The Third Annual Los Angeles Times Food Bowl is currently underway throughout May, and as the food festival culls together a month’s worth of upscale events featuring the best culinary experiences from all over Los Angeles and beyond, several San Fernando Valley eateries have also been brought into the fold to participate, including Chef/Owner Phillip Frankland Lee, who runs several establishments in Encino flagshipped by Scratch|Bar & Kitchen; and Tina Pham, owner of The Boba Truck Café.
The downtown Los Angeles-based food festival, which launched April 30 at Grand Central Market, has been going on all month, with a running Night Market at Grand Park and side events celebrating Los Angeles’ myriad cultures through a variety of ethnic cuisine.
Pham, a partner in The Boba Truck Café, located at 8323 Reseda Blvd. in Northridge, worked late into the evening at Night Market, where she and her team doled out a steady flow of Thai iced tea, jasmine green milk tea, strawberry and other boba drink flavors.
“I really like what I’m seeing in the Valley,” Los Angeles Times Deputy Food Editor Andrea Chang told the Business Journal, of North Los Angeles’ emerging food scene, singling out the Sherman Oaks location of Ludo Lufebvre’s Petit Trois on Ventura Boulevard, and longtime standbys such as Asanebo.
Lee, 31, has enjoyed a meteoric rise, having leap-frogged from Le Cordon Bleu-trained sous chef at 21, executive chef at 24 and chef and co-owner, with wife Margarita, who serves as their restaurants’ pastry chef, by 25. In addition to Scratch|Bar & Kitchen at 16101 Ventura Boulevard, the chef helms five more restaurants
There’s also Sushi|Bar, with locations in Encino and in Montecito; and The Monarch and Silver Bough, both in Montecito. A vegan spot, The Gadarene Swine in Studio City, closed two years ago.
Last week, Lee shuttered his Encino cocktail lounge Woodley Proper, which was located next door to Scratch|Bar & Kitchen. He will re-invent and re-open the space this fall.
“That’ll come back as a traditional restaurant,” said Lee, who is not sure what it will offer but the goal is to make it “more of a neighborhood restaurant, more approachable” and adding, “it’s definitely going to be chef-driven.”
He has appeared on such shows as “Last Chance Kitchen” and season 13 of “Top Chef” and appeared and won on “Chopped” “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
“I did well,” Lee said. “I sort of sometime joke without ‘Food Network,’ these restaurants wouldn’t exist,” he explained, of how winning $10,000, $20,000 at a time helped subsidize his ventures.