Show 229, June 24, 2017: Executive Chef / Proprietor Steve Samson, Rossoblu, City Market South

Steve Samson of SottoChef Steve Samson is well-known to lovers of regional Italian cuisine in Southern California. He first came into local prominence as the Executive Chef at Piero Selvaggio’s classic Valentino in Santa Monica. From there he was the opening chef at Pizzeria Ortica in South Coast Plaza. Next was branching out with his own establishment, Sotto, located near Century City. The distinctive wood-burning pizza oven there was imported from Italy and assembled inside the restaurant by skilled Italian artisans.

His newest project with his wife, Dina, is the ambitious Rossoblu in the emerging City Market South development in the Fashion District of Downtown Los Angeles. The complex of buildings was the first wholesale produce market in Los Angeles. The menu is influenced by Chef Steve’s summers in Bologna and Emilia- Romagna while he was growing up.

We’ll pull Chef Steve away from his wood-fired grill in the open kitchen for a full briefing.

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Show 188, September 10, 2016: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris and Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish Restaurant Group

Andrew Gruel and his son WilliamExecutive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Brea, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, LAX, Irvine at UCI and, most recently, The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Rams and USC Football, is back as today’s special Guest Host. In May in Chicago during the National Restaurant Association’s annual conclave he received Nation’s Restaurant News’ Trendsetter MenuMaster Award for Slapfish.

Now a pleasantly tempting preview of Saturday’s ample show and not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s actually a pretty good thing…

“Today’s top-flight University chefs are likely to be as savvy and competitive as their independent restaurant peers. Eric Ernest, the accomplished fine-dining chef who has headed University of Southern California Hospitality since 2012, knows this all too well.” Chef Eric is also USC Hospitality’s Associate Director of Purchasing, Logistics & Special Projects. He’s our guest.

Carlito Jocson is the long-time Executive Chef, Vice President and Managing Partner of Yard House. With lightening speed he revamped the entire menu of the original Yard House in Long Beach right before they opened in 1996. It’s been a wild ride ever since for the last 20 years. They now have 65 busy locations across the country in 13 states. Chef Carlito joins us with this absolutely incredible success story.

Pizzeria Ortica, the well-respected Italian restaurant (launched in 2009) located across from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, has added an artfully crafted Sunday brunch to its already well-received lunch and dinner service. Executive Chef Justin Miller (who has been in the kitchen since the beginning) joins us in-studio to share the inviting details.

The 4thannual James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®, is The Foundation’s celebrated national culinary tour. Taste America is bringing together world-class chefs in ten U.S. cities, including the launch in Los Angeles on September 23rd at Vibiana, where Taste America All-Star Chef and James Beard Award-winner Scott Conant (ImperoCaffè, New York) will collaborate with Local Star Curtis Stone (Gwen and Maude) and Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith (Sweet Hedy) to create a one-of-a-kind, four-course dining experience. This special partnering of culinary greats will also feature a tasting reception. Bruce Kalman (Union & Knead & Co.) is one of the high-profile chefs preparing the food for the dazzling tasting reception. He’s our guest.

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

Please note…We graciously moved to the sidelines for Fighting Irish Football today at 11:30 a.m.

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Show 188, September 10, 2016: Justin Miller, Executive Chef, Pizzeria Ortica, Costa Mesa

Justin MillerPizzeria Ortica, the well-respected Italian restaurant (launched in 2009) located across from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, has added an artfully crafted Sunday Brunch to its already well-received lunch and dinner service. Steve Samson (Sotto) was the opening chef there along with pizzaiolo Zach Pollack (Alimento.)

The simple, but inspired a la carte menu is available Sundays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Pizzeria Ortica experimented with serving brunch on Father’s Day which proved popular and resulted in guests requesting that it be available weekly. Chef Justin Miller’s new menu features small plates, “eggs and such,” and pizzas, with prices ranging from $6-$16.

Innovative cocktails, crafted by award-winning beverage director Joel Caruso, include The Vegetarian—a bloody Mary with housemade mix and pickled vegetables; The Pescatarian, a tequila or gin version with house shrimp stock, and a POG (Hawaiian juice blend of passionfruit, orange and guava) spritzer.

Guests are greeted at the table with a basket of complimentary morning buns, flaky and stuffed with tomato conserva and Parmigiano, the creation of talented sous chef Colleen Flynn. Squash-blossoms filled with lemon ricotta; heirloom tomato-rubbed toast with prosciutto di Parma; and pork belly, braised and sliced with agrodolce, are among the starters.

