Show 571, March 30, 2024: Food Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas & Creator of the Neon Feast App for Las Vegas Dining Part Two

Al Mancini of Neon Feast

The 2nd year anniversary of notable Las Vegas-based food and entertainment journalist Al Mancini’s ambitious Neon Feast dining app has happened. Lots of new features have now been added to the updated App. “Available now on app stores for both Apple and Android (as well as on their website), Neon Feast solves the “where to eat” dilemma for both visitors and locals with listings curated by dozens of local and nationally prominent food & beverage experts, searchable through a unique combination of filters and capabilities.” To celebrate there is an exciting photo sweepstakes contest on right now with the lucky winner being hosted to an evening for two at Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand or a $300 Lip Smacking Foodie Tours gift certificate.

Al Mancini is our always in-the-know guest with highlights of what’s new on the Vegas dining scene and looking ahead to what’s notable on the horizon for the rest of 2024. Some of the current talk of the town on dining is about the high-end restaurants at the newly opened (and long-delayed) Fontainebleau on The Strip and the reopening of the new Esther’s Kitchen (relocated) in the Arts District with Executive Chef James Trees.

Al also has just launched with Gemini Stevens (his co-host for the weekly “Food & Loathing” podcast) the NeonNews Website with current news (and breaking headline news) on the vibrant Vegas dining scene and lots more reported from his most reliable local sources.

Al takes another break from the Las Vegas dining action to continue with us.

Show 571, March 30, 2024: Three Sticks Wines, Sonoma County, with Director of Winemaking Ryan Prichard Part One

Ryan Prichard of Three Sticks Winery

Three Sticks Wines is a boutique, family-owned winery recognized for its unique super premium collection of Sonoma vineyards, award-winning pinot noir, and chardonnay. Proprietor William “Bill” S. Price III (nicknamed Billy Three Sticks) set about building a collection of six Grand Cru level Estate vineyards in Sonoma County starting with Durell in 1997. By way of acquiring or newly planting, he has built a reputation for owning and farming some of the finest pinot and chardonnay acreages in California.”

“Since 2002 Three Sticks Co-founder and General Manager Prema Kerollis set about designing and building the experiences, culture, and voice of Three Sticks while Bill focused on the vineyards with Rob Harris, head of all vineyard activities and winegrowing for the Price Family Vineyards and Estates portfolio. After years spent focusing on vineyards and hospitality, Three Sticks was ripe for some serious winemaking talent. Director of Winemaking Ryan Prichard joined Three Sticks in 2015 to craft wines from Bill’s sought-after Heritage vineyards, notably Durell, Gap’s Crown, and Walala, only to discover the majesty of his small, organically farmed, hand-planted properties, known internally as Monopoles: One Sky, Alana, and William James.”

“The intimate relationship between the winemaker, grower, and each of the six unique properties shines through in each of the wines. Ryan understands how working with great vineyards and a meticulous winemaking style can produce inspiring results. He originally joined Three Sticks with famed pinot noir winemaker Bob Cabral in 2015 and took over winemaking entirely from Cabral in 2021. Three Sticks has a down-to-earth, highly focused, quality-obsessed approach to growing and winemaking.”

The Sonoma home for hospitality at Three Sticks is the historic restored 1842 Vallejo-Castenada Adobe. It’s situated just steps off Sonoma’s town square. The Tasting Room is by appointment only.

Winemaker Ryan Prichard is our guest to pull the cork on all that is Three Sticks Wine.

Show 571, March 30, 2024: Three Sticks Wines, Sonoma County, with Director of Winemaking Ryan Prichard Part Two

Ryan Prichard of Three Sticks Winery

Three Sticks Wines is a boutique, family-owned winery recognized for its unique super premium collection of Sonoma vineyards, award-winning pinot noir, and chardonnay. Proprietor William “Bill” S. Price III (nicknamed Billy Three Sticks) set about building a collection of six Grand Cru level Estate vineyards in Sonoma County starting with Durell in 1997. By way of acquiring or newly planting, he has built a reputation for owning and farming some of the finest pinot and chardonnay acreages in California.”

