USA News

What does a chef have on hand for emergencies? We asked L.A.’s food people


It’s an hour after a big earthquake and you’re stuck without power, on the side of the road or somewhere far from home. Help won’t arrive for at least a couple of days, but you’ve got your earthquake kit. You’re set with water. You have enough emergency food bars to keep you going. But what’s the one thing that would make your current surviving-a-disaster situation just a little more bearable?

For me, it would be jars of Rao’s vodka sauce and plenty of bags of Tao Kae Noi crispy seaweed snacks. I sometimes treat the Rao’s sauce like soup and eat it with a spoon. Heating the sauce is ideal, but cold will always do. The seaweed snacks are fried, crispy, paper-thin strips of seaweed. If I’m stranded, I have no doubt that the tom yum goong and chicken larb flavors will lift my spirits.

I asked some local chefs and restaurateurs, as well as the Los Angeles Times Food staff, what they would want in their earthquake kits, if they already had some basic shelf-stable food and water. Here’s what they came up with:


Jennifer Feltham, co-owner of Sonoratown

If salt, Tapatio and a clay pot can be considered basics, then please remember to pack me a 50-pound bag of pinto beans. I don’t care if you call me basic. It was the first thing we bought when the pandemic began and everyone was stressing about sheltering in place. I would be perfectly happy eating pinto beans cooked over a fire until [Mayor] Garcetti puts the city back together. If any of you thought to pack cheese, tortillas or beer, then come over to my place — and let’s have a party.

Lucas Kwan Peterson, Los Angeles Times Food columnist

RELATED:  Chicago mayor under fire for letting aides take off before bloody July 4th weekend

I like fruit snacks (Welch’s and Mott’s are best) and beef jerky from Costco (Pacific Gold).