“With brunch becoming so popular, the abundance of residential complexes within walking distance and Sunday matinees at Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Rep, it makes total sense to introduce brunch here,” said Jason Scarborough, Pizzeria Ortica’s general manager.

Be sure to take a look at our Instagram postings of select brunch items.

Executive Chef Justin Miller (who has been in the kitchen since the beginning) joins us in-studio to share the inviting details.

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September 10: USC Hospitality, Yard House, Pizzeria Ortica, Bruce Kalman

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris and Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Two: Executive Chef Eric Ernest, USC Hospitality Part 1
Segment Three: Executive Chef Eric Ernest, USC Hospitality Part 2
Segment Four: Carlito Jocson, Corporate Executive Chef & Managing Partner, Yard House Restaurants
Segment Five: Justin Miller, Executive Chef, Pizzeria Ortica, Costa Mesa
Segment Six: Executive Chef Bruce Kalman, Union & James Beard Foundation’s Taste America, Los Angeles

Andrew Gruel and his son WilliamExecutive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Brea, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, LAX, Irvine at UCI and, most recently, The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Rams and USC Football, is back as today’s special Guest Host. In May in Chicago during the National Restaurant Association’s annual conclave he received Nation’s Restaurant News’ Trendsetter MenuMaster Award for Slapfish.

Now a pleasantly tempting preview of Saturday’s ample show and not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case that’s actually a pretty good thing…

“Today’s top-flight University chefs are likely to be as savvy and competitive as their independent restaurant peers. Eric Ernest, the accomplished fine-dining chef who has headed University of Southern California Hospitality since 2012, knows this all too well.” Chef Eric is also USC Hospitality’s Associate Director of Purchasing, Logistics & Special Projects. He’s our guest.

Carlito Jocson is the long-time Executive Chef and Managing Partner of Yard House. He revamped the entire menu of the original Yard House in Long Beach right before they opened in 1996. It’s been a wild ride ever since for the last 20 years. They now have 65 busy locations across the country in 13 states. Chef Carlito joins us with this absolutely incredible success story.

Pizzeria Ortica, the well-respected Italian restaurant (launched in 2009) located across from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, has added an artfully crafted Sunday brunch to its already well-received lunch and dinner service. Executive Chef Justin Miller (who has been in the kitchen since the beginning) joins us in-studio to share the inviting details.

The 4thannual James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®, is The Foundation’s celebrated national culinary tour. Taste America is bringing together world-class chefs in ten U.S. cities, including the launch in Los Angeles on September 23rd at Vibiana, where Taste America All-Star Chef and James Beard Award-winner Scott Conant (ImperoCaffè, New York) will collaborate with Local Star Curtis Stone (Gwen and Maude) and Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith (Sweet Hedy) to create a one-of-a-kind, four-course dining experience. This special partnering of culinary greats will also feature a tasting reception. Bruce Kalman (Union & Knead & Co.) is one of the high-profile chefs preparing the food for the dazzling tasting reception. He’s our guest.

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

Please note…We graciously move to the sidelines for Fighting Irish Football on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Eric Ernest“Today’s top-flight University chefs are likely to be as savvy and competitive as their independent restaurant peers. Eric Ernest, the accomplished fine-dining chef who has headed University of Southern California Hospitality since 2012, knows this all too well.”

USC Hospitality operated 44 food and beverage venues on the University Park Campus, Health Sciences Center Campus, as well as two off-campus venues. It also provides creative full-service catering.

“Ernest and his team of up to 40 chefs turn out about 10,000 meals daily between students, faculty, the hospital, the hotel, the Coliseum and special events. So the pressure is on to produce and produce well.” “The question is not how do we fit their needs?” “Instead of what do they want, it’s what do they not know exists that they can’t live without?” Ernest insists.

Chef Eric is also USC Hospitality’s Associate Director of Purchasing, Logistics & Special Projects. He’s our guest.

“USC really offers top-notch hospitality. That, paired with the executive team and the leadership team, makes (the department) amazing, top to bottom,” Ernest observes.

“We view roasting a carrot with the same attention as making foie gras. We apply modern technique to everything, across the board, to create the best USC experience,” he continues.

