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Food task force celebrates at Vibiana with chefs, farmers and great food

October 7, 2010 |  7:29 am


Hundreds of people ate and drank at Vibiana, the former Roman Catholic cathedral, on Wednesday evening to celebrate the work of the Food Policy Task Force -– a group convened last year by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to consider how to make locally produced food better serve all the people of Southern California.

The mayor spoke at the event, noting that Los Angeles is a city where children go hungry, too few people use food stamps and the obesity rate is too high. He said the Food Policy Council -– a more permanent follow-up to the task force -– is going to address some of those issues. [Read more here about the task force's efforts to create a regional food system that would allow low-income residents to buy locally produced food.]

“We have to recognize there’s no place for hunger in a state like California,” said A.G. Kawamura, the state food and agriculture secretary. “Agriculture is not something we can take for granted.”

No one went hungry Wednesday night.

More than 40 chefs, including Jimmy Shaw of Loteria, Ray Garcia of Fig, Suzanne Goin of Lucques, John Sedlar of Rivera, were partnered with farms like Wesier Family Farms, McGrath Family Farm and many others. The results were served at a walk-around reception in the former cathedral.


David Lentz of Hungry Cat grilled octopus in the courtyard at Vibiana. Sherry Yard from Spago served almond financiers almonds from King and Gardiner farms with raspberry compote using fruit from Pudwill Farm. Ray Garcia of Fig made duck tartare using duck from Maple Leaf Farms, sorrel from Maggie’s Farm and Wegis Ranch pistachios.

Neal Fraser of Grace, who is soon to open a restaurant at Vibiana, roasted a 100-pound pig from ReRide Ranch in Lake Huges in a specially made box; the pork was served with Alex Weiser’s potatoes. “It’s like digging a pit without a shovel,” Fraser said of the box.

Akasha Richmond of Akasha in Culver City made tomato tarts using Coastal Farm’s tomatoes, which she buys regularly. “I love tomato tarts,” she said, adding that it was about 98 degrees when she decided to make the tarts but got lucky when the weather turned cool.

The new Food Policy Council will be chaired by Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels. Other members include Michael Flood of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Larry Yee, advisor emeritus with UC Cooperative Extension. The council includes representatives of several nonprofit community organizations as well.

--Mary MacVean

Photos, from top: David Lentz shows off his grilled octopus; Brendan Collins of Waterloo & City makes his dish of duck liver, and duck pastrami on toast with microgreens. Credit: Mary MacVean