4th Annual L.A. Street Food Fest at The Rose Bowl
What started out four years ago as an ambitious showcase for some of the Los Angeles area’s most popular and innovative gourmet food trucks and vendors has snowballed into a massive annual celebration of the best of the gastronomic culture of Southern California and beyond. The event has grown so large that it can no longer be contained by the historic Rose Bowl – in addition to restaurants, trucks and stands competing in gladiatorial combat inside the hallowed arena, the festivities will be spilling out into the stadium’s environs. In order to ensure that the food presented by over 100 vendors flows like the wine at Cupcake Vineyards‘ mobile lounge, a modest 5,000 tickets will made available. While many of the returning champions and local favorites will be represented, there will also be a plethora of fresh faces and representation from chefs and restaurants from as far south as Baja California.
While festival attendees will enjoy recurring appearances of local favorites such as the Grilled Cheese Truck, Starry Kitchen, Dog Haus, and La Guelaguetza, there is great anticipation for the freshman class, the new kids on the block and underdogs that are poised to lay siege to Angelenos’ taste buds and claim victory in the annual competition. 2013 will see the return of the ever-popular Singa Beer Garden (as well as a plethora of high-octane and non-alcoholic beverages) and an expanded Ice Cream Social. Throughout the day, live bands and DJs will provide music to stuff your face by (although the event’s highly-anticipated feature is arguably what costume du jour Starry Kitchen’s Nguyen Tran will be modeling).
The L.A. Street Food Festival recently held a preview at La Guelaguetza in Koreatown to highlight some of the up-and-comers to the event, and based on the mini-tasting, this year’s event should be a spectacular introduction to a new wave of food vendors. Pastry Chef Janeen Gudelj has traveled around the world in search of the perfect doughnut and unveils The Donut Snob at this year’s LASFF, including a savory and not-to-sweet maple bacon doughnut and a fresh and flavorful raspberry cream raised doughnut; Chef Matthew Hirtz brings Argentine-influenced empanadas from World Empanadas, a family-run business currently operating out of the back of a liquor store in Burbank. In addition to meat-stuffed pies, they also feature a hearty quinoa and lentil empanada that will satisfy even the most hardcore recovering meataholic. The sneak preview included a fleet of open-faced tacos from Curie family-operated El Coraloense, including some zesty seafood tacos, and ceviche from Shannon and Octavio Olivas’ pop-up Ceviche Project.
Also new to this year’s event is the fledgling D’elish, a new sandwich shop by Chef Fred Eric currently operating out of the Tiara Cafe space in downtown Los Angeles; although the smoked short rib pastrami sliders on potato rolls baked in house were delicious, it was a bit of a tease since they announced that they would be serving duck curry meatballs at the LASFF. Also on hand was the multi-talented Chef Dante Gonzales of Short Order, doling out his signature Dante Fried Chicken as well as an authentic pimento cheese and a variety of crisp, zesty pickles.
Like a fine wine, the L.A Street Food Festival gets better with time, and like its attendees it is constantly expanding, featuring a cornucopia of amazing cuisine; it is a virtual primer, a gastronomic map of Southern California that is as grand as its historic setting. I’ll be there, so be sure to find me and say hello – just be sure to keep your hands and feet away from my mouth.