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Eating to Feed Others

The American Wine and Food Festival
The American Wine & Food Festival

By Tara de Lis



It’s arguably the biggest annual Epicurean event on L.A.’s culinary calendar, the penultimate send-off to a long summer season of fabulous food and wine fêtes. Now in its 27th year, the event featured spectacular dishes from some of the nation’s top chefs, such as American Wine and Food Festival co-founder Wolfgang Puck, Kerry Heffernan (South Gate, New York) and Charles Phan (Slanted Door, San Francisco) as well as an esteemed selection of wine and spirits.
Among our favorite dishes of the evening were Alex Stratta’s (Alex, the Wynn Las Vegas) delightfully savory-sweet, crispy Kurobuta pork belly with dried fruits and toasted almonds on a bed of mascarpone polenta; Thomas Keller’s (the soon-to-be Bouchon, Beverly Hills) raw bar, where he was personally signing beach balls! Jonathan Waxman’s (Barbuto, NYC) deceptively simple-sounding but lovely grilled chicken with tarragon butter; and Nancy Silverton’s (Mozza, L.A.) delicious array of fried goodies. Norman Van Aken, whom is much missed in these parts since the closing of his eponymous eatery on the Sunset Strip in 2006, partnered with the Idaho Potato Commission to create what he calls “an experience of a few different textures and flavors.”


Our favorite wine of the night? A beautiful 1994 Kalin Cellars Chardonnay from the Livermore Valley. Yes, that’s right, vintage 1994—and it’s their current release. Honorable mentions to Ultimat Vodka and the palate cleaning Aperol and sparklng wine cocktail from Palm Bay.


Since it debuted in 1982, the American Wine & Food Festival has raised more than $15 million for the local L.A. chapter of Meals on Wheels, which serves literally thousands of meals every day to senior citizens, disabled persons and other homebound individuals.



You can click on each photo to enlarge.