With 44 outlets and 44 different menus to fill daily, it’s essential to plan ahead, Ernest stresses. “Good enough isn’t good enough. Our department answers to every single person who walks on the campus,” he promises.

Chef Eric is also proud of USC Hospitality’s Teaching Garden. It’s an unusual collaboration with LA Urban Farms, LA & SF Specialty and Chefs to End Hunger.

Carlito JocsonCarlito Jocson is the long-time Executive Chef and Managing Partner of Yard House. He revamped the entire menu of the original Yard House in Long Beach right before they opened in 1996. It’s been a wild ride for the last 20 years. They now have 65 busy locations across the country in 13 states.

What do Fried Gnocchi with Spicy Sausage, Crab Scampi Pasta and an All-Day Breakfast Sandwich have in common? They’re just a few of the new items that Chef Carlito and Yard House will introduce to its menu on September 12. The restaurant, known for its menu of American favorites and 100-plus taps of beer, will introduce a half-dozen new entrees to its menu, which will be available through January 15, 2017.

“As summer starts to wind down, and we head into the cooler months, it’s natural for the palate to gravitate towards heartier fare,” notes Chef Carlito Jocson. “Our Lobster Mac N Cheese, which has appeared on some of our special menus over the years, like Valentine’s Day or the holidays, is one we’re bringing back because it’s so popular. And, for the first time in our nearly 20-year history, we’re adding a breakfast sandwich.”

Jocson added that as a chef he studies food culture behaviors rather than trends, which helps drive his decision on what he feels needs to be added to the menu.

“I’m out a lot, and I observe what types of food people are seeking out,” added Jocson. “When I’m in Downtown L.A. late at night and there is a line halfway around the block at a chef-driven kiosk for a simple egg sandwich, I immediately start experimenting in the kitchen to create an egg sandwich for Yard House to answer that call for our guests.”

Chef Jocson also noted that, while Italian and Mexican fare have always been dining staples they’re both experiencing a resurgence among diners.

Chef Carlito joins us with this absolutely incredible success story.

Justin MillerPizzeria Ortica, the well-respected Italian restaurant (launched in 2009) located across from South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, has added an artfully crafted Sunday Brunch to its already well-received lunch and dinner service.

The simple, but inspired a la carte menu is available Sundays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Pizzeria Ortica experimented with serving brunch on Father’s Day which proved popular and resulted in guests requesting that it be available weekly. Chef Justin Miller’s new menu features small plates, “eggs and such,” and pizzas, with prices ranging from $6-$16.

Innovative cocktails, crafted by award-winning beverage director Joel Caruso, include The Vegetarian—a bloody Mary with housemade mix and pickled vegetables; The Pescatarian, a tequila or gin version with house shrimp stock, and a POG (Hawaiian juice blend of passionfruit, orange and guava) spritzer.

Guests are greeted at the table with a basket of complimentary morning buns, flaky and stuffed with tomato conserva and Parmigiano, the creation of talented sous chef Colleen Flynn. Squash-blossoms filled with lemon ricotta; heirloom tomato-rubbed toast with prosciutto di Parma; and pork belly, braised and sliced with agrodolce, are among the starters.

“With brunch becoming so popular, the abundance of residential complexes within walking distance and Sunday matinees at Segerstrom Center for the Arts and South Coast Rep, it makes total sense to introduce brunch here,” said Jason Scarborough, Pizzeria Ortica’s general manager.

Executive Chef Justin Miller (who has been in the kitchen since the beginning) joins us in-studio to share the inviting details.

Bruce Kalman on Union PasadenaThe 4thannual James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®, is The Foundation’s national culinary tour. Taste America is bringing together world-class chefs in ten U.S. cities, including the launch in Los Angeles on September 23rd at Vibiana, where Taste America All-Star Chef and James Beard Award-winner Scott Conant (ImperoCaffè, New York) will collaborate with Local Star Curtis Stone (Gwen)and Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith (Sweet Hedy) to create a one-of-a-kind, four-course dining experience.

This special partnering of culinary greats will also feature a tasting reception, where Host Chef Neal Fraser (Redbird), Nyesha Arrington (Leona), Josef Centeno (Orsa & Winston), Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon), and Bruce Kalman (Union) will dazzle guests with their individual culinary styles.

On Saturday, September 24th is a day of free culinary events from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Sur la Table in Westwood. Highlights are a cooking demo and book signing with James Beard Foundation Award Winner Scott Conant (Impero Caffe) and a Noon cooking demo and book signing with James Beard Foundation Award Winner Suzanne Goin (Lucques, AOC, and The Tavern.)