“Since 2002 Three Sticks Co-founder and General Manager Prema Kerollis set about designing and building the experiences, culture, and voice of Three Sticks while Bill focused on the vineyards with Rob Harris, head of all vineyard activities and winegrowing for the Price Family Vineyards and Estates portfolio. After years spent focusing on vineyards and hospitality, Three Sticks was ripe for some serious winemaking talent. Director of Winemaking Ryan Prichard joined Three Sticks in 2015 to craft wines from Bill’s sought-after Heritage vineyards, notably Durell, Gap’s Crown, and Walala, only to discover the majesty of his small, organically farmed, hand-planted properties, known internally as Monopoles: One Sky, Alana, and William James.”

“The intimate relationship between the winemaker, grower, and each of the six unique properties shines through in each of the wines. Ryan understands how working with great vineyards and a meticulous winemaking style can produce inspiring results. He originally joined Three Sticks with famed pinot noir winemaker Bob Cabral in 2015 and took over winemaking entirely from Cabral in 2021. Three Sticks has a down-to-earth, highly focused, quality-obsessed approach to growing and winemaking.”

The Sonoma home for hospitality at Three Sticks is the historic restored 1842 Vallejo-Castenada Adobe. It’s situated just steps off Sonoma’s town square. The Tasting Room is by appointment only.

Winemaker Ryan Prichard continues as our guest gently pulling the cork on all that is Three Sticks Wine.

Show 571, March 30, 2024: Mercado Gonzalez, Costa Mesa, with Project Manager Joshua Gonzalez Part One

Joshua Gonzalez of Northgate Markets

Three generations of the Gonzalez Family have been in the grocery business in Southern California with the very popular Northgate Gonzalez Markets. Now they are pioneering a new, first of its kind in the United States shopping experience with the arrival of the long-in-the-works Mercado Gonzalez in Costa Mesa.

It’s a 70,000 square foot culinary wonder of truly mouth-watering authentic foods representing many regions of Mexico with some 20 Puestos (Food Stands) “teeming with vibrant colors, enticing aromas, and an array of flavorful delights. Explore a variety of flavors at Mercado González’s Puestos / Food Stands, where each stand offers a unique culinary adventure. Customers are able to savor sweet churros and sip seven types of hot chocolate from the famous Mexico City Churreria El Moro (a Mexico City landmark since 1935), indulge in crispy and succulent carnitas at Carnitas Don Miguel, relish a Chiva Torta by Familia Albarran, and enjoy Tacos Los Guichos from Familia Zenteno. Mercado has something to please every palate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

All of the corn tortillas are made fresh throughout the day in the exhibition Tortilleria La Gonzalez located just as you enter the Mercado.

The Mercado even offers destination fine dining with Maizano. “Jorge Salim and Javier Hernandez Pons, the dynamic duo from the team behind beloved Los Angeles restaurants LA Cha Cha Chá in Arts District and Loreto in Elysian Valley, operate a new restaurant in Mercado called Maizano, a concept that is a homage to revered Mexican culinary and social traditions, and, as the name suggests, Mexican heirloom corn. Specifically, dishes such as mole, sopa de Lima, and a variety of memelas and tetelas are standouts.”

“One of the most exciting features of Mercado González is the showcase of breathtaking murals created by renowned Mexican artists from Guadalajara including Claudio Limón. His artistry captures the essence of Mexican culture, infusing each mural with the vivid colors and infectious joy that are hallmarks of Mexico. As customers explore the store, they will experience all the hand-painted signage on the Puestos and about eight murals.”

The attention to details is impressive. The carefully curated music in the seven zones of the Mercado changes throughout the day including in the (soon to be expanded) Dining Patio.

Representing the 3rd generation of proud Gonzalez Family ownership is Joshua Gonzalez who is also the project Manager for Mercado Gonzalez. Joshua is our guide to all the enticing wonders of Mercado Gonzalez.

Show 571, March 30, 2024: Mercado Gonzalez, Costa Mesa, with Project Manager Joshua Gonzalez Part Two

Joshua Gonzalez of Northgate Markets

Three generations of the Gonzalez Family have been in the grocery business in Southern California with the very popular Northgate Gonzalez Markets. Now they are pioneering a new, first of its kind in the United States shopping experience with the arrival of the long-in-the-works Mercado Gonzalez in Costa Mesa.

