Ever since getting my first taste of Vietnamese food back in high school, I’ve been completely enamored with the unmatched balance of flavors in each humble meal. That first slurp of phở… discovering exotic fruits like rambutan… this was all very special and revelatory, but they were nothing compared to my introduction to bánh mì, the Vietnamese sandwich masterpiece that may actually be my favorite dish on earth. (Though if this was a Sophie’s Choice situation with banh mi up against pizza, I don’t know what I’d do.)
So when my dear friend Andrea Nguyen—blogger extraordinaire at Viet World Kitchen and fellow Ten Speed Press author—told me she was working on a cookbook dedicated to banh mi, I got REALLY excited. And I instantly blurted out that I’d be happy to make a vegan banh mi recipe (with plenty of Sriracha) for her, if she was looking for anybody to contribute. “Sure!” she says. Wait. Really?! (more…)
Yes, it’s true! I’m putting together a Sriracha Festival in downtown Los Angeles with my good friend Joshua Lurie from FoodGPS.com!
The 1st Annual L.A. Sriracha Festival is taking place on Sunday, October 27, from 3 pm to 6 pm at LOT 613 in the downtown L.A. Arts District. This chef-driven, all-inclusive, 21+ event spotlights the world’s most iconic hot sauce in a casual industrial setting. Multiple stations allow guests to enjoy a variety of Sriracha themed dishes, including desserts, at their own pace. Local craft beer, cocktails, and sodas help tame the heat while a live DJ set helps create a fun and unforgettable food and drink experience.
Some of L.A.’s best chefs and restaurants participating in this year’s event include:
- Wesley Avila— Guerrilla Tacos — “Best Tacos in LA Under $10”, Time Out LA (2013)
- Nadav Bashan — Bashan — “Most Underrated Restaurant in LA”, Eater
- Neal Fraser — BLD, Fritzi Dog, ICDC, Redbird at Vibiana, The Strand House —Top Chef: Masters (Season 5)
- Gabe Gordon — Beachwood BBQ & Brewing — “Best Brewpub in Southern California”, RateBeer.com (2013)
- Eric Greenspan — The Foundry on Melrose, Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, The Roof on Wilshire — Iron Chef: America, The Next Iron Chef
- Tai Kim — Scoops — ”10 Best Ice Cream & Gelato Shops” (#8), LA Weekly (2011)
- Esdras Ochoa & Javier Fregoso — Mexicali Taco & Co. — “The Best Tacos in Los Angeles”, laist (2013)
- Christian Page — Short Order — “5 Reasons to Get Out and Explore LA”, Bon Appetit (2012)
- Tui Sungkamee & Jazz Singsanong — Jitlada — Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants (#9), LA Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants (2013)
- Chloe Tran & John Vu Cao — East Borough — “One Perfect Day in Costa Mesa,” Sunset Magazine, opening restaurant in Culver City
- Ernesto Uchimura —Plan Check Kitchen + Bar — “Chef of the Year”, Los Angeles Magazine (2012) — also featuring a cocktail from Matthew Biancaniello
To drink, Eagle Rock Brewery, Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. will be pouring craft beers throughout the event. Inventive bartenders Josh Goldman (Soigné Group) and Matthew Biancaniello are serving creative cocktails in the main festival area and at the Plan Check Bar booth, respectively. Los Angeles Ale Works has created artisan ginger ale (with or without Sriracha!), Pure Water of Los Angeles is providing beyond-green purified water from their water systems.
Huy Fong Foods, Inc. has generously come on board as a presenting sponsor. David Tran, founder of Huy Fong Foods and mastermind behind their Sriracha, will be making a rare, special appearance at the event. Uber is offering festival guests a free ride valued at up to $20 for first time users, and Ten Speed Press is giving a copy of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook to all VIP guests.
A portion of proceeds from the L.A. Sriracha Festival will directly benefit Food Forward; a North Hollywood-based charity whose mission is to rescue and donate fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste. Over 1.6 million pounds of food has been gleaned since 2009, which goes to local food pantries, helping feed over 40,000 hungry Southern Californians each month.
General Admission tickets are $49 per person in advance, and $59 per person at the door, if still available. Tickets are all-inclusive, and enable attendees to sample freely from all food and drink vendors as they please. Tickets are only available for people 21+.
VIP Tickets for the event are $80 in advance, and $90 per person at the door, if available. They include reserved seating, one-hour early admission from 2 pm to 3 pm, and a signed copy of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook. Tickets are only available for people 21+ and are for sale exclusively at LAsrirachafestival.nightout.com.
Valet parking is available at nearby 619 Imperial Street for $10 per car, and free street parking is also an option.
LOT 613, 613 Imperial Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90021,www.lot613.com
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About The Sriracha Cookbook: Randy Clemens released The Sriracha Cookbook in January 2011, incorporating his favorite hot sauce in 50 unique recipes. The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook recently launched in July 2013 with an additional 50 recipes, all plant-based in nature.
About Food GPS: Josh Lurie founded Food GPS in 2005. Since then, his Los Angeles-based website has remained dedicated to pinpointing the highest quality, best-tasting food and drink, regardless of price or cuisine, and sharing stories of people behind the flavor. Food GPS, Inc. also produces unique culinary events.
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When fellow cookbook author Robb Walsh asked if I’d be interested in judging the 2012 Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, I think I had about a millisecond of hesitation before exclaiming “Hell yes!” and booking my airfare. It was kind of a no-brainer; I’d never been to Texas before, and, as you may have guessed by my first cookbook, I’m a sucker for Scovilles. And being the largest hot sauce festival in the world—with an estimated 350 competition entrants and 15,000+ attendees—it definitely seemed like my kinda scene.
Shortly after getting a screaming deal on a plane ticket, this innocent looking email came in from Robb and crew saying something to the effect of, “By the way, it was like 110°F here last year. NBD. Wear light clothes and a hat. Oh, and it’s 143% humidity. See you soon!”
110°F? Humid? What have I gotten myself into?! I’m a Los Angeles native… I don’t do humid. My mind spiraled out of control and I began to question my decision. What if there’s some crazy lunatic who wants nothing more than to punish people with her Ghost Chili hot sauce? Is my tongue ready for that? And am I prepared—physically and mentally—for the inevitable revenge the following morning? Could I handle this? What if… and so on. But eventually, I shut the hell up inside my own head and resolved to stick with it. I decided, once and for all, that no matter what happened, good or bad or otherwise, it would at the very least make a somewhat-entertaining blog post. (Hi!)