In the ongoing battle between the East Coast and the West for the crown of Best Food, you know where I’ve always thrown my vote.
The West, yo.
Why? Well, not only is it home to the most delicious and most varied range of produce ALL YEAR ROUND, but it’s also the land of dreamers; this land is where only the hardiest dared journey back in the day, crossing icy mountains and barren deserts alike to fall on her sunny shores. That breeds a particular community here of determined dreamers. These days you can find someone from practically every country on the planet here in LA, and usually you’ll find a little enclave of them, which means you can also find some amazing food.
I am so proud to be part of the LA food community for those reasons… and more!
My homies are sweeping the James Beard Award noms!
Over the past couple of years, I’ve fallen for the food of Josef Centeno, the heart behind Baco Mercat and now Bar Ama (and previously Laxy Ox Canteen). Bren and I brave all the hipsters just for a seat at the bar to unhinge our jaw and bite into his Bacos (a kind of soft, bready taco; somewhere between a naan and a taco), stuffed liberally and messily with romesco, carnitas and various other meats. He, along with another favourite of mine, Picca’s Ricardo Zarate are among the nominees for best chef (west). In fact, there are so many of my favourites on this list that it would take me too long to tell you all of them, so just look at the list; we’re scooping up all the categories, yo!
And here’s what I love most about the way LA chefs are killing it: they’re respectfully but rebelliously flicking their thumb at the establishment. Gone are fussy plates arranged just so with esoteric ingredients. These chefs are making rustic, big-hearted food, inspired by the streets of their hometowns, whether it’s Centeno’s puffy tacos and queso dip at Bar Ama, or Zarate’s Beef Heart Antichuco at Picca. Another one of my favourite bites over the past year has been grilled pork collar at Night + Market where Chef Kris Yenbamroong is making exciting Thai street food. Just the thought of all this exciting, vibrant, accessible food coming out of my back yard gets my heart racing. They are making food for the people inspired by food by the people. They’re rescuing food from the heights of snobbery that it’s scaled in the past and bringing it back down so that everyone from the clueless to the know-it-all foodie can pant over a dish. It makes me so proud to call this town my home, and prouder still to call some of these guys my homies.