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Highlights from the L.A. Epicurean Festival

August 28, 2012|By Jenn Harris
  • Wine tasting at the L.A. Epicurean Festival.
Wine tasting at the L.A. Epicurean Festival.

Over 500 food and wine vendors packed into downtown's Vibiana on Sunday for the L.A. Epicurian Festival. Food lovers of every background sampled everything from wild boar salami to organic pumpkin seed butter, and sipped wines from around the world, discussing ways to incorporate products into their businesses or their homes.

That's the idea behind food industry veterans Kora Kroep's and Bruno Laclotte's "open to the public" L.A. Epicurean Festival. Kroep and Laclotte began their food-and-wine-trade-only shows in Las Vegas six years ago, but for the last two years have opened the show to the public. Last year's show was held at the Sofitel in Los Angeles.

"Every time we do the trade show I have a lot of foodie friends and people that are not necessarily trade who say, 'We want to go. It sounds like such a cool show,'" Kroep said. "So we said why don't we open it up to the public? It's totally exciting to see these foodies come in and talk and have the chance to really speak with the producers." 

For $100, anyone could purchase a ticket to gain access to the several hundred vendors that came to talk about their products. Kroep and Laclotte noted that they picked vendors that sold wholesale and retail and those that produced specialty products on a smaller scale. Here are some highlights from this year's festival:

A company called Salute Santé talked about the benefits of using gluten-free grapeseed flour, made with Merlot and Chardonnay grape seeds; High Roller Spirits sampled its vodka made from California-grown sweet potatoes; My Vienna gelateria in Beverly Hills set up a mini gelato cafe at its booth, offering people a taste of all of its flavors; Angel Salumi & Truffles offered a selection of wild boar and truffles salumi; Tahitian Gold specialty vanilla products shared a selection of its pure vanilla extracts. For a full list of exhibitors, visit

Seven pastry chefs, including Stephane Treand (who also created a sugar sculpture for the event), Eric De Margerie (Clafoutis) and Adam Thomas (Four Seasons) came together to make a cake to celebrate Michel Richard's 50 years of cooking.

The festival also held an Epicurean Cup contest in which students, chefs and mixologists were placed on random teams and asked to create a pre-selected menu out of a basket of mystery products. Celebrity chefs including Michel Richard and Bradley Ogden judged the competition. Members of the winning team included chef Robert Liberato (BLT Steak), pastry chef Paul Rivera (Wyndham), sommelier Cameron Russell (The London) and mixologist Sarah Saunders (BLT Steak).


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