There used to be a time when chefs were just people who cooked good food. They remained out of the spotlight and hidden in the kitchen, but now they are completely immersed into the world of stardom. Come August, those chef stars will gather with the stars of Hollywood to celebrate the rich culinary culture of Los Angeles at the 2nd Annual L.A. Food & Wine Festival.

Last year at the inaugural event, people gathered to drink wine, eat food and party with celebrities in order to benefit the Los Angeles community. The event raised $400,000 for the charity St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, which provides meals to homebound seniors, disabled or seriously ill adults throughout the L.A. community. This year, the event returns to provide even more opportunities for Los Angelinos to indulge, learn and celebrate.

The event festivities will begin with a $2,000 Founder’s Dinner at a private residence in Bel Air on Wednesday, August 8. After that glitzy event, the series of foodie festivities that the public can actually afford will officially begin. There will be cooking demonstrations, lunches, marquee events, wine seminars, dinners and a grand tasting, all of which will be spread throughout Santa Monica, Downtown, Beverly Hills and Hollywood.

Many of the events at the festival will help to sharpen the guests’ culinary skills, especially the cooking demonstrations. There are several different culinary sessions to choose from, most of which are priced at around $50 a ticket. For instance, foodies who love Southern cuisine can attend “The Southern Brunch Perfected,” a demonstration by Michelle Bernstein and Dean Fearing, who are both known for their Southern cooking. Other intriguing food demonstrations include, “The Magic & Seduction of Chocolate,” appropriately hosted by the famous chocolatier couple Jacques and Hasty Torres, and “Live Love Eat,” a demonstration by Wolfgang Puck. Furthermore, there will be many other exhibitions by some of the most recognizable celebrity chefs, such as the host of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Guy Fieri, and the host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” Andrew Zimmern.

For those foodies who love to eat more than they love to cook, the Grand Tasting will be the perfect place to chow down. During this portion of the festival, the Event Deck at L.A. Live will be transformed into a food and wine frenzy, where 300 wines from 200 wineries will be poured and countless tasting samples from 30 celebrity chefs will be served. This event will take place on August 11 and 12, and will be a great opportunity to try wines from prominent wineries and food from esteemed chefs.

Another type of event held for the festival are the Marquee Events, such as the Festa Italiana hosted by Giada De Laurentiis. This event will include the opportunity to try 200 wines and to enjoy Italian cuisine samples from celebrity chefs. If that is not ritzy enough, foodies can sip a flute full of bubbly whilst chumming around with celebrities at the “I Heart Champagne & Caviar” event on the rooftop of the Montage Beverly Hills.

For the winos around, there are a number of Wine Seminars to test and challenge the palate. One of the popular seminars from last year, titled “Swine & Wine - The Marriage of Pigs & Pinot,” will be held at the festival again this year. With this seminar, winos and swinos will be in absolute heaven. Fantastic wines will be paired with every pig dish in the book, including bacon, lardons, cheeks, trotters and more. Not of fan of pairing Babe with your wine? There are other wine seminar options “that’ll do” it a bit differently. For instance, at the “Secrets of a Sommelier Blind Tasting,” guests will learn the art of analyzing wines by listening to a “Dream Team of Master Sommeliers” as they determine the grape, place of origin and vintage of a series of mystery red wines. This seminar gives guests the opportunity to “play with the pros” and learn how to train their palates. 

Overall, this year’s L.A. Food & Wine Festival will be worthwhile for anyone who enjoys eating, drinking or cooking. Like last year, it provides guests with unique opportunity to actually taste the food cooked by celebrity chefs instead of drooling in front of the TV while watching the Food Network.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit lafw.com.