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Food Network-sponsored festival headed to L.A. in 2010?

February 22, 2009 | 11:18 pm

Tomc2Why can't L.A. host as many food festivals as cities half our size? (We're looking at you, Miami.)

In Florida's most fashionable city this past weekend, foodies mingled with some of the nation's best-known chefs, such as
Tom Colicchio and Tyler Florence, while noshing on high quality fare at the 2009 South Beach Wine & Food festival (sponsored in part by the Food Network). This is on top of the annual Miami Wine Festival, which takes place in April, the Deering Seafood festival in March and Miami Spice in August.

"There’s nothing like it in the world," said Florence via cellphone Friday from his hotel in Miami of the city's largest annual event, South Beach's Wine & Food Festival.  "It is spectacular."

Florence said he was excited to make "Squid ink angel hair pasta for 1,000 people" for a Friday night gathering. "We’re tossing it with a warm uni butter and then shredding bits of pancetta before topping it off with a tablespoon of caviar." Now that doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Open question to Daily Dish readers: why aren't there more similar weekend events with celebrity chefs in Los Angeles? We are the second-biggest city in the country, after all, with stars aplenty based right here (several notable L.A.-based personalities made the trip to Florida, chief among them Jose Andres, who found himself at the center of a bit of controversy after Mario Batali dropped the f-bomb at the fest while introducing him in front of the King of Spain).

Maybe I'm missing something here, but it sure seems as if someone is passing up a great opportunity to tap the foodie market in the greater Los Angeles area. A cursory search online reveals that, aside from restaurant weeks in both L.A. and the O.C., there are very few, if any, annual large-scale foodie events in Los Angeles proper. In August of 2006, apparently something called the "LA Wine and Food Festival" took place, but their website now re-directs to a San Diego-based trade show. And for the record, I'm not forgetting the annual American Food & Wine Festival. Or even either Lobster Fest. I'm simply asking: Shouldn't there be multiple high-end events taking place in the area, given our population, that spotlight all the name chefs in Los Angeles and Orange County?

I'd certainly pay a reasonable fee to try a bunch of different gourmet items from several high-end restaurants in a festival-like atmosphere (the key word, naturally, being reasonable).

Over the weekend we emailed South Beach Food & Wine festival founder Lee Schrager, who said he has been thinking a lot recently about bringing his brainchild out to California.

"The festival will be L.A.-bound, promise," he said.  "I hope to move this show to California in the next few years." But first, a touring version of the fest will hit New York this fall.  No word yet from Schrager if he plans a 2010 SoCal debut, or the year after.   

In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Would you pay to go to a Food Network-sponsored event similar to what took place in South Beach over the weekend?

-- Charlie Amter

Photo of one of the many celebrity chefs at this past weekend's festival in Miami, Tom Colicchio, by Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times