Show 213, March 4, 2017: Executive Chef / Restaurateur Dino Ferraro, Capone’s Cucina, Huntington Beach

Dino FerraroChef Dino Ferraro is affectionately known to his many regulars as the “Godfather of Italian Cuisine” in Huntington Beach with three popular Italian/Mediterranean Restaurants located in this prominent beach community. Chef Dino’s flagship is Capone’s Cucina and his other establishments are Black Trumpet Bistro and Mona Lisa Cucina.

Capone’s Pasta and Pizza opened in Westminster in 1997. It was at this location that Dino expanded his repertoire and added specials to the standard menu. Customers were hooked on Dino’s ability to transform everyday ingredients into culinary works of art and became regulars.

He sold Capone’s Pasta and Pizza in 2000 and moved to Huntington Beach where he opened Capone’s Cucina with a goal of creating a more gourmet dining experience. In 2002, Dino hired friend and fellow chef, Francois Lieutaud to create a unique paring of French and Italian cuisine. The combination made for an old world European feel and customers loved the larger selection of dishes. Capone’s remodeled and expanded into the space next door late last year.

Dino and Francois rejoined again and started Mona Lisa Cucina with a large variety of gourmet pasta’s and pizza’s to serve the Huntington Beach community. From their early experiments with simple, basic foods grew an appreciation for the sensuality of texture, presentation and fragrance.

The newest addition to Chef Dino’s family of restaurants is The Black Trumpet. This establishment specializes in Mediterranean tapas, small plates that bring the guest the flavors of Italy, France, Greece and Morocco.

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Show 194, October 22, 2016: Tal Ronnen, Chef/Proprietor, Crossroads, Los Angeles

Tal Ronnen of Crossroads KitchenTal Ronnen, a classically trained chef and New York Times bestselling cookbook author, is redefining the concept of contemporary vegan cooking by concentrating on what makes food enjoyable in the first place. His new cookbook, Crossroads – Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine, is inspired by his cooking at his stylish Los Angeles restaurant of the same name.

In the cookbook Chef Tal reveals his sophisticated and satisfying new approach in 100 Mediterranean-inspired recipes that are an indispensable resource for mindful eaters. “This is the first vegan cookbook with recipes you’ll want to serve at a dinner party.”

Reinventing plant-based eating is what Tal Ronnen is all about. At his Los Angeles restaurant, Crossroads, the menu is vegan, but there are no soybeans or bland seitan to be found. He and his executive chef, Scot Jones, turn seasonal vegetables, beans, nuts, and grains into sophisticated Mediterranean fare—think warm bowls of tomato-sauced pappardelle, plates of spicy carrot salad, and crunchy flatbreads piled high with roasted vegetables.

In Crossroads, an IACP Cookbook Award finalist, Ronnen teaches readers to make his recipes and proves that the flavors we crave are easily replicated in dishes made without animal products. With accessible, unfussy recipes, Crossroads takes plant-based eating firmly out of the realm of hippie health food and into a cuisine that fits perfectly with today’s modern palate.

The recipes are photographed in sumptuous detail, and with more than 100 of them for weeknight dinners, snacks and appetizers, special occasion meals, desserts, and more, this book is an indispensable resource for healthy, mindful eaters everywhere.

We’ll meet Chef Tal Ronnen.

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Show 164, March 19, 2016: Brian Cousins, General Manager, Café Del Rey

Brian CousinsHow do you keep a fine-dining establishment with an incredible Marina-view fresh after 25 years? We’ll chat with Brian Cousins, the seasoned General Manager of Café Del Rey, about how he has accomplished this impressive feat at a well-known, wine-centric destination restaurant in Marina del Rey.

Executive Chef David Vilchez is new to the kitchen at Café Del Rey. He moved South to the Marina from sister establishment, Napa Valley Grille in Westwood.

Fortunately, this contemporary, marina-view establishment defies the convention that having a great view is an excuse for serving mediocre food. Although owned by a restaurant group based in Florida their fine-dining restaurants are run autonomously. The feel is that Café Del Rey is locally owned by hands-on management.

