Even with the extra day in February this leap year, March is coming up quickly. Need help distracting you from the stress of your March Madness pool? Here are some food festivals next month to keep you busy, when not glued to a sports station.
All-Star Chef Classic, March 9-12: Returning to L.A. Live, this four-day event includes both "Strolling" sessions, with chef's booths and communal seating in a more traditional festival-type atmosphere, and a Masters Dinner Series, taking place inside a "Restaurant Stadium" with arena seating surrounding kitchen stations where chefs make a show of preparing multicourse meals in front of their diners.
Over 45 chefs are participating, include out-of-town chefs Alain Ducasse, Chris Cosentino, Diego Hernández Baquedano, Sean Brock, and Wylie Dufresne, as well as local chefs Jeremy Fox, Niki Nakayama, Charles Olalia and of course Ludo Lefebvre. All-Star Chef Classic benefits City of Hope. $125 to $250 for Strolling events, $250 to $425 for Master Dinner Series events, www.allstarchefclassic.com.
Cochon 555, March 13: The local stop of this national tour of pork will take place at the Viceroy Santa Monica, as it has in previous years. Defending Los Angeles champ Walter Manzke (République) will take on Brooke Williamson (The Tripel), Bruce Kalman (Union), Carlos Salgado (Taco María), and Jason Neroni (Rose Cafe). Each will be utilizing a different, whole heritage-breed pig paired to the individual chef.
The tour, which also hosts smaller events like an Asian-themed speakeasy and a more intimate dinner series in the days leading up to the competition, benefits the Piggy Bank initiative supporting local farms and culinary schools. The winner of the competition will compete for the national "King of Porc" title at Grand Cochon in Aspen, Colo., later this year. $130.95 to $258, cochon555.com/2016-tour/los-angeles.
Latin Food Fest, March 18-21: The Los Angeles edition of this event, which started in San Diego in 2013 and benefits Camp Able, spans four days, including a 21-plus-only Grande Tasting on Saturday and a more family oriented all-ages Grande Tasting on Sunday. Ricardo Zarate has been named the title chef of the event and will be on hand throughout the weekend for cooking demonstrations and signings of his new cookbook "The Fire of Peru."
Another event highlight is an all-Latina onstage cooking demonstration showcasing the cuisines of various Latin American countries, by chefs Tati Polo (Venezuelan), Alicia Maher (Salvadoran), Milbet Del Cid (Guatemalan), Natalie Curie (Mexican) and more. Latin Food Fest will take place at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. $65 to $150 for adult admission (discounts for children, designated drivers, and more), (858) 461-1970, latinfoodfest.com.
PPLA Food Fare, March 3: The 37th annual fundraiser benefiting Planned Parenthood Los Angeles is celebrating 50 years of care provided by local chapters of the health organization since 1965. Over 150 restaurants are participating, including A.O.C., Craft, Hamasaku, Jar, Mexikosher and Starry Kitchen, across two sessions at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.
Rather than selecting a Chef of the Year for 2016, the event has chosen to recognize Jenny Rush of Blue Plate Restaurant Group for its first Restaurateur of the Year honors. PPLA Food Fare, which started as a cooking demonstration by Julia Child in 1979, raised over $850,000 last year. $150 for daytime (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and $250 for evening (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.), (213) 284-3300, pplafoodfare.com.