J-sun was a professor of art history and Interdisciplinary Studies at Woodbury University for 11 years earning his M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine and his undergraduate degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Most recently his essay entitled Romantic Pranksters, which examines the aesthetic opposition proposed by European artists to the boredom and anxiety of living in a diminishing global power, was featured in the publication The Intransigent Ticket: Artist as Filter.
Marco Rios is a Los Angeles-based artist who works in sculpture, photography, video, and performance. He received his M.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of California, Irvine and his undergraduate degree from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Artists Space in New York, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; Estacion, Tijuana, Mexico. Previous exhibitions include Death’s Boutique at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Mixed Signals, a traveling exhibition organized by ICI; This is Killing Me, a group exhibition at MASS MoCA; Despair Beyond Despair, a solo project at LAX ART, Los Angeles; and the 2008 California Bienniel at Orange County Museum of Art. Recently, he had a second solo exhibition Melancholy and a Baguette at Simon Preston Gallery, NY and a solo project Anatomy of an Absent Artist at Santa Monica Museum, CA. In 2007, he was a recipient of the California Community Foundation Fellowship. In 2008, he was selected as one of the James Irvine Foundation Visions from the New California awardees, and in 2009 awarded an ARC grant from The Durfee Foundation. Marco Rios is represented by Simon Preston Gallery in NY.
David Anthony David (aka D.A.D.) monitors the ever-changing Los Angeles food scene with an eye for how local culture and cuisine collide. With a background in finance, data analysis and development, David takes a holistic look at the ever blurring line city and cuisine, where food shapes LA and LA shapes food. David is a graduate of the international business program at Woodbury University and has worked for Ernst & Young and the Los Angeles Film School.
Tony Banuelos Ban-Jo was a Los Angeles based artist until moving to Idaho in the summer of 2015. His work uses the language of cinema, popular culture, technology, and fantasy as entry points to complex understandings of identity in an over-stimulated, technological world. Recent exhibitions include: Empty Reservoir, a light and sound based installation at a popular neighborhood dog park in Los Angeles, California. Melting Snow, a sculptural video-performance in the mountains of Wyoming. How to Survive in the Woods, a durational performance inspired by the viral marketing and unprecedented success of the low-budget film, The Blair Witch Project. Virtually, a web-based storyboard supported by physical props, which proposed a fantastical retrospective at the Shoshanna Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica, California. Stochastic Resonance: Noise is Destiny, a shapeshifting installation that transformed a large, paper room into geometrically folded talismans. He currently resides in Boise, Idaho.
A Producer/Publicist with over 10 years of experience with the conception, planning and execution of strategic communications across video, web, and traditional media. She has served in this capacity for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Board of Education and Impact Hub Los Angeles. She received her master’s from Georgetown University in the Communication, Culture and Technology program and is currently a professor at Woodbury University where she teaches interdisciplinary research.
Mayly Tao, LA’s official #donutprincess, grew up steeped in LA’s food culture and has been cooking and baking since the age of 7. As the creative mind and owner of DK’s Donuts & Bakery’s eclectic offerings, she transformed her family’s bakery, established in 1981, into an iconic Los Angeles destination. Mayly Tao and her fantastical donut creations have gone viral and been featured on Food Network, LA Times, Thrillist, Tastemade, and more.
Christopher Reynolds (b. 1982, Laguna Beach, CA USA) received his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts and his BA in Fine Art at the University of Southern California. Reynolds’ current body of work examines relationships with food. More specifically, he investigates the relationship to ourselves and each other with food as the catalyst. His work includes sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance to demonstrate who we are through what we eat and how we eat it. Reynolds’ installations, designed to inflict visceral responses of hunger, satiation, pleasure, and pain, challenge the viewer’s perception of food as merely a means of sustenance. Instead, Reynolds pushes his participating audience to understand the significance and socially-constructed power of food that molds our cultural, political, and economic positions in this world. As a previous member of the Wilmington-based art collective Slanguage, Reynolds has exhibited at MOCA, LACMA, and LAXART. He was included in The Mexicali Biennial 13 at the Vincent Price Art Museum. He exhibited solo and duo projects at the Skirball Cultural Center and Thank You For Coming.
