Reinvention helps L.A.'s foodie status soar

Wed Aug 3, 2011 6:02pm EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Los Angeles' restless and ever-changing food scene is hard to define, but it has forced U.S. diners to rethink their concept of what a restaurant is.

From hipster food trucks to exotic menu mashups and "pop-up" restaurants -- reinvention is the theme that connects trend-setting chefs in the nation's second-largest city that has a reputation as a culinary Wild West.

"L.A. really is the food city of the moment," James Oseland, Saveur magazine's editor-in-chief, told Reuters.

While San Francisco, New York and Chicago have well-defined food identities, Los Angeles' vast, varied and undiluted ethnic food tradition makes it more difficult to pin down.

"The way the global food cultures casually converge in the place makes for a vigorous food culture that exists nowhere else on the planet," said Oseland, who last year devoted a special issue to Los Angeles, dubbing it the ultimate food city.

"It is intensely ephemeral. It mirrors the basic sociology of the city," he added.

The city's best-known chefs are an unruly, unconventional bunch prone to abandoning gigs at five-star restaurants for more offbeat adventures.

Jonathan Gold, a native of L.A. and the first food reviewer to win a Pulitzer Prize, is more likely to visit family-run restaurants in immigrant enclaves than the entertainment industry's latest hot spot.   Continued...

<p>Chef Ludo Lefebvre puts his arm around his wife Krissy at his pop up diner at Mel's Diner in Los Angeles, California July 29, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>