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Sep 10, 2008 10:45 PM

Did anyone go to the event at the Hammer tonight with J.Gold? [moved from LA]

What did you think?

It was interesting---I had hoped they would talk a little more about L.A cuisine (which was the topic), but it was pretty interesting.

The panel included Jonathan Gold as the moderator, Octavio Becerra (from Palate and formerly of the Patina Group), Evan Kleiman (of Angeli Cafe) and Michael Cimarusti (of Water Grill and Providence).

I was excited to get to meet Jonathan and tell him about my blog project (Following Gold--an effort to hit up as many restaurants as possible from his 99 list).

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  1. It was awesome. And, hmmm, I thought there was a lot of talk about LA cuisine: that it is flavored, informed, and shaped by the extraordinarily multi-cultural makeup of LA, and by our blessed California produce, and by being a major port city. And that there's a certain lightness and light-handedness in the cooking because we do have available so many magnificent ingredients, and the chefs want those flavors to shine through.

    I went mostly for Cimarusti, and it was really cool to hear about him and the other 5x5 chefs getting together regularly. And also interesting to hear his perspective, since he was the only non-native LAer.

    And I really enjoyed hearing Evan's passion about the bounty from the land that we are so lucky to have here--something I'm grateful for all the time. Angeli has not really been on my radar, but now I've gotta eat there.

    And very cool to get some background on Becerra, as I plan to visit Palate very soon. Btw, this Saturday, 1-5pm, there will be a special tomatoes, cheese, and wine event at Palate, put on by Daily Candy. Becerra told me where the tomatoes are coming from, and it sounded like a really good farmer, since Becerra knows his stuff, but I can't remember the name.

    J. Gold: that was my first viewing of the man. He's got a terrific informed wit. And very laid back. All of them are so laid back, but serious about their food. Love it.

    I was so pleased to have been able to chat with each of them afterwards.

    1. I was pretty excited to go... which is the main reason I was so disappointed. I, too, wished they'd talked more about L.A. cuisine and what defines it. I also wanted to hear about more restaurants than just their own. By the end of the night, I don't think we were any closer to defining L.A. cuisine.

      Cimarusti was great. Kleiman too. As for Jonathan Gold -- I know this will offend all of those who think he's just a half step from deity, but c'mon people. He's a great food writer, but as for speaking... well... I'll just reiterate that writing is his strong suit.

      Great topic for an event, and I commend Zocalo for putting it together.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Lobstr

        IMHO, no offense about J. Gold. You're on the nose. I've only heard him for the most part on KCRW's "Good Food," with Evan Kleinman, but I think his laid-back personality doesn't translate nearly as well as his prose on paper...

        1. re: bulavinaka

          Agree with Lobstr. I was so excited and got a seat on the front row, but while it's a fine talk, it was not very focus on defining on LA cuisine.

          Cimarusti was great in providing details of what being in LA means to his cooking by contrasting with his NY experience: e.g he was trying to learn French before he moved to LA so he can communicate with the chefs, but now he wished he knew Japanese!

          Kleiman was good too: in fact, she may be a better curator than Gold. She spoke eloquently, and she obviously had put in a lot of thought about what LA cuisine is, and spent time educating the public about the fantastic selection of produce and cultural diversity that we are all so lucky to have in LA.

          1. re: keepon

            Evan Kleinman seems to be such personable open personality. Her skills and knowledge are very evident on her show, but at the same time, Evan has a wonderful child-like curiosity toward her guests' interviews - a lot of "wow" moments that someone of her experience normally wouldn't reveal. She's a true joy to listen to.

            I've admired J. Gold's abilities since I first heard him on Good Food. But his real magic cast a spell on me after reading his articles. I think he is extremely intelligent and observes things like no one else but probably is somewhat shy by nature - almost like a wallflower. Maybe this is why he seems to prefer writing as his medium - the most wonderful flowers bloom while we're not looking.

          2. re: bulavinaka

            I concur -- it would have been a better event if Evan had been the moderator. Gold seemed ill at ease at times, and he's not all that good at speaking off the cuff (which made me wonder why he didn't seem to have any notes, either).

            But I still really enjoyed it.