July 19, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Indulge in the Finest Food and Drink for a Charitable Cause at the Masters of Taste 2024

L.A.’s Premier Food and Beverage Festival in Support of Union Station Homeless Services

It is once again time for Masters of Taste, a charity event that brings together Los Angeles’ hottest and hippest restaurants, winemakers, breweries, coffee shops, sake makers, and more to benefit Union Station Homeless Services. 

Ticket Information: Masters of Taste 2024 will take place on Sunday, April 7th, and this is a 21+ event. A VIP Power Hour will be held from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm, and General Admission will be from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Tickets are on sale now. For more information on Masters of Taste 2024, please visit www.MastersofTasteLA.com.

Come celebrate and be part of the seventh annual Masters of Taste, L.A.’s premier outdoor, luxury food and beverage festival returns and will be taking place on Sunday, April 7th, 2024, from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on the field of the Iconic Pasadena Rose Bowl. 100% of the proceeds will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services, a non-profit organization providing over 50 years of homeless services and housing for thousands of neighbors.

Masters of Taste is introducing Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez as the Hosts of Masters of Taste 2024 which also marks the 7th Anniversary of this celebrated event. Masters of Taste 2024 Culinary Master and Host Executive Chef Bret Thompson and Pez Boss Lady Lucy Thompson-Ramirez are a dynamic husband and wife team that have made a significant impact in the hospitality industry. With their passion for culinary excellence and warm hospitality, they have created a signature name for themselves in the Los Angeles dining scene and beyond.

Chef Bret Thompson’s culinary journey began at the renowned California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He honed his skills at esteemed establishments such as Aqua in San Francisco, Roy’s in Hawaii, and Pinot Blanc in St. Helena, California. Seeking international inspiration, Chef Bret traveled to Spain to study under Chef Martin Berasategui at Restaurante Martin Berasategui, a Michelin 2-star establishment in Lasarte, Spain. He further expanded his culinary repertoire in Lebanon at Atlas Café, then studied under Chef Bernard Loiseau at La Cote d’Or his Michelin 3-star restaurant in Saulieu, France, and then L’Arpege, Chef Alain Passard’s Michelin 2-star restaurant in Paris. Throughout his career, Bret also had an extensive tenure with The Patina Group, working at multiple restaurants, running catering operations and ultimately becoming the Corporate Executive Chef overseeing all restaurant operations for the entire group. While there Bret garnered accolades, including being named “Chef of the Year 2002” by the Orange County Business Journal during his time as Executive Chef at Catal Restaurant in Anaheim. Eventually, Bret moved on and co-founded and became a partner at the iconic MILK Ice Cream Parlor & Bakeshop in Los Angeles and he also opened his own Market Restaurant and Catering, which he successfully sold in 2014. In 2015, Chef Bret Thompson joined forces with his wife, Lucy Thompson-Ramirez, to embark on a new culinary adventure as the proud owners of Pez Cantina. This seasonal, modern, coastal-inspired Mexican restaurant and bar, located in downtown Los Angeles, quickly became a beloved dining destination and in October 2021, they expanded with a new location LA Burrito in Montebello, California.

Lucy Thompson-Ramirez brings her unique perspective and expertise to the front of the house at Pez Cantina. Born in Guanajuato, Mexico, Lucy migrated to the United States with her family at a young age. She pursued her education at the University of Santa Barbara, majoring in Sociology and minoring in Spanish. Lucy’s first career path led her into the fashion industry, where she excelled in sales and later established her own showroom with her brother called Siblings Showroom. After a successful 18-year tenure in fashion, Lucy made a seamless transition into the hospitality industry alongside her husband. At Pez Cantina, Lucy’s warm and welcoming demeanor shines as she personally greets regulars by name and fosters new connections. Her dedication to providing a home-like atmosphere has made Pez Cantina feel like an extension of their own family. In recognition of her leadership and contribution to the industry, Lucy was appointed as President of the Latino Restaurant Association in 2023 and serves on the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Outside of their professional endeavors, Bret and Lucy are dedicated parents to their two boys and they prioritize family time, often found supporting their children’s activities or enjoying a cozy evening at home.

