Feeding car people of Los Angeles
A few words about food and drinks at the LA Auto Show.
Catering is a lot more expensive than most people think. When car manufacturers arrange press trips to test drive a new car or set up a stand at any car show, "catering & hospitality" is always going to be up there in top 3 of their expense list, consuming most of their budget.
I just came back from the LA Auto Show and while I'm used to talking about cars at a car show, food is still unexplored territory. I'll try and take you on a journey with the food and drinks I've had during the numerous networking events and media receptions at the show.
Part I - Fast food
This is home turf and home game in the U.S. because it is what they do and what they're good at. Unsurprisingly, some of the fast food I tried at the show was amazing.
𝘒𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘢 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘦, based in California and part of Chinese Wanxiang group, is dead set on making a proper back and they hosted a breakfast networking event with pub-style foods such as mini Cornish-style pasty with mushroom and beef, mini pies and mini muffins. The mini pies, or whatever you'd call them, were also filled with mushrooms whereas the mini muffins were available with blueberry, poppy seeds and chocolate chip.
𝘋𝘰𝘥𝘨𝘦 hosted a breakfast networking event with street food to celebrate the Challenger's 50th anniversary and that's where I tried what is by far and away the best thing I've had in four days at the auto show: whole grain toast with avocado, eggs and herbs. It doesn't look good but trust me when I say it was extremely tasty.
In truth, in terms of variety and quality, I gotta say this Dodge Challenger breakfast along with another networking lunch the following day, also featuring food trucks, was up there with the best.
The food was super juicy, super spicy and super, well, not exactly healthy. But it was also rather good.
Part II - Gourmet
𝘐𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘪, luxury division of Nissan, is currently celebrating the brand's 30th anniversary and I have to say their stand was the best in show, by a country mile. The cars, if I'm being honest, were OK but the stand itself was wonderful. Everything about it was top notch. Design, furniture choice, lighting and, of course, catering. Each and every single food item was both eye-candy and moreish.
Furthermore, unlike any other stand and pavilion, Infiniti were always, always on. Any time of the day, any day of the show, you could simply walk up to their space and eat some food or drink coffee or Red Bull or wine. They also hosted individual events such as the inevitable networking breakfast and afternoon media reception with Greek yogurt and granola parfait, avocado toast with jalapeno and coconut cilantro.
And sometimes you'd come across something that looked like it belongs on a Michelin-starred restaurant menu. Like this amazing treat for example, poached eggs with radish, pickled red onion, smoked salmon and chive cream cheese.
𝘗𝘰𝘳𝘴𝘤𝘩𝘦 has its own hall at the Auto Show, it's called the Petree Hall and it's basically an entire, separate space dedicated to the Stuttgart brand. Inside this hall there's a separate room which is usually utilized as a networking space for media pass holders and/or Porsche employees.
It's always open and always on and, because this is Porsche, the bar is set pretty high. Different types of bagel with brie and cranberry jam, herb spread and smoked salmon, tomato spread and smoked chicken breast and of course something for the sweet tooth like my personal favourite, my go-to snack: oatmeal and raisin cookie. Obviously, unlike these well-researched and finely executed bagel racipes, oatmeal raisin cookie isn't exactly gourmet, but it's still pretty good.
Part III - Sweet treats
Several mentions here. Dodge definitely upped the ante during the networking breakfast I've mentioned earlier because it was hosted very early in the morning and food trucks offered a variety of sweet treats for breakfast. This was probably my favourite, waffle with butter and fried chicken. I gotta be honest, this was way too much and where I'm from, this is a full lunch meal, not just "breakfast", but whatever, you only live once and I don't eat like this everyday so I enjoyed it and didn't feel guilty afterwards, yo.
𝘛𝘰𝘺𝘰𝘵𝘢 hosted yet another "networking breakfast event" with food trucks on the last day of the show to showcase their hydrogen vehicles, the Mirai and the Kentworth semi-truck jointly developed with Kentworth Truck co.
However, Toyota being Toyota, the whole breakfast was Japan-themed, which is why I went for this, a Japanese style wrap (which is actually just a big maki) with sweet eggs and sausage wrapped in rice and nori (edible seaweed often used for sushi, onigiri and maki).
𝘓𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘯 is a car brand I admire partly because I like the cars and also because it has no presence in Europe. We always want what we can't have, right? Anyway, they hosted a media reception event on third day with champagne and wine and, you're going to like this, Lincoln-branded dark chocolate.
Part IV - Drinks
This goes without saying but I'll say it anyway so there's no contradiction. These networking events were static and the vehicles were stationary. No test drives available.
So, having said that, drink selection was also pretty interesting. The traditional kick-off party, which this year was simply referred to as "networking event", and all media receptions on the second and third day offered a wide choice of wines, beers and cocktails. California is well-known for its vineyards and its wine regions and so it should come as no surprise that most available wines were local, including Murphy-Goode Pinot Noir from Geyserville, CA and La Crema Pinot Noir, from Monterey, CA.
The kick-off party also featured two signature cocktails with a twist: the Irish Mule, which is basically Moscow Mule but with Jameson whiskey instead of vodka, and then another cocktail, theoretically based on Italian Spritz, with pomegranate and Aperol.
Lincoln had a media reception with champagne and white wine, 𝘍𝘪𝘢𝘵 also held a media reception and (par for the course) they had Birra Moretti and 𝘏𝘺𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘪 held the traditional afterparty. This year the party took place at the NOVO DTLA (same as 2017, whereas it was held at Hotel Figueroa in 2018) with a signature cocktail called the Diablo Verde. One hell of a drink, almost literally because the recipe included tequila, cucumber, green chartreuse and jalapeno agave (!).
Infiniti, once again worth mentioning, on top of the wine game with Veuve Cliquot champagne from France, MacMurray Estate Vineyards Pinot Noir from Sonoma, CA and Stag's Leap rose from Napa Valley.
I love the LA Auto Show because it is a unique opportunity to get to know people in the car world. Friendly atmosphere and vibe, and it's in Los Angeles which is always a plus.