“Cuisine inspired by the coastal towns of the Mediterranean. Intuitive service and a beautiful seaside setting. The food is about discovery: the freshest fish, fire grilled steaks, roasted free-range poultry, citrus, olives and market fresh vegetables all bursting with flavor. The luscious desserts, sophisticated cocktails and wine complete your journey.”

Their wine dinners are out of the ordinary. Coming in April is an unusual salute to the wines of Portugal.

 

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Show 116, April 4, 2015: La Dolce Vita Ristorante, Heritage Square, Oxnard

Michelle KenneyHidden away in Oxnard’s Heritage Square in a restored, three-story 1901 pre-Craftsman-style mansion is La Dolce Vita Ristorante featuring Italian and Mediterranean fusion cuisine. Family recipes and contemporary creations abound.

The owner and executive chef is Michelle Kenney, a second generation restaurateur. Michelle has over twenty-five years of experience in the restaurant and catering fields. She also is known locally for her wide variety of popular cooking classes.

Michelle took the opportunity earlier in her hospitality career to work in New England for several years to expand her expertise in the food business. She has worked every aspect of the business from large banquets at the Mystic Hilton to bartending, serving and supervising a large staff.

Along the way she even found the time to pen a cookbook, La Dolce Vita – Recipes For Living The Sweet Life.

Today, for example, La Dolce Vita serves brunch and dinner, hosts a wedding reception, and Chef Michelle performs one of her cooking classes. That’s certainly a day’s work…

We’ll meet her.

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Show 58, January 25, 2013: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen

Roger Hayot of J. Nichols KitchenIn 1987 the Authentic Café opened on Beverly Blvd. near CBS’s Television City in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. It was the inspiration of Chef Roger Hayot who was mentored by his prior employer, David Overton, the creator of The Cheesecake Factory. It was initially a small place and from Day 1 they had lines of patient guests out the door…Eventually they expanded into the space next-door to accommodate the strong demand.

Roger’s always intriguing menu was inspired by the cuisines of the American Southwest, Latin America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. He used authentic global ingredients which was unusual at the time. Thai fish sauce was one of his regular ingredients. The exotic appeal of his cooking was always balanced by its hominess.

He had the honor of cooking at The James Beard Foundation in New York.

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January 25: South Coast Collection, Carla Hall, Roger Havot, Sanford D’Amoto, Chefs to the Max

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Chef jet Tila and Alton BrownFood Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” with host Alton Brown is back on Sunday nights for Season 2. Our own Chef Jet Tila is the most frequently appearing solo judge on this tough competition show that requires strategy as well as cooking chops. Look for Jet’s new episodes starting in February.

On Friday morning, January 31st catch Chef Jet on NBC’s “Today Show” in the 9:00 a.m. hour PST. He’s sharing his recipe for Peking Duck Sliders for Chinese New Year and The Big Game!

ABC’s “The Chew’s,” Carla Hall, is back with us talking about the very special Culinary Concert she is doing at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin on Sunday, February 9th to benefit the scholarship fund of The James Beard Foundation. “Hootie Hoo”…You’ll meet Sandy D’Amato, a kid from Milwaukee, who grew up to become one of the most outstanding chefs in America. Chef Roger Hayot joins us. You may not know his name but you really should. In the 90s Chef Roger had one of the most acclaimed restaurants in L.A. Now he’s quietly making waves again at a hidden gem of a neighborhood place in Marina del Rey.

All of that and lots more incredible deliciousness on the “SoCal Restaurant Show.”

The first Saturday of last October we were live at South Coast Collection (SoCo) and The Mix in Costa Mesa for the first Patchwork Show: Edible Edition.

