Show 200, December 3, 2016: Chef Director Ryan Wagner, CulinaryLab Contemporary Cooking School, Tustin

Ryan Wagner of CulinaryLabCulinaryLab Contemporary Cooking School in a newly built facility in Tustin offers an immersive, hands-on education for all levels of cooks including aspiring chefs, serious home cooks and industry professionals. Class sizes are deliberately kept small.

“What’s the best way to learn about working in a professional kitchen? To work in one, of course. Students who choose our apprenticeship program will have the opportunity to work approximately 1,500 hours as a paid apprentice at one of our partner restaurants, gaining hours of practice and real world experience that is normally reserved for those who have already graduated culinary school. By reinforcing what they’re learning while simultaneously working in a real professional kitchen, our students are faster, more skilled and better prepared to excel in the foodservice industry.”

“Instead of spending countless hours reading culinary textbooks as homework or sitting through uninspired lectures, our students watch comprehensive video demonstrations and navigate online curriculum.”

“At CulinaryLab we measure our success by how our students perform in the real world.

If they fail, so do we. When they succeed, we do too. We put it all on the line for them.”

– Ryan Wagner, Chef Director

Chef Director Ryan Wagner, C.E.C. is the founder of the program. We’ll meet him.

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Show 191, October 1, 2016: James Beard Foundation National Scholars Program recipient, Holland Dougherty

Holland DoughertyIn August the James Beard Foundation announced the ten inaugural recipients of the JBF National Scholars Program. We’ll meet the West recipient of the National Scholars Program, Holland Dougherty, who is at University of California, Davis. She is a PhD Candidate in the Sustainable Agricultural Modeling Lab.

“We are proud that our Foundation’s newest scholarship program is committed to awarding $20,000 in financial aid to ten extraordinary scholars each year. A desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts is no longer limited to cooking in the kitchen,” said Kris Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “Just as the types of careers available in the culinary arts have evolved, so too is the Foundation’s scholarship program. The National Scholars Program supports a diverse group of students exploring virtually every educational discipline, whether that be history, anthropology, economics, management, or the sciences—as viewed through the lens of food.”

This year, and in each subsequent year, up to ten annual scholarships in the amount of $20,000 each will be granted. To ensure regional diversity, one awardee is selected from each of the ten geographic regions defined by the James Beard Foundation Awards.

The JBF National Scholars Program is a part of the larger James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program, which is awarding more than $750,000 in financial aid available in 2016, the largest annual total in the Foundation’s history.

Established in 1991, the scholarship program assists aspiring and established culinary professionals who plan to further their education at a licensed or accredited culinary school or hospitality institution, college, or university. In the past 25 years, the program has not only grown in visibility and financial scope, but in the breadth of subjects its recipients have embraced. As of 2016, the Foundation will have awarded over $6.5 million in financial aid to more than 1,800 recipients.

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Show 161, February 27, 2016: Chef Bruno Amato, Paisano’s Italian Restaurant, Pechanga Resort & Casino

Andrew Gruel of Slapfish and Bruno Amato of Paisanos Italian Restaurant at PechangaBruno Amato is the new head chef of the popular Paisano’s Italian Restaurant at Pechanga Resort & Casino. A native of the Calabria region of Italy, Chef Amato injects his innate knowledge of traditional Italian fare and flavors to make Paisano’s dishes approachable, contemporary, and authentic to his home country.

Bruno Amato grew up in the 7,000-person town of Nicotera in Calabria, Italy. A popular fishing village, Bruno enjoyed casting ropes and hooks from rocks into the ocean to catch seafood. During his childhood, his mother worked in a neighborhood restaurant kitchen. After school and on weekends, Bruno went to the restaurant to help her. This would be his first taste of culinary life, and he would later develop an affinity for cooking fish. From the dishwashing station, he watched the chefs work frenetically creating their specialties. He continued to assist his mom and when he was 14, decided culinary was the direction he would take his career.

After high school, he enrolled in culinary school, free for all interested students in Italy. Following graduation, he moved to Guestalla, Italy to become a line cook. His subsequent gastronomic tour of Italy lasted 20 years and took him to Ostia, Milan, Rome and other well-known locales, working at some of the top restaurants and resorts in the country.

“I love cooking for people because it gives me the chance to improve myself every day,” said Amato. “When the food goes to each table, I watch the customers’ faces. To see their reactions makes me happy.”

Chef Bruno joins us.

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On Becoming a Chef

Chef Jet describes what it takes to become a working chef.

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Show 55, January 4, 2013: Chef Jesus Sanchez CEC, Culinary Arts Institute, Los Angeles Mission College

Where can you go to culinary school locally, get a solid foundation, and not be in debt for the rest of your life?

Jesus Sanchez of the Culinary Arts Institute at Los Angeles Mission CollegeCertified Executive Chef Jesus Sanchez, a Culinary Instructor at the Culinary Arts Institute at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar for 11 years, is with us with all the key 411.

