For a few days in August, some of the world’s biggest chefs, winemakers and mixologists converged on Los Angeles to stuff dedicated foodies with their most sinful fare. The fourth annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival featured high-priced culinary elite: Makers of $24 spaghetti plates mingled with reps from Angelina Jolie’s wine label.
The bad news: Tickets for this thing can set you back hundreds of dollars (not to mention the airfare). The good news: The Loop went there for you. For several days, we cornered all the best chefs and teased their secrets right out of them. Now you can adapt their fancy techniques to your own kitchen…all without having to hop a plane or empty your wallet.
We somehow managed to get world’s most famous chefs to tell us their secrets
Boozy MilkshakesThis food trend is actually everywhere right now, from celebrity cookbooks to fancy restaurants. The secret here is adding just enough vodka — about 2 ounces per regular serving. It gives a kick without putting you to bed too early, says Anthony Meidenbauer of Holstein Shakes & Buns.Leslie Gornstein
Boozy Cake PopsWe know, we know: We already talked about a boozy dessert. But we would fail if we didn’t mention this next-level cake pop, infused with vodka. Why make a cake pop when you can make a cake pop full of vodka? Seriously.Leslie Gornstein
DuckWhy do so many chefs prefer duck over chicken? One reason: Cooks love their sauces, and duck simply holds up better against one that's spicy or rich. The next time you crave a heftier sauce, indulge in a duck, says Ray Garcia of Fig.Leslie Gornstein
Cheese RindsThere’s a reason why restaurant macaroni and cheese often beats homemade — even the serving bowl is made out of cheese! Mirko Paderno of Oliverio dished out his version from a giant parmesan rind. Save your own parmesan ends and use them in everything from pasta to soup for added flavor.Leslie Gornstein
Herbed-Out Breakfast or Dessert WafflesHerbs come in crystal form now. Go figure. Chef Bart Vandaele of B. Too sprinkled his cilantro-infused waffles with a crystallized version of the same herb. The result: Great depth of a surprisingly apt flavor.Leslie Gornstein
Sweet & SourDamon Gordon of the Oliverio Water Grill wowed foodies with a seemingly simple bite of smoked wild salmon with fig jam. But even an appetizer like this one benefits from a little secret: A sauce that balances acid and sweetness. “Equal parts balsamic vinegar and honey, that’s my favorite.”Leslie Gornstein
Garlic FlowersHerb gardeners usually hate to see their babies go to seed. But next time you see a purple flower shooting up out of your garlic plant, save it. “It adds a subtle hint of garlic that won’t overpower,” says Robert Liberato of STK Los Angeles.Leslie Gornstein
When Your Bread Deserves BetterButter is great. Really. Chefs used it everywhere — everywhere except on bread. Instead, freshly made ricotta or burrata seemed to take over. Top it with chiles or rosemary for a terrific alternative to olive oil or butter.Leslie Gornstein
RaisinsThe humble raisin can actually elevate some of the fanciest food — such as the bay scallop — to new heights. “Put some golden raisins in a pot with enough water to cover them,” one chef dished. “Bring it up to low heat and when the water is gone, put the raisins in a blender and blend it with miso. Simple as can be.”Leslie Gornstein
Forget the CreminisOne of the reasons Scott Conant of Scarpetta is able to serve a spaghetti plate for $24 is his skill at mixing a minimum of ingredients. One favorite of his: wild mushrooms. “Even a shiitake mushroom tastes great. It’s a shame it doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” Conant says.Leslie Gornstein
Quail EggsFor chefs, this tiny egg is more about just impressing friends at parties. “Regular eggs tend to have that sulfuric smell,” says Joe Visiloff of Cafe Pinot. “Quail eggs are a lot more uniform to cook.”Leslie Gornstein
Liquid Nitrogen (Don’t Try This at Home)Ever have a meringue that’s been sitting in liquid nitrogen? Look, you can’t do this at home, but it’s an increasingly hot trend. If you ever have the chance to check out a liquid nitro cocktail or dessert, just do it. You won’t regret it. Leslie Gornstein