Master’s of Taste will be celebrating its 5th year on Sunday, April 5, but it’s hard to believe that such an iconic event is still relatively new in the food festival realm. Held on the field in Pasadena’s historic Rose Bowl stadium, Master’s of Taste brings together dozens upon dozens of LA’s most highly-sought restaurants, as well as a slew of wineries, breweries, distilleries and other beverage purveyors. There’s even an entire section dedicated to dessert. Collectively, these chefs, winemakers, beer brewers, bakers, ice cream makers and everyone in between are known as “The Masters” of culinary, drink and sweet.
This year’s Master’s of Taste 2020 Host is Chef Vanda Asapahu, Owner and Chef of the famed Ayara Thai in Westchester. Chef Asapahu’s role represents many milestones: she’ the first female chef to be given the title of Host for the event, and Ayara Thai is the first mom-and-pop establishment to be represented in this way. Cooking for Master’s of Taste since year one, Asapahu was once one of only two female chefs at the entire event. She sees year five as ‘a year for the ladies,’ where female representation is set to dramatically increase.
Ayara Thai’s legendary family recipes and deep, profound flavors are joined by the likes of many masters in their own right. Michael Hung of Faith & Flower—last year’s host chef—will be back, as well as representatives from Momed, Celestino and Bacchus Kitchen among a long list of others. Drinks will include Obvious Wines, Ascension Cellars, Mt. Lowe Brewing Company, Humm Kombucha and cocktails made from hotspots such as The Raymond and Preux and Proper. Sweet masters will include Penny Oven, Butter Cake Shoppe, My/Mo Mochi and specialties from Mi Piace.
Equally important Master’s of Taste’s mission to fight homelessness. 100% of proceeds go to Union Station Homeless services, which just last year was able to house more than 1200 previously homeless men and women. The event raised over $500,000 in 2019 with its first-ever sellout crowd.
The event is likely to sell out again this year and bring in more than 3,000 people. Get your ticket to feast for a cause while they last at MastersOfTasteLA.com.
Meat on Ocean is the steakhouse LA has been waiting for, where new-age and old-school come together to showcase time-honored fine dining in a way that that long-time Angelinos and visitors alike can revel in. This is more than a restaurant, instilling in its guests not just a dining experience, but for many a timeless moment where the senses unite under completely new sights, sounds, aromas, and of course, tastes.
Part of the experience is their gargantuan dining room that essentially encompasses five restaurant atmospheres in one, ensuring that no two meals are the same. Each section of this massive open-air space caters to a different audience. Classic plush red booths under longhorn displays line one wall, paying homage to the classic steakhouse. Further down that same wall is more modern décor, for those seeking something newer with the same intimacy. Large group tables line the restaurant’s center, adjacent to a long bar that pays homage to a spot where you’d order a dirty martini, yet churns out cocktails that compete with any modern mixology program. Meat on Ocean then seamlessly transitions to a hybrid of indoor and outdoor seating, where tables closest to Ocean Ave. enjoy a windowless escape with a full roof over their head, as well as gorgeous ocean views with the Santa Monica Pier in the backdrop.
Patrons are not just diners at Mean on Ocean, but also audience members, many with a full view of the market-style display of wines stacked in wooden boxes, as well as the butcher’s area, where the day’s cuts are prepared. Even the smell is reminiscent of a rural European marketplace, where fresh meats, cheeses and wines are exchanged with love and care.
Then you find the aging room, custom-engineered with the sole goal of developing the perfect dry-aged steak. Kept to 35 degrees and 85 percent humidity, this fortress is sealed with steel doors and lined with fans that circulate Himalayan salt-infused air to accentuate flavor over time. Staff members put on special clothing before entering, so as to not contaminate the meat with foreign smells by simply walking past them. Steaks age in here for up to 75 days. Good luck finding another room like this in any restaurant, let alone one that could otherwise rest its laurels on simply being close to the beach.
The aging room is just the beginning, however. Meat on Ocean has developed a mind-blowing seven-stage cooking process to ensure that every bit of refined flavor reaches its full potential on your plate. A team of chefs guide each steak through a journey across ovens you won’t find in most restaurants, ranging from several hundred to more than 2000 degrees, to make sure color, temperature and consistency are nothing short of perfect, regardless of how you like your steak cooked.
By now it should be no surprise that Meat on Ocean serves one of the greatest steaks you’re going to get in Los Angeles, and short of a trip to Japan’s Kobe region, likely one of the greatest steaks you’re going to get…period. Biting into a Meat on Ocean steak is other-worldly, whereby literally months of preparation and countless levels of detail hit you all at once. Many fine steakhouses will have a crust, a finishing ingredient or a single cooking technique that defines their signature flavor, but at Meat on Ocean, it’s a full process, a lifespan, so to speak, that raises the bar to a level simply unattainable for most.
A robust menu doesn’t keep itself to steak, however. As if its meat preparation process wasn’t enough, Meat on Ocean is under the King’s Seafood umbrella—the same owner of the illustrious Water Grill right down the street. That means fresh, sustainable seafood achieving another almost unfair level of quality, prepared with an equal level of culinary mastery. One bite of their Chilean Seabass, or their sensational octopus, and you’ll easily understand.
The intrigue doesn’t stop there. Meat on Ocean takes advantage of every part of the meat it sources, reduces excess fat from their beef into a tallow, and incorporates that tallow into many other aspects of the menu. This means beef tallow fries, exceptionally buttery meatballs and so much more.
And yes, of course Meat on Ocean makes nearly every dessert in-house, including a decadent bread pudding and a rotating ice cream menu. And that cocktail program? No syrups involved, just pure muddling and mixing of fresh berries and other ingredients.
Filling a restaurant the size of Meat on Ocean, in one of the most expensive areas on the planet, would be a daunting task for virtually anyone in the business. But now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of the way this place runs its show, there should be no doubt as to why Meat on Ocean is packed every day of the week. Just make sure to book in advance, and specify which part of the restaurant you’d like to make yours for the evening.
Meat on Ocean is located at 1501 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Open 11:30a – 11p Sun – Thu, 11:30a – midnight Fri – Sat. Avg. out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée, side, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$145/person. For reservations and more information call (310) 773-3366 or visit MeatOnOcean.com.
The Planned Parenthood LA Food Fare brings together an unprecedented 150 of Southern California’s best restaurants, caterers, wineries, breweries, distilleries and more food & drink purveyors under one roof. This year’s PPLA Food Festival is on Thursday, March 19, with an afternoon session from 11am – 2pm and an evening session from 6:30 – 9:30pm.
Participating restaurants include Rao's, Viviane, The Butcher's Daughter, Pink's Hot Dogs, Clementine, Pinche's Tacos and Salt's Cure among many others. Beverage providers include Angel City Brewery, Navarro Vineyards and Ventura Spirits among others.
Taking place in Santa Monica’s famed Barkar Hangar, this legendary festival delivers an ambiance also attracts a crowd of some of LA’s best and brightest, providing attendees the opportunity to partake in dozens of raffles and auctions including the popular silent wine and spirits auction featuring, collectible vintages, unique vertical collections and large format bottles. Prizes will include exclusive and unique entertainment and culinary experiences such dream vacations and private dinner parties at renowned Los Angeles restaurants.
As its name states, the PPLA Food raises funds to provide affordable, non-judgmental, and confidential reproductive health care services to communities throughout Los Angeles County. And if 2020’s event is like that of past years, expect it to bring in more than $1.3 Million.
For tickets and additional information, visit PPLAFoodFare.com. Sponsorship packages also available.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.