Daily Dish

The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Food Trucks

Grilled cheese as far as the eye could see

What a cheesy event. That's a compliment, of course, to the Second Eighth Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, held Saturday near downtown L.A. (as the name suggests, the contest doesn't take itself too seriously). Thousands were in attendance to enjoy music, culinary showdowns, food trucks, and wash it all down in a beer and wine garden. And then there was the grilled cheese competition, featuring more than 200 sandwiches. I lucked out and was asked to help judge, and award a trophy to my favorite grilled cheese 'wich.

I wish I could have given everyone an award just for the sheer creativity of the variety of fillings. 

Continue reading »

3 Food Events You Should Know About: Gonzo wine tasting at LGO; Petrossian's caviar class; Eva restaurant and Grilled Cheese Truck get together

Grilledcheese1Sippy-sip at LGO: On Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., La Grande Orange in Santa Monica hosts a wine tasting with unlimited sips of more than 25 wines for $25. Try wines from Veneto, Italy, to Marlborough, New Zealand, to Mendoza, Argentina, for example, along with jumbo lump crab cakes, green chile sliders, spicy tuna sushi rolls, veggie potstickers with toban djan sauce and mini red velvet cakes and double chocolate chip cookies.  

2000 Main St., Santa Monica; (310) 396-9145; www.lagrandeorangesm.com. 

Caviar 101: Beginning next Thursday, Petrossian in West Hollywood starts hosting a monthly caviar class led by general manager Christopher Klapp and a "devoted team of caviar experts." Novices and/or aficionados can sign up for the tasting and get how-to-appreciate-caviar tips. Sample up to three types of caviar paired with either Champagne or vodka, along with additional small plates showcasing caviar from chef Giselle Wellman.  7:30 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. $35 per person. Call to save your spot. 

321 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 271-0576; www.petrossian.com. 

Grilled cheese at Eva: Eva chef-owner Mark Gold and Dave Danhi, chef and co-owner of the Grilled Cheese Truck, reunite for a grilled cheese pairing Tuesday. (The two worked together at the Water Grill downtown 15 years ago.) They've collaborated on a four-course menu for $35 and a five-course menu for $50 that will include Danhi's truffled mac and cheese melt along with Gold's butter poached lobster to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month. (See the full menus after the jump.) Wine pairing, $20. Call for reservations. 

7458 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 634-0700; www.evarestaurantla.com.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Grilled cheese sandwiches. Credit: The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Continue reading »

LAX gets wings? Ludo Fried Chicken may land in Terminal 4


Chef Ludo Lefebvre may be bringing his Ludo Fried Chicken (also known as LFC) to Los Angeles International Airport. Dubbed Ludo Vite, the concession stand is part of Delaware North Cos.' proposed food and beverage bid for LAX, under consideration by the airport.

Lefebvre couldn't be reached because he is recovering from back surgery. But expect a menu similar to the Ludo Bites Truck's, which features Provencal pepittes, fried chicken balls infused with herbes de Provence and rosemary; honey-glazed garlic wings; and chicken strips. Ludo Vite is proposed for Terminal 4, where American Airlines and American Eagle, Cathay Pacific and Qantas are located. (A chicken-and-biscuit-with-maple-butter breakfast on your way to Hong Kong?) 

The proposed contracts for the overhaul of restaurants at LAX has been hotly debated, but the L.A. City Council late last year approved the first round of concession bids, including one involving Delaware North. 

Also in the works may be a concession from chef Josie Le Balch of Josie restaurant in Santa Monica, says Delaware North. 

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Ludo Bites Truck. Credit: MobiMunch



3 Food Events You Should Know About: Planned Parenthood's Food Fare; 'Bistronomics' at Breadbar; wine and pizza tasting at Rosso Wine Shop


A Planned Parenthood party: On March 10, Planned Parenthood will host its 32nd annual Food Fare, where supporters of the organization and foodies will join together to eat and raise money for the health centers that provide care to more than 120,000 women, men and teens every year. What started out as a simple cooking demonstration by Julia Child has become the largest fund-raising event for Planned Parenthood L.A., and features food from top restaurants such as Church and State, A.O.C., Ammo, Clementine, Tavern and Lucques, as well as some of the city's most popular food trucks. VIP reception for sponsors is 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; the daytime session is 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and the evening session is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Advance tickets are $150 for the daytime session and $225 for the evening session.

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica; to purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.pplafoodfare.com.

