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Photos and more from Los Angeles Times’ The Taste 2017

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The Los Angeles Times’ annual celebration of Southern California’s culinary scene returns to Paramount Pictures Studios with five events highlighting food from Boyle Heights to Beverly Hills, NoHo to Venice. There will be unlimited food tastings, live cooking demos and wine seminars.

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Photos: Flavors of L.A. at The Taste

Tacos de Mantarraya (made with stingray) from El Coraloense is served.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
L.A. Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, right, with actor Danny Trejo (Trejo's Tacos, Trejo's Cantina, Trejo's Coffee & Donuts).
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
Homemade spaghetti with bolognese from Pasta Sisters is spooned onto plates.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

View more photos from “Flavors of L.A.” at The Taste.

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Photos: Sunday Block Party at The Taste

Miang Kham, a traditional Thai snack with shrimp, shallots, red onion, chili peppers, ginger, garlic, lime, roasted coconut, peanuts in a Chinese broccoli leaf wrapper from Lum-Ka-Naad.
(Patrick Fallon / For The Times)
Surf 'n' turf lobster burger from Slapfish.
(Patrick Fallon / For The Times)

View more photos from The Taste’s Sunday Block Party. Tickets for more events.

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Cooking demo with Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos at The Taste

Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos holds up his sweet potato breakfast taco.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos will hold a cooking demonstration tonight at the Backlot Culinary Stage at 9:45 p.m.

You can read about Avila’s cookbook and other L.A. cookbooks:

While it’s most always a good time to have a book about tacos, this book about tacos is especially welcome. We’re talking about Guerrilla Tacos, specifically, Wes Avila’s excellent taco truck that you’ll often find parked outside specialty coffee shops around the city.

This is Avila’s first book; co-written with writer Richard Parks III, his is a cookbook that also functions as life story. Narrated in Avila’s relaxed, conversational style, the story pulls you in, as do the 50 recipes.

He starts with sweet potato tacos; we’re in Pico Rivera, where he was raised.

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Video: Los Angeles is experiencing a new wave of urban cuisine

Los Angeles experiencing a new wave of urban cuisine.

Urban Block Gastronomy Experience Cooking & Mixology Demonstration featuring Danielle Bennett (Lady on the Rocks), Chef E Dubble (E Dubble Catering/Grilled Fraiche), Breana Jackson (Sugar & Spice: Baked by Bre), and Derrick Lewis (Not Your Mama’s Kitchen)

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The Taste: Jonathan Gold will interview Danny Trejo on the L.A. Times Culinary Stage

Actor Danny Trejo’s restaurant, Trejo’s Cantina, serves up a healthful and tasty vegan taco -- roasted cauliflower and grilled corn with cashews.

Danny Trejo of Trejo’s Tacos, Cantina and Coffee & Donuts, will be at The Taste today at the L.A. Times Culinary Stage at 8:15 p.m. interviewed by Jonathan Gold.

This story features Danny Trejo’s favorite vegan cauliflower tacos:

There are many places where you might expect to find Danny Trejo. On-screen, in one of the 300 or so movies the 72-year-old actor has appeared in over his long career, including three “From Dusk Till Dawn” films. In commercials — here’s hoping he reprises his 2015 Marcia Brady imitation during the next Super Bowl. You might not expect to see Trejo working the line in a kitchen, even if it is his own restaurant.

On a recent morning, Trejo moved around the 400-square-foot kitchen of Trejo’s Cantina in Hollywood, the actor’s second taqueria — the original year-old location is on La Brea Avenue — deftly working the stoves with his executive chef, John-Carlos Kuramoto. Finding Kuramoto, a veteran of Campanile, Michael’s in Santa Monica and Osteria Mozza even though he’s only 29, working the line is less unlikely.

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Upscale soul food? It could only come from a chef like Jason Fullilove, at The Taste today

Chef Jason Fullilove built a following through a series of pop-ups and residencies. Now he has a place of his own. He calls it Barbara Jean, after his mother. The fare, he says, is “soul food.”
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Jason Fullilove will be at the L.A. Times culinary stage at 12:45 p.m. doing a biscuit baking demonstration with David LeFevre.

This story recounts his career and the origins of his restaurant, Barbara Jean:

Not so very long ago, a visit to a new restaurant meant something very predictable happened. You entered under specific signage through heavy doors into a swank universe. There a hostess or maître d’ greeted you like a favorite relative, ushered you to a draped table, through a performance of uniformed servers and low music and diners clustered in geometric order. This is not a lost world, but it is no longer the world we live in. And, maybe more to the point, it is not the world most chefs live in, especially chefs wanting to open their own restaurants, without access to deep-pocketted investors and elaborate support systems.

To find Barbara Jean, the restaurant that chef Jason Fullilove opened in June in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles, you stroll past the clothing boutiques and tattoo shops that line Melrose Avenue, into the Melrose Umbrella Co., a dim, wood-lined bar. The place looks like a slightly dusty set from Ken Burns’ documentary on Prohibition: high ceilings, exposed Douglas fir beams, retro-clad folks gathered around a watering hole. Pass the drinkers and their highball glasses, up some stairs, past a tiny, crowded kitchen and into the small patio in the back. This is the restaurant, almost hidden at the back of the bar like a reverse speakeasy, and which looks like an art installation crossed with someone’s ’50s-era garage.

