2/26/2013 02:26:00 PM

LA's 30 Under 30 Party: Lights, Cocktails, Keller!

By Lesley Balla
We're still reeling from last night's epic 30 Under 30 party, where we feted this year's hot and up-and-coming cast of culinary and hospitality rock stars in LA. The Emerson Theatre was the perfect stage for the winners and industry heavy hitters. We particularly liked the big red "Z" in lights, and the glitz and glam that Hollywood brings. And although the Academy Awards tents were coming down, it still felt like an Oscars after-party after-party only with people who like to eat!

After Tim and Nina handed out the awards, there was lot of champagne flowing and many cocktails - at least one winner, Papilles and Mignon owner Santos Uy, looked like James Bond with his dapper suit and martini with a twist. We think Tim said it best: "Looking at the folks on stage right now, you know that the next decades of dining in LA are going to be damn great."

We love watching the young guns support each other, but it was also fantastic seeing a lot of mentors by the sides of their chefs, sommeliers and managers. Roy Choi chillin' with Kogi and A-Frame's Natasha Phan, Dustin Lancaster with his L&E Oyster Bar chef Spencer Bezaire, Jason Michaud with his Red Hill chef Trevor Rocco, and Vinny Dotolo there for Animal's Ashley Ragovin, who will be running Trois Mec when it opens (which will be soon, we're told, but still no date yet).
Chef Keller and TLT Food's Daniel Shemtob
But of course, no one could overlook the fact that Sir Thomas Keller was in the hizzy, and even the first to arrive - we happened to pull into the valet stand behind his car, and escorted him and Bouchon Bistro's new exec chef David Hands to the door. Not only did he eschew the bubbly for a beer (how down-to-earth!), but he was also incredibly gracious to pose in photos with these young chefs who idolize him. It's decided: Every party should have a Thomas Keller photo booth. He and Dotolo applauded for every young chef, somm and owner on the stage as if they mentored them all themselves (in some cases, Dotolo did). It was wonderful to watch.

Thanks for coming, TK, and a big hearty congrats to all the winners. An amazing night was had by all! Don't feel like you missed a thing: catch all of the play-by-play action here, and peruse the party pics here

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