Teresa is an established chef who has led several culinary teams to rave food reviews in Los Angeles and New York City. Her recent success of RACION received glowing reviews from LA Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold and former LA Weekly Food Editor Amy Scattergood, who writes that what RACION offers is “some of the best food in Los Angeles.” RACION is the only restaurant in Pasadena to be named for three years in LA Times 101 Best Restaurants, LA Weekly’s 99 essential list and to Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 75 Restaurants list. Teresa’s style is highly creative using the best quality ingredients found locally and abroad.
Juan Capistrán is a multimedia artist, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and currently living and working in Los Angeles. He attended Otis College of Art and Design for undergraduate work (BFA 1999) and the University of California at Irvine for graduate work (MFA 2002). He was awarded a California Community Foundation fellowship for the arts in 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include What We Want, What We Believe: Towards a Higher Fidelity, VAC, University of Texas, Austin, After Chaos Comes Eros…he is stronger than his rock (I could be happy), Curro y Poncho, Guadalajara, MX and White Riot…be the beacon, be the light. KO’d by Love, Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including at The Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Chisenhale Gallery, London, MCA Denver, Denver, Kurimanzutto, Mexico City and the Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), Istanbul, Turkey. Capistrán is represented by Curro y Poncho in Guadalajara, Mexico and Thomas Solomon Gallery in Los Angeles, CA.
Wes Avila was born and raised in Los Angeles and is the founder of Guerrilla Tacos, specializing in traditional fare combined with hyper seasonal ingredients. Formerly the sous chef at Le Comptoir, Avila has become a regular fixture in the arts district of Downtown LA turning his two-person cart into a mobile food truck. Guerilla Tacos has been featured on VICE Eats, and Time Out Los Angeles and was listed as one of Jonathan Gold’s favorite downtown restaurants of 2014.
Julie Orser received her MFA in Studio Art from California Institute of the Arts and a BFA in Photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art. Her videos, photography, and multi-channel installations have exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Luckman Gallery (Los Angeles), Changing Role Gallery (Rome), Shoshana Wayne Gallery (Santa Monica), Christopher Grimes Gallery (Santa Monica), Steve Turner Contemporary (Los Angeles), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (Salt Lake City), Il Magazzino d’Arte Moderna (Rome), Royal College of Art (London), Kunstraum Innsbruck (Austria), The Gallery Loop (Seoul), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, The Armory Center for the Arts (Pasadena), Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Cheekwood Museum of Art (Nashville), Ann Arbor Film Festival, Saison Vidéo, PDX Film Festival, and Dallas Video Festival. Orser was awarded the 2010 California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship for Emerging Artists, the 2014 and 2009 Investing in Artists grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the 2014 ARC grant. Julie is the co-founder of ART OFFICE for Film & Video and Assistant Professor in the Creative Photography Program at California State University, Fullerton. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
Mia Wasilevich is a chef, food photographer, educator and professional forager based in Los Angeles, CA. She creates pop ups and bespoke events featuring local forages, as well as teaches wild food ID and culinary workshops. Her nature-based cuisine is influenced by the more than 20 countries she’s traveled to before the age of 15. An avid researcher, she aims to uncover forgotten foods and re-create them for the modern palate. Both she and her partner, Pascal Baudar have been featured consultants on MasterChef and Top Chef and were featured in Los Angeles Magazine’s ” 2015 Best of LA: Favorite Things” list as well as numerous TV shows and publications including Time Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, and Tastemade, among others. She considers herself “a little bit country and a little bit escargot.”
