What Makes Your City Great?

What Makes Your City Great?
My Take, on Los Angeles.

In my social media planning this last month, a survey for What makes your City great? came across my radar. I took the 10 minutes it was rumored to complete it and not because I love completing social media surveys. I did it because I believed those survey masters deserved to know how I feel about LA, my city.

This is something I could wax poetic about all day long, and then some. When I woke up recently with this topic in mind for a blog post, I immediately thought of 4 points I would make that are my favorite at this hour. There are at least 400 more, and I didn’t include the weather because that’s just a given 😉 

Some may not even be on board with my points, in which case I kindly invite them to write their own list and wax poetic any way they’d like.

Here are 4 things that I think make my city of LA great, counting down …

#4 – We have the Getty Center and the Malibu Getty Villa.

World-class museums are one of my passions in life, and I truly believe that these properties are way up there on the list of the most spectacular, and most beautiful, on our planet. Their Current Exhibitions and Installation are positively top-flight; 6000 years of art in two locations is a very good thing.

Even if one were to be dragged along with a passionista like myself, they really couldn’t complain – the geographical setting of each is absolutely gorgeous, their cafés serve food that snobby Chefs like myself approve of and delight in, and selections in their shops are exquisite.

#3 – We have the South Bay Beach Cities.

Many tourists to LA flock to visit Santa Monica and Venice because they’re on the proverbial must-see maps and I do get that. I love to tell visitors (about lots of LA destinations, and the Karcrashians), yes we do have that and, that’s not all we have

If one loves the beach, why not explore sands that are less crowded, especially less rampant with tourists? Just southwest of LAX, Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo are beaches that are all clean, gorgeous, have well-priced public parking, wide open space, and Piers each unique in their own right. In addition, each has its own sweet shopping village with specialty boutiques and great dining right by the sea. Redondo Beach’s Riviera district bears striking resemblance to the south of France or Italy. And, at least two opinions that I know of, claim that if you choose to live in America at all, best live in Redondo Beach.

#2 – We are an amazing food city.

In 2008 when we opened Melting Pot Tours, it was stated in our company’s mission – and has always been the purest intention of Lisa and myself – to play a significant role in placing LA on the map as a world-class culinary destination. 

Thankfully, in the last 12 to 13 years, LA has enjoyed a great deal of positive, domestic and international press about how immigrants have come here from all corners of the globe and grace our city with their servings. To me, this equals how kind and generous they have been, to share the precious gifts of their family recipes and foods from home, with us. 

Lisa and I have been privileged to be part of that press on many occasions, for which I personally feel blessed beyond measure.

Every cuisine is here – prepared and served by kind, humble, phenomenal world Chefs. Our Tours are a walk-and-dine-around-the-globe in 2-3 hours, as proof of this.

#1 – Everyone is welcome.

  This part of my story is very moving to me. I remember early on, one of my tour guests telling me that she had traveled extensively, and had experienced just about all of the diverse cities and neighborhoods, especially in the US. She was emphatic to note that no city has the mindset, and the open heart, that LA has.

A couple of years ago, Lisa and I were invited to a program presented by LA Tourism, during which they shared insights from Focus Groups conducted in India and China. The overwhelming results of their surveys indicated fascinating feelings, at least to me.Young people especially did not have a desire to visit the US in general – at all. They did had a burning desire to visit Los Angeles. 

They said they dreamed of being in LA to do things like wear what I want, do what I want, eat what I want, go where I want – when I want. They craved things like freedom, authenticity, personal space, and acceptance; they wanted to be somewhere where it felt safe to be who they were. And have fun with that.

After the 2016 election, LA did a tremendous Everyone is Welcome campaign to invite the world to LA. It worked, and has continued to work (and, LAX continues to be the  blessing we’re cursed with; whole separate story). The video below was their story, and I promise that I cannot watch this without crying.

Everyone is Welcome is the #1 reason why my city is great. We are the City of Angels. I have said over and again – that my job appears to be that of a Food Tour host and in fact it goes way beyond that. What I really do, is meet the Angels in LA – locals and visitors alike – and introduce them to each other, so that everyone feels special, important and, welcome. 

While I’m doing that, other people are working 😉


Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef and Tour Maestra

Diana Scalia