Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Contests & Competitions

Food FYI: Hot dogs, hot dogs and more hot dogs!

If it's the Fourth of July, that means it must be time for the Nathan's Famous famous hot dog eating contest

If it's the Fourth of July, that means it must be time for the Nathan's Famous famous hot dog eating contest. At least, that's been true since 1916. Read the whole history at Smithsonian magazine's Food & Think blog.


And of course, you're not going to be satisfied just reading a history of the event, no matter how charmingly told. So the good folks at ESPN have set it up so you can watch the 2012 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest as it unfolds, via live feed, starting at 9 a.m. PDT. The thrills; the spills; the mustard!


It might not seem like the most obvious of product alliances, but Bon Appetit magazine is teaming up with Banana Republic for a line of clothing. Who knows? Maybe they'll come up with a fabric that resists mustard stains? Read about it here.


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-- Russ Parsons and Jenn Harris

Photo: Hot dogs being weighed in preparation for the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Credit: Stan Honda / Getty Images

[Updated] L.A. pastry chef Sally Camacho gets top chef nod

8x10_G0T3681_lrt_cs1_webDessert Professional Magazine announced the top 10 pastry chefs in America Monday night at the 19th annual awards ceremony at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And only one of them is from Los Angeles -- Sally Camacho of the WP24 restaurant and lounge at the Ritz-Carlton.

The nine other chefs named are Craig Harzewski of Naha, Chicago; Sandro Micheli of Daniel, New York; Marc Aumont of the Modern, New York;  Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, New York;  Angela Pinkerton of Eleven Madison Park, New York; Damien Herrgott of Bosie Tea Parlor, New York; Nathaniel Reid of Norman Love Confections, Naples, Fla.; Jean-Marie Auboine of Jean-Marie Auboine Chocolatier,  Las Vegas; and Chris Hanmer of the School of Pastry Design, Las Vegas.

This recent nod is far from Camacho's first recognition as a top pastry chef. You may recognize her from Season 2 of Bravo's "Top Chef: Just Desserts," where she made the top three to compete in the season finale. Camacho has also won gold medals as part of the U.S. pastry team at the Culinary Olympics in Germany in 2008 and just last year won the Valrhona C3 competition in France. 

Before becoming the pastry chef at WP24 in Los Angeles, Camacho spent time in the kitchens at the Four Seasons, the Wynn and Bradley Ogden restaurant.


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-- Jenn Harris


Photo: Sally Camacho. Credit: mi & mo photography.

[Updated at 6pm June 5, 2012. An earlier version of this post said that the awards show was Tuesday night. It was Monday night.]

Burger kings (and queens), get ready to rumble!


Do you have a favorite burger recipe? We want it.

The Los Angeles Times Food section is holding its annual Battle of the Burgers. We want your recipe for that one mouthwatering burger that defines summer for your friends and family. Go to our Facebook contest page to find out how to submit your recipe (along with a brief essay about why it’s the best burger out there).

VIDEO: See last year's burger battle finalists

Readers will vote for their 20 favorites. After that, we'll test the recipes to come up with the top burgers. The winners will be invited to visit the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen and their recipes will be published in the Saturday section before the Fourth of July. Winners also will be invited to demonstrate their recipes at our big Taste event over the Labor Day weekend. Recipes must be submitted by May 30, and reader voting takes place May 31 to June 11.

Photo: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Meet Fuku Burger's Sumo burger


Sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves, raise your elbows in anticipation of the chin drip, and dig into a monster burger. Especially this month, National Hamburger Month. 

To celebrate, Fuku Burger LA has launched the Sumo burger. It may not be stuffed into a traditional sumo mawashi, but the larger-than-life burger (the size of about six regular ones) is a formidable opponent for the biggest of appetites. During the month of May, Fuku Burger customers can "Sumo size" any burger on the menu. For $40, you can get your favorite burger sumo-sized to 2 1/2 pounds of meat, bun and all the fixings.

Don't want to shell out $40 for a burger? Complete the Sumo challenge and the burger is on them. If you can finish the entire burger in 20 minutes, it's free. You'll also receive a complimentary T-shirt and have a chance to win Fuku burgers for life.

1634 Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 464-3858


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Photo: Fuku Burger's Sumo burger, left,  and the regular size burger. Credit: Fukuburger.

Chef Ben Ford wins Cochon 555 competition

Ben Ford
On Sunday, five Los Angeles chefs -- Chad Colby of Mozza; Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station; Neal Fraser and Travis Lorton of the Strand House, Grace & BLT; Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar; and Micah Wexler of Mezze -- gathered at the House of Blues for a nose-to-tail cook-off using five heritage pig breeds. 

Ford won the Cochon 555 competition with favorites such as  his belly Benedict with a soft poached egg, Fresno chile and bacon hollandaise; a head cheese hero of pig's liver pate, pickled vegetables, charred scallion-lemon aioli and crispy pigs ears; a chile verde taco with smoked pigs ear and micro cilantro;  chilled pork loin with tomato sauce, red onion and sea salt; and pork tartare paired with quail egg, walnut oil and confit shallot.

Other menu highlights included the campagnola banh mi with black garlic and black kimchi from Neroni;  Fraser's roasted loin and rack with fava beans, morel mushrooms and corn veloute; pig tail pasta and house-made charcuterie from Colby (last year's winner); and Wexler's pork leg tagine.