Chef Jonathan Moulton began his career at 18 years old in a unique manner by cooking in the United States Army before attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After culinary school Moulton cooked in various kitchens including Catal (Anaheim), the Studio (Montage Laguna Beach), and became the Executive Chef at Lemon Moon (Los Angeles). Seeking a new challenge, Jonathan then joined the team at Early Bird Café (Fullerton), which quickly became Orange County’s premier breakfast/brunch location. Jonathan spent the next two years as the Executive Chef at Sadie Kitchen & Lounge (Hollywood) while perfecting his style of blending creative dishes with American classics. In 2010 Moulton started a series of monthly underground dinners called Block and Wheel, initially in his tiny apartment, the dinner series has grown to various locations throughout the southland and operates as a canvas to explore new recipes, ideas, and as a showcase of local ingredients. Currently you can find Executive Chef Moulton at the City Tavern (Los Angeles) where he brings a fun and creative approach to classic American fare.
Los Angeles Eats Itself is a dinner series where cuisine and LA noir merge like freeway onramps into a savory digestible history. As food rapidly becomes an aesthetic experience of choice, cities are increasingly seen through the lens of their edible itineraries. We get a taste of this from the increasing prevalence of shows that merge wanderlust with the digestive track and the cache of celebrity chefs. With this surge of attention on the culinary landscape, there also comes a simultaneous rise in the demand for new forms of culinary experimentation. This series is an example of that–giving birth to a new situational chef, one that fuses the guerrilla tactics of a food truck with the refined presentation of a molecular gastronomic meal.
Involving a limited number of people, all meals part of Los Angeles Eats Itself will attempt to reinterpret and introduce guests to their surroundings, even if many of LA’s most notorious moments border on the tragic, catastrophic and macabre. Is there a dessert that could help you understand the violence of the Black Dahlia Murder? What would the 1992 LA Riots taste like? Is there an equivalent in salt and fat to OJ Simpson’s White Bronco careening down the 405 freeway?
The events will be prepared collaboratively between one Los Angeles-based chef and visual artist and will base their ingredients and presentation on one of the infamous stories that have become irrevocably stitched into the mythos of Los Angeles. Each meal will be accompanied by a micro-lecture on how the menu was conceived and relates to the historical event. Furthermore, an editioned and unique artist take away is produced for each meal that attendees will use throughout the meal and take home after the event.
If the narrative of Los Angeles is one of an industry that makes narratives but has no singular story, Los Angeles Eats Itself is an effort to present a range of narratives in a unique and tangible way.
Los Angeles Eats Itself is a project created by Jason Keller
Chef Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos and Artist Juan Capistran came together to create The Night Stalker Supper, a meal centering around the infamous and sweltering summer of 1985 when serial killer, Richard Ramirez, single handedly held Los Angeles hostage with his grisly crimes. Avila and Capistran’s collaboration brought you back to a summer of conflicting emotions, a contrast of genuine anxiety but also one of a community in rapt absorption. For each course Avila’s described his menu item as one based on “comfort,” using ingredients “that made him feel safe when he was a kid.” From his grandmother’s meatball inspired taco to horchata infused with Spanish lavender, Avila wanted a dish that would alleviate worry and unease. While eating, guests were seated at Juan Capistran’s pentagram dining arrangement, five jet black tables that came to a blunt point while at the center of this symbolic star sat a large black metal ice bucket filled with drinks. Before the meal, Capistran gave a talk describing why he chose the table design he did and why the events of 84 to 85 deeply resonated with him as someone who also would later listen to metal music (Ramirez claimed a similar affinity with certain kinds of music). Ultimately Capistran commented that most found this music as a form of solace and escape, to cope with the misfit feelings of growing up in Los Angeles.
Lastly, Los Angeles Eats Itself made a small batch of bottled purified Los Angeles river water, or LARW for short, so that not only could Los Angeles eat itself, it could literally drink of itself too.
The Night Stalker Supper would not have been possible without the generous support of Art History Department of Woodbury University.
