Music Tastes Good — the music and food festival that will descend on Long Beach for the third consecutive year Sept. 29-30 — unveiled its culinary lineup with just as much fanfare as its musical acts.
The eclectic group of chefs hail from the port cities of the West Coast: In addition to the festival’s hometown, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Diego and Tijuana are all represented.
“With Long Beach being a mega port city, it’s constantly exporting and importing,” MTG Creative Director Chris Watson said. “We wanted to show off Long Beach to the outside world, and bring some new flavors in.”
The chefs were assembled by Khanh Hoang, who’s no stranger to the festival; she participated as a chef in last year’s event. This year, Watson tapped her to head chef relations.
“She has a magnetic personality and knows a lot about food,” Watson said. “She provided a lot of inspiration — she has a great palate and she just knows what she’s doing.”
Hoang, who helms Company of Khanh, a pop-up restaurant and catering company, traveled the coast to meet with chefs and put careful consideration into the lineup.
“I really want to show the chefs hospitality,” she said. “I want Music Tastes Good to be a destination for chefs to come to Long Beach and the LA area and really experience what we have to offer, and allow them to share what they have to offer.”
Among her picks is Pat Manning of Portland’s Toro Bravo, a Spanish tapas-style restaurant.
“It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Portland so it’s a dream to have them onboard,” Hoang said. “They truly understand hospitality.”
Festivalgoers also will get a chance to meet Jeffrey Vance from Seattle’s beer bar and restaurant No Anchor, a 2017 semifinalist for the James Beard Awards Best New Restaurant category.
“[Vance] told me that his favorite place to eat was at his Filipino girlfriend’s mom’s house,” Hoang recalled. “No Anchor ‘stops’ at different places in the world, so right now they’re in the Philippines. I love that.”
Moving farther south, Hoang visited San Francisco to convince the Michelin-awarded Rachel Aronow, formerly of The Alembic, to bring her Latin, European, Asian and Middle Eastern-inspired cooking to Long Beach. The 2018 James Beard Best New Chef semifinalist was actually at the festival last year to see Ween.
From Sacramento, Hoang is excited for Long Beach to meet Edward Martinez of Milk Money.
“He’s an ex-gangster,” she said. “I can’t wait for everyone to hear his story. He’s tattooed from head to toe. And he’s making ice cream sandwiches for us.”
Coming up from San Diego and Baja are Christine Rivera with Galaxy Taco and Nancy Leon with Chan’s Bistro, respectively.
“They’re badass women who make good food,” Hoang said. Sometimes it is that simple.
Other chefs traveling to Long Beach for the event are Sincere Justice of Oakland’s Taco Sincero, Wesley Young of Vancouver’s Pidgin, Michael Thiemann of Sacramento’s Mother and Cameron Hanin of Seattle’s Ma’Ono.
Of course, Long Beach will be well represented by local chefs Dawna Bass from raw vegan cafe Under the Sun, Aliye Aydin of A Good Carrot, Jason Witzl of Ellie’s, Arthur Gonzalez of Roe and Panxa Cocina, and Dina Amadril of Long Beach Creamery.
By bringing together this diverse group of chefs from the various West Coast port cities, Hoang said she hopes to not only expose people to new foods at the festival, but also to bring people together.
“Food is the first connector,” she said. “If we all just sat around for a meal together, it would eliminate a lot of fear. It would start a conversation, it would help people understand each other and help them feel more connected.”
Unlike past years, all general admission ticket holders will get access to the Taste Tent, which will feature chef demos, culinary panels, tastings, and food and drinks available for purchase.