In February 2024, Executive Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez opened Pez Coastal Kitchen, their new upscale seafood focused eatery in Pasadena. Offering a diverse menu featuring sea-to-table and farm-to-table cuisine, while showcasing the best of seasonal California flavors, Pez Coastal Kitchen highlights expertise in curing, smoking and dry-aging meats and seafood, as well as their partnerships with local farmers and specialty producers. With a focus on creating a modern coastal dining experience, Chef Bret Thompson and Lucy Thompson-Ramirez continue to innovate and reinvent themselves and they aim to contribute to Pasadena’s thriving culinary scene and bring a fresh and exciting new concept to Pasadena. Pez Coastal Kitchen promises a unique blend of California coastal cuisine, thoughtfully crafted cocktails, specially curated wines, special selection of craft beer and Chef Bret and Lucy’s dedication to excellence ensures an unforgettable dining experience that celebrates vibrant flavors and genuine hospitality.

Masters of Taste 2023 was a sold-out event that attracted over 3,000 guests and garnered media attention all throughout Southern California and beyond. The seventh annual Masters of Taste 2024 is also expected to bring over 3,000 food and beverage enthusiasts together for one afternoon to celebrate this exhilarating festival, which will include the finest fare from over 100 Culinary Masters and restaurants, delectable sweets prepared by L.A.’s top Sweet Masters, top Beverage Masters who will be featuring signature handcrafted cocktail tastings from over 25 spirit brands and top cocktail bars, select wineries, local craft breweries, cold brew coffee, live entertainment and much, much more. 

Some of this year’s Masters of Taste 2024 participating Culinary Masters and Restaurants include:

Pez Cantina Village and Pez Coastal Kitchen Seafood Village by Santa Monica Seafood 2024 Event Hosts Chef Bret Thompson & Lucy Thompson-Ramirez – Downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena

1212 Santa Monica Chef Oliver Malmsten – Santa Monica

Arth Bar + Kitchen Chef Mihir Lad – Culver City

Agnes Restaurant and Cheesery Chef Vanessa Tilaka Kalb & Chef Thomas Tilaka Kalb  – Pasadena

Alexander’s Steakhouse Chef Frederico Villanueva – Pasadena

Ayara Thai Chef Vanda Asapahu & Chef Cathy Asapahu – Westchester

BAAR BAAR Los Angeles Chef Sujan Sarkar – Downtown Los Angeles

Beachy’s Food Truck Chef Pablo Camacho – South Gate

BOX Chicken Chef Noah Clark – Los Angeles

Casa Cordoba Chef Eric Zada – Montrose

Celestino Ristorante Chef Calogero Drago – Pasadena

Cerda Vega Tacos Chef Daniel Vega – Santa Clarita

Champion’s CURRY Chef Yoya Takahashi – Downtown Los Angeles

Chaaste Family Market Chef Gabriel Esteban – Pasadena

City Club Los Angeles Chef Armando Quiroz – Downtown Los Angeles

Emporium Thai Chef John Sungkamee – Los Angeles

Fat Boys Chef Michael Gray – Pasadena, Los Angeles

Gabi James Sarah Gabriele & Adam Aro – Redondo Beach

Georgia’s Restaurant Nika Shoemaker-Machado – Anaheim, Long Beach

Granville Pasadena Chef Marc Dix – Pasadena

Gus’s World-Famous Fried Chicken Chef Mynor Espinoza – Burbank, Long Beach, Los Angeles

Harold & Belle’s Chef Ryan Legaux – Los Angeles

Italia Pasta e Pizza Chef Ivan Capasso – Covina

La Bohéme Chef David Gualberto – West Hollywood

LAVO Ristorante Chef Luca Maita – West Hollywood

Lunasia Chef Lee Han Fu – Pasadena, Alhambra, Cerritos

MAMA M SUSHI Chef Jack Supachai – Pasadena

Marina Chef Harout Borsikian – Pasadena

Mercado Chef Jose Acevedo – Hollywood, Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica

