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L.A. food festival season at its peak with lobster, ramen festivals and more [Redlands Daily Facts (CA)]

September 13, 2013

YellowBrix

Sign up with a gym, a personal trainer or Jenny Craig because this weekend is full of temptation for anyone trying to keep that bikini figure.

"It's high season for food festivals in L.A.," said Josh Lurie, producer of the second annual Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival.

Lurie's festival is set for Sunday at Lot 613 in downtown Los Angeles. But starting today other food-centric celebrations include the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival in San Pedro, dubbed the largest lobster festival in the world, and the first-ever ramen festival in the area hosted in Torrance - and that's just a sample tasting of what the season has to offer.

"Food festivals are great for the public because you can be a fan of ramen and get six types of great ramen all in one spot," said MB Post chef/owner David LeFevre, a veteran of the food festival scene. "As a fan, you have a better opportunity of meeting your favorite chef and walking away with something you absolutely love."

While the award-winning chef will not only be serving up ramen, LeFevre will be participating in Sunday's fried chicken festivities for the second year in a row and at Los Angeles' first Thai Food Festival at Paramount Studios on Sept. 29.

LeFevre plans to fry up truffle honey-laced fried chicken, a favorite at his Manhattan Beach restaurant, and is still doing research for his Thai dish (all he knows is it's going to be a green curry).

"As chefs, these festivals - particularly ethnic ones - are a wonderful opportunity to try something we haven't before and do it with authenticity," LeFevre said.

On the heels of a growing food trend that now includes the much- sought after Ramen Burger, which made its Southern California debut in Torrance and Pasadena last weekend, Weekly LALALA, a free Los Angeles-based Japanese magazine, is presenting the Ramen Yokocho Festival.

The new festival boasts it is the "largest ramen festival in the U.S." and is expected to steam things up Saturday and Sunday at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center with the hearty soup crafted by chefs at the helm of such popular local spots as Daikokuya of L.A.'s Little Tokyo, Hawaii's Gomaichi (voted best ramen shop in Honolulu) and Japan's own Kitakata Ramen Bannai.

But Jim Hall, producer of the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival and original creator of the three-day long Redondo Beach Lobster Festival set to kick off its 18th year on Sept. 20, said that food festivals bring more than just high-quality food to the masses.

"Other than Christmas and Thanksgiving, the lobster festival is the only time the family sits down to eat together," Hall said. "It's an experience with food many people just don't regularly have anymore."

Last weekend, 8,000 locals and visitors gathered at Rainbow Lagoon on Sept. 7 marking The Original Long Beach Lobster Festival's biggest day. The festival served up about nine tons of lobsters during the three-day event, organizers said.

The 14th annual Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival plans to top that with upwards of 40,000 people expected to break bread and crack shells together during the festival's three days, Hall said.

The best part - aside from the buttery lobster - is that everyone is helping the festival earn three Guinness World Record titles to add to its 2009 record of the most seafood served at an outdoor event. The Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival is seeking to secure the Guinness record for the most lobsters cooked in eight hours, the most lobsters cooked in a single cooker and for the largest display of lobsters.

"We are the big daddy, and we have the world record to prove it, with three more coming," Hall said.

And food festivals don't just satisfy taste buds. Foodies who also love music were able to catch exclusive performances by Gavin DeGraw and ?uestlove during last month's Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, and this year the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival has a bill-full of entertainment from tonight's headliners Big Black Delta to Sunday's closer The English Beat.

"We like to consider ourselves Los Angeles' best-tasting music festival," Hall said, laughing.

Jason Mraz, the fedora-wearing, acoustic guitar-strumming singer whose hits include "I'm Yours" and "The Remedy (I Won't Worry)," performed at the lobster festival for three years before he got signed.

"This year we're hanging our hat on the Big Black Delta, Dead Sara, Echosmith - there isn't a bad band on the lineup," Hall said. That also includes young rising stars Lydia Night and Marlhy Murphy that make up Pretty Little Demons. The tweens met at the School of Rock North Hollywood just last year and have since garnered quite a following, including making a fan out of actor Ryan Gosling. The duo is Saturday's opening act, performing during the coveted Jason Mraz Memorial time slot, Hall said.

"We've got quality lobster and great music," Hall said. "It's as good as it gets."

And the experts only see it getting better from here as long as foodies continue to stay curious.

"I wouldn't say there are too many food festivals," Lurie said. "That's up to the attendees to decide. These are happening because people want them. People love food."

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.


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