It’s a 70,000 square foot culinary wonder of truly mouth-watering authentic foods representing many regions of Mexico with some 20 Puestos (Food Stands) “teeming with vibrant colors, enticing aromas, and an array of flavorful delights. Explore a variety of flavors at Mercado González’s Puestos / Food Stands, where each stand offers a unique culinary adventure. Customers are able to savor sweet churros and sip seven types of hot chocolate from the famous Mexico City Churreria El Moro (a Mexico City landmark since 1935), indulge in crispy and succulent carnitas at Carnitas Don Miguel, relish a Chiva Torta by Familia Albarran, and enjoy Tacos Los Guichos from Familia Zenteno. Mercado has something to please every palate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

All of the corn tortillas are made fresh throughout the day in the exhibition Tortilleria La Gonzalez located just as you enter the Mercado.

The Mercado even offers destination fine dining with Maizano. “Jorge Salim and Javier Hernandez Pons, the dynamic duo from the team behind beloved Los Angeles restaurants LA Cha Cha Chá in Arts District and Loreto in Elysian Valley, operate a new restaurant in Mercado called Maizano, a concept that is a homage to revered Mexican culinary and social traditions, and, as the name suggests, Mexican heirloom corn. Specifically, dishes such as mole, sopa de Lima, and a variety of memelas and tetelas are standouts.”

“One of the most exciting features of Mercado González is the showcase of breathtaking murals created by renowned Mexican artists from Guadalajara including Claudio Limón. His artistry captures the essence of Mexican culture, infusing each mural with the vivid colors and infectious joy that are hallmarks of Mexico. As customers explore the store, they will experience all the hand-painted signage on the Puestos and about eight murals.”

The attention to details is impressive. The carefully curated music in the seven zones of the Mercado changes throughout the day including in the (soon to be expanded) Dining Patio.

Representing the 3rd generation of proud Gonzalez Family ownership is Joshua Gonzalez who is also the project Manager for Mercado Gonzalez. Joshua continues as our guide to all the enticing wonders of Mercado Gonzalez.

Show 571, March 30, 2024: Chef Andrew Gruel, Co-Host and Proprietor of Calico Fish House, with “Ask the Chef”

Chef Andrew Gruel of Big Parm and the Calico Fish House

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel, the menu-maker behind the full-service Calico Fish House (in the Sunset Beach area of Huntington Beach) and also the founder and pizzaiola of the fast-casual Big Parm (New Jersey-style pizza) located in the Mess Hall in Tustin provides another timely and informative Ask the Chef segment where he responds to listeners’ thoughtful inquiries.

French Fries…! There is nothing better than fresh-cut, perfectly crisp fries. Something that seems so simple, however, is rarely done right. Chef Andrew shares his perfected technique. (Rescheduled from last week.)

Look for Chef Andrew’s new cooking video with Cathy Thomas on Orange Coast Magazine. He prepares One-Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Potatoes (from Melissa’s), mushrooms, and garbanzo beans.

Check out Chef Andrew’s handy and practical cooking tips on Substack at “American Gravy.” There is an accessible free level as well as a premium option with a modest cost.

Show 570, March 23, 2024: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

“The story of Copia Vineyards begins with the passion of Anita and Varinder Sahi, their shared love of wine and the beauty of its source. The Sahis each had different paths to this world. He has an engineering and business background, and she is a restaurant and marketing veteran. He globetrotted for work and his love for wine grew. She worked side-by-side with some of the finest restaurateurs and Michelin-starred chefs, cultivating her zeal for fine food and wine. Their shared interests, entrepreneurship and life’s ever-winding path sparked a trip to Paso Robles Wine Country in 2015. Essentially, they never left. In 2017, the Sahis’ search to find a special site to produce world-class Rhône and Bordeaux varietals was successful. They became the proud stewards of 50 acres of paradise-on-earth in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. It is now a veritable winemaker’s dream with nearly 40,000 vines planted in 24 distinct blocks. In 2022, their estate grew to include 26 acres of dramatic landscape in the Adelaida District. The vines on the Copia Estate are now producing some of the most opulent, concentrated fruit with densely rich varietal characteristics.” Anita and Varinder Sahi join us to gently pull the cork on all that is Copia Vineyards and Winery.