'Bistronomics' pop-up: Breadbar and chef Jet Tila of Wazuzu at the Wynn Encore in Las Vegas host a two-night dining event called "Bistronomics." On March 6 and 7 from 6 to 10 p.m., Alex Ageneau, sous chef at the Royce at the Langham in Pasadena, will be cooking a five-course prix-fixe dinner, featuring dishes such as smoked cod with crème fraiche and a caramelized apple tart with onions and walnuts, among others. Guests will be able to interact with the chef as they watch the dishes being prepared in an open kitchen. $65 a person, reservations recommended.

8718 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 205-0124; www.breadbar.net.

Wine to go with pizza: On Friday and Saturday, Russo Wine Shop is hosting a wine tasting to go with pizza, from 5 to 8 p.m. each night. For $10 a person, 2009 Luigi Giusti Rosato, 2007 Rubino Primitivo Punto Aquila and 2008 Valle Dell'Acate Nero d'Avola II Moro can all be sampled. Pizza is an additional $10. 

3459-1/2 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale; (818) 330-9130; www.rossowineshop.com. 

-- Emma Wartzman

Photo: Ray Chavez /Contra Costa Times / MCT

There's a new monthly meeting of L.A. food trucks at Union Station: Truckit Fest

Barbie's_QThere's a new food truck meet up in town: Truckit Fest will gather together dozens of L.A.'s food trucks at downtown Union Station starting March 6, and is slated to be held on the first Sunday of each month. But the real news? This event will feature table service.

That's right. The trend has gone from restaurants to food trucks to food trucks that act like restaurants. For a $45 V.I.P. option at Truckit Fest, you can order off a menu and have food truck food brought to you.

"The whole food truck phenomenon is now going to a whole new level," said organizer Phillip Dane. (He's the guy behind the L.A. Flea Market at Dodger Stadium, which came to a halt after it was rained out consecutive weekends in November and December, and is scheduled to return in Spring 2011.)

Dane said he was blown away by the frenzy surrounding the food trucks at the Dodger Stadium event. So much so, that some trucks were overwhelmed by the crowds and ran out of food. "That wasn't good. But that's when I started thinking that I need to do a food festival."

Continue reading »

Vote coming Tuesday on new grading system for food trucks

Los Angeles County supervisors are scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on a plan to expand the county's popular letter-grading system for restaurants to mobile food eateries. Read more here on L.A. Now:

Photo: Serving up organic fare at the Green Truck. Credit: Stefano Paltera / For The Times

[Updated] There's just no stopping the Nom Nom

Is this a record for a reality TV show?

The L.A.-based Nom Nom Truck has rolled to an unbelievable five straight victories on "The Great Food Truck Race." Even more amazing -- they've done it without winning a single "truck stop" challenge, which gives the underdogs a shot at toppling the front-runners.

This week's challenge underscored the power of the banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches that are sold by the Nom Nom truck:

The three remaining food trucks pulled into Jonesborough, Tenn. To date, the trucks have been selling their wares in cities that are pretty hip to the whole food truck thing, like L.A. and Fort Worth, Texas. But Jonesborough, a quaint little town of 5,000, had never seen a food truck. Would the townspeople even care? Would they go for the tried-and-true burgers sold by the L.A.-based Grill 'Em All Truck or experiment with the French flair of the cuisine sold by the San Francisco-based Spencer on the Go Truck? Well, it looked like all 5,000 townspeople showed up to find out what this food truck fuss was all about -- and it seemed like nearly all of them got in line for Nom Nom, even though some had no idea what a Vietnamese sandwich was, and couldn't even pronounce banh mi with some gentle coaching.

Then came this week's "Truck Stop" challenge, the best one yet. Host Tyler Florence brought the remaining contestants to, believe it or not, Old Man Johnson's Farm, down by the river. There, he told the contestants that food trucks are nothing new, they just used to be called chuck wagons. And this week's challenge put the contestants' cooking skills to test in a game that so far has been dominated by Nom Nom's brilliant marketing skills: They had to make a five-course meal over an open fire, just like in the old days. Well, the twist "worked." Nom Nom crashed and burned, and Grill Em All ended on top. The prize was a stunner: The opportunity to park the truck at a local auto show, where they were guaranteed to do  a solid night's business, while Nom Nom and Spencer had to look for customers in Jonesborough, which basically shuts down each night by dusk.