Their Culinary Arts Institute is housed in a new 85,000 sq. ft. building with 6 classrooms, a demonstration lab/classroom and 7 impressive kitchen lab classrooms.

They offer both an Associate in Arts Degree in Culinary Arts and an Associate in Arts Degree in Restaurant Management. In addition there are Certificate Programs for Achievement in Culinary Arts, Baking & Patisserie, and Restaurant Management.

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Show 53, December 21, 2013: Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group, San Diego Continues…

Herringbone in La Jolla and West HollywoodExecutive Chef Brian Mararkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group encores for a second segment. His growing collection of restaurants, with a San Diego base, includes Searsucker, Herringbone (La Jolla and January opening in West Hollywood,) Gabardine, and Green Acre.

Chef Brian has cooked in Los Angeles previously. Very early in his professional career he was in the kitchen at Michel Richard’s Citrus.

Chef Brian very honestly explains how he paid his dues during his 20s and 30s before becoming the executive chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room in San Diego. That eventually led to his casting on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” After his success on “Top Chef” he stayed at Oceanaire for another 18 months before going out on his own.

He’s surprised that so many young people graduating from culinary schools today think they can just walk into being celebrities on food TV without a proper culinary foundation and a lot of luck.

He also talks about the practical value of public relations as it applies to building a chef’s brand.

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December 21: Troy Johnson, Got Kosher, Aaron Fry, Susan Feniger, Brian Malarkey, Brian Malarkey,

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Troy Johnson, Editor-at-Large & Food Critic of San Diego Magazine Part One
Segment Three: Troy Johnson, Editor-at-Large & Food Critic of San Diego Magazine Part Two
Segment Four: Alain Cohen of Got Kosher Café & Bakery, Los Angeles
Segment Five: Aaron Fry, Honeymoon Dining in Maui
Segment Six: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger of The Border Grills and Mud Hen Tavern
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group, San Diego Part One
Segment Eight: Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group, San Diego Part Two

Update on the benefit at The Church Key on Sunday, December 8th to aid the unfortunate victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The evening raised $10,000 which will get into the proper hands to support the relief effort. This event came together very quickly so kudos to all involved!

What's Cooking with Jet Tila and Travis RodgersThanks for all the supportive words about “What’s Cooking with Travis and Chef Jet Tila” heard just after 7:50 a.m. on Friday morning on AM 830 KLAA as part of “The Travis Rodgers Show.” Travis is taking a well-earned Holiday break. The segment will return just after 7:50 a.m. on Friday, January 4th. The previous features are all available for your listening pleasure within the “Media” area of the “SoCal Restaurant Show” Website.

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show. This week we’re sending the well-deserved love to our listeners in San Diego. Troy Johnson, the Restaurant Editor of San Diego Magazine is with us to share what’s new in San Diego. We’ll also talk with “Top Chef” alum Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality. He’s bringing one of his successful San Diego restaurant concepts to the Sunset Strip.

Troy JohnsonTroy Johnson, the Food Editor of San Diego Magazine, represents the new breed of youthful restaurant journalists with a point-of-view. It’s, fortunately, not an elitist approach and Troy aims to make restaurant-going accessible for all.

You perhaps remember him on Food TV from his Cooking Channel series, “Crave.” He’s also one of the regular judges on Food Network’s new Sunday evening “Guy’s (Fieri) Grocery Games.”

There is a lot happening on the San Diego restaurant scene. The big noise is that chef and restaurateur Richard Blais is leaving his base in Atlanta to open Juniper & Ivy in the Little Italy area of San Diego. It will seat 200 when open so this is an ambitious project! Chef Blais is probably best known nationally for his multiple seasons on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey (of Bravo’s “Top Chef” & ABC’s “The Taste”,) a multiple concept restaurant operator in San Diego, is bringing his Herringbone concept to The Mondrian Hotel on The Sunset Strip in West Hollywood in early 2014. Troy talks about Chef Brian’s history in San Diego and what his establishments are all about. The original Herringbone is in La Jolla.

The Headquarters, a new development in Downtown San Diego with destination restaurants is creating a lot of attention. Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza from Hollywood is one on the anchor tenants there already attracting lots of buzz. It’s the former Police Department Headquarters and there is even an original cell preserved for visitors to see.

Avant Restaurant in San DiegoAfter a long run (opened in 1968) as a high-end destination restaurant of celebration El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn has been reborn as the more contemporary Avant. San Diego star chef Gavin Kaysen was an alum of El Bizcocho. He’s now overseeing all the Café Bouluds for Daniel Boulud in New York!

Troy notes that the Hatch Design Group worked on a $2.5 million budget to create the new space. “The mercy killing of El Bizcocho clears the way for a new era at Avant” is the title of Troy’s recent review in San Diego Magazine.

If you think Tunisian fare is the same as the foods of Morocco then you perhaps need a refresher course. No eating with the fingers or belly dancers here. It’s actually more Mediterranean and North African fare.

