Fourth Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine
This weekend, a host of culinary celebrities arrive in Los Angeles for the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. Delighting foodies, wine lovers, and culinary aficionados, the star-studded festival begins Thursday, August 21 through Sunday, August 24. Further event details and tickets here: LAFW.com
Leading chefs preparing signature dishes and doing live culinary demonstrations include Scott Conant, Michael Chiarello, Michael Mina, Ben Ford, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Nancy Silverton, Graham Elliott, Ricardo Zarate, Fabio Viviani and more. Presented by Food & Wine magazine, the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is hosted in Downtown Los Angeles with special events in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood and will also feature mixology seminars, book signings, and tastings from world-class wineries. One expert highlighting fine wines is Sommelier, Ryan Arnold. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan about his participation in this weekend’s festivities and his love of wine.
“I fell in love with wine when selling it to restaurants,” shares Arnold. “Now, on the buying side, I enjoy being more creative in selecting the wines, working with the chefs, talking to guests, and helping to educate young people and servers about the wines.” As Divisional Wine Director for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Arnold starts with the chefs when getting inspiration for the restaurant wine list. Together, they discuss the chef’s vision for the menu taking into consideration seasonal changes, the audience, and the price point of the menu. From there, Arnold creates an esoteric yet balanced wine list which once set, he begins right away training the staff on the wine selections. “Server confidence about the wines,” explains Arnold, “is one of the most important elements to the dining experience.” Arnold puts staff through a rigorous wine training and holds mandatory wine classes for staff every two weeks in which they have to present featured wines to him and the rest of the staff. “Wow,” I exclaimed, “no pressure!” To which Arnold laughed and replied, “the staff is the gateway to the dining experience. Knowledge is key but must also be well presented.”
Having been in the wine industry for more than 20 years, Arnold shared his thoughts on current wine trends. “The Western region of the country tends to go with the California wines while the East coast still prefers old world wines,” states Arnold. “In the Midwest, you’ll see a balance between both domestic and old world wines.” What is he seeing now? “There is a new movement toward lower alcohol wines,” says Arnold, “with balanced, crisper, fresher styles.” I’ll drink to that!