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Times' Food Bowl will celebrate city's diverse culinary scene and raise awareness of hunger

Times' Food Bowl will celebrate city's diverse culinary scene and raise awareness of hunger
Food circulates through the crowd at Otium in downtown Los Angeles during a preview event for the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Get your taste buds ready, folks, because the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl — a monthlong festival — is returning.

Throughout May, The Times will be hosting and curating dining events, panel discussions, volunteer projects and other events celebrating L.A.’s diverse culinary scene. The festival also will promote conversations about and raise money to combat food waste, hunger and food insecurity.

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Food Bowl has partnered with several charitable organizations that focus on reclaiming discarded food and feeding the homeless and needy, including L.A. Kitchen, Food Forward and Midnight Mission, said Angus Dillon, the festival’s executive producer.

On Tuesday, dozens of people gathered at the downtown restaurant Otium for the festival launch.

Jim Kirk, the Times’ new editor-in-chief, told the crowd that many of the festival’s programs are focused on alleviating the crisis of homelessness and that the charity partners are “on the front lines helping to address this especially relevant issue.”

Francoise Dehaipe, center, passes food through a crowd at Otium in downtown Los Angeles during a preview event for the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl.
Francoise Dehaipe, center, passes food through a crowd at Otium in downtown Los Angeles during a preview event for the Los Angeles Times Food Bowl. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“I know that chefs, cooks and the food community as a whole take this issue to heart,” he said.

The inaugural festival in May drew more than 100,000 attendees. This year, more than 250 events are planned, including neighborhood food tours, a discussion about food in space at UCLA, a Sichuan Summit featuring food writer Fuchsia Dunlop and Chinese Chef Yu Bo and a conversation with chef José Andrés of the Bazaar by José Andrés.

The festival, once again, will revolve around Night Market, an outdoor food market May 16-20 in Grand Park that will feature more than 50 restaurants and food trucks.

“I think of it as a monthlong, progressive dinner party, a way for all of us to explore this town and the enormous diversity that we have in terms of food and the people who cook it,” said Amy Scattergood, the Times’ food editor.

The festival also will feature the Gold Film Festival, a mini-festival curated by Times’ restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, with screenings hosted in various neighborhoods around the city.

Gold on Tuesday said Food Bowl is a “celebration of Los Angeles.”

“It’s a celebration of the chefs of Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s a celebration of the restaurateurs. It’s a celebration of the astonishing produce that we have, and it’s a celebration of the magnificent diversity that we have in the city of Los Angeles that’s unlike that which you see in any other city in the world.”

Los Angeles restaurateur Stephane Bombet, who attended Tuesday’s festival launch, said he looked forward to participating in the festival because it is community-oriented and because of the charitable aspect.

“Food speaks to everybody,” he said. “When you tell people you’re going to have beautiful and delicious food — what can be better than that?”

Chani Hitt, marketing director for the restaurant group Happy to Serve You, said it’s an exciting time for the Los Angeles food scene.

“It seems like now, more than ever, we’re being not only respected for food, but we’re being supported in the industry,” she said. “There are more opportunities, from chefs to street vendors.

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A Food Bowl preview event launched at Otium in downtown Los Angeles.
A Food Bowl preview event launched at Otium in downtown Los Angeles. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)
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