The most memorable scene of this year’s L.A. Weekly Gold Standard event? Probably Michael Voltaggio, clad in his “People on Yelp Hate Me” shirt, hustling out in front of the booth for his restaurant, Ink.
He wasn’t signing autographs or posing for iPhone pictures, things one might expect from a Top Chef winner and recent receipt of GQ’s Best New Restaurant in America. Instead, he was spooning out little piles of nitrogen-frozen horseradish snow atop his tendon and beef tongue lettuce tacos before handings them out with the urgency of a kitchen expeditor.
Voltaggio wasn’t the only familiar face who set up shop in the Peterson Automotive Museum’s parking garage this past Sunday: there was Susan Feninger of Street serving mung bean pancakes with miso mustard and dark soy; Sang Yoon of Lukshon with a beef rib eye bao; Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal with a velvety foie gras terrine topped with Satsuma marmalade; Zach Pollack and Steve Samson of Sotto with a crispy pork belly porcetto with quince mostarda; Bryant Ng of The Spice Table with a fish sauce-perfumed, roasted pig's tail wrapped in herbs; and Roy Choi from A-Frame with a spicy charred octopus salad.
You’d have been remiss if you skipped those other less high profile booths too. You could sample tender Texas brisket from Smoke City Market, galbi jjim and a kimchi pancake from Koreatown’s LaOn or a cup of marsala gelato from Bulgarini. There was a sampler of nigriri from Tsujita LA, a cup of tonkatsu from Ramen Jinya, and a sliver of grilled pork with basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, and chili from newcomer Night + Market. There were 74 vendors in total, slinging everything from espresso to hot dogs, and equipped with more than enough food and drink to distract from the oppressive heat (we made sure to hydrate with copious glasses of Singha Beer, St. Germain cocktails, and vinho verde).
But what really sets the Gold Standard apart? It’s not just about celebrity chefs, but rather it's about watching the Michelin-starred labor alongside barbeque pit masters from Compton, and then marvel in satisfaction after chasing your pistachio-yuzu shortbread with a smoked pork rib. While we reveled in the frenetic afternoon's marrying of high and low cuisine, the day was marked by another, more bittersweet occasion: the departure of Jonathan Gold from the L.A. Weekly to the Los Angeles Times. We wish him and both publications well in their new directions. Now, bring us more pork.
Check out more tasty photos here.