Five Secrets of Los Angeles Magazine’s “Amazing Taste” Food Crawl

The behind-the-scenes stuff we probably shouldn’t tell you

In the November issue’s “Food Lovers Guide,” we sent three of L.A.’s hottest up-and-coming chefs on an epic ethnic food-focused race across the city: Craig Thornton of Wolvesmouth, Kuniko Yagi of Hinoki & the Bird, and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl. We challenged all three to hit up five different ethnic restaurants and make it to the finish line before the others. Along with all the corned beef consuming, tlayuda chowing, and reckless driving, there was plenty more action that didn’t make the issue. From production snafus to inter-chef trash talk, here are some extra tidbits we just couldn’t keep off the record:

➊ We used REAL Amazing Race envelopes
That’s right! When we spoke with Elise Doganieri and Bertram Van Munster, co-creators of CBS’s The Amazing Race, we asked if perhaps they had any of those official “Amazing Race” yellow clue envelopes lying around. They did! We were the first ones to ask, apparently. Editor-in-chief Mary Melton (an obsessive fan of the show) currently has one pinned to her office wall.

➋ There was a lot of trash talk
From the moment the starting gun went off (OK, we didn’t really have a starting gun), the contestants were firing off a whole lot of trash talk via text. Jessica Koslow may or may not have told the rest of the racers to “suck it.” Kuniko Yagi was unimpressed with the idea of a wolf in the race: “Puhleeze.” Craig Thornton pointed out that a wolf would easily devour a “Sqirl” and a “Bird.”

➌ There were additional clues we didn’t get to include
We print—just love it—but sometimes its physical constraints means that some great stuff winds up on the magazine’s cutting room floor. While readers get to see the clues that led contestants to various ethnic restaurants in the November issue story, we also made them guess what signature dish to order at each spot. Those clues didn’t make the cut, but we thought you should know.

➍ We had to change our final destination at the last minute
The contestants were originally supposed to finish the day with a scoop of creamy gelato from the Bulgarini cart at the Grand Central Market. But the cart was absent on race day—just our luck. We scrambled to come up with a second dessert option, and settled on the banana pudding at Horse Thief BBQ.

➎ Jessica Koslow hates bananas
Eating the fruit is one thing she typically won’t do. Yet, she put down that cup of banana pudding like a champ! ‘Atta girl. See the whole challenge (and find out who won!) in this month’s issue of Los Angeles magazine.