The people. Everyone out here is really cool. Before I moved out here, I was a little worried because everyone was like, "Oh, it's so fake, so plastic." But I have found that to be completely untrue. I've met some really cool people out here. The thing to avoid in Los Angeles is ... Hollywood Boulevard. The Walk of Fame, and all of that … so touristy and crappy and disgusting.
You get to see so many places through your work. Where are your favorite foodie travel destinations?
Chicago has incredible places to eat. I love the Italian pastry shops in the North End of Boston. I was just in Algeria. Oh, man, I had the best couscous of my life. It was off of a street cart. They were a colony of France for so long, so their food is really good — the pastry culture is on-point. There are incredible pastry chefs there.
What were you doing in Algeria?
Oh, I'm a culinary diplomat for the State Department. They started this program called the Diplomatic Chef Corps and picked a few chefs to represent America. They want me go abroad to places where people don't necessarily hate Americans but they think don't really know much about them. So I go and we share food culture, and they realize Americans are pretty cool and we do have a food culture. I've also been to Bogota, Colombia, with that. It was really eye-opening for me. Colombian food is very challenging. The flavors were astringent and the meat preparation — it's a lot of textures we haven't seen. You've got all of these varieties of potatoes in the high Andes. [I tasted] one [that] was roasted and lightly whipped … it was really slimy. A tough texture to reconcile.
Any upcoming travel plans?
I'll be in Italy late summer or early fall.
What are you going to be doing there?
It's a secret.
If you go
Los Angeles is 2,650 miles from Baltimore. It is a bounty of endless sunshine, dramatic landscape, glitz and glamour, and it has what is arguably the largest cluster of creative cuisine eateries in the United States. Info: discoverlosangeles.com
Three airlines — Southwest, Air Tran and United — offer nonstop flights from BWI to LAX. Flights take about five hours, with fares beginning at $300 round trip. Once you arrive, there is no comprehensive mass transit system, so you will need a car or someone to drive you. Los Angeles County measures 4,084 square miles, with more than 28 freeways, and is famous for having the worst traffic in the country — so a GPS is essential for finding your destinations.
Los Angeles hosts more than 40 million visitors a year, so there are an enormous range of hotels from which to choose. One that Duff Goldman likes to recommend is the glamorous all-suite London in West Hollywood, with a Gordon Ramsay restaurant on site, poolside cabanas and complimentary breakfast. Rates from $250. 1020 N. San Vincente Blvd., 866-282-4560, thelondonwesthollywood.com.
Or you can lounge oceanfront at the boutique-y Venice on the Beach Hotel. Rates from $179. 2819 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, 310-429-0234. veniceonthebeachhotel.com
Duff's delectable destinations:
Charm City Cakes West and Duff's Cakemix, 8302 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood., 323-642-7234 charmcitycakes.com and duffscakemix.com.
Sweet Rose Creamery, 225 26th St., Santa Monica, sweetrosecreamery.com
Fonuts, 8104 W. Third St., L.A., 323-592-3075, fonuts.com
Ink.sack, 8360 Melrose Ave., L.A., 323-655-7225, mvink.com
King's Burgers, 9345 Reseda Blvd., Northridge, 818-885-6456
The Upper West, 3321 W. Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-576-1111, theupperwest.com
Southern California's famous beaches. Los Angeles has 75 miles of coastline spanning from Malibu to Long Beach, which you can sightsee while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway. It's worth stopping in Venice Beach (venicebeach.com) to experience its famously funky glory, and the star-laden Manhattan Beach (manhattanbeachchamber.com) where you can stroll the Strand — a stunning oceanfront promenade — and score glimpses of the swanky residences.