Due to maintenance, some services may be interrupted at these times:

  • Saturday, April 20, 6 p.m.-midnight: library website will be unavailable
  • Sunday, April 21, 7-10 a.m.: library catalog, user accounts, e-media will be unavailable

To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City

Panel Discussion With chefs Cynthia Hawkins and Ricardo Diaz
In conversation with author and professor Josh Kun
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Episode Summary

Can a city’s history be told through restaurant menus? In a second installment of a special collaboration with the Library Foundation to rediscover the Los Angeles Public Library’s vast archive, USC professor Josh Kun uses the Library’s menu collection to explore the shaping of Los Angeles, from the city’s first restaurants in the 1850s up through the most recent food revolutions. Join him for a multimedia tour of the L.A. menu paired with a conversation on L.A. food past and present with chefs Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers), and Ricardo Diaz (Colonia Publica).

Participant(s) Bio

Cynthia Hawkins is the owner of Hawkins House of Burgers in Watts, where her commitment to serving "only the best" fresh ingredients for decades has led her restaurant to be celebrated as one of the best burger joints in the U.S. Cynthia is the youngest in a family of successful entrepreneurs and grew up helping her parents manage their "50s style" malt shop, later converted to Slater Market- a neighborhood grocery store- before taking over the space and reinventing it as Hawkins House of Burgers. Cynthia’s restaurant has been featured on the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods and has received rave reviews from Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly 99 Essential Restaurants, Zagat, LAist, and Ask Men, among others.

Ricardo Jordan Diaz is the Chef and Founder of Colonia Restaurant Group. Diaz grew up in the restaurant business, and at the age of nine, he was already washing dishes every weekend at his family’s Mexican seafood chain “El 7 Mares”. After opening a number of family locations, he set out on his own to recreate the Latin dining experience. Starting with a few Dorados restaurants in the late nineties, Diaz went on to found Cook’s Tortas in 2007, Guisados in 2010, Bizarra Capital in 2012, Colonia Taco Lounge in 2013, Colonia Publica in 2014 and become Executive Chef of Santa Monica’s Tacoteca that same year. His goal is to expose patrons to the wonderful variety and extensive ingredients that Latin cuisine offers in its home countries.

Josh Kun is a professor in the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. He is the author of the new book To Live and Dine in L.A.: Menus and the Making of the Modern City(Angel City Press) based on the special collections of the Los Angeles Public Library. His first collaboration with the Library was Songs in the Key of Los Angeles, an examination of the early sheet music of the city that resulted in an award-winning book, as well as new recordings, public concerts, and an online web series with KCET Artbound. He is also the author of the American Book Award-winning Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America, co-author of And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl, and co-editor of Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border, among other volumes.

Related Exhibit