7/11/2012 03:50:00 PM

Summer Food Fests: Narrowing Down Los Angeles Food & Wine

Scenes from LAFW 2011
Los Angeles Food & Wine, the mega weekend food fete, is coming back for its second year with more chefs and a few different events compared to its freshman effort. Now moved to August - possibly to get a jump on that other multi-day gorge-fest, The Taste - there is no shortage of celeb chef wattage, both from our own backyard and afar. But, like last year, there's almost too much to choose from, and the prices are steep. If you could only choose one event, what should it be? We have five ideas.

1. Giada's Italian Fiesta. We have a soft spot for the Food Network chef, we admit. Her recipes always work. She's hosting this big tasting on the first night of the weekend - Thursday, August 9 - and it's a boon for Italian food lovers. Just a few of the names: Gino Angelini (Angelini Osteria), Steve Samson and Zack Pollack (Sotto), Mark Peel (Campanile), and many others. Cost is $195 per person.

2. Chef Power Lunches. One our favorite events at last year's LAFW was the lunch at Providence where Michael Cimarusti and Napa's Richard Reddington (Redd) cooked an amazing five-course feast. The gist is that a visiting chef joins a local at his or her restaurant, and there are some doozies to choose from this year, including the Voltaggio brothers cooking at Ink., Scott Conant and Michael Chiarello at Scarpetta, and Wolfgang Puck and Charles Phan at WP24. These sell out fast. Takes place August 10; $125 per person.

3. There's no shortage of Asian Night Markets right now - the 626 Night Market that failed in its inaugural run (but is coming back July 28), and the forthcoming Luckyrice - but the new LAFW event also sounds great. Not necessarily because it's hosted by Andrew Zimmern, though we know you'll get a kick out of meeting him, but because it pulls together great local and out-of-town talent. August 10; $75 per person.

4. But if Champagne and caviar are more your thing, whatever you do, do not miss the I Heart Champagne and Caviar on the roof of the L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills. It's the same night ast the Asian Night Market, but the food, views and bubbles are all pretty stunning. August 10; $195 per person.

5. Lexus Grand Tastings. Honestly, if you want the biggest bang for your buck, go to one of the Grand Tastings. You'll find most of the chefs who did other events here, all serving up something spectacular. (We think they try to outdo each other, really.) And plenty of wine, beer and cocktails. Public transportation is easy to and from the events, which makes imbibing that much sweeter. You have to pick your day based on the chefs you want to meet and/or love. Good luck - it's a pretty amazing lineup of local and visiting chefs both Saturday, August 10 and Sunday, August 11. Tickets are $150 per person, or $195 for VIP.

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