L.A. Responsible For The World's First Pop-Up, Established in 1929
Some have credited Ludo Lefebvre for starting the modern pop-up trend, where chefs and cooks take over kitchens for brief stints and then move on their way. But KCET reports that the first pop-up in America didn't take place in the early oughts at all. Rather, the first such gathering was made by a Hungarian woman named Francesca "Mama" Weiss in 1929. And it happened, of course, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
But Mama Weiss' casual in-home diner wasn't operating in the glitzy, designer-lined street what we know today. This was long before the area became steak house central. Her establishment was more rustic, serving Hungarian meat stews spike with paprika as well as coffee cakes and blintzes. (There's sure to be a food truck that launches with a similar theme after hearing of her success.)
Says KCET of Mama and her inspiration:
Raised in rural Hungary, she spent her first years in America as a housewife and mother. When the Depression hit, she went to work as a cook for a screenwriter. After the screenwriter moved back to New York, Mama was inspired by the wayside inns, called "czadras," that dotted the countryside of her native Hungary. She opened up the front rooms of her apartment and using her tiny personal kitchen, and her three sons as assistants, she opened a makeshift restaurant.
Celebrity guests began to take note, including Charles Laughton and his wife Elsa Lancaster, John Barrymore, and Marilyn Monroe. Many years later, Mama became one of the first celebrity chefs, with her very own live TV show on Los Angeles station KHG. It truly is an incredible story. (We admittedly have a bit of a crush on anything Vintage L.A., though.) Head on over to KCET for the full piece.