To Live and Dine in L.A. (Angel City Press)
Note: This event was previously scheduled for Wed, July 8th, at 7:30 pm, and has now been moved to Friday, July 17th, at 7:30 pm. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Tonight's event features the book To Live and Dine in L.A. by USC Professor Josh Kun with a Foreword by Chef Roy Choi. To Live and Dine in LA is a huge project of The Library Foundation of Los Angeles based on the Menu Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library. Central to the project are a major exhibition at the Central Library downtown and the book published by Angel City Press. Together, the exhibition and the book ask and address an important question: How did Los Angeles become the modern city the world watches? We know some of the answers all too well. Sunshine. Railroads. Hollywood. Freeways. But there’s another often overlooked but especially delicious and revealing factor: food. Think veggie tacos and designer pizzas, hot dogs on sticks and burgers from golden arches, Cobb Salads and chocolate topped ice cream sundaes, not to mention the healthiest dishes on the planet. Ask anyone who has eaten in L.A.—the city shapes the tastes that predict how America eats. And it always has.
With more than 200 menus—some dating back to the nineteenth century—culled from thousands in the Menu Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, To Live and Dine in L.A. is a visual feast of a book. In his detailed history, author Josh Kun riffs on what the food of a foodie city says about place and time; how some people eat big while others go hungry, and what that says about the past and today. Kun turns to chefs and cultural observers for their take on modern: Chef Roy Choi sits down long enough to say why he writes “some weirdass menus.” Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold looks at food as theater, and museum curator Staci Steinberger considers the design of classic menus like Lawry’s. Restaurateur Bricia Lopez follows a Oaxacan menu into the heart of Koreatown. The city’s leading chefs remix vintage menus with a 21st century spin: Joachim Splichal, Nancy Silverton, Susan Feniger, Ricardo Diaz, Jazz Singsanong, Cynthia Hawkins, Micah Wexler, Ramiro Arvizu and Jaime Martin del Campo cook up the past with new flavors. And, of course, the menus delight: Tick Tock Tea Room, Brown Derby, Trumps, Slapsy Maxie’s, Don the Beachcomber, and scores more.
Kun tackles the timely and critically important topic of food justice, and shows how vintage menus teach us about more than just what’s tasty, and serve as guides to the politics, economics, and sociology of eating. To Live and Dine in L.A. is the first book of its kind—the definitive way to read a menu for more than just what to order. It’s about how to live. And how to dine. In L.A. Spread the word and join the conversation about Los Angeles’ food history online by tagging your tweets and posts with #ToLiveandDineLA.
Josh Kun is an Associate Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. His previous collaboration with L.A. Public Library was the award-winning book and exhibition Songs in the Key of Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. He is author and an editor of several books, including Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border, and Black and Brown Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition. As a curator he has worked with the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Santa Monica Museum of Art, and the National Museum of Jewish History in Philadelphia. Kun curated Songs in the Key of L.A. in 2013 and To Live and Dine in L.A. in 2015, both exhibitions that originated at Los Angeles Central Library galleries.
Roy Choi was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to cook at the internationally acclaimed Le Bernardin. He was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine in 2010. Choi is the co-owner, co-founder, and chef of Kogi BBQ, as well as the restaurants Chego!, A-Frame, Sunny Spot and POT. He lives in Los Angeles, California.