The days of shoveling down a carnival style pizza or deep fried corn dog between sets at your favorite music festival are over. At this point it’s almost a requirement that organizers of mid and large-scale music festivals consider the merits of the sustenance they’ll have on hand for ticketholders, even though much of it will be used merely to offset the Molly and soak up the Jack Daniels they’ve been sipping from a flask buried in their socks.
Just look at what you can get to eat during Coachella, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza and FYF. It’s no longer white pop-tents with no-name vendors slanging the usual overpriced and desperate fast food. It’s famous food truck, local restaurants and high-profile chefs slimming down their operations and schlepping pared down menus out to designated food courts on the festival grounds, areas now so expansive that you could probably wander through there all day and treat it like its own miniature food festival without watching any music at all.
But while food at the aforementioned fests is most definitely secondary to the music – and arrived (especially in the case of Coachella’s sit-down fine-dining experiences) well after they built sell-out success on the virtue of their lineups – Long Beach’s upcoming Music Tastes Good might be the only one around with food built into its original concept. Hell, it’s even in the name.
So, what exactly does a eclectic lineup of The Specials, Squeeze, De La Soul, Gallant, Living Colour, Las Cafeteras, The Melvins, Cambodian Space Project and more taste like? A lot like the city of Long Beach, apparently.
On Saturday Sept. 24, the most music-packed day of the three-day festival – when a large swath of downtown Long Beach will be closed off to accommodate three stages across six city blocks – the main stage will be flanked by a Long Beach food court, with booths from barbecue gods Robert Earl’s BBQ, Cambodian-food kings (err queen) Sophy’s, nose-to-tail specialists Working Class Kitchen and more. (Of course you can also hit up any of the East Village restaurants trapped inside the festival footprint.)
VIP ticketholders, though, will get the weekend’s real foodie treat: a farm-to-taste dinner that shows off some of the talented chefs that comprise Long Beach’s much ignored culinary prowess cooking with food grown at the city’s many urban farms. And as if that wasn’t enough, Music Tastes Good organizers asked each of the six local chefs to invite a homie chef to cook alongside them, and brought in L.A.’s Greenbar Distillery to collaborate with the participating restaurants’ bar programs to create custom cocktails for each dish.
The result is chefs like Eddie Ruiz, of gone-but-not-forgotten Corazon y Miel in Bell and now owner of Public Beer and Wine, and Michael Puglisi, of SanTana’s Electric City Butcher, making a lambchetta (yes that’s lamb loin prepared porchetta style) taco. Roe and Panxa chef-owner Arthur Gonzalez is teaming up with Long Beach resident and Food Network star Rahm Fama for a Peruvian ceviche-like dish of spot prawns with urchin aji cream.
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James Republic’s David MacLennan is flying Makoto Okuwa out from his celebrity-lauded restaurant in Miami to cook a vegetarian tomato tartare with quail egg yolk. Primal Alchemy Catering’s Paul Buchanan and former Michael’s Restaurant Group executive chef David Coleman are making (among other things) a Farm Lot 59 salad. And Lola’s Luis Navarro is flying his friend Diego Isunza Kahlo (Frida Kahlo’s grandson!) out from Mexico City and together they’re preparing a seared veal tongue. For dessert, Restauration’s Philip Pretty is flying solo, with a fig upside down cake.
The entire meal will be divided into stations across the parking lot and rooftop patio of Padre (with beats provided by DJ Maseo of De La Soul), letting you set up a reserved time slot to rove through this unprecedented six-course dinner, chat with the local and visiting chefs, and taste your way through the creative side of Long Beach food. You'll never crave pizza and corn dogs with your music festival again. See you there!
Music Tastes Good Festival happens Sept. 23-25 in downtown Long Beach. For more information on the Music Tastes Good Festival, visit mtglb.co