Alain Cohen of Got Kosher Cafe and BakeryAlain Cohen of Got Kosher Café & Bakery located in Los Angeles Borscht Belt on Pico Blvd. joins us to give a quick education. Don’t let the “Kosher” part or the name scare you. The Jews were in Tunisia before Muhammad or the rise of Islam.

The tasty Merguez sausage with harissa appetizer is house-made.

One of Got Kosher’s specialties is “Shwar-guez.” It’s their take on schwarma. It’s ground beef seasoned with their merguez sausage spices and grilled on a schwarma pit.

Tunisian Couscous is also a popular specialty. The versions are Couscous au Poulet, Couscous Masson (with braised beef and beef meatballs,) Couscous Royal ( with chicken, beef, lamb brochettes and merguez,) and Vegetarian Couscous.

They also house-bake some incredible varieties of challah

It’s Christmas / New Year’s Holiday vacation time and that means a lot of getaways to Maui. We have a mouth-watering Lahaina dining report from an informed, recent visitor.

Aaron Fry just returned from his glorious honeymoon in Maui. Aaron is a master bartender as well as a senior Board Operator right here at AM 830 KLAA. We’re turning the microphone around on him this morning.

Fleetwoods on Front StreetAaron and his new bride enjoyed a couple of visits to Fleetwood’s on Front Street in the heart of Old Lahaina. The second level of the 10,000 square foot establishment affords an incredible ocean view and there is live music nightly. The principal is Mick Fleetwood, the well-know rock drummer. When he’s not touring he spends most of his time on Maui.

Although it’s a casual setting they are equally serious about their food. The chef advisor is Scott Leibfried (who you’ll remember as one of the two sous chefs for Gordon Ramsay on Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.”) Chef Scott continues with the project.

Look for “Today’s Local Fish” and the 10 oz. Grilled Filet with Big Island Hamakua Mushrooms as standout dishes.

Maui Brewing Company CoCoNut PorTeRAaron is a craft beer aficionado so also on his Maui menu was a stop at the celebrated brewpub of the Maui Brewing Co. This is the most successful craft brewery in The Islands and quite a story. Their only “problem” is that they can’t keep up with demand on The Mainland. They can their most popular styles and they are available in California. One of their signature brews is their award-winning CoCoNut PorTeR. The brewpub features some seasonal styles only available on Maui.

The food is seriously good, too, and a big attraction for locals. They even make their own salad dressings. You can’t go wrong with their pizzas or the Kalua Pork Sliders.

Susan Feniger of Mud Hen TavernChef Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales” fame is back with us to talk about the revamping of Susan Feniger’s Street in Hollywood. It’s been refurbished as the Mud Hen Tavern. The concept is more of a comfortable neighborhood bar and restaurant where regulars can come and hang out more than one time per week.

As with Street the Executive Chef and Partner is Kajsa Alger. Some of Street’s classic favorites remain on the menu including Kaya Toast. A rotating collection of sixteen craft beers is available on tap.

Susan enthusiastically recommends the Hangover Burger with a fried egg and bacon and the decadent Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding for dessert. Also there are plenty of offerings for the vegetarian-inclined.

Brian MalarkeyYou know Chef Brian Malarkey from “Top Chef: Season 3, Miami” on Bravo and Season 1 of ABC’s “The Taste.” In real life he’s also a highly successful restaurateur in San Diego (and Scottsdale and Austin) with major financial backing.

In a bold move he’s bringing an expanded Herringbone (La Jolla) to The Mondrian on the fabled Sunset Strip in January. After a major gut-rehab it’s replacing the pricey Asia de Cuba at this hip & happening boutique luxury hotel. The panoramic 180 degree view from the restaurant toward the coast, now improved, is pretty spectacular. He’s responsible for all foodservice at The Hotel including in-room dining and functions.

The food is Herringbone’s own “Fish Meats Field” cuisine. A favorite is Pork Belly with wood roasted sunchokes, manila clams, and calvados and green apple jus.

Executive Chef Brian Mararkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group encores for a second segment. His growing collection of restaurants, with a San Diego base, includes Searsucker, Herringbone (La Jolla and January opening in West Hollywood,) Gabardine, and Green Acre.

Chef Brian has cooked in Los Angeles previously. Very early in his professional career he was in the kitchen at Michel Richard’s Citrus.

Chef Brian very honestly explains how he paid his dues during his 20s and 30s before becoming the executive chef at The Oceanaire Seafood Room in San Diego. That eventually led to his casting on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” He’s surprised that so many young people graduating from culinary schools think they can just walk into being celebrities on food TV without a proper foundation.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Troy Johnson, Editor-at-Large & Food Critic of San Diego Magazine Part One
Segment Three: Troy Johnson, Editor-at-Large & Food Critic of San Diego Magazine Part Two
Segment Four: Alain Cohen of Got Kosher Café & Bakery, Los Angeles
Segment Five: Aaron Fry, Honeymoon Dining in Maui
Segment Six: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger of The Border Grills and Mud Hen Tavern
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group, San Diego Part One
Segment Eight: Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Enlightened Hospitality Group, San Diego Part Two