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How, where and what people eat around town

USC Annenberg’s Josh Kun to lead a new project celebrating the untold story of Los Angeles restaurants

Bob's Big Boy restaurant
Bob's Big Boy is among the historic eateries to be featured in the project "To Live and Dine in L.A." (Photo/courtesy of big scratch)

To Live and Dine in L.A.,” a new project led by USC’s Josh Kun, will celebrate the rich — and untold — history of restaurants in the City of Angels.

The second in a series of collaborations between the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library, the project will launch next year with the publication of the first book on the history of eateries in Los Angeles written and edited by Kun, associate professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Throughout 2015, the foundation and public library will celebrate the food history of Los Angeles with a new exhibition at Central Library and diverse public programs throughout the city that will help raise awareness of food politics and food insecurity.

“As we demonstrated last year with our sheet music collection, the Los Angeles Public Library is the place to discover the richness of our city’s history and with that knowledge, consider its future,” City Librarian John Szabo said. “Again this year, we are pleased to work with a true Los Angeles scholar, USC Professor Josh Kun, to reveal even more library treasures to educate, celebrate and inspire.”

Chowing down on many menus

For over a year, Kun and a group of his students, working with staffers from the Central Library, combed the library’s roughly 9,000-piece menu collection, piecing together an unprecedented history of how, where and what people ate in Los Angeles over the past century.

Bob's Big Boy menu for "To Live and Dine in L.A."

Bob’s Big Boy menu

The book, “To Live and Dine in L.A.: A Century of Menus from the Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library,” will include a forward by chef Roy Choi and contributions from chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu (La Casita Mexicana), Cynthia Hawkins (Hawkins House of Burgers), Susan Feniger (Border Grill, Mud Hen Tavern), Nancy Silverton (Campanile, Mozza), Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong (Jitlada), Joachim Splichal (Patina) and Micah Wexler (Wexler’s Deli); restaurateur Bricia Lopez (Guelaguetza); culinary historian Charles Perry (Culinary Historians of Southern California); George Yu of the Chinatown Business Improvement District; Staci Steinberger, assistant curator of decorative arts and design at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Alexa Delwiche of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

The book and exhibition will also feature rare first-edition menus, menu templates and menu printing materials recently donated to the library from The Lord Menu Co., which designed, printed and delivered menus daily to local restaurants — including Bob’s Big Boy, the Brown Derby and Perino’s — for most of the last century.

Following the success of last year’s “Songs in the Key of L.A.” project, “To Live in Dine in L.A.” officially launches the Library Foundation’s “Mining the Los Angeles Public Library” book and programming series, for which Kun will serve as editor and curator.

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How, where and what people eat around town

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