“In 2017, VOX Kitchen opened in the heart of Little Saigon, bringing the ‘Chifa’ culinary movement —a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines—to Orange County. The award-winning restaurant entered into 2024 with an expanded kitchen and dining room, new menu offerings, and a second location set to open in late 2024 at South Coast Plaza. The expansion allows Founder and Executive Chef Viet Ngyuen to dig deeper into the culinary ethos of VOX Kitchen and explore Chifa cuisine through the lens of seafood, a staple in Peru. VOX Kitchen is one of nearly a dozen pan-Asian fusion restaurants under the KEI Concepts umbrella, a trailblazing culinary group helmed by Nguyen. As the group’s founder, CEO, and executive chef, Nguyen is passionate about connecting diverse communities through the universal language of food – an ethos evident across all his concepts. Nguyen sees each restaurant as a canvas for this mission, where the culinary creations are not just dishes but cultural ambassadors.” Founder and Executive Chef Viet Nguyen is our guest.

“Indulge in a decadent world of sweetness at the 11th Annual Big Island Chocolate Festival (BICF) in Hawaii presented by the Kona Cacao Association, taking place on April 26-27, 2024, at the beautiful beach-front Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa on the Big Island of Hawaii. The BICF promises an unforgettable experience filled with chocolate cooking demonstrations, cacao growing presentations, and the most festive walk-around gala of all galas! This year the theme as ‘Mystical Chocolate Masquerade’ and guests are encouraged to dress up, wear masks and get creative to win tickets to the 2025 event. Picture a venue adorned with rich colors, luxurious velvet, and opulent gold accents, creating the perfect backdrop for an evening of sweet enchantment.” Farsheed Bonakdar, President of the organizing Kona Cacao Association joins us with a ripe cacao pod in hand along with a bar of pure Hawaiian chocolate.

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel, the menu-maker behind the full-service Calico Fish House (in the Sunset Beach area of Huntington Beach) and also the founder and pizzaiola of the fast-casual Big Parm (New Jersey-style pizza) located in the Mess Hall in Tustin provides another timely and informative “Ask the Chef” segment where he responds to listeners’ thoughtful inquiries. Restaurants in California are still struggling to fully recover from the pandemic and now there are more storm clouds on the horizon. Insurance underwriters in California are frequently now not renewing restaurants’ policies. Chef Andrew provides the concerning overview.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

Show 570, March 23, 2024: Copia Vineyards & Winery, Paso Robles, with Anita and Varinder Sahi Part One

Anita and Varinder Sahi of Copia Vineyards and Winery

“The abridged story of Copia Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles: Passionate curiosity, tireless effort and a sense of gratitude.”

“The word Copia is a Latin root word that means abundance or plenty. It’s an apt name for a winery that is created by two people who have always chased the glass half full.”

“The story of Copia Vineyards begins with the passion of Anita and Varinder Sahi, their shared love of wine and the beauty of its source. The Sahis each had different paths to this world. He has an engineering and business background, and she is a restaurant and marketing veteran. He globetrotted for work and his love for wine grew. She worked side-by-side with some of the finest restaurateurs and Michelin-starred chefs, cultivating her zeal for fine food and wine. Their shared interests, entrepreneurship and life’s ever-winding path sparked a trip to Paso Robles Wine Country in 2015. Essentially, they never left.”

“In 2017, the Sahis’ search to find a special site to produce world-class Rhône and Bordeaux varietals was successful. They became the proud stewards of 50 acres of paradise-on-earth in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. It is now a veritable winemaker’s dream with nearly 40,000 vines planted in 24 distinct blocks. In 2022, their estate grew to include 26 acres of dramatic landscape in the Adelaida District where the Tasting Room is now located. Both vineyard sites have breathtakingly beautiful slopes, calcareous soils and strong marine influence. Simply put, the Sahis believe that these vineyards are legendary. The vines on the Copia Estate are now producing some of the most opulent, concentrated fruit with densely rich varietal characteristics.”

“Guests are invited to experience Anita and Varinder Sahi’s tireless passion for premium winemaking, cutting edge viticulture and warm hospitality in equal measure. Copia’s Adelaida Vineyard Estate offers a lux oasis for guests to enjoy a signature wine flight of premium wines with a curated culinary pairing. The 60 to 90 minute in-depth experience takes place in their modern Tasting Room and cozy outdoor patio areas (weather permitting).” Appointments are recommended.

