Part supper club, part art project, Los Angeles Eats Itself is a dinner series that takes its inspiration from some of the city’s most infamous events/outright tragedies, enlisting artists and chefs to create themed meals and art installations for each subject. The brainchild of artists Marco Rios and Jason Keller, past installments have been centered on the Black Dahlia and the Night Stalker; during the latter, Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos developed a menu of comfort dishes that represented his own memories of the summer that Richard Ramirez terrorized the city. Yeah, it’s not for the faint of heart.
The next dinner, titled The Fleiss Feast, will pay homage to infamous Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. Chefs Mia Wasilevich of Transitional Gastronomy and Teresa Montańo of Pasadena’s Racion will be creating six courses that, according to the Los Angeles Eats Itself website, will “reinterpret the lascivious underbelly of 90’s Los Angeles.” Aphrodisiac elements, a narcotics-inspired soup, and cocktails that give nod to Fleiss’ favorite clients are also promised.
“The moment [the idea for the dinner] came out of Jason’s mouth, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” says Wasilevich, who’s known for creating gourmet dishes from forage-based ingredients. “With this project, it was like sending my brain back in time and really sussing out what would have been the ultimate, posh poolside dinner in 1993. So we had some fun limitations in terms of sticking within a certain style or trend of the period. For me, the detailed research is just as much fun as the production, maybe more so.”
While the dinner will be held in at the LA River Studios near Glassell Park, diners will eat “poolside” thanks to a replica of the Beverly Hills Hotel swimming pool (Fleiss’ informal office during her heyday) created by artist Christopher Reynolds. Even the napkins have been authenticated—Keller and Rios made a trip out to Nevada to launder them at Dirty Laundry, the Fleiss-owned laundromat in Las Vegas.
“I think many of the meals we want to look at are more about the fascination with LA which is like this perpetual catastrophe of contrasts,” says Keller. “So the Fleiss Feast, and most of our other meals, are less about celebrating the wreckage and more about how much of L.A.’s identity, especially of Fleiss and the 90s, seems to be linked to the sensationalization of acts of depravity and transgression.” A gilded potato skin might be part of that celebration, and we also hear that they’re inviting the real Ms. Fleiss to attend.