In addition to guests pigging out on pork-centric dishes, wineries including Robert Kacher, Elk Cove Vineyards, K Vintners, Sokol Blosser, Scholium Project,Turley, Mattiasson, Simi and Buty poured tastings throughout the evening. L.A. artisanal butchers Lindy & Grundy also gave a live pig butchering demo.

On June 17, the winning chefs from the 10-city tasting tour will gather in Aspen, Colo., to participate in the grand cochon competition as part of the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic.


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-- Leah Rodrigues


Photo: Ben Ford Credit: Hugh Galdones Photography

Cochon 555 returns to L.A.; chefs announced

Cochon 555
Cochon 555 -- the contest in which five chefs compete against each other in a whole-pig cook-off -- will return to Los Angeles on May 6. The five chefs create a nose-to-tail menu featuring five heritage breed pigs, served with wines from five winemakers. Judges and guests vote on the best preparations. This year's chefs are: Chad Colby of Mozza; Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station; Neal Fraser and Travis Lorton of the Strand House, Grace & BLT; Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar; and Micah Wexler of Mezze. The event takes place at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Tickets start at $125 per person, available at www.cochon555.com.


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-- Betty Hallock

Photo credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times. 

Angeleno wins Almost Famous West regional competition

Almost Famous West Competition 600

Joseph Johnson, of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, is the winner of this year's S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef West regional competition in Hollywood.

The event, one of 10 held regionally, serves as a mentoring program for culinary students with a mission to help launch careers for today's chefs-in-the-making. Aspiring chefs are not only exposed to a fast-paced, high-intensity cooking environment through the competition but also experience a glimpse of the limelight while making connections with established chefs and the media.

In late January, six students from  half a dozen participating schools across the West -- the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes in Hollywood; Le Cordon Bleu Colleges of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Ore.,  and Seattle; and the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, Calif. -- competed in the event.

Johnson will be heading to Northern California for a three-day finals competition at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone from March 9-12. In celebration of the competition's 10th anniversary, Johnson will join and work alongside nine past winners to vie for the 2012 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef title.



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-- Caitlin Keller

Photo: Student competitors with winner Joseph Johnson. Credit: S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition

Celebrate the Year of the Dragon with onigiri

Onigiri rice balls
Get into the firey spirit of the Year of the Dragon with a mochi-pounding demonstration and an onigiri contest at the Japanese American National Museum on Sunday. It's all part of a day-long festival called the Oshogatsu Family Festival, which also includes plenty of arts and crafts, entertainment and cultural activities.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. you and yours can learn how to make onigiri rice balls and enter the contest, which is sponsored by Common Grains, an organization that celebrates japanese culture and food through grain education.

Here's how it works: Participants will be given a cup of cooked rice to make a tasty onigiri in 10 minutes or less (after you've been taught how to do it with style, of course). Everything you need for the contest will be given to you, so no smuggling in some magic ingredient.

When you finish, Los Angeles Times Food editor Russ Parsons, joined by judges including food blogger Lynn Chen and Sunny Blue shop owner Keiko Nakashima, will judge the results. Six winners will be crowned victorious in both children's and adult categories, and prizes will be awarded accordingly.

Also on the menu of the day's events are artisanal rice and soba workshops, a rice exhibition, a soba restaurant event, and at 2:30 and 4 p.m. a traditional rice cake pounding ceremony (called Mochitsuki) demonstration and performance by Kodama Taiko.

Sunday, January 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. For more information go to: www.janm.org/events.


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-- Jessica Gelt

Photo: Salmon onigiri. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Justin Pike of Tasting Kitchen is L.A.'s best bartender

On Sunday afternoon, I served as a judge for Table 20's second-annual L.A.'s Best Bartender Competition. For the contestants, the process has been a long one, beginning with initial nominations from the public in early August and ending at Elevate Lounge, where five finalists went head-to-head in a battle of fast and furious mixology for a panel of six judges.

The winner was Justin Pike, who currently administers alcohol-enhanced joy to patrons of the Tasting Kitchen in Venice. Runner-up was Joe Brooke from the Next Door Lounge; third place was Devon Tarby of Varnish; fourth place went to Brian Summers of Harvard & Stone; and Daniel Zacharczuk from Bar & Kitchen at the O Hotel took fifth place.

Just getting into the top five was an accomplishment, so the rest was icing on the cake, although Pike was clearly thrilled to have won the grand prize, which was an all expenses-paid trip to the 2012 Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic or the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Continue reading »

'Worst Cooks in America' is casting in L.A.

As a general rule, I try to avoid writing about bad cooks. But in this case, I just had to. Food Network is currently casting in L.A. for the third season of its primetime reality show, "Worst Cooks in America."

So if you know a truly terrible cook, nominate them as the very worst! If they get cast they'll have an opportunity to burn toast on national TV, as well as a shot at winning $25,000.

They'll also get to study with Food Network stars Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell, who each head up a team of lousy chefs on the show. The idea is to turn these culinary troglolytes into budding Betty Crockers. The most-improved gets the money, perhaps to pay back their friends and family for all of the sub-par meals they have made them suffer through.

Unfortunately due to the public nature of this post I can't tell you who the worst cook I know is. It would hurt his feelings! I also know that I wouldn't dare nominate him for this show. The man has pride, and thinks he can cook.

But he and I both know that he once undercooked 3-minute ramen so badly that it was just a semi-soggy brick of noodles in a bowl. And he did it because he was tired of waiting for the water to boil. After he ate it, he said it was really good. I'm certain he said it to spite me. Bad cooks are like that.

Full nomination information after the jump:

Continue reading »

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.