Panda Inn Chef Yang – Pasadena

Poppy + Rose Chef Michael Reed – Downtown Los Angeles

Rice Balls of Fire Chef Jorman Herrera – Arieta

Room Service Neighborhood Chef Gloria Chicas – Los Angeles

Santa Monica Seafood Chef Sherrod Nichols – Santa Monica

Soulmate Chef David Joyce – West Hollywood

StopBye Café – Lynwood

Taishi Hainan Chicken Chef Theo Shio – Redondo Beach, Long Beach

The Peppered Goat Chef JohnPaul Arabome – Van Nuys, Las Vegas

UCHI West Hollywood Chef Joel Hammond – West Hollywood

YAKIYA Chef Ling – Pasadena

Yardbird Chef Alvaro Rayon de Jaime – Los Angeles

Yuca’s Restaurant Socorro “Mama Yuca’s” Herrera – Pasadena

Sweet Masters: A select group of Los Angeles Top Sweet Masters will showcase an assortment of delectable desserts such as Bachan’s Shave Ice, warm chocolate chip cookies from BAKE SOME NOISE, Beard Papa’s, Bertha Mae’s Brownies, By Faith Café, Gooey Center Bakery, Happy Ice LA, Läderach, deliciously scrumptious scratch baked custom cakes from Cakes By Chanté and cupcakes from Lark Cake Shop, Magpies Softserve, Marsatta Chocolate, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Pops Artisanal Creamery, Pazzo Gelato, Porto’s Bakery & Café, and more.

Some of this year’s participating Beverage Masters include:

Bars & Spirits: Some of L.A.’s top bartenders and cocktail bars will be creating first-rate craft cocktails and top brands showcasing their finest spirits at Masters of Taste will include Dead of Night Distillery, Dulce Vida Tequila, Empress 1908 Gin, Knox & Dobson, La Bay Gin, Laurel Canyon Spirits, Lunetta, Mario’s Hard Espresso, Mezcal 33, Neft Vodka, Nosotros Tequila & Mezcal, Old Hillside Bourbon Company, Smoke Lab Vodka, The Raymond 1886, Ventura Spirits and Angeleno Spritz, Vintage Distilling, and Xoloitzcuintle Tequila.

Brewmasters: Beverage Masters who specialize in barley and hops will be presenting top-notch ales, lagers, pilsners and more for guests to sample, sip and savor all throughout the event, including Southern California favorites L.A.’s All Season Brewing, Arrow Lodge Brewing, Arts District Brewing Company, Big Noise Beer, Boomtown Brewery, Pasadena’s Cerveceria Del Pueblo, Kanazawa Hyakumangoku Beer, Arcadia’s first Microbrewery Mt. Lowe Brewing Co., Nova Brewing Co., Over Town Brewing Co., San Fernando Brewing Co., and Tarantula Hill Brewing Co.

Wineries and Sake: A specially curated collection of Wine and Sake Masters will be showcasing their finest varietals including premium boutique winery Ascension Cellars, Bodegas de Santo Tomas, BONDLE Wines, CRŪ Winery, Golden Star Vineyards, Hitching Post Wines, LMA Wines, Moraga Canyon Vineyards, Anderson Valley’s Navarro Vineyards, NON (Non-alcoholic Wine Alternatives), Sake Akagisan, Sake High!, San Simeon Wines, Stephen Hemmert Wines, Warson Wine Company, Wiens Cellars, and more.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages: A variety of premium non-alcoholic Beverage Masters will also be on hand for those who wish to hydrate, caffeinate or regenerate featuring 2024 premier water master Perfect Hydration Alkaline Water, Yerba Mate from Erva Brew Co., Koe Kombucha, boba milk tea from Sunright Tea Studio and Bearology, and Unincorporated Coffee Roasters.

Every dollar raised at the Masters of Taste 2024 will benefit the work of Union Station Homeless Services (Union Station), a local organization successfully fighting to end homelessness. Over the last six years, Masters of Taste has impressively raised close to $3 Million, helping countless families and individuals find a secure and welcoming place to call home. What is more impressive is that Union Station has seen a 97% Success Rate in permanently housing people since adopting the Housing First model. Their mission transcends just providing temporary shelters; they are committed to creating lasting solutions for homelessness through housing, supportive services, and connection to the community. Over the past 50 years, Union Station has grown to be one of the best homeless services agencies in Los Angeles and is the lead County agency for Service Planning Area 3 (SPA 3), coordinating homeless services in 38 communities spanning from Eagle Rock to Pomona.

Masters of Taste 2024 is a 100% outdoor event. Additionally, all guests will be receiving their very own utensils and hand sanitizer to use throughout the event.

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