Anais TangieWe showcased the growing collection of outstanding boutique food businesses and restaurants there. The SoCo and Mix’s Marketing Coordinator, Anais Tangie, joins us to talk about the new additions and what’s soon on the way. Think handcrafted artisanal chocolates and also a one-of-kind cocktail education and tools-of-the-trade store owned by a master bartender…

Carla HallFood fans know Chef Carla Hall as the “Hootie Hoo” lady and fan favorite from multiple seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” She is now the co-host of ABC’s daytime lifestyle series, “The Chew.” Last month “The Chew” celebrated their 500th episode and the show continues to gain in popularity. Carla also is the author of Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You, newly available in paperback.

Carla is being honored by Zov Karamardian of Zov’s Bistro in Tustin at her Culinary Concert to benefit the James Beard Foundation on Sunday, February 9th.

That Sunday Carla and Zov will conduct a highly entertaining, interactive cooking class for the guests followed by a lavish lunch. Carla will be available to sign copies of her book and interact with the guests. It all starts at Noon.

Pastry Chef to the Stars and a multiple James Beard Award-winner, Sherry Yard, is the celebrity MC.

For more info and to make reservations please call 714.838.8855 ext. 21

Carla is represented in Saveur’s 100 which is the current January/February issue. Item 13 on the list is Carla’s suggestion of Lemon Olive Oil.

Roger Hayot of J. Nichols KitchenIn 1987 the Authentic Café opened on Beverly Blvd. near CBS’s Television City in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. It was the inspiration of Chef Roger Hayot who was mentored by his prior employer, David Overton, the creator of The Cheesecake Factory. It was initially a small place and from Day 1 they had lines of patient guests out the door…Eventually they expanded into the space next-door to accommodate the strong demand.

Roger’s always intriguing menu was inspired by the cuisines of the American Southwest, Latin America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. He used authentic global ingredients which was unusual at the time. Thai fish sauce was one of his regular ingredients. The exotic appeal of his cooking was always balanced by its hominess.

He had the honor of cooking at The James Beard Foundation in New York.

There is a new chapter to Chef Roger Hayot’s inspirational cooking story in Los Angeles so we continue.

Mezze Plate at J. Nichols KitchenIn 2012 Roger moved into the Executive Chef position at J Nichols Kitchen in Marina del Rey. This originally opened as Nichols Family Restaurant in 1974 as a friendly, neighborhood coffee shop with reasonable prices and big portions. When the founders’ son and daughter took over the operation they faced a dilemma. The retail center they were in was about to undergo a major renovation (and upscaling) and their clientele was aging and the younger crowd wasn’t patronizing them. The Nichols made the tough decision to remodel and reposition themselves as a destination neighborhood restaurant with more serious food and no snootiness. That’s a major transition…

The first 6 months of the new concept was a bit rocky. The seniors didn’t like the new menu or pricing and the Millennials thought it was still a coffee shop. A lot of guest confusion…Chef Roger joined the team in progress with the mission of improving the food and consistency. Over the last 18 months that has happened and the successful transition accomplished! A great turnaround story…

Virtually everything is now made from scratch from the pizza dough (3-day process) to the fruit preserves served at breakfast. Chef Roger takes the time to make his own biscuits (very popular) as well as flavorful premium sausages. He has his own smoker. All the desserts are house-prepared. The novel Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is perhaps Chef Roger’s tribute to The Cheesecake Factory. It’s light, has a graham cracker crust, crushed pistachios, and a honey drizzle. Yum…

Sanford D'AmotoGood Stock: Life on Low Simmer was written by Sanford “Sandy” D’Amato, one of America’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs. It is a special memoir of a life in cooking that weaves more than 80 recipes and both personal and food photos in a beautiful and engaging way.

Chef D’Amato tells his life story in brief episodes that are keyed to more than 80 of this James Beard Award-winning chef’s favorite recipes.

Sanford, the restaurant D’Amato opened in his native Milwaukee in 1989 (in the space that once housed his grandfather’s grocery store,) has long been one of the highest rated restaurants in America.

D’Amato and his wife, Angie, currently split their time between Milwaukee and their mini-farm in Hatfield, MA, where they are preparing to open a cooking school (also called Good Stock.)

