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Chefs from Shiku, Chengdu Impression and more celebrate the diversity of dining in L.A.

Shiku owners Kwang Uh and Mina Park, with their son, Taehoon.
Shiku owners Kwang Uh and Mina Park with their son, Taehoon. Uh and Park will participate in a special Food Bowl dinner celebrating food in Los Angeles.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Many of us believe that Los Angeles is the best food city in America. National recognition started to trickle in about a decade ago, but chefs and gourmands —and everyone in between — have celebrated its pluralism and appreciated its greatness for years.

“The trajectory of Los Angeles food has no limits, and that’s what makes it the most interesting food city,” says Valerie Gordon, half of the duo behind the Valerie Confections dessert company, a confection boutique in Westlake, and the Valerie Echo Park café. “There’s just an outrageous level of creativity since the pandemic struck. There are no rules anymore for what you can do or how you can explore ingredients, and that’s incredibly exciting.”

To celebrate the diversity of Los Angeles dining, the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl, presented by City National Bank, is hosting a dinner with some of the city’s most lauded chefs. Gordon, along with Ray Garcia (Broken Spanish), Burt Bakman (Slab BBQ), Mina Park and Kwang Uh (Shiku), and the team from Chengdu Impression will prepare a special menu for the Oct. 16 event at Paramount Pictures Studios.

“Having that sort of communal, shared conversation around food in large part is why we all do what we do,” Gordon said. “Coming back together and seeing people in person and cooking alongside people is just thrilling.”

Gordon plans to make a trio of desserts, dishes that will incorporate chocolate, a small cake and “something fruity.”

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Park and Uh of Shiku, the Korean takeaway stall they opened at Grand Central Market earlier this year, will prepare a canapé for the cocktail portion of the dinner. “We want to represent true Korean flavors,” Park said. “There will be fermentation involved.”

Uh is perhaps best known for experimenting with fermentation in his surprising and boundary-obliterating Korean cooking at the now-closed Baroo. (Critics and diners went nuts for Baroo’s norook: a plate of pink-tinged fermented grains with toasted sunflower seeds, soaked macadamias, reduced seaweed broth and pink onions that smelled of rose petals.)

Uh and Park said they are planning for the next iteration of Baroo, and Park believes the restaurant’s success is in no small part dependent on its being in Los Angeles. “L.A. is just so open-minded,” she said. “Both Baroo and Shiku, especially Baroo, couldn’t have succeeded in the same way in another city. Out of nowhere, this Korean guy lands in L.A. in a strip mall, but there was this real openness to what he was doing that would have been tougher to have in New York or another city.”

The Food Bowl dinner is part of a series of events with partner Outstanding in the Field, the roaming pop-up group known for creating elaborate dinner experiences in unexpected locations, such as rooftop gardens, the L.A. River and secret sea caves. Guests will dine in the place where many notable movie and television shows have been filmed, including “Star Trek,” “Frasier” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Tickets are $385 per person and are available at lafoodbowl.com.


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