Highlights of LA Street Food Fest Summer Tasting Event

Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen by Caroline on Crack

Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen sporting a banana costume and a big smile.

Back in February of this year, the first LA Street Food Fest took place: 30 food trucks, a donation-based cash beer and wine bar and over 10,000 attendees. Suffice it to say, a lot of the food truck fans in attendance weren’t happy, complaining of lonnng, slowww-moving lines and a too-small venue. But being the savvy business woman that she is, co-founder of the event, Shawna Dawson didn’t get defensive, but rather she listened.

This past Saturday’s LA Street Food Fest Summer Tasting Event not only took place in a wayyy larger venue, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but restricted attendance to 5,000 and organized the food trucks by placing them in space-saving booths. There was also now room for two beer gardens, an ice cream social, live music as well as a tequila bar and a rum bar. And even the 85-degree day was taken into consideration as tents were placed on the bleachers in the Bowl so attendees could take refuge from the oppressive sun. Add to that that general admission was $45 and included EVERYthing and this was a cheapskate foodie’s paradise.

I was lucky enough to be one of four bloggers chosen by Shawna to do an hour of live Tweeting at the event so I not only got VIP access to the event but sat in the press box overlooking the Bowl while scouring Twitter for interesting Tweets from the attendees. But cooler still was not having to wait in long lines for the drinks.

Unfortunately I spent more time getting drinks in that VIP hour and not enough time making a run for the more popular food trucks like Grilled Cheese Truck and Manila Machine. By the time I realized I should eat, those lines were already intimidatingly long. So I just jumped in manageable lines like the ones for Dogtown Dogs, Fresh Fries, Komodo, Pal Cabron, Starry Kitchen and Tamales Elena. Was not disappointed at all.

If I paid for my entry, I probably would have been more persistent in trying to get to the more popular trucks but as it was I was just hungry and wanted to get as many tasting-size portions as I could in my belly. My plan worked as I was full by the time my shift started at 6. Huzzah!

Highlights of the day include:

  • The #5 Camarena tequila cocktail by Michel Dozois of Neve Ice was spicy and refreshing, perfect for the sultry day.
  • Scoring two yummy Dark & Stormys in one shot at the Sailor Jerry Rum table. Other folks later in the day had said they were disappointed by the drinks here, but I lucked out. Maybe it’s because I got mine early?
  • Seeing Starry Kitchen owner, Nguyen Tran, sporting half a banana costume, an “Enjoy our balls in yo mouth” sign and a huge smile.
  • Getting a free refreshing oxygen blast from Bliss Spa Hollywood. Unfortunately it was too hot and sticky for the freebie massage.
  • Running into a bazillion blogger friends: Lindsay, Zach, Julie, Elise of LAist; Shauna of The Minty; Daniel of Thirsty in LA and more
  • The Minty’s Shauna telling Mayor Villaraigosa to move aside so that she could get a picture of Susan Feniger. Ha! Susan felt bad so asked the mayor to join her for a second photo.
  • Sharing live Tweeting duties with bloggers Kelsi of StyleSmith, Josie of Uncouthgourmands, and Sarah of Your Daily Thread.
  • Seeing my Tweets 6 feet tall! OK, I may be exaggerating. However tall they were on the Jumbotron.
  • Getting a bird’s-eye view of the action in the Bowl via the press box.
  • Shawna Dawson in action. The woman was calm, cool and collected on the walkie talkie, even with people pulling her every which way.

I had SO. Much. Fun at this food fest, but I realize my experience might have been unique. What did you think of the event?

7 Responses to Highlights of LA Street Food Fest Summer Tasting Event
  1. Food GPS
    July 26, 2010 | 5:51 pm

    I wasn’t able to get into the first Street Food Fest, but really enjoyed this version. The organizers are sharp and clearly took a lot of February’s feedback into consideration. I also liked Michel’s chile-cherry cocktail. Scoops Westside (and the whole Ice Cream Social), The Breek Truck, The Deadly Syndrome and spending time with friends were other highlights. I can’t believe I didn’t see you there.

  2. the Minty
    July 26, 2010 | 5:53 pm

    In my defense, I’m a foodie! I used to watch the Two Hot Tamales as a kid and love Susan! The Mayor? Well…he’s cool, too. He was a great judge.

  3. Amy Jurist
    July 27, 2010 | 11:02 am

    I can’t tell you how excited i was about going to this event. Unfortunately, the best thing about that day was your picture of Nguyen Tran and his great sign! I found the food to be for the most part very underwhelming. and had nothing i needed to eat again. and some of the bites so ridiculously tiny, that after waiting in line for 20-30 min for some leaves with crap in them…grrrrr.

    . I miss the old KCRW father’s day Food Festivals. I almost would rather pay a small entrance fee, and then pay at each stall. i think then it would have forced the food and the portions to be better.
    Just my 2 cents from a foodie, chef and caterer. :0

  4. Caroline on Crack
    July 27, 2010 | 12:34 pm

    Food GPS,
    I didn’t go to the first one either but from past accounts, this one seemed wayyy better. I’m surprised I didn’t see you either! Where were you hanging?

    the Minty,
    No need to defend yourself. We understood completely. 🙂

    I see what you mean. I definitely wished the lines could have gone faster but what would make them go faster? The truck folks weren’t handling cash and there were fixed menus. Hmm.

  5. ChocoMeat
    July 27, 2010 | 4:01 pm

    Like Food GPS I didn’t even put up with the line to get into the last event. Night and day. With the preview hour, it was definitely worth it this time around! So much good stuff, I could barely fit it all into my review… And yes, Nguyen was the star!

  6. Noms, Not Bombs
    August 4, 2010 | 10:23 pm

    The best part about the picture of Nguyen in the banana suit is the kid who is also in the shot. He came FIVE times and, the last time, asked if he could have two…when we were almost out, and the line was still ridiculous. Lol.

  7. […] Starry Kitchen in West LA (TBD): OK, this one seems like it’s still up in the air pending a space on Sawtelle but how amazing would that be. Admittedly I haven’t had the chance to check out SK in its downtown location but have enjoyed the bites I did manage to get my hands on like at the Eat My Blog bake sale earlier this year and the Street Food Fest. […]

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