oysters from L&E Oyster Bar, and put on their culinary thinking caps during demos led by Silverton, Fred Eric (D'Elish, Fred 62) and Evan Kleiman (KCRW's Good Food), who showcased her pie prowess with a soulful cherry tomato pastry. Soul was also found in Carter's "Going Whole Hog" competition barbecue panel with Ryan Chester (The Rub Co.), Sylvia Curry (Lady of Q) and Neil Strawder (Bigmista’s Barbecue). With face-painting fun for the kids and Times Columnist Steve Lopez's Firehouse Cook-off crowning Cruz Macias from LAFD Station 87 in Granada Hills the king of the cooking brigade, the day was filled with tastes for everyone in LA's dining family.

On Sunday evening, Hallock (Times Deputy Food Editor) and Gelt (Times Food & Night Life Writer) teamed up with Biancaniello for a final toast to LA's thriving culinary scene with a celebration of the shared inspirations inside LA’s best bars and kitchens. In addition to plates and tastes from popular restaurants like Chi Lin, Cliff's Edge and Jitlada, the Cocktail Confidential event brought together the city's most dynamic chef and bartender duos, including John Sedlar and Julian Cox (Rivera), Octavio Becerra (Acabŕr) and Josh Goldman (Soigné Group/ Acabŕr), Kuniko Yagi and Brandyn Tepper (Hinoki & the Bird), and Michael Voltaggio and Gabriella Mlynarczyk (ink.), who engaged the thirsty throngs with cooking and mixology demonstrations showcasing the fusion of haute cuisine and craft cocktails. Biancaniello furthered the conversation with a demo featuring his bartending contemporaries Serena Herrick (Allumette), Christiaan Rollich (Lucques/A.O.C./Tavern) and Brady Weise (1886).

Los Angeles Times THE TASTE is produced in association with Best Events and event sponsors include Cadillac, Don Julio, Sysco, Icelandic Glacial, Stella Artois and Svedka. THE TASTE is a proud supporter of the LA Times Family Fund Summer Camp Campaign and the Cal Poly Pomona Collins College of Hospitality Management. For more information please check: events.latimes.com/taste/. For a taste of what the thousands of people who passed through the Paramount lot enjoyed during this year's THE TASTE, check out the Daily Dish's Weekend Eats slideshow (moments.latimes.com/1094504674).