Black Dahlia Dinner
April 12, 2015
Artist Julie Orser and Chef Jonathan Moulton of the Block and Wheel underground dinner series, come together to create the second meal for Los Angeles Eats Itself. Centering around the fabled murder of Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the Black Dahlia, Moulton and Orser have created a six-course dinner based on what the Black Dahlia might have eaten on the night of her disappearance in 1947. Orser has also invited Cloak + Dagger’s Rebecca Swanner, known for her work as the Depressed Cake Shop, to create a uniquely bittersweet dessert and apertif. Lastly ceramicist Brandon Lipe, in collaboration with Julie Orser, has designed a one-of-a-kind dinner plate for the event. The plates will be editioned and given away to the audience at the close of the meal.
Orser and Moulton used the meal as an attempt to get beyond the more obvious sensationalism of the macabre. Orser’s focus was on the woman herself, the personal details about who Elizabeth Short was, how she and others in her industry existed in this time, before Los Angeles had been branded the city of noir, now often mythologized to death by Hollywood. Orser and Moulton’s ultimate goal was to place you deeply in the historical point of view of Short, to understand her not as her writers tell her story, but get you closer to the day to day lived experience of a woman who became famous in ways none of us would want.
The Black Dahlia Dinner would not have been possible without the generous support of the WUHO Gallery.
The Fleiss Feast
March 6th, 2016
Artist Chris Reynolds and head Chef Teresa Montańo of the renowned Racion and Chef Mia Wasilevich from Transitional Gastronomy created the first culinary biography. The multi-course meal reinterpreted the life of the Madame Heidi Fleiss while channeling 90’s Los Angeles by sublimating the diner’s carnal desires for flesh into a more socially acceptable but a no less gluttonous one of our carnivorous love of food. Chefs Teresa and Mia created six different courses that included experimental recipes such as the bone broth “cocaine” soup, a Black Book Caesar Salad and a Parrot Caviar topped with little hard boiled quail eggs. Artist Christopher Reynolds created an installation inspired by one of Fleiss’s most infamous locations of business, the Beverly Hills Hotel pool. With a virtual shimmer, guests lounged around the holographic water while listening to a dance mix that only a 90’s child could appreciate. And most importantly, each guest was given a numbered room key that took them to their reserved place setting. Attached to this key was a golden fork, the only cutlery the diner’s could use throughout the duration of the meal.
All White Bronco Brunch
June 17th, 2017
On July 17th, 2017, 17 vehicles and 34 participants took part in the recreation of the now infamous eight hour chase that captivated a nation more than 23 years ago. At 11:30am, these 17 cars, starting at Robert Kardashian’s former residence in Encino, caravanned down to the Lake Forest cemetery in Orange County only to drive back to the former (now demolished) Brentwood residence where O.J. ended his moving standoff at a little before 8pm.
All participants were encouraged to be as authentically immersed in the conditions of 1994.Each vehicle was given a news print map that included the multi-freeway chase route and restaurants that were along said chase route that have also been in operation since 1994. Moreover, each vehicle was served with a custom box of DK Donuts, a Cambodian owned and operated donut shop that has been in operation for over 30 years.Additionally, each car was given a 9 hour sound track of the 94’ radio hits with intermittent breaking news interruptions from that day around O.J.’s whereabouts. And lastly, each registered vehicle was given two point and shoot cameras to document the event and were encouraged for the nine hours to not use their cell phone by “black bagging” their digital device (Black bagging is sealing a mobile phone in an opaque black mailing envelope which can only be ‘opened’ by destroying the bag itself).
All documentation of this event was captured with the very same technology available to most bystanders at the time of the original OJ Simpson chase: standard 35mm film. The entire event exists only on the still images which were completely gathered by the participating drivers themselves. The only video that may exist of the reenactment would be anything captured by actual bystanders who were not involved in the chase and who may have witnessed the caravan of cars with “Slow Speed Chase” pennant flags hanging out of their windows tailing a classic 1994 white Ford Bronco.
The objective was to use the OJ event as way to engage the media apparatus and how media in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles becomes the mutually binding polymer of our collective experience. Lastly, we ask what is ‘earned media?’ Earned media is a situation that is only compelling when others who have nothing to do with it feel compelled to turn the camera and document it.
