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Foraging Los Angeles—A Culinary Talk & Signing with Elisa Callow & Chef Jack Aghoian

  • Pacific Food and Beverage Museum 731 S. Pacific Ave. San Pedro, CA 90731 United States (map)

Pacific Taste is an ongoing series of culinary demos, talks, and workshops hosted by the Pacific Food & Beverage Museum in Los Angeles. A wide range of culinary professionals, cookbook authors, PacFAB curators, and others deliver lively lectures and lead tastings and hands-on workshops demonstrating the rich culinary traditions and distinctive cuisines of the American West, Pacific Rim, and beyond.


On Saturday, March 9, at LA's Pacific Food & Beverage Museum, join cookbook author Elisa Callow & Chef Jack Aghoian for a conversation about palate, tips for foraging within our vast food communities, and surprising ingredients. Her new book, "The Urban Forager: Culinary Exploring & Cooking on L.A.’s Eastside," showcases one of California’s richest and most rapidly expanding culinary cultures: The Eastside of Los Angeles. Food makers representing the Eastside’s diverse traditions share beloved yet accessible recipes, ingredients, innovations, and neighborhood resources all designed to appeal to the novice and experienced cooks. Tastes and treat from the cookbook, some made with fresh fare from Melissa's Produce, will be shared.

During the program, enjoy fresh fare from Melissa's Produce.




"Codifying something that has been handed down through generations is like finding and honoring a lost language. But my tribe is food makers and food lovers." - Elisa Callow

As the former Director of The Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Elisa Callow's greatest joy was in finding connection between the arts and community. Another enduring influence was time living in the Philippines and Malaysia during her father's tour as a Peace Corps country director.

Her time overseas fortified her natural bent toward exploration and desire to know more. It reduced her own culture's importance to one of many options—to live, celebrate, and, of course, eat. She learned the joy of the long wander through cities and towns, most memorably the markets.

It was only later that she realized her near compulsion to stop, sniff, taste, and ask—what is this, what is it for, how do you use it—could be described as Urban Foraging.

"My love of history, culture, food has found its convergence in Los Angeles's burgeoning food culture, jumpstarted and sustained by varied patterns of immigration. I am now more at home than I ever of many in a sea of possibility."

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The Urban Forager, published by Prospect Park Books, showcases one of California’s richest and most rapidly expanding culinary cultures: The Eastside of Los Angeles. Food makers representing the Eastside’s diverse traditions share beloved personal recipes, ingredients, innovations, and neighborhood resources. A hands-on, stunningly photographed collection of inspiring recipes, profiles, and references for novice and adventurous home cooks and the culinarily curious, it includes conversations with Sumi Chang (Europane) and Minh Phan (Porridge and Puffs), as well as acclaimed home cooks, among them Mario Rodriguez, Rumi Mahmood, and Jack Aghoian. Part cookbook, part guide to foraging the best LA has to offer, The Urban Forager is a compelling bridge to the unfamiliar, inspiring readers to enrich their culinary repertoire with delicious new discoveries. 


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Jack Aghoian was brought up in his family family-owned restaurant, Aghoian’s Dining Room, in Pasadena. By the age of nine, Jack had developed formidable knife skills and was working alongside his parents to provide delicious and authentic Armenian meals with carefully sourced ingredients—a real challenge in the 1970s, when Armenian cuisine was new to the San Gabriel Valley. Jack left the restaurant to attend university but was called back when his father decided to retire. Jack returned, and Aghoian’s Dining Room became Jack’s Kasbah.

Jack’s parents, Mary & Abraham Aghoian grew up in Syria and Cuba, respectively, and Jack’s experience and cuisine reflect his pan-cultural influences, along with a desire for healthy tweaks on traditional dishes. After a recent career change to teaching, Jack now cooks at home every day and say cooking is “as natural as breathing.