Farley Elliott is Taking it to the Streets in his DELICIOUS New Book

I am all about things that make you go “mmmmm”, and Farley Elliott’s debut book, “Los Angeles Street Food”, definitely falls in that category. Farley, a Senior Editor for Eater LA, does his city more than justice with mouth-watering descriptions of LA’s top food trucks, carts, stands, festivals and more, complete with photos that can only be described as food porn.

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Farley travelled far and wide for his soon to be go to guide, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him to talk about his book, the LA food scene, and of course tacos. You can check out our convo below.

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With all the great restaurants out there, what about street food gets you so excited?

It’s the innovation, the regional specificity. When you’re opening up big restaurants with big-name chefs, you sort have to take a maximalist approach — appeal to lots of people, and charge accordingly. With low overhead operations like carts and trucks, you can really focus on the one thing, or the two things, that you want to do, and do them with amazing accuracy. You can learn about the world through LA street food, because every place you visit is allowed to have its own footprint leading back to wherever it originated.

So many people come up with great ideas, but never follow through. What motivated you to actually make this book happen?

Well, for one, I always feel like I have something to say. That’s just part of being a writer. So there’s that idea — I get to say what I want, and you pick up the book and listen. That’s pretty great! I also wanted to write the book because, no matter how successful anyone is, we always try to find benchmarks to define ourselves. Having a book was a benchmark for me — a big one — and being able to see it on the shelf of my local bookstore was something that was important to me. Not wanting to fail yourself is a big motivator.

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You travelled to the far reaches of LA to hit up some of the vendors in your book. What was the craziest thing that happened on the road?

I did have a knife pulled on me once, but that was from a drunk guy and could have happened anywhere, at any time. It just happened to be in front of a taco truck. The idea of an unsafe taco stand or Taiwanese meat skewer truck has largely become a vicious rumor. Honestly, these are hardworking families trying to make a great product to feed their own neighborhoods; rotten food or outbursts of violence would be bad for business.

The photos in your book and on your drool-worthy instagram account are always amazing. Any tips or rules of thumb for taking awesome food photos?

Lighting is key. You can make bad food look good with the right light, but you will never be able to make amazing food look even remotely interesting in the dark.

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While delicious, the tacos, meat, pastries, etc. featured in the book might not be the most healthy. What street food would you recommend for someone trying to watch what they eat?

Well, there IS the idea of moderation in all things. But you’re right — it’s not the healthiest way to eat, especially if you spend most of your time in front of a computer screen. But there are fruit carts, juice vendors, trucks that serve goat birria with a hearty “bone broth” side of consommé. And yes, there are many, many vegetarian taco options, from huitlacoche (a funky sort of corn option) to stewed huazontle, which is a hearty green native to Mexico.

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If money and LA traffic weren’t an issue, what is your dream street food meal?

I’d start with elote from the Lincoln Heights corn man. It’s this amazingly simple corn on the cob that’s grilled, swiped with mayo and butter and dashed with salt and spices. From there, a round robin of tacos: one short rib from Kogi BBQ, one carne asada from the Tire Shop Taqueria, one al pastor from Tacos Tamix, and one carnitas from Tacos Los Guichos. Then the main: a torta cubana from Super Tortas D.F. in South LA. If there were any room left, I’d take some champurrado as a sweet finisher.

Oh, and an al pastor quesadilla from El Chato — as a late night snack, just in case.

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If you were to open up a food truck, what would it be?

I’d be no good at opening a truck. The margins are too thin, the days too long, and I’d blow up at a customer within the first few hours, probably. But in my best moments, I could see being a sort of short order breakfast cook within the food truck realm. Simple egg and sausage sandwiches, easy breakfast burritos, some high-quality drip coffee. There is something undeniably satisfying about feeding a crowd…

“Los Angeles Street food: A History from Tamaleros to Taco Trucks”, is available here, and be sure to follow Farley on Twitter and Instagram.

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The Verdict Is In… “Judged by Paxton” is Awesome

Go behind the scenes of a web series created behind the scenes of another popular show.

