Doing anything this May? If you haven't already booked your next culinary trip to Chengdu or Paris, Jerusalem or Oaxaca, then you might consider staying in — or traveling to — Los Angeles for some, or all, of those 31 days. Because that's when the Los Angeles Times will be presenting Food Bowl, a monthlong food festival.
For the entire month, The Times will be curating and hosting events, special programs, dining experiences and forums, while promoting conversation about issues of sustainability, food waste and hunger. The events will draw on L.A.'s own chefs and food folks, as well as those from out of town, including Massimo Bottura, chef-owner of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, and founder of Food for Soul; Fergus Henderson, chef and founder of St. John in London; Rosio Sánchez, chef-owner of Hija de Sánchez in Copenhagen; Magnus Nilsson, chef at Fäviken in Sweden, and others.
The festival will be centered around a Night Market, to be held at Grand Park in downtown L.A. from May 10-14, and will include over 50 restaurants and food trucks, along with lots of food, drinks and live entertainment. For the rest of the month, there will be individual events in kitchens and restaurants, at bars and coffee shops, in farmers markets and even in buses.
As for why the festival is called Food Bowl, bowls are great unifiers. We have celebrated things in a bowl, and we do, after all, live in a town with celebrated bowls — the Rose Bowl, the Hollywood Bowl — and this will give you one more. Los Angeles is a fantastic place to eat, whether you're sitting down for an elaborate tasting menu or sitting in the back of your pickup truck with a taco, and this is yet another way to celebrate that.
Expect panel discussions, pop-ups, cooking classes, bar crawls and block parties, along with neighborhood dinners throughout the giant communal table that is L.A.
On Tuesday, as a few hundred people gathered at his downtown restaurant Spring for the festival launch, chef Tony Esnault moved tiny bowls — yes, bowls — of lobster soup around the marble counter of the enormous open kitchen.
"L.A. is the perfect setting for this," said Esnault. "We have beautiful produce and an ever-growing awareness of the importance of its source and sustainability. Organizations who work diligently to feed the hungry and raise our awareness for the need for all of us to contribute to ending hunger. And, of all the cities I've lived and worked in, L.A. has the most diverse food scene. What better place for an international food festival whose goal is the enjoyment of food, the importance of its origins, and the need to ensure we all have enough of it."
9 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details and quotes.