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2 L.A. Contenders Up For "Best New Pastry Chef" in the West (And We, the People, Get to Vote!)

A dessert inspired by beer and pretzels? Pastry Chef Kasra Ajdari makes it work at Raphael in Studio City (Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/LAist)
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Food lovers who always order dessert: Voting is now open for Food and Wine's The People's Best New Pastry Chef competition, and two Los Angeles up-and-coming sweets stars are in the running for the Best of the West region.

Among the 16 contenders in this third of the nation are two talented Angelenos: Kasra Ajdari of Raphael in Studio City, and Joshua Graves of Ray's and Stark Bar at LACMA. Both trained in culinary arts in Pasadena, and both have worked in some of L.A.'s favorite restaurants, and both do amazing, innovative work in their field.

Graves, who was named Best Pastry Chef by Angeleno magazine in July 2011, is known for his highly artistic dessert creations (and how apt that he works at a restaurant at a renown museum). Ajdari's inventions are ambitious and exciting, like the dessert we sampled at Raphael that was a deliciously unforgettable riff on beer and pretzels.

Will one of these two pastry superstars take the top spot, besting counterparts in San Francisco, Seattle, and elsewhere on the left coast? Go put your vote in to help rep L.A.'s best; you have until February 14.