LA Times Food & Wine Festival

I would love to give you the highlights from the first LA Times Food and Wine Fest this past Sunday but unfortunately, it was a big ol’ fat FAIL.

My friend and I arrived just before noon, found easy street parking and then tried to get inside. After some bogus run-around, we entered only to be befuddled by the strings strung all the around to make the lines efficient. Well, it’s not efficient if you have to climb under the rope to get to will-call to get your tickets, lurch back under the rope to get back to where you have to be and then line up again to get a wristband so you can make use of your 8 drink tickets. Oh, and why did they X your hand as they gave you the wristband? If they think that is somehow going to deter would-be underage drinkers, think again.

We initially got in line for a food truck only to realize they weren’t giving out free food as we were led to believe. We went in search of the free food and I came up with a nibble of pork chop from a demo, a fingerling potato that was dry, some odd yogurt and three tubes of vegan penne. Uh? What?

I did however, find plentiful booze. First we stopped to watch the Creative Cocktails demo with Alie and Georgia. I loved them! But having a shot of truffle garlic martini wasn’t exactly what I had in mind as my first cocktail. I found lots of wine and liquor was abundant. Where was the food?

After about an hour of slowing dawning horror that this so-called food fest was not exactly as advertised, we left. I understand the VIPs who spent $125 got as much as they wanted to eat but three hours after the festival started. Some complained then they had to buy food from the many food trucks. Let’s do the math. If you bought a general admission ticket, you had to buy food. If you bought VIP, you didn’t but had to anyway if you wanted to eat before 3.

It seems then this is poorly planned. While I got sunburned, I didn’t blame the Fest though I did hear from some the lack of shade and difficult procurement of water was also another reason why people left early. I wanted to wait for another demo or lecture but didn’t want to keep burning so we left. Oh, and I was hungry and as much as I love my food trucks, I didn’t come to this Fest expecting to pay for food. I can do this easily without paying an enormous cover.

Having now gone to Taste of the Nation, the Concern Foundation and Chefs Night Out events, I’m well aware of how things should run. Expecting your well-heeled (or maybe flip-flopped) guests to forage for food or buy from trucks is just lame.

Yes, lame.

I also thought the booths were not set up well. Who sold booth space to the psychic? I thought this was a food and wine fest? Where was the psychic a week earlier warning me not to go?

I’m very happy I didn’t pay for parking, won the tickets from Thrillist and left early enough to not feel like I wasted an entire day but still, it’ll take a lot of convincing before I got to the next LA Times event.