Bruce Kalman (Union & Knead & Co.) is one of the chefs preparing the food for the dazzling tasting reception. He’s our guest.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris and Chef Andrew Gruel of Slapfish Restaurant Group
Segment Two: Executive Chef Eric Ernest, USC Hospitality Part 1
Segment Three: Executive Chef Eric Ernest, USC Hospitality Part 2
Segment Four: Carlito Jocson, Corporate Executive Chef & Managing Partner, Yard House Restaurants
Segment Five: Justin Miller, Executive Chef, Pizzeria Ortica, Costa Mesa
Segment Six: Executive Chef Bruce Kalman, Union & James Beard Foundation’s Taste America, Los Angeles

Show 90, September 27, 2014: Executive Chef Steve Samson

Steve Samson of SottoToday’s guest host is Executive Chef Steve Samson of Sotto in Los Angeles located just East of Century City. He was previously the high profile executive chef at Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino in Santa Monica. Orange County diners remember him as the opening executive chef at the popular Pizzeria Ortica in Costa Mesa.

Chef Steve was just in Bologna, Italy for a Family celebration. This influenced him to initiate a monthly series featuring dishes of the North. He’s also brining in complimentary Italian wines from the North.

Last Saturday afternoon at UCLA Chef Steve was one of the participating celebrity chefs at L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade culinary benefit. Samson was paired with one of the young cheftestantants from Fox’s MasterChef Jr. series.

Sotto delivers an honest, market-driven menu of regionally-inspired Southern Italian dishes, including fresh housemade pastas and Neapolitan pizza cooked in an artisan wood burning oven. This wood burning oven was built onsite by Neapolitan craftsmen using traditional Old World techniques.

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Show 41, September 21, 2013: Steve Samson and Zach Pollack, Co-Executive Chefs / Partners, Sotto Restaurant

Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of SottoSteve Samson and Zach Pollack are the Executive Chefs and co-owners of Sotto near Century City in Los Angeles. They have an incredible wood-burning pizza oven that is from Sicily that was installed by Italian craftsmen. Orange County foodies remember them as the well-received opening culinary team for highly-regarded Pizzeria Ortica.

In-mid-August they were the only Los Angeles chefs to be invited by Chef Javier Plascencia (the Wolfgang Puck of Northern Baja) to join with acclaimed San Diego chefs to prepare a seven-course, wine-paired meal at Chef Javier’s ranch, Finca Altozano, located in the Guadalupe Valley, Mexico’s premier wine region. Each course was matched with an appropriate Baja wine from the local region. This was one event as part of a bigger annual, week-long vintners’ festival.

Steve’s and Zach’s dish was a beautiful, rustic spit-roasted lamb loin with Summer vegetables from the legendary Chino Farms in Rancho Santa Fe.

Restaurateur Javier Plascencia has Romesco in Bonita (right near the border) in the United States, and multiple restaurants in Tijuana including Mision 19 and Caesar’s Restaurante Bar (where the original Caesar Salad was created.)

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September 21: Thai Food Fest preview with Susan Feniger, Kajsa Alger, David LeFevre

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Paul Greive, Farmer & Founder, Primal Pastures, Temecula Part One
Segment Three: Paul Greive, Farmer & Founder, Primal Pastures, Temecula Part Two
Segment Four: Executive Chef David LeFevre of Fishing with Dynamite
Segment Five: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger, Proprietress of Susan Feniger’s Street
Segment Six: Kajsa (Sasha) Alger, Executive Chef and Partner, Susan Feniger’s Street
Segment Seven: Steve Samson and Zach Pollack, Co-Executive Chefs / Partners, Sotto Restaurant
Segment Eight: Neal Fraser, Executive Chef / Owner of bld

Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show.

Thai 2013 Food FestivalMark Sunday afternoon, September 29th on your calendar. Our very own Jet Tila is hosting the Thai 2013 Food Festival at Paramount Pictures Studios in the heart of Hollywood. It starts at 3:00 p.m.

Celebrity chefs from around the country and outstanding local Thai chefs will be there presenting their signature dishes for the guests to sample and enjoy. Entertainment will include music, Thai dancers and fruit carving.

VIP and Regular Tickets are now on sale!

