October 27 proved to be an especially incendiary day in the downtown L.A. Arts District as I had the pleasure of working with good friend Randy Clemens, author of The Sriracha Cookbook and The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook, to produce The 1st Annual L.A. Sriracha Festival. This chef-driven event took place at LOT 613 and showcased the world’s most iconic hot sauce in a casual industrial setting. Multiple stations allowed guests to enjoy a variety of Sriracha themed dishes, including a pair of desserts. Local craft beer, cocktails, and sodas helped tame the heat while a live DJ set contributed to the aural energy.
People are clearly mad for Sriracha (as they should be), and crowds got the better of the event at points. Randy and I plan to produce the L.A. Sriracha Festival again in 2014, and we’ll be sure to build in even more controls to make sure attendees can experience more of the fiery foods and drinks, with more elbow room and shorter waits. In the meantime, I’m happy so many people were able to help us celebrate Sriracha. It was also great to get to know the fine folks from Huy Fong Foods, Inc., who produce the best known version of Sriracha hot sauce right here in L.A. County. Founder David Tran, operations manager Donna Lam, and the rest of the family, were incredibly supportive, and I wish them a quick and successful resolution to their surprising adversity from the city of Irwindale.
I’m also proud that Randy and I were able to present a $2500 check to Food Forward, a North Hollywood-based charity whose mission is to rescue and donate fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste. Over 1.6 million pounds of food has been gleaned since 2009, which goes to local food pantries, helping feed over 40,000 hungry Southern Californians each month.
I look forward to the 2014 L.A. Sriracha Festival. In the meantime, please enjoy a captioned slideshow featuring the most memorable moments and tastes from the inaugural event.
The first annual L.A. Sriracha Festival wouldn’t have been the same without Huy Fong Foods, Inc., who produced commemorative bottles of their hot sauce for attendees.
Randy Clemens and I took a brief moment before the festival kicked into high gear.
Friend and talented illustrator Caroline Job created a jumbo Sriracha bottle, complete with a cutout for people to pose as the rooster’s head. Many people took the opportunity.
One woman didn’t need the wooden cutout to transform herself into a Sriracha bottle.
The women of Huy Fong Foods wore Sriracha high heels that matched their bottle design.
Huy Fong Foods founder David Tran was gracious throughout the festival, posing with Sriracha fans and signing copies of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook.
A line snaked around the block until Night out staffers processed their entry.
At the peak of the L.A. Sriracha Festival, crowds filled the indoor-outdoor event space.
Nadav Bashan from Glendale’s Bashan Restaurant and his staff made a strong showing.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing chef-owner Gabe Gordon served Sriracha braised and glazed smoked spare ribs with sweet + spicy vegetable slaw.
Chloe Tran & John Vu Cao from East Borough painted faces four days in advance of Halloween, then served spicy caramel apples with Sriracha sea salt.
Fritzi Dog impresario Neal Fraser, who’s also involved with BLD, ICDC, Redbird at Vibiana and The Strand House received support from David Bobby and a second chef.
Fritzi Dog’s Sriracha Dog featured a mini porker dog topped with Sriracha ketchup, atomic mustard and crunchy Sriracha chips.
Guerrilla Tacos chef Wesley Avila, volunteer Rebekah Shibley and wife Tanya Mueller served hundreds of tacos and demonstrated some serious ingenuity.
Guerrilla Tacos served tacos with cauliflower, honey dates, Castelveltrano olives + cashew Sriracha chile negro. After cauliflower ran out, Avila smartly subbed in Plan Check’s pumpkins.
Tui Sungkamee, Jazz Singsanong, and the rest of the Jitlada family produced BBQ Squid – Grilled southern style marinated squid served with Chef Tui Red Sauce; Crying Tiger Pork – Grilled marinated southern style pork served with Crying Tiger Sauce; and Spicy Fried Rice.
Esdras Ochoa & Javier Fregoso and their Mexicali Taco & Co. crew also delivered big.
Mexicali Taco & Co. served Sriracha tostadas de tinga & tostaditas de frijoles a la Sriracha.
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar joined forces with bartender Matthew Biancaniello at a joint booth. He made a Nattō-infused TRU Organic Gin, Passion Fruit, Fresh Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Juice with Homemade Sriracha + Chareau Aloe Liqueur Foam.
Plan Check typically over-delivers at events, and they did again with a Southeast Asian Pork Bun featuring a ground pork patty, pork belly cooked in fish sauce, housemade Sriracha leather, toasted garlic and cilantro on a panko crusted crunch bun.
Plan Check has become well known for “leather” that tops their burgers, including Sriracha.
David Tran joined Plan Check chef Ernesto Uchimura, aka @SrirachaLeather.
Christian Page & Willy Barling from Short Order served smoked albacore with Willy B’s house-made, lacto-fermented Sriracha, fresh turmeric & ginger, Meyer lemon and tomato jam on bread.
Chris Ware and Scoops founder Tai Kim previewed Scoops Chinatown.
Scoops provided coconut lemongrass burnt sugar ice cream + mango Sriracha sorbet.
A merchandise booth featured copies of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook and more.
Event sponsor Ten Speed Press gave a copy of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook to each VIP guest.
David Tran posed with Randy Clemens and the Nguyen family, who gave Randy his first taste of Sriracha about 15 years ago!
Huy Fong Foods staffers also wore fashionable Sriracha bottle T-shirts.
David Tran took time to sign copies of The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook.
Bartender Josh Goldman (Soigné Group) featured Shellback Caribbean Rum Silver in Riding the Iron Rooster, which also contained watermelon, lime juice, Sriracha syrup and a lime twist.
Uber offered festival guests a free ride valued at up to $20 for first time users.
Pure Water of Los Angeles provided beyond-green purified water from their water systems.
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. poured craft beers throughout the event, including DBA, a British-style Pale Ale, and Union Jack IPA.
Beachwood BBQ & Brewing served Thrillseeker and The Dominator, both double IPAs. Neighboring Eagle Rock Brewery poured Manifesto Belgian-style Witbier and Revolution XPA.
Los Angeles Ale Works created artisan sodas just for the event. Co-founder Kip Barnes and wife Katie McKissick represented the brand well.
Los Angeles Ale Works served Khing, pineapple citrus ginger soda, with or without Sriracha, plus Ketsara, their Thai tea soda.
A portion of L.A. Sriracha Festival proceeds benefited Food Forward, a North Hollywood-based charity whose mission is to rescue and donate fresh local produce that would otherwise go to waste. Over 1.6 million pounds of food has been gleaned since 2009, which goes to local food pantries, helping feed over 40,000 hungry Southern Californians monthly.
Randy and I were proud to hand a $2500 check to Food Forward founder Rick Nahmias and Projects and Partnerships Manager Erica Gaetano.