The Edible Earthquake
At 4:30 a.m on January 17th in 1994 the San Fernando Valley became a veritable plate of jello as the Los Angeles area convulsed for nearly 20 seconds, turning everything from buildings to overpasses into a crumbling heap of concrete. The Northridge earthquake once again exposed us Angelenos that below our sprawling glamorous crust lies a dormant underbelly that may devour us all.
For SHOOK: The Edible Earthquake, Los Angeles Eats Itself will have Tony Banuelos Ban-Jo, Peter Culley and creative director Jason Keller create a monument to prepper culture at Barnsdall Park: the pyramid pantry temple. Additionally, along with Ban-jo, Jessica Wang and David Anthony David (Aka DAD) will be creating experimental room temperature stable fermentations to be placed inside the pyramid. The three of them will create among other essentials, a custom assortment of dishes that draw on the cultural topography of the surrounding communities of Barnsdall Park to be consumed in one ritualistic event called SHOOK: The Edible Earthquake.
Bling Ring Banquet
What’s Los Angeles without a juicy scandal involving celebrities being repeatedly robbed by fame obsessed minors? The Bling Ring, a loose assortment of status craven Calabasas teenagers, used various social media to triangulate the location of actors and socialites to case and profile their mansions to ultimately commit extravagant acts of robbery. We at Los Angeles Eats Itself would never condone criminal acts but we would have loved to know what was in their fridge! We are inviting one artist and one chef and potentially a few violated celebrities to create a meal that centers on the hyper fascination of aura and intrigue with food that will be for the high and the low.
Manson Murder Meals
Join Los Angeles Eats Itself for Manson Murder Meals, a dining experience inspired by the Los Angeles of the early seventies, when the utopic movements of revolution and peace of the late sixties devolved into a pessimistic legacy with the likes of the quasi-commune leader Charles Manson and his paranoid delusional concept of Helter Skelter.
Let Malibu Char-Broil
In the words of Mike Davis, “Make your home in Malibu…and you eventually will face the flames.” The Sayre Fire of 2008 may have not been the most destructive conflagration in Los Angeles history but with over 600 structures burnt to the ground and 11,262 acres scorched to a monochromatic black so close to Los Angeles city, it was the first most visible fire that presented Angelenos with the trade-off: beauty is not without its peril. Playing off the infamous essay, Let Malibu Burn, by Mike Davis, Los Angeles Eats Itself looks at the southland’s combustive landscape creating a cuisine strictly around anything we eat using only that most basic technique of cooking, the application of open fire.
Barbecue Riots of 1992
Thousands of people throughout the metropolitan area of Los Angeles rioted for over six days, burning and looting, as some would describe as both cathartic release and destructive outburst resulting from the racial tensions that had finally boiled over with the Rodney King verdict of 1992. If the racial realities have often been the hardest periods of conflict for L.A., the cultural mixing is also central to the identity of our city. Los Angeles Eats Itself wants to confront this historical moment head on by a different kind of burning, a block party barbecue that uses the 1992 riots as a backdrop for a creative culinary conflagration, to use food as a communal talking point.
North Hollywood Shootout Cookout
At 9:17 AM, Larry Phillips, Jr. and Emil Mătăsăreanu began an armed confrontation with the Los Angeles police that caught the nation’s attention and eventually became the inspiration for the infamous if not overly stylized shootout scene in the film Heat. As one of the most televised botched and bloody escapes in history, it reminded us of Los Angeles as an odd and self destructive fascination with spectacle, and like so much of Los Angeles lore, it is something that always seems to glamorize the horror. For this cookout, Los Angeles Eats Itself will be paring Los Angeles based chefs and local artists to create a unique culinary event based on the San Fernando Valley, the often overlooked valley that only seems to get attention when it bleeds, but for this even Los Angeles Eats Itself wants to look at “The Valley” as the idiosyncratic history of our hinterland.