Primal Pastures“Farmer Paul” Greive, the co-founder with his in-laws, of Primal Pastures in Temecula is with us. Primal Pastures is a pastured, “beyond organic and sustainable” livestock farm.

They just funded an amazing Kickstarter campaign to bankroll their expansion. The goal was to raise $40,000. Instead they realized $57,810.

They have recently leased over 200 acres of pastureland to expand.

“Our vision is to establish a “permaculture” – a system that effectively models the natural ecosystem with many varieties of plants and animals acting in synergy with one another on one farm. There are beautiful things that happen when cattle and sheep are incorporated with chickens, turkeys, and ducks.”

Chef David LeFevre of M.B. Post in Manhattan BeachExecutive Chef David LeFevre (ex-Water Grill) of the acclaimed Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite joins us.

Fishing with Dynamite in Manhattan Beach is his latest venture. It’s only 40 seats. The oyster bar is already enormously popular. They will serve some 300 to 700 oysters on a given day.

Chef LeFevre will be participating in the upcoming Thai Food Festival. He previews his dish for September 29th.

Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Susan Feniger's StreetSusan Feniger of Susan Feniger’s Street and Border Grill fame needs no introduction to listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” She was also one of the early super stars of Food Network with her business partner Mary Sue Milliken in the long running “Too Hot Tamales” series.

Susan Feniger’s Street will be a featured restaurant in the upcoming Thai Food Festival.

There are lots of Thai items on the regular Street menu.

The dish they are showcasing at the festival is Khao Gee, a Northeastern Thai snack.

Kajsa Alger of Susan Feniger's StreetKajsa Alger is the executive chef and partner for Susan Feniger’s Street.

As a teenager she snuck into the kitchen at CITY restaurant to begin an informal apprenticeship. That was the start of her long association with Susan and Mary Sue. She eventually rose to the post of Corporate Chef for all of Mary Sue and Susan’s restaurants.

She was on the Street project since the inception. There was months of intense recipe testing before the opening in 2009.

Kajsa is particularly proud of the Saturday and Sunday brunch menu they are offering until the end of the month. It’s an “All You Can Eat” small plate brunch with breakfast items as well as sandwiches and salads. It’s a modest $25 per guest and for an additional $15 you can partake of bottomless sparkling cocktails.

Steve Samson and Zach Pollack of SottoSteve Samson and Zach Pollack are the Executive Chefs and co-owners of Sotto near Century City in Los Angeles. They have an incredible wood-burning pizza oven that is from Sicily that was installed by Italian craftsmen. Orange County foodies remember them as the opening culinary team for highly-regarded Pizzeria Ortica.

In-mid-August they were the only Los Angeles chefs to be invited by Chef Javier Plascencia (the Wolfgang Puck of Northern Baja) to join with acclaimed San Diego chefs to prepare a seven-course, wine-paired meal at Chef Javier’s ranch, Finca Altozano, located in the Guadalupe Valley, Mexico’s premier wine region. Each course was matched with an appropriate Baja wine from the local region. This was one event as part of a bigger annual vintners’ festival.

Steve’s and Zach’s dish was a beautiful spit-roasted lamb loin.

Restaurateur Javier Plascencia has Romesco in Bonita in the United States and multiple restaurants in Tijuana including Mision 19 and Caesar’s Restaurante Bar (where the original Caesar Salad was created.)

Neal Fraser of bld and RedbirdExecutive Chef Neal Fraser of bld joins us.

Chef Fraser is a contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” this season. He comments on the ups and downs he experienced as a competitor. He observed that it’s a lot harder than he anticipated. That’s significant given that he previously bested an Iron Chef on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America”.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Paul Greive, Farmer & Founder, Primal Pastures, Temecula Part One
Segment Three: Paul Greive, Farmer & Founder, Primal Pastures, Temecula Part Two
Segment Four: Executive Chef David LeFevre of Fishing with Dynamite
Segment Five: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger, Proprietress of Susan Feniger’s Street
Segment Six: Kajsa (Sasha) Alger, Executive Chef and Partner, Susan Feniger’s Street
Segment Seven: Steve Samson and Zach Pollack, Co-Executive Chefs / Partners, Sotto Restaurant
Segment Eight: Neal Fraser, Executive Chef / Owner of bld

On the horizon for Chef Neal is a bld at LAX in the United Terminal and a casual ice cream, donuts, and coffee café.

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