"Los Angeles is certainly the most exciting restaurant city in the nation right now," said American Express V.P. Tom Mullen at the kickoff event for DINELA 2012 this morning at the Four Seasons Hotel on Doheny. As evidence of this and to celebrate the start of the 12-day summer dining celebration, almost half-a-hundred chefs showed up to demonstrate their support for the exciting culinary feast. Starting on July 16th and running for 12 days to July 27th, local Angelinos and visitors to the city can experience specially-priced menu meals at 250 participating restaurants throughout the city. Lunches for $15, $20 and $25... dinners for $25, $35 and $45 are featured... and to make a reservations at any of the member restaurants, you merely go to dineLARestaurantWeek.com and reserve a table. Sponsored by the L.A. Tourism and Convention Board headed by Mark Lieberman, the dineLA festival is in its 6th year, with two periods a year being designated for the special prix-fixe meals.
I must admit that when it first was announced, I was somewhat skeptical of the entire concept, since restaurants had to pay a decent fee to participate... but as the years went by and the eateries told me they all experienced significant increase in business as a result of joining, my hesitation became enthusiasm. Amex's Tom Mullen announced a special offer for his cardholders at the Four Seasons meeting this morning. They can get a $5 statement credit when they dine and pay with any eligible American Express card. Merely register at amexnetwork.com/dineLA and spend $21 or more with your card and you will get the$5 credit....a very good deal indeed.
So the morning went swimmingly, with so many top chefs here that I had a great time greeting a host of old and new friends. I had an opportunity to praise the hugely talented Exec Chef of the Four Seasons, Ashley James, on his 14-episode PBS cooking show, which I watch every Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.; he travels the world to cook one exquisite dish with a resident chef of a world-famous restaurant. And I applauded owner West Hooker and Exec Chef Gianfranco Minuz of Santa Monica's excellent Locanda del Lago on their exciting nose-to-tail cooking once a month of a selected ingredient, from lamb to rabbit to sea bass. The hotel's Culina Modern Italian cooking staff served lots of delicious bites and pastries, and Semler from Malibu poured some exemplary wines. As an amusing byplay for the event, they set up a cooking competition between two teams consistingof a famous chef and a talented assistant, with each preparing one dish using ingredients from the Four Seasons vegetable garden and larder. Susan Fenger of the wonderful Street in Hollywood joined with a young man named Ben who will be working for her, against Ben Ford (yes, that chef, son of Harrison Ford and owner Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, with a talented aid. They each made a tasteful ceviche and the execs on the platform judged, with Ben barely edging out Susan. I tasted both and they were equally delicious.
So I suggest that you go to the website and examine the list of participating restaurants, check your calendar and pencil in a few dates for lunch and dinner, The three-course menus being offered are tremendous bargains for the price, and once again thank your lucky stars that you are living in the best restaurant city in the nation.
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