Given this turn of events, it looked like Grill 'Em All had this week won. But then came the shocking totals:

Continue reading »

'The Great Food Truck Race': Nom nom nom nom

There's just no stopping the Nom Nom Truck.

For the second week in a row, the Los Angeles-based Vietnamese sandwich truck -- specializing in banh mi sandwiches -- has cruised to easy victory in this competition pitting food trucks against each other as they travel the country and see who can raise the most money. The competitors can't use social media, but they can get wily. And that's just what the Nom Nom truck did as the herd headed to its latest pit stop in Santa Fe, N.M. The truck's operators wisely planted a story in the local media heralding their arrival. The result? Lines, lines everywhere.

In this week's "truck stop" challenge, host Tyler Florence told the contestants they had to send a teammate to buy local chiles -- this was, after all, Santa Fe -- and incorporate them into a special for the day. Noted chef Eric DiStefano, owner of the El Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, would go to each truck undercover and choose the best special of them all. The winner would get immunity.

Continue reading »

My L.A. Street Food Fest regret

Kimchi I think I am still in a food coma.

But I am pretty sure I could makesome room for an order of Frysmith's kimchi fries....

My stomach was extremely honored to be asked to judge the L.A. Street Food Festival, held Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. More than 50 restaurants, food trucks and carts were well represented, and thousands turned out to sample the offerings. Founded and organized by fellow foodies and entrepreneurs Shawna Dawson and Sonja Rasula, the event was a fund-raiser for St. Vincent Meals on Wheels and the Woolly School Garden.

Fellow judges included L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- arm visibly swollen and still in a sling -- as well as chefs Susan Feniger and Walter Manzke (yes, I asked; no, he wouldn't say), Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet LA and actor Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy").

With so many appetites, and so many choices, I wondered how we'd ever come to a consensus at the end of the food orgy. In fact, it was pretty easy. In almost every category, we were nearly unanimous on one or two choices. Too full to fight, we just decided to use the powers invested in us to name runners-up. In doing so, we were able to give a shout-out to nearly every standout.

There was a spirited debate about what constituted nouveau street food -- as opposed to classic "old school" street food. I'll spare you the details, but it's a sign of L.A.'s diversity -- and sophisticated tastes -- that "old school" honors went to both the explosive Thai bites served up by chef Robert Danhi of Southeast Asian Flavors and the tamales from Tamales Elena. Nouveau honors went to both Sedthee Thai's pork spareribs and the pork belly adobo served up by the Manila Machine.

Best sweet tooth honors went to Scoops Westside for its Thai Iced Tea Coconut flavor and Munchie Machine's PB&J S'More Sandwich. (It's just what it sounds like, a S'more tucked inside a PB&J. If a dessert could get a key to the city, this would be it: Villaraigosa went nuts for it, as we all did.)

Turn the page to see more winners....  

Continue reading »

Combo Plate: 'Top Chef' backlash, Crazy cakes, shopping the food trucks, and more

-- Time asks: Has "Top Chef'" lost its edge? What do you think? VOTE!

-- Get jamming! Valerie Confections kitchens, 3360 W. 1st St., is hosting a class Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m., taking students through the basics of making stone fruit jams, pickled green beans, and relish. Class size is limited to 12. Contact: (213) 739-8149 or info@valerieconfections.com.

-- The L.A. Flea Market debuts Sunday at Dodger Stadium. What does that have to do with food? Nearly 20 of the city's favorite food trucks are going to be parked right there, including the Border Grill truck, Coolhaus and the India Jones Chow Truck. Click here for the full list of yummies, and check out our Q&A in the Home section: It's an interview with Phillip Dane, the man behind the whole thing.

-- When Angels manager Mike Scioscia wants pizza ... he goes into his kitchen. His wife is a great cook and they have their own pizza oven. He calls it "the best pizza you can get outside of Chicago deep dish." But if he's in the L.A. area and a hankering hits, he says he goes to Tarantino's in Pasadena.

-- Check out this photo gallery of cakes that are crazy -- and creative. Who puts monkeys on top of a cake? I want to party with that guy! Or gal.

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch




Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent Posts
5 Questions for Thi Tran |  August 6, 2012, 8:00 am »
SEE-LA hires new executive director |  July 31, 2012, 9:34 am »
Food FYI: Actors reading Yelp reviews |  July 31, 2012, 9:16 am »
Test Kitchen video tip: Choosing a bread wash |  July 31, 2012, 6:04 am »



About the Bloggers
Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.