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Photos: Saturday’s Dinner with a twist at The Taste

Corn on the cob with tamarind and bacon curry from XO on Beverly during the "Dinner With A Twist" night of Los Angeles Times' The Taste event on the Paramount Pictures backlot on Saturday.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

View more photos from The Taste’s “Dinner with a Twist” event. Tickets for more events.

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(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

There were also sweets at The Taste. Whoopie pies, brownies and cookies were on the Susie Cakes menu.

Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times

Phil Rosenthal of I’ll Have What Phil’s Having smiles during the The Taste “Dinner with a twist” event on the Paramount Pictures backlot.

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Photos: ‘From field to fork’ Saturday at The Taste

Ahi tuna tartare wontons from Ocean Prime Beverly Hills at The Taste.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)
Salted doughnut with oxtail jam and black garlic salsify puree from Restauration at The Taste.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

View more photos from The Taste’s “From field to fork” event on Saturday. Tickets for more events.

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Cooking demo with chef Sang Yoon at L.A. Times Culinary stage

Chef Sang Yoon of Lukshon and Father's Office attends opening night of The Taste in Los Angeles.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Sang Yoon will be offering a cooking demonstration at the L.A. Times’ culinary stage at 1:45 p.m. Saturday at The Taste.

This story describes Yoon’s endeavor to make the perfect XO sauce:

Chefs are by nature obsessive. It’s a personality trait that tends to fit them, like their chef’s whites, that knife collection, maybe some latent pyromania. You could argue that chef Sang Yoon has been better than most at channeling his kitchen fixations. He built his first restaurant, Father’s Office, out of a network of them (the hamburger, craft beers, no ketchup). His second restaurant, Lukshon, allowed him to obsess about noodles, often repeating the same dish (dan dan mien, ramen) over and over, shifting one component, then another, sometimes for months, as if he were searching for some kind of Platonic ideal in his test kitchen.

For the last few years — yes, that’s right: years — Yoon has been obsessed with XO sauce. It’s a fitting fixation, really, for a guy who’s spent his career evading genres. XO sauce, somewhat like Yoon himself, is a modern construct. Invented at a Hong Kong hotel in the 1980s, XO is a mash-up of odd, expensive ingredients (dried scallops, Chinese ham), named for a bottle of Cognac that isn’t even part of the recipe. The XO stands for Extra Old, or at least the name does, which is kind of ironic for a dish that debuted about the same time as Whitney Houston’s first album.

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Cooking demo with Ron Finley at L.A. Times Culinary stage

Ron Finley, the Gangsta Gardener, attends opening night of The Taste at the Paramount Studios backlot on Friday.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Gangsta Gardener Ron Finley will be at the Los Angeles Times’ Culinary stage cooking for The Taste audience at 12:45 p.m. Saturday.

This story describes his success in growing organic produce in South L.A.:

Ron Finley is standing in the deep end of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The pool is empty, has been empty for years, the water long ago replaced by an elaborate garden. The garden overflows the geometry of the pool, growing up the sides, in and out of buckets and boxes and pails, around brightly painted artwork and a mural painted by one of Finley’s three grown sons, two of whom are artists. Above the pool there’s a network of more buckets, shopping carts planted with strawberries, a system of compost bins, beds of kale and oxalis, a nectarine tree growing in a layer of 18 inches of soil above concrete. Butterflies and hummingbirds dart through a pomegranate tree. If you didn’t know it, you’d think you were somewhere in the tropics, someplace like Macondo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s imaginary, lush, butterfly-filled town — not in South Los Angeles where Finley grew up and lives, a few hundred yards from the Farmdale Expo station.

“This is definitely a lemonade story,” says Finley, as he weeds a bucket of chard. Wild amaranth grows up between cracks in the concrete at his feet.

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Photos: Opening night at The Taste 2017

Bourbon Steak serves Palabok noodles, made with egg noodles, crab butter, "XO" crumble, Yuzu aioli, chili herbs and chicharron, at The Taste.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

Fancy some Korean barbecue skirt steak with kimchi and chimichurri or a green mussel and sea urchin sake shooter? See what people ate during opening night at The Taste.

More photos from The Taste.

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Sassafras Saloon offers a "Blues & Booze," with Bulleit rye, blueberry puree, white tea lavender syrup and garnished with blueberries and flowers during a hot opening night of The Taste.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

A refreshing bourbon cocktail to fight off the heat wave.

More photos from The Taste.

Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada attends the L.A. Times' The Taste on Friday on the Paramount Studios backlot.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

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The Taste’s opening night video

Los Angeles Times’ The Taste, featuring renowned chefs and bartenders from across Southern California, kicks off at Paramount Pictures Studio.

Check out opening night at The Times’ The Taste event on the Paramount Studios backlot and enjoy a taste of what people are eating and drinking this Labor Day weekend. Tickets are available for more events.

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Opening night

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Saturday at The Taste: Field to fork

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Saturday at The Taste: Dinner with a twist

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Sunday at The Taste: Block party

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Sunday at The Taste: Flavors of L.A.

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