The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last weekend had its own culinary stage, complete with stove and cooking demos. Of course I had to go!
I got to see two demos and the tail end of a talk by Ludo Lefebvre of Bastide Restaurant in Los Angeles, who apparently didn't cook due to some stove problems. He was there pushing his book Crave, with its sex-god cover.
Ludo is rather dishy - he looks like a long-haired, tattooed Tom Cruise, complete with big shiny smile.
He has a better accent, though (he is French). Pat of Eating L.A. reviewed his book on her blog.
Giada de Laurentiis really surprised me. I always just thought she was a pretty woman with a famous name, but she is a Cordon Bleu grad and worked under Sherry Yard, the estimable pastry chef of Spago.
She took the stage by force in her trademark low-cut blouse, charming the audience of about 500 with humor and her 10,000 watt smile. She moved with grace, interacted with the audience between slicing and dicing, and really looked like she was having fun up there.
She even made jokes when the woman who pushily volunteered herself (Giada had asked for any questions...the woman leapt up and asked "Can I eat what you make?" ) from the audience to help on stage ruined the first dish, white bean dip, by dumping a whole bowl of salt into it. ("Didn't that look like a whole lot of salt to you, Kim?" Giada asked, truly baffled.)
I got a shot of one of the dishes she cooked, pasta with asparagus and prosciutto:
The Too Hot Tamales, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, have been working together so long that they are like a vaudeville comedy team, setting up each other's punch lines and cracking wise.
They are probably some of my favorite TV cooks, though. They shamelessly pimp their Whole Foods products, their cooking tools, and their books - Saturday's main item was a Too Hot Tamales pepper grinder designed by Mary Sue's husband ("It has a lifetime guarantee!"
Their recipes seemed really good and easy. They started with some great drinks, like a fizzy mint-lime cooler, that I can't wait to try. They did warn that it leaves little green specks of mint in your teeth. Then a watermelon aqua fresca that you could add tequila to...sounds good to me.