Las Vegas Dining

Chef Jet chronicles the vibrant Vegas dining scene.

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Show 62, February 22, 2013: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers

Ryan Hankins of Gril Em All BurgersOne of the very first “better burger” food trucks in Los Angeles County, Grill ‘em All Burgers, rolled onto the scene in 2009. As unusual as it sounds it was a heavy metal devotee’s take on the ample burger meal. The founders are Chef Ryan Harkins (a Cleveland native) and Matt Chernus, a former professional wrestler.

The stars were in alignment for them as they were inexplicably cast for the first season of Food Network’s cross-country “Great Food Truck Race.” This was the only season where the competitors were required to have actual food truck experience.

Although the Grill ‘em All guys were on the threshold of elimination on multiple episodes (and expected by the Producers to be out in the early going) they scrappily hung in there and came out on top at the conclusion of the high octane finale in New York! Once the season aired business was such that they needed to secure a second truck.

The gameplan was always to eventually move into the right (affordable) brick and mortar location. That happened last January (2013) when they opened in the Renaissance Theater Plaza in Alhambra in a former (failed) chain 50s diner location. Chef Ryan and Matt have made an odd location work. Grill ‘em All had lines down the block for their anniversary celebration last month. Nights and Weekends are their really busy times.

The most popular burger is The Behemoth. It’s a monster…The patty is one half-pound. It’s grilled cheese sandwich “buns” on the top & bottom, cheddar cheese, bbq sauce, pickle, grilled onion, and bacon.

Future plans include a second location in perhaps Long Beach or North Hollywood. Down the road Chef Ryan’s goal is to open a burger restaurant in his hometown of Cleveland where the dining scene is now really happening.

The remaining Grill ‘em All truck will soon be back in action for private events.

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February 22: UNLV, Coffee Bean, Five Crowns, West Coast Prime Meats, Grill ‘em All Burgers, DOMA Beverly Hills

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Segment Three: Jay Isais, Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Segment Four: Jim Colombo, General Manager, Five Crowns and SideDoor, Corona del Mar
Segment Five: David Wicker, Managing Partner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing, West Coast Prime Meats
Segment Six: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Dustin J. Trani, DOMA Beverly Hills
Segment Eight: Jet Tila with your questions and his answers

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Jet Tila and a heritage pig at Cochon 555 in 2013Remember the L.A. tour stop of Cochon USA is Sunday, February 23rd at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica from 4 to 8:00 p.m. Ray Garcia of Fig Restaurant is the host chef. It’s a celebration of heritage pork raised on family farms. Our own Jet Tila will be there cooking an additional late-night heritage pig for the After-Party.

UNLV in Las Vegas has the most respected hospitality management program in the West. The Dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration there joins us to profile the prestigious program. Unusual cuts of beef are finding their way onto fine dining restaurants menus. We’ll be speaking with a meat expert to better understand these cuts. A coffee authority is with us to talk about the current trends in roasting coffee. You’ll also hear about a relatively new contemporary Mediterranean/Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills with an energetic young chef in the kitchen and an exciting pastry chef with impressive credentials. Orange County Restaurant Week launches February 23rd. We’ll have a preview with the GM of one of the classic participating restaurants. Also on the menu is an award-winning and high profile food truck (with an edge) that graduated to opening an even more successful brick and mortar location in an unexpected location.

All of this and lots more incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Stowe Shoemaker is the Dean of the William F Harrah College of Hotel Administration at University of Nevada Las VegasThe most distinguished hospitality and restaurant management program in the West is the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV in Las Vegas. Stowe Shoemaker (a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration alum) is the Dean. Before joining UNLV, Dean Shoemaker spent 19 years as an educator at Cornell. Food Network’s Guy Fieri is a graduate of UNLV’s program.

Las Vegas serves as one of the world’s largest hospitality and tourism laboratories. The school provides valuable internships and mentors. The hospitality-management bachelor’s-degree program provides a broad educational approach to a career in the hospitality industry.
Students can select a concentration in gaming management, meetings and conventions, professional golf management, or restaurant management.

The school is ranked #4 in the world by the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research.

Jay Isais of the Coffee Bean and Tea LeafWe had such a great response to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Jay Isais ( eye-zay-us) from last year that we’ve invited him back to share another steaming cup of brew. This time the discussion is on the roasting of coffee beans and how that impacts flavor. Jay is the Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing for the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Jay also provides insight into the three major coffee growing areas of the world and what the flavor profile of the resulting coffee is.

Orange County Restaurant WeekThe OC’s most anticipated, and delicious, dining event, Orange County Restaurant Week, returns from February 23rd to March 1st. Diners will have the opportunity to enjoy the wide spectrum of dining options in the County at special prices for prix-fixe menus for both lunch and dinner.

Over 100 restaurants are part of Orange County Restaurant Week.

The iconic Five Crowns, a Corona del Mar landmark, is one of the participating restaurants. General Manager Jim Colombo (also a chef by background and training) joins us to preview his special menu.