Every Wednesday at 7pm Kyle Orozovich, Roman Urbanski, and Steve King make the Internet a whole lot better with new episodes of their web series “Judged by Paxton”. I chatted with the team behind “Paxton” to see what it takes to keep their hilarious web series in business, and how it came to be.

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Simply put, “Judged by Paxton” is about 3 guys who work together and try to make it through their day without getting judged by a picture of 80’s-era Bill Paxton on the wall. The series mirrors reality in a way, as it is shot and produced at Kyle, Roman, and Steve’s actual office, “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon”. They all met at NBC doing cue cards for Jimmy and “Saturday Night Live”, and after rescuing the Paxton picture from being thrown away by Fallon’s prop master – it was used on the show in a bit with Bill Paxton himself – “Judged by Paxton” was born.

Once they had the perfect prop, they hung it on the wall of the cue card department, and according to Steve immediately started making jokes about how Bill looked like he was constantly judging them. Roman explained that this played into a larger goal adding, “Aside from working our hardest to get the actual (Fallon) shows ready, we try to make each other laugh as often as possible. This Paxton idea started as a way to make something in less than an hour with an iPhone.  And oddly enough it ended up being more freeing than limiting.”

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As for the techy kind of stuff, it turns out a few key apps helped get the job done. “Paxton” started as a series of daily Instavideos, which didn’t quite achieve what Kyle wanted to get done. The game-changer came in the form of the app “Spark”, which according to him, let’s you shoot for 45 seconds but also allows you to edit your footage and add music. Kyle explained, “When we did it on Instagram, we had to shoot sequentially and a lot of the times it would crash and we would lose everything and have to start all over again. So Spark gave us some freedom.  Then before we knew it, 45 seconds wasn’t long enough either.” Things evolved from there and new episodes, in addition to blooper reels and other fun stuff are posted right on “Judged by Paxton’s” Youtube channel.

But what you won’t see on the channel is the inside scoop I got from the guys on the what it’s like creating a web series behind the scenes of the Tonight Show. They have a ton of good stories, but a lot revolve around what happens when people catch them shooting. Steve said that, “They’ll see Kyle standing in top of the desk with a camera while roman and I are wrestling and be like… ‘Ooookaaayyy…’ And then they usually just turn around and forget what they came for.” Roman added, “We’re always caught off guard and they’ll say, ‘You guys look like I just caught you doing something naughty.’”

As far as the Paxton crew knows, the true star of their web series, Bill Paxton, hasn’t heard about their project, but if that did happen, the results would be almost as funny as their episodes. Kyle would tell him, “we’re big fans and please don’t sue us…” While Steve is hoping for him to see it and get it kick out of it. But as the word on the series spreads, Roman should start carrying around an extra pair of pants, because if he met Bill he would ask him to be in an episode, pee himself, and walk away crying.

Season 3 of Paxton continues next Wednesday at its normal time, but as far as Season 4, the guys are keeping mum. That said, Kyle DID give away this spoiler, “We’re basically just asking for a Cease & desist now.” You can catch up on “Judged by Paxton” on Youtube, and be sure to stay there for new episodes going live Wednesday’s at 7pm. Below are the episodes that Kyle, Roman, and Steve picked as their favorites to get you excited, plus my own personal favorite for good measure.

BACK

 “Back was very fun. We got to make a TV show theme song and montage, including the ‘Notice there’s a camera in front of you and smile’ shot.” – Roman

“Recreating an opening montage similar to the ones from the 80s sitcoms I grew up on was really fun. It really brought me back.” -Steve

FIGHT

Fight was so much fun to shoot (for me, not for Roman & Steve) and it turned out really great.” -Kyle

AND MY FAVORITE… REVENGE

Blogspiration

I’m all about the great blog action taking place over at I Spy DIY, and was recently inspired by this post chronicling her DIY apartment decor. As a lady who just moved into my own place, I’m also trying to make my house a home, and was totes stoked about her idea to make magnets out of Instagram photos over at StickyGram. You get 9 personalized magnets for 15 bucks! Naturally, I made mine out of all my food pics, and the fruits of said labors are below.

Thanks I Spy DIY!!

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