The LUX Life is your guide to the most premium experiences at Los Angeles’ hottest summer events. Click here for more LUX Life Guides.
For most Americans, the last few days of August make up the ominously close, last-hurrah weekend when summer is a mere week away from being but a memory. But in Los Angeles—land of eternal vacation weather—it’s just another blissful break from the workweek when you take to the beaches and stare into that palm studded California sky.
Everything changed, however, five years ago when the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival lit its beacon, attracting not only the city’s best chefs, but also a steadily increasing legion of food buffs from around the country. Today, the four-day long event at the end of August (August 27th-30th) is not only one of the most prized gatherings of notable figures in the eating industry, but it also firmly cemented the city’s reputation as one of America’s most important destinations for brilliant cuisine of all stripes.
With hundreds of workshops and personalities, the festival’s alacrity can feel overwhelming at times; so, we’ve conspired with our cool hunters to pluck out the most exclusive experiences for locals and visitors alike. Go ahead and bookmark this trusty guide on your smartphone and use it as your roadmap to find not only the very best of LAFW, but also some other spectacularly VIP offerings hidden throughout the city.
Reservations for everything below are an absolute must.
The Whole City on One Plate
Like the opening of the Olympic Games, Thursday’s “Ultimate Bites” event (August 27th) showcases the best that Los Angeles has to offer. Stations are divided by neighborhood, and bring together the city’s rich diversity of recipes with the help of the evening’s host, Curtis Stone. VIPs (an extra $55) will get Chef Stone all to themselves for a fun-filled cooking workshop and an additional 30 minutes of hobnobbing with the eating elite to the tunes of DJ Questlove (?uestlove).
SpeakEATy, Not Speakeasy
Sure, the idea of a hidden bar is practically old news, but have you ever heard of a top-secret restaurant? Celebrity chef José Andrés has tucked his private dining concept, SAAM, like a shiny Starck-designed pearl, deep within The Bazaar, the acclaimed restaurant of the SLS Beverly Hills. The chef’s penchant for all things tapas really comes into view during the elaborate parade of 22 perfected courses. We could tell you what exactly is on the menu, but then we’d have to kill you.
A Walk Around the World
Street food is the theme of Friday night’s lavish affair (August 28th), which seeks to replicate the heady hecticness of the perennial Night Market atmosphere befitting most Asian cities. The evening’s host, chef Tyler Florence, will treat the high rollers (an extra $50) to a private cooking show, although general admission sounds pretty darn good already: tasting tables set up by over 30 diverse restaurants, and an unlimited supply of wine, sake, beer, and bespoke cocktails.
Dive-In Movie Theatre
Once the fanfare of L.A.’s veritable Eat Week has subsided, treat yourself to an exclusive evening at Mr C Beverly Hills’ (PDF) poolside cinema. Held on Tuesday, September 1st, the hotel will offer pre-booked patrons a trip to the Mediterranean with Peroni Nastro Azzuro on-tap, caprese-style popcorn, delicious bar bite inspired by the Boot-land, and a private screening of The Italian Job (1969) as viewers lounge on the brand-new David Sutherland patio ware.
Beets by the Roots
Rounding out LAFW’s main-tent events is the Saturday soiree (August 29th) featuring over 30 cooking personalities and 100 wineries. Guests can move across the floor sampling Angeleno fare while listening to some classic tunes by The Roots. An extra $155 will earn you VIP access, which means early access, a private reception area, and an intimate cooking demo from one of the festival’s top-billed chefs.