West Coast Prime MeatsWest Coast Prime Meats really knows the meat business as only an insider can. Most of their seasoned, senior executives have an extensive background in the restaurant business or are master butchers. If fact West Coast’s key master butcher has more than 30 years experience in the field.

Dave Wicker, WCPM’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Managing Partner, is with us to talk beef. What’s prime beef? An explanation of the process of aging of beef is on the menu. We’ll discuss previously uncommon cuts which are now attracting attention including the Teres Major and the Flat Iron Steak.

Ryan Hankins of Gril Em All BurgersOne of the very first “better burger” food trucks in Los Angeles County, Grill ‘em All Burgers, rolled onto the scene in 2009. As unusual as it sounds it was a heavy metal devotee’s take on the ample burger meal. The founders are Chef Ryan Harkins (a Cleveland native) and Matt Chernus, a former professional wrestler.

The stars were in alignment for them as they were inexplicably cast for the first season of Food Network’s cross-country “Great Food Truck Race.” This was the only season where the competitors were required to have actual food truck experience.

Although the Grill ‘em All guys were on the threshold of elimination on multiple episodes (and expected by the Producers to be out in the early going) they scrappily hung in there and came out on top at the conclusion of the high octane finale in New York! Once the season aired business was such that they needed to secure a second truck.

The gameplan was always to eventually move into the right (affordable) brick and mortar location. That happened last January (2013) when they opened in the Renaissance Theater Plaza in Alhambra in a former (failed) chain 50s diner location. Chef Ryan and Matt have made an odd location work. Grill ‘em All had lines down the block for their anniversary celebration last month. Nights and Weekends are their really busy times.

Future plans include a second location. Down the road Chef Ryan’s goal is to open a burger restaurant in his hometown of Cleveland where the dining scene is now really happening.

The remaining Grill ‘em All truck will soon be back in action for private events.

Dustin TraniDoma Beverly Hills opened rather quietly at 362 N. Camden Dr. in Beverly Hills in 2012. The address is well-known as the long-standing former home of Prego.

What’s creating a lot of excitement there with foodies is the young executive chef, Dustin Trani. He’s all of 29 years-old. He has worked at a Michelin starred restaurant in Italy, cooked at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, and was chosen by the Governor to represent California in a prestigious national seafood competition in New Orleans.

He’s a 4th generation Los Angeles area Italian chef who started working at age 11 in his family’s restaurant, J. Trani’s, in San Pedro which opened in 1925. He’s also a C-CAP alum. His food is contemporary Mediterranean/Italian with an emphasis on seafood.

His talented pastry chef is Marissa Sharon previously at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. Her mini-cannoli are a real standout.

KnivesWe get questions…

Chef Jet responds to an assortment of inquiries from the overflowing e-mailbag. Jet talks about safety concerns with raw chicken, the selection process for proper knives in the home kitchen, and the quality of frozen fish.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Segment Three: Jay Isais, Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Segment Four: Jim Colombo, General Manager, Five Crowns and SideDoor, Corona del Mar
Segment Five: David Wicker, Managing Partner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing, West Coast Prime Meats
Segment Six: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Dustin J. Trani, DOMA Beverly Hills
Segment Eight: Jet Tila with your questions and his answers

Show 58, January 25, 2013: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013

Max JacobsonMax Jacobson is a serious food journalist who relocated to Las Vegas from Southern California in 1999 to cover the burgeoning dining scene there. Southern Californians remember his coverage of the Orange County dining scene for The Los Angeles Times. He is currently Vegas Seven’s restaurant critic. His colleagues have great respect for him.

Two days before Christmas 2013, Jacobson was struck by a hit-and-run driver while he was in a crosswalk. He sustained severe brain trauma from the accident. He remains hospitalized in serious condition and his prognosis is uncertain.

Chefs to the Max benefit for Max Jacobson at RX Boiler RoomIn true hospitality industry fashion a group of prominent, celebrity chefs have joined together to launch the Chefs to the Max fundraising series to assist with Max Jacobson’s horrendous medical expenses.

The first dinner was January 19th at Chef Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Place on the Las Vegas Strip. The evening raised an impressive $275,799.

Fellow Las Vegas-based food journalist, Al Mancini, joins us to talk about the Chefs to the Max benefits and working with Max. Al and Max collaborated (with a third Las Vegas-based restaurant writer) on the three editions of the very popular Las Vegas dining guidebook series, Eating Las Vegas.

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Show 23, March 30, 2013: Chef Jet Tila

Burger from Smoke in Dallas TexasChef Jet was in Dallas earlier in the week and we asked him to profile one Dallas restaurant that really stood out. He was quick to mention Smoke. They have an in-kitchen wood grill and smoke pit. Chef Tim Byres’ slogan for Smoke is “Homegrown, Handmade, Local, Eats.”

Jet commented on the differences between the dining scene in Houston versus Dallas.

Jet then asked Producer Andy what his favorite bite of the week was. Andy responded that it was the Turkey Pastrami Melt on sourdough bread with Cambozola Blue-Brie, house pickled veggies, and Stout mustard served with a ramekin of Russian Dressing spiked with horseradish at The Tripel in Playa del Rey.

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