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If you want to know how to shop a Farmer’s Market like a pro, you can either stalk a chef or follow Noelle Carter from the LA Times Food section, as we did last week. As manager of the renowned test kitchen at the LA Times and author of the ‘ Daily Dish’ plus numerous feature articles, Noelle knows what she’s talking about.

So how does one end up as a food writer and running a test kitchen at one of the country’s best papers? Noelle took a circuitous route. After graduating from USC with a film degree, she took cooking classes, ran her own catering company and used cooking as a way to ‘ decompress.’ When a friend recommended she try out to be a recipe tester at the L.A. Times, though convinced she wouldn’t get it, she tried out and now she runs  the test kitchen and decides the recipes. “It’s a dream job,’ she says, beaming.
 
When not trying out new recipes for the readers, or sampling new restaurants (and many food trucks) you’ll find Noelle at either the Hollywood Farmer’s Market or at the expansive Santa Monica one. 
 
Here’s some of Noelle’s top tips for getting the best out of any Farmer’s Market:
 
1) “ Get to know the farmers; they’ll tell you what’s in season — and what’s coming up next.’
 
2) ‘Buy seasonally. Right now, strawberries, cherries, cucumbers and new potatoes are all in season.’
 
3) ‘People always ask me “what are you going to do with that?’ And the thing is , we get such incredible produce in Los Angeles, that sometimes the best thing to do is throw those shelled English peas in a bowl and just eat them by the handful.’
 
4) ‘Save your trimmings — those carrot tops, that meat left-over – and make something with them. We throw out way too  much food.’
 
5) ‘Throw some edible flowers on top that salad , well, almost any dish, to make it colorful.’
 
Noelle is also passionate about the new LA Times month-long food festival,  LAfoodbowl,  kicking off May 1st – 31st. Besides the pop-ups and parties, the chef lectures, and the special menus, they have partnered with the charities No Kid Hungry, PATH & Food Forward.
‘Did you know 40% of food in this country is wasted? asks Noelle incredulously. She mentions some of the special events to address food waste and sustainability.
  • Food Waste: Solutions Informed by Science
    Chef Massimo Bottura, UCLA professor Jenny Jay, zero waste consultant and “Waste Warrior” Amy Hammes moderated by Evan Kleiman
    UCLA | May 2, 7 p.m. ($25)
  • Feeding the 5000
    Top chefs prepare feast made entirely from fresh, quality food that would otherwise go to waste
    Pershing Square | May 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Free)
  • Food for Soul Forum presented by San Pellegrino
    Massimo Bottura, Mario Batali, Roy Choi, Dominique Crenn and Mary Sue Milliken moderated by Jonathan Gold
    The Theatre at Ace Hotel | May 5, 8 p.m. ($35)
  • Harvest for the Hungry: Harvesting LA’s Historic Orange Groves
    Orcutt Ranch Horticultural Center & Community Garden
    May 21, 8 to 10 a.m. & 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Free)
  • The Farmer & The Chef Festival
    10 local chefs will be partnered with 10 farms to create seasonal, consciously sourced dishes

Manuela | May 28, 4 to 9 p.m. ($235)

  • Sustainable Seafood Dinner with Michael Cimarusti
    Providence | May 30, 6:30 p.m. (Tickets coming soon)

For all the events, check out LAfoodbowl.

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