A Celebration of Chefs


There are many reasons great barbecue tastes so mouthwateringly amazing, but the main ones are experience, time and passion. Adam Perry Lang is bringing his extensive knowledge, years at the pit and love of all things smoked and grilled to Hollywood for a 6 week pop-up to showcase what authentic barbecue is all about. Not your usual temporary restaurant, Lang is lodging behind the El Capitan Theater in an open air parking lot thanks to his good friend and fellow food-lover Jimmy Kimmel.

As the author of "Serious Barbecue" which he's currently re-releasing himself, Lang is sharing his time-tested techniques with the people of LA and any lucky tourist who happens to be drawn in by the smell. His expertise with meat has been sought out by many other top chefs like Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver, but he's recently moved to Los Angeles with the hope of settling in for the long haul. The Backlot BBQ is a way for him to get in touch with the local community and learn the ins and outs of this sprawling city without having to commit, quite yet, to a more permanent location.

Real barbecue takes special equipment and a lot of time, so taking over an existing space was not an option. Here, just south of Hollywood Blvd. off an alley on Orange Street, Lang has created his own little sanctuary of smoky goodness with an Airstream to catch a few winks in the wee hours, along with his 2-ton, custom-built pit smoker and a Texas burn pit to make their own charcoal from cords of split pecan wood imported from the Longhorn State as well. Sleeping in a parking lot? Talk about devotion.

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Dear Madeleine,

kamman1.jpg You probably don’t remember me, but as you read this it may all come back to you after the leagues of students that you have mentored pass by in a blur. You changed my life and I’m sure there is a long line behind me. The first time that I came to your cooking school in Newton Center, Massachusetts with Heidi Wortzel to introduce me, I was where I had always dreamed of being.

The smells on the outside of the entrance pale in comparison to how wonderful it smelled inside. Students were whirling around, busy making puff pastry and tending to their pots on the  stove tops all with smiles on their faces. It was magical..I remember thinking you were so busy but so very welcoming as you talked about your school. The brick walls were covered with well-used, brightly-polished copper pots and oddly an upside down framed autograph from Paul Bocuse. It was where I wanted to be and I couldn’t wait to roll up my sleeves and learn all that I could.

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kitchenmysteries.jpg“Two eggs – any style”.  If you see that as an option on the menu and your breakfast companion is French culinary chemist superstar and founder of Molecular Gastronomy Dr. Hervé This (pronounced “Teess”) – I’ve got one word for you and it’s “Run!!!” – unless you aren’t doing much for the next three years.  This This sees egg like a bull sees red.

Hervé This is the reason I flew to San Francisco from Los Angeles this past week — to sit at the feet of the master in this sold-out event.  Other spectators ranged from Los Angeles Top Chefs Walter Manske (Bastide) and David Myers (Sona/Comme Ca) to Bravo Top Chef 2nd Season foam finalist with the meringue-peaked hair Marcel Vigneron.

Hervé was in town hawking his recently published English edition of "Kitchen Mysteries – Revealing the Science of Cooking" - and he was also there to change the way the world cooks.

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mister chef“Please don’t wake me from this dream!” I said out loud to my husband while eating the brilliant meal in front of me, prepared by my live-in chef.  Uh-huh, you heard correctly.  My private chef.

Let me take you back five days.  I received a late-night email.  It was from an old friend, Olivia.  She told me her son was here in Los Angeles from London (where they live) and that the minute he arrived, he had a bust-up with his girlfriend.   She said that he could use a friendly face.  I answered immediately: “Of course, have him call me.”

First call the following day was Oscar, whom I’ve never met.  In fact, I have not seen his mother in thirty years.  Since he was already in Venice, I asked him to meet me at one of my favorite restaurants, Gjelina on Abbot Kinney.  My husband Michael agreed to join us.  Oscar, looking lost and forlorn, told us he had planned to take his now ex-girlfriend to Valentine’s dinner here at this same restaurant the following night.  We offered our home to Oscar for the rest of his vacation.  I didn’t think we would be too intriguing, but later that day he told me that eating lunch with us was the most fun he had had so far in Los Angeles.  And when he told us he was a chef, I nearly screamed.  Actually, I did, but only internally.

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daveludoForty-seven-years-old and I could not remember the last time I cracked an egg. So it was a bit surreal to find myself standing with Ludo Lefebvre, a top chef, and have him ask me to separate dozens and dozens for a multi-course dinner for 80 people. I took a deep breath and secretly hoped I would not be the reason my wife’s nightmares about this evening would actually come true.

It started as a crazy idea. Why not add a kick-off dinner in Paso Robles for The Garagiste Festival - that my wife coordinates – and ask Ludo to be the guest chef? This event, which promotes artisan winemakers from all over California, was in its second year and they decided to expand the schedule. Three days of seminars, tastings and parties were planned to celebrate 48 wineries who for the most part are making wine in such limited quantities they're hard to find, never mind get your hands on. Since so many of the attendees were coming into town for the weekend, adding events to help keep the wine flowing seemed obvious.  

When we initially discussed it with Chef Ludo and his wife Krissy, we weren’t sure it would actually happen. They were excited to see the Central Coast and loved the idea of the Festival, so we got a date on their calendar. Then came what could easily be the busiest time in his life as he released his cookbook his cookbook LudoBites, began filming The Taste and planning for his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, along with the pressure of pulling off the last of his famous pop-ups, LudoBites10. In the midst of it all, Ludo was still excited to come to Paso and help make our winemaker dinner a night to remember.

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