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One of the most iconic football stadiums in Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl, is a fitting setting for what has now become one of the city’s premier gourmet tasting events. Now in its second year, the Masters of Taste LA is a luxury food and beverage festival which sees a variety of LA’s chefs and mixologists flood the field, with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards assisting the city’s homeless.
“It’s at an iconic place, here at the Rose Bowl, with an iconic organization, Union Station Homeless Services,” says event director Amanda Green. “They’ve been here for more than 40 years, as the lead agency here in the San Gabriel Valley, and they’re really making a difference here in Pasadena.”
And it’s an impressive collaboration by all the parties involved. From the more than 50 chefs and restaurants that lined the fields, to the various bars and wineries serving unique cocktails and drinks, it was a seamlessly run event. Hundreds of guests enjoyed a celebration of fresh produce, California wines, flavorful seafood, and decadent dairy.
“When else can I walk onto the Rose Bowl [field] and eat all of this amazing food?” asked Samantha Beck, who traveled from Sacramento to attend. “The variety is great. There’s so much incredible food that I’ve never been able to experience before, and to have it all here in one place is fantastic.”
And it was indeed the sheer variety of samplings that had diners both excited and satisfied. From Ramen Tatsunoya’s flavorful bowls to hearty meatballs drizzled in a robust tomato sauce from Magnolia House, the spectrum of tastes was diverse. Instead of gridiron stars and referees, the 50 yard line was now occupied by oozing raclette and crispy-skin salmon - a juxtaposition that would have even the hardest of tailgaters salivating.
Bone Kettle oxtail dumplings were a true highlight of the day. The perfectly steamed dumpling provided that satisfying bite into a deeply rich and flavorful parcel of succulent oxtail. The earthy maitake, a truly underutilized mushroom, brings a layer of complexity to this simple dish: a level of warm umami that truly elevates the wonderful flavors.
Kato’s smoked Hamachi was another standout dish, bringing a wonderful freshness and vibrancy to the event’s many raw dishes. The Instagrammably perfect plate was truly simple in its construction, yet tastefully respectful toward the quality of the ingredients. The buttery smooth, yet pleasantly firm yellowtail was rich and smoky, delightfully offset by the tart pickled cucumbers. A superbly constructed dish, it was indeed one of the most popular dishes of the day.
It was this access to such a wide range of flavors and the smooth finesse of a well-planned and organized event that saw diners leave with both full bellies — and an appreciation of Los Angeles’ culinary delights. And more so, visitors felt enriched because this opportunity to showcase this city’s great dining opportunities has benefited so many of the homeless thanks to the work of Union Station.