If you're a foodie, your definition of "celebrity sighting" in Los Angeles has little to do with movie stars. Instead, the annual All-Star Chef Classic at L.A. Live, located across from Staples Center, is like the ultimate red-carpet event for gourmands-complete with plenty to eat.
First launched in 2014, the four-day event (March 7-10 in 2018) showcases a lineup of 49 highly accomplished chefs-including such global entities as Jose Andres. Significantly, it also features mega-watt chefs who make California their home base, like Ludo Lefebvre of L.A.'s Trois Mec and gourmet fried-chicken truck LudoBird; Richard Blais, the San Diego chef behind Juniper and Ivy; and Michael Mina, who helms an eponymous restaurant, International Smoke, and Pabu in San Francisco.
Even the chefs themselves can get a little dazzled by the lineup.
“There's a great camaraderie at this event,” says another acclaimed California chef, David LeFevre, creator of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing With Dynamite, who is now a regular participant at the All-Star Chef Classic. “The event does an awesome job of bringing together chefs from around the world, and we're all there because of the energy and love of the craft.”
For the most exclusive experience, you can book a spot at one of the Masters Dinners, all held in Restaurant Stadium, which is outfitted with stadium seating, lights, cameras, and LED screens, so you can catch all the mincing and deglazing in vivid detail. At these evening events, you’ll watch teams of chefs work together to create a themed dinner—and then you get to eat it at your seat.
Masters Dinners in 2018 include the Vegetable Masters, the American Masters, Spanish Masters, and All-Star Women's Masters, highlighting the newest crop of great female chefs.
While these Masters Dinners can sell out within a few weeks of the event, you won't be shut out of the weekend if you plan to come last minute. You can often get on waitlists for dinners, and you can pretty reliably get a ticket for one of the Strolling Events in the booth-based Chefs' Tasting Arena-like the evening Grill & Chill event, or the Middle East Feast, where your ticket gets you 18 tastings (from 18 different chefs), combined with adult beverages and some cooking demos.
There’s even a Kids Cooking Class, where 200 junior chefs (ages 4 to 13) can go into Restaurant Stadium themselves and get hands-on instruction from one of the resident stars.
LeFevre says that the chefs enjoy the feedback they get from meeting all of the attendees. “The diners are eager to try something new and they ask a lot of great questions about the food,” he says.
That dynamic, adds LeFevre, benefits everybody: “Chefs really bring their A-game to this event. It's even a little competitive, but in a good way. We like to push each other to do better every year!”