If you really want to understand what it takes to be a successful, career executive chef this is the book for you. It’s also highly entertaining and a fascinating read. Chef Sandy’s encounters with the legendary Julia Child over the years are priceless.

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.

Republique Restaurant in Los AngelesLet’s talk food…Chef Jet and Producer Andy share some of their recent dining adventures.

Jet has experienced the much talked-about Republique with Walter Manzke and Chef Margarita Manzke behind the stoves at the former Campanile space. Andy has dined at Downtown’s Orsa & Winston, the new fine-dining spot from Josef Centeno (Bar Ama & Baco Mercat.)

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”

Show 53, December 21, 2013: Alain Cohen of Got Kosher Café & Bakery, Los Angeles

f 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 (and the Romans) were in Tunisia before Muhammad or the rise of Islam.

The tasty Merguez sausage with harissa (born in Tunisa) 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.

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June 22: Sotto, Cochon 555, Tal Ronnen

Podcasts

Segment One: On the Road with Chef Jet and Producer Andy
Segment Two: Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto in Los Angeles Part One
Segment Three: Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto in Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Four: Brady Lowe, creator of the Cochon 555 National Tour
Segment Five: Chef Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in West Hollywood Part One
Segment Six: Chef Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in West Hollywood Part Two

Chef jet Tila and Alton BrownThis past week Chef Jet has been part of an influential food conference along with a number of standout food luminaries at UMass Amherst in Massachusetts. Jet will give us some of the highlights.

Producer Andy will preview one of the biggest ethnic food festivals happening this weekend in Orange County.

We’ll also answer some e-mail inquiries.

Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of SottoSotto on Pico Blvd. in West Los Angeles just East of Century City is the dream restaurant of American chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack who are both obsessed (in the best possible way) with all things Italy. Samson is the skilled executive chef and Pollack is the gifted pizzaiolo, and the food represents the fare of Southern Italy.

Steve Samson is known to Angelenos as one of the respected executive chefs in the rich history of Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino in Santa Monica. In early 2009 Samson and Pollack created the well-received Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa’s performing arts district near South Coast Plaza for David Myers.

Brady Lowe of Cochon 555We’ve been following the Cochon 555 national tour since their stop in Los Angeles on Sunday, May 5th at House of Blues in West Hollywood. Our own Chef Jet Tila headed one of the five competing teams creating dishes from a whole heritage pig. Each culinary team provided tastes for the 400 attendees who were then part of the final judging.

The ten regional winners met at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival last Sunday for the final showdown, The Grand Cochon. Among the finalists was Chef Ray Garcia of Fig in Santa Monica, the supreme porker from the Los Angeles competition.

Cochon founder, Brady Lowe, based in Atlanta, joins us with the final report of this year’s results.

Tal Ronnen of Crossroads KitchenTal Ronnen is the go-to vegan chef cooking in the United States. He opened his first Los Angeles area restaurant, Crossroads, back in March. It’s at the corner of Melrose and Sweetzer Avenue in West Hollywood. The food is fine-dining vegan with Mediterranean-style small plates in a highly designed space.

“I just can’t do the throw some vegetables and a starch on a plate thing,” Ronen once said in a Los Angeles Times profile. “That’s the problem with most vegan dishes. It’s a Portobello mushroom cap, or pasta primavera, and when you’re finished with dinner you have to hit the drive-through. You have to give people something that will satisfy them”

Chef Ronnen also contributed to the original menu for LYFE Kitchen which launched earlier in the year in Culver City.

His reputation is such that in early 2011 when very particular casino resort mogul Steve Wynn wanted to add vegan dishes to all of his acclaimed restaurants at both Wynn Las Vegas and Encore the plum assignment went to Chef Ronnen.

Podcasts

Segment One: On the Road with Chef Jet and Producer Andy
Segment Two: Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto in Los Angeles Part One
Segment Three: Chefs Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of Sotto in Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Four: Brady Lowe, creator of the Cochon 555 National Tour
Segment Five: Chef Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in West Hollywood Part One
Segment Six: Chef Tal Ronnen of Crossroads in West Hollywood Part Two