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Newsletter: The art of Mexican cooking

Happy Saturday. It’s almost May, which means that our second annual Food Bowl festival is about to begin, a monthlong dinner party, with discussions, pop-ups, feasts, the return of our Night Market, even a food film festival. There’s a lot going on, and we invite you to join us over the next five weeks — bring some friends and an appetite.

Among the many folks coming to town is Diana Kennedy, who I recently went to Michoacán to visit. In other related stories, we talk to cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop about Sichuan cooking and Chinese chef Yu Bo, both of whom are coming for a talk and dinner. We also have a story about the restaurant labor crisis, which is also tied to an upcoming panel discussion. There’s a lot more, so check out the program guide or come to our launch party on Monday night.

For Mexican cooking that’s a bit closer to home than, well, Mexico, Jonathan Gold visits El Coraloense in Bell Gardens for his latest review. And in other local news, we have a market report (strawberries!) with recipes; news on Ludo’s latest restaurant opening (a second Petit Trois, in the SFV; thank you, chef) and a LAFC stadium food guide. Enjoy your weekend.

Amy Scattergood

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DINING IN BELL GARDENS

Oysters in a half shell, shrimp, avocado and ahogada sauce at El Coraloense.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )

This week, Jonathan heads to Bell Gardens and El Coraloense, a family-run restaurant specializing in the cooking of Sinaloa and Nayarit. There he finds a pretty great aguachile, along with ceviche tostadas, smoked marlin tacos and not a few other things worth the trip — including “the infamous shrimp-topped raw oysters called Viagra.com.” (Check out the picture above.)

A VISIT WITH DIANA KENNEDY

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Mexican cooking expert Diana Kennedy at home in Michoacán, Mexico.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times )

For over a half-century, Diana Kennedy, now 95, has been cooking, researching, teaching and writing about the regional cuisines of Mexico, where she lives in an ecological house she had built in the small village of San Francisco Coatepec de Morelos in Michoacán. I recently spent a few days with her, watching her cook, getting a tour of her house and gardens and the local market, and listening to her talk about sustainability and the future — both her own and the world’s.

A GOOD COOK IS HARD TO FIND

There’s a dearth of good kitchen help in Los Angeles, as the restaurant scene explodes all around us.
(Illustration by Lehel Kovacs / For The Times )
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With more and more restaurants opening in Los Angeles, where are all the cooks coming from? Food writer Gillian Ferguson considers the current restaurant labor crisis, how we got here and what can be done. With so many new restaurants, a rising minimum wage, an emphasis on providing a safe and productive environment for workers and the need for specialized talent, what’s the future look like?

THE JOY OF SICHUAN COOKING

Cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop and chef Yu Bo
(Handout )

Cookbook author Fuchsia Dunlop and Chinese chef Yu Bo are among the many experts coming to L.A. in May for our monthlong food festival. Food writer Margy Rochlin catches up with Dunlop to talk about Sichuan cooking, the restaurant Yu runs out of his home, banquet dining in China, and the possibility of Yu Bo opening a restaurant in Los Angeles.

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A FOUNTAIN OF CARAMEL

The caramel fountain at Le Bon Garçon, a new dessert shop in Thai Town by pastry chef Justin Chao.
(Jakob N. Layman )

In this week’s restaurant news column, Deputy Food Editor Jenn Harris has news of a new Thai Town dessert shop called Le Bon Garçon, which specializes in caramel: seven different kinds of caramels, caramel waffles and a caramel fountain, where you can fill jars to take home. What else is going on: NoMad’s rooftop restaurant is open, chef Ari Taymor’s brunch pop-up is converting into a bricks-and-mortar, and actor Patrick Duffy and his family are opening a bar on Theater Row.

L.A. Times Food Bowl returns for a second year in May, with 31 days of events celebrating L.A.'s great food and drink scene and helping raise awareness and funds to fight food waste, hunger and food insecurity. The lineup of dining events, panel discussions, chef collaborations, volunteer projects and other food and drink-inspired happenings is up online now. So who’s coming this year? Celebrated Spanish chef José Andrés, chefs Ben Shewry (Australia), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Virgilio Martinez (Peru) and Yu Bo (China), along with legendary cookbook writer Diana Kennedy (Mexico) and more. Our launch party is at Rossoblu on April 30, and on May 1, the opening night party will be an event called Changing the World Through the Power of Food, with Andrés, Gold and friends. Help us celebrate this year’s Restaurant of the Year and Gold Award-winning chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. And yes, our Night Market will be back for five nights at Grand Park, with 50 food vendors and fun events. For all the details go to lafoodbowl.com.

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Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers featuring his 2017 Best Restaurants. If you don’t have a copy of the booklet, you can order one online here.

Check us out on Instagram at @latimesfood.

And don’t forget the thousands of recipes in our California Cookbook recipe database.

Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at food@latimes.com.

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