Festival of Books events will combine literary and culinary arts

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is, obviously, focused on books. But it’s also an exploration of Los Angeles’ culture through literary media and beyond — and this includes the art of food. In addition to the book talks and signings, there will be panels on food, cookbooks and culinary culture.

Photo of Natalie Morales from Facebook.

The festival features five different food-related events Saturday spread throughout the day. Four of them will all be in the same location: the Pacific Sales Cooking Stage, located between Waite Phillips Hall and Leavey Library. Natalie Morales, the West Coast anchor for the Today show as well as a journalist for NBC News, will kick off the food panels by talking about her cookbook At Home with Natalie. At 12:30 p.m., professional boxer Laila Ali, the daughter of Muhammed Ali, will talk about her book Food for Life.

The first food panel will take place at Seeley G. Mudd at 2:30 p.m. The panel, titled “Food: The New Culture,” will require a ticket, which can be purchased online for $2 before the event. Moderated by L.A. Times columnist Gustavo Arellano, the former publisher and editor of the OC Weekly, this panel consists of National Geographic writer and former Newsweek correspondent Dan Stone, and chefs and authors Andrew Friedman and Edward Lee.

At the same time at the Pacific Sales Cooking Stage, celebrity chef and restaurateur Jet Tila will talk about his 2017 book 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die, an accumulation of his many years as a chef that also harkens back to his roots growing up in a Chinese and Thai household in Los Angeles.

Saturday’s final food event is a talk by Alison Clare Steingold, author of The L.A. Cookbook, a collection of recipes from some of the best eateries in Los Angeles. Steingold will be accompanied by master baker pastry chef Roxana Jullapat.

Sunday features five food events as well: four book talks and one panel.

The first talk is at 11 a.m., and features media personality and chef Devin Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of the Biggest Loser cookbooks, and most recently, author of a diabetes-conscious cookbook You Can Have It.

Wallis Annenberg Hall will host the food discussion panel on Sunday at noon. The panel is titled “The Evolution of Mexican Food in Los Angeles” and is moderated by USC professor and author Sarah Portnoy. Eater L.A. contributor Bill Esparza and Guerrilla Tacos creator Wes Avila will engage in discussion about tacos, Los Angeles culture and everything in between.

At 12:30 p.m., the Smollett family will talk about their book The Family Table on the Pacific Sales Cooking Stage. This will be followed at 2 p.m. by Valerie Bertinelli discussing her book Valerie’s Home Cooking. Sunday’s food talks will wrap up at 3:30 p.m. with the second appearance of Avila. He will discuss his book Guerrilla Tacos: Recipes from the Streets of L.A.

Beyond these 10 food events, there will be plenty of food trucks and stands around campus as well for festivalgoers to taste L.A.’s food as well as learn about the people that make, write about and discuss L.A.’s food culture. The Los Angeles Festival of Books runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.