Anita and Varinder Sahi join us to gently pull the cork on all that is Copia Vineyards and Winery.

Show 570, March 23, 2024: Copia Vineyards & Winery, Paso Robles, with Anita and Varinder Sahi Part Two

Anita and Varinder Sahi of Copia Vineyards and Winery

“The story of Copia Vineyards begins with the passion of Anita and Varinder Sahi, their shared love of wine and the beauty of its source. The Sahis each had different paths to this world. He has an engineering and business background, and she is a restaurant and marketing veteran. He globetrotted for work and his love for wine grew. She worked side-by-side with some of the finest restaurateurs and Michelin-starred chefs, cultivating her zeal for fine food and wine. Their shared interests, entrepreneurship and life’s ever-winding path sparked a trip to Paso Robles Wine Country in 2015. Essentially, they never left.”

“In 2017, the Sahis’ search to find a special site to produce world-class Rhône and Bordeaux varietals was successful. They became the proud stewards of 50 acres of paradise-on-earth in the Willow Creek District of Paso Robles. It is now a veritable winemaker’s dream with nearly 40,000 vines planted in 24 distinct blocks. In 2022, their estate grew to include 26 acres of dramatic landscape in the Adelaida District where the Tasting Room is now located. Both vineyard sites have breathtakingly beautiful slopes, calcareous soils and strong marine influence. Simply put, the Sahis believe that these vineyards are legendary. The vines on the Copia Estate are now producing some of the most opulent, concentrated fruit with densely rich varietal characteristics.”

“Guests are invited to experience Anita and Varinder Sahi’s tireless passion for premium winemaking, cutting edge viticulture and warm hospitality in equal measure. Copia’s Adelaida Vineyard Estate offers a lux oasis for guests to enjoy a signature wine flight of premium wines with a curated culinary pairing. The 60 to 90 minute in-depth experience takes place in their modern Tasting Room and cozy outdoor patio areas (weather permitting).” Appointments are recommended.

Anita and Varinder Sahi continue with us artfully pulling the cork on all that is Copia Vineyards and Winery.

Show 570, March 23, 2024: VOX Kitchen, Fountain Valley, with Founder & Executive Chef Viet Nguyen Part One

Viet Nugyen of VOX Kitchen

“In 2017, VOX Kitchen opened in the heart of Little Saigon, bringing the ‘Chifa’ culinary movement —a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian cuisines—to Orange County. The award-winning restaurant entered into 2024 with an expanded kitchen and dining room, new menu offerings, and a second location set to open in late 2024 at South Coast Plaza. The expansion allows Founder and Executive Chef Viet Ngyuen to dig deeper into the culinary ethos of VOX Kitchen and explore Chifa cuisine through the lens of seafood, a staple in Peru.”

“VOX Kitchen is one of nearly a dozen pan-Asian fusion restaurants under the KEI Concepts umbrella, a trailblazing culinary group helmed by Nguyen. As the group’s founder, CEO, and executive chef, Nguyen is passionate about connecting diverse communities through the universal language of food – an ethos evident across all his concepts. Nguyen sees each restaurant as a canvas for this mission, where the culinary creations are not just dishes but cultural ambassadors.”

“In January Nguyen unveiled an enhanced VOX Kitchen—a testament to his unwavering commitment to the brand’s innovative ethos. The enlarged dining room, boasting an additional 60 seats, elevates the restaurant’s capacity to 120, creating a more immersive dining experience. This expanded space serves as a canvas for Nguyen to not only diversify his menu offerings but also to introduce an open-concept kitchen.”

“Culinary creativity is a borderless concept,” comments Nguyen. “Culture and cuisine are powerful connectors, giving people a sense of pride and identity. With all our restaurants, our mission is to celebrate culture while bridging diverse communities through the universal language of food.”

“Nguyen opened his first restaurant, Súp Noodle Bar, in 2014 and since has grown the KEI Concepts roster to include, VOX Kitchen, Gem Dining, Nep Café, ROL Hand Roll Bar, Kin Izakaya, and INI Ristorante, all of which offer distinct interpretations of pan-Asian dining experiences pulling global influence from Italian, French, and Japanese cuisines.”

Founder and Executive Chef Viet Nguyen is our guest.