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New event celebrates 'underground hip-hop artists of the food scene'

New event celebrates 'underground hip-hop artists of the food scene'
Chefs participating in the Urban Block Gastronomy Experience include, from left, Craig Batiste from Mr. Fries, Calvin Johnson of Bleu Kitchen, Keith Garrett of All Flavor No Grease and Steven Ginyard of the I Love Funnel Cakes truck. (Committee Collective)

Los Angeles' newest food event is aimed at shining a spotlight on what founder Aisha Hollans calls this city's black entrepreneurs and "urban chefs." The Urban Block Gastronomy Experience takes place Nov. 5 at the Millennium Sneaker Boutique in Inglewood.

"Urban chefs are like underground hip-hop artists of the food scene," said Hollans. "Their food is authentic, real, respected, cultured, loved and incomparable."

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Hollans, owner of the Collective Committee, an L.A. creative agency that specializes in marketing and experiences for small-business owners and independent brands, didn't believe it when a friend told her to go to a house in Watts for a lobster burrito. Identifying as a "foodie," Hollans decided to seek out the burrito.

When she arrived, "the line was around the corner," said Hollans. "White people, Asian people, people from all over were there. It was the best burrito I've had in my life."

Hollans had just discovered All Flavor No Grease, a food stand run by Keith Garrett, who started making his take on Mexican food at his house in Watts a little more than a year ago.

"I became enamored with the underground, urban cooking scene," said Hollans. "People selling food out of their houses. ... I thought, Let's put something together that helps exploit these talents and this food."

So Hollans organized the Urban Block Gastronomy Experience, which will feature more than a dozen food vendors (all trucks, stands or catering services) from South L.A.:  Taco Mell, Mr. Fries, the Bleu Kitchen, Not Your Mama's Kitchen, AP BBQ, the Taco Lady, Compton Cobbler, I Love Funnel Cakes, Fun Diggity Funnel Cakes, J&B Popcorn, Smitty's Signature Pudding, A Little Taste of Chyna and, yes, All Flavor No Grease.

"The whole focus is to really expose this new wave of urban cooking; all the chefs are 30 and younger," said Hollans. "I wanted something cool and hipper, so I thought, 'Let's create this.' Just being African American, we have to help each other more. When I started my own agency I said, 'A piece of it is always going to be giving back.' "

Hollans plans to host another event in January and possibly have the event travel to more cities in the future.

"I would love to have this event travel to different cities, and I think it would be a domino effect because people love food and soul food," said Hollans. "It's more than soul food, it's the urban twist on tacos, sliders and BBQ."

The event will take place from noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 5. Admission is $5.

234 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, www.committeecollective.com

Extra cheese, please. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @Jenn_Harris_

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