Show 423, May 1, 2021: Restaurateur & Executive Chef Amar Santana, The Hall, Vaca and Broadway

Amar Santana at the Finale of Top Chef

Orange County notable Amar Santana, the well-known chef of Vaca and The Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza, as well as Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, has returned to Bravo’s Top Chef Season 18 with a twist.

“This current Season, Chef Amar traded his cheftestant toque for a seat at the prestigious Judge’s Table. He was selected to be part of an elite rotating judging and dining panel made up of Top Chef All Star winners and finalists.”

“Santana, in a tight finale, ended Season 13 as the Top Chef runner-up. The ranking was made more impressive as he battled his way back to the win in “Last Chance Kitchen” where eliminated chefs compete for the wild card spot in the finale.”

“Portland, Oregon is the setting for the new season of Top Chef. Production took place last fall under rigid COVID-19 protocols and devastating wildfires. Santana was on hand for the first eight episodes including the popular “Restaurant Wars” competition.” We chat with Chef Amar about his perspective of the behind-the-scenes of the production. There was an ethnic chicken and rice dish sourced from a nearby stationary food truck that was especially popular for delivery.

Top Chef Season 18 currently airs Thursday at 8 p.m. PDT. The long-running culinary reality show has garnered more than 32 Emmy nominations and two wins over 13 years.

“Santana’s long-standing relationship with South Coast Plaza began in 2008 when the graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (and a C-CAP alum and scholarship recipient from High School) was hand-picked by Chef Charlie Palmer to open his eponymous restaurant at Bloomingdale’s. It was there Santana first worked with restaurateur Ahmed Labbate, another veteran of Palmer’s restaurant empire. The two subsequently went on to partner in three thriving restaurants in the competitive Orange County dining scene.” (Locations in South Coast Plaza and Laguna Beach.)

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Show 384, August 1, 2020: Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate and Partner / Executive Chef Amar Santana of The Hall Global Eatery

Ahmed Labatte and Amar Santana of Vaca Restaurant GroupExecutive Chef & Restaurateur Amar Santana and Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate have reopened The Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza for dine-in on their comfortable, shaded front patio or for curbside pickup. The extensive fast-casual menu is available at the Mediterranean Grill including hand-carved Shawarma, Babaganoush and Hummus. A selection of cocktails from master barman Michael Rooney, beer and wine are available to enjoy on the patio or To-Go. The grab and go Patisserie features a wide variety of baked goods, salads, sandwiches, coffee and juices.

The former full-service Crudo and Charcuterie Bar has been reimagined with the addition of a selection of made-to-order (and customizable) Poke. Guests, to start, have their choice of two proteins including Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Albacore, Octopus, Spicy Tuna, Scallop, King Crab or Tofu. From there a diner has a choice of five toppings from an available selection of 13 options.

Chef Amar’s and Ahmed’s other pair of popular restaurants, Vaca adjacent to South Coast Plaza and Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, are again accommodating guests with full-service patio dining and curbside pickup and delivery.

Chef Amar Santana and Ahmed Labbate are with us providing all the enticing details.

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Show 233, July 22, 2017: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Program Note for Saturday, July 29th. The Halos are playing the Blue Jays in Toronto during our normal broadcast time so we’re graciously stepping aside. All is still well because we simply shift to 2 to 4:00 p.m. the afternoon of July 29th only. Same packed show…Please join us then and don’t keep it a secret

Now a worthy preview of this Saturday’s abundant show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case, upon careful reflection, that’s probably a pretty good thing…

We always look forward to sharing with you the new, creative taste sensations at The Orange County Fair on now through August 13th. Already creating excitement is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on virtually everything edible including pizza. The master of midway food himself, Chef Dominic Palmieri, the Midway Gourmet, joins us for the tempting high calorie update.

DINE LBC Long Beach Restaurant Week is set for August 5th through August 13th, 2017. More than 60 diverse Long Beach restaurants spanning 12 neighborhoods will offer special multi-course menus at affordable prices. New to DINE LBC is Great Society Cider & Mead, Southern California’s first all-cider pub located on Broadway at the edge of Downtown. They serve an unusual selection of draft ciders and meads in addition to the expected craft beers. We’ll meet the proprietor, Otto Radtke.

On Thursday evening, August 10th Chef Amar Santana’s Vaca in Costa Mesa is hosting a sumptuous, 7-course wine-paired dinner with an abundance of passed hors d’oeuvre as a festive Friends of James Beard Foundation Benefit to celebrate South Coast Plaza’s 50th Anniversary. VACA Group Partner & CEO Ahmed Labbate provides the enticing preview.

Brea’s popular Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen has just opened a second location in The Market Place in Irvine. Proprietor Don Myers, a veteran restaurateur, is our guest.

If all the delicate, closed-door negotiations between The The International Olympic Committee (IOC), Paris and Los Angeles go well Los Angeles will host the Olympics for the third time in either 2024 or 2028. What does it all mean? Our Olympics expert, Richard B. Perelman, joins us with a true insider’s perspective. Rich was the youngest Vice President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) for the 1984 Games and also was the Editor of the official 1984 Olympic Games Final Report, a massive two-volume book.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s show!

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July 23: Midway Gourmet, Great Society Cider & Mead, Vaca, Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen, LA Olympics 2024

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Dominic Palmieri, The Midway Gourmet, OC Fair Part One
Segment Three: Dominic Palmieri, The Midway Gourmet, OC Fair Part Two
Segment Four: Otto Radtke, Great Society Cider & Mead, DINE LBC – Long Beach Restaurant Week
Segment Five: Ahmed Labbate, VACA Group, Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner at Vaca
Segment Six: Restaurateur Don Myers, Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen Part One
Segment Seven: Restaurateur Don Myers, Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen Part Two
Segment Eight: Olympic Historian Richard B. Perelman, Editor & Publisher – The Sports Examiner

Program Note for Saturday, July 29th. The Halos are playing the Blue Jays in Toronto during our normal broadcast time so we’re graciously stepping aside. All is still well because we simply shift to 2 to 4:00 p.m. the afternoon of July 29th only. Same packed show…Please join us then and don’t keep it a secret

Now a worthy preview of this Saturday’s abundant show. It’s not, with profuse apologies, for dieters. If we’re successful we will always leave you incredibly hungry and thirsty. In our case, upon careful reflection, that’s probably a pretty good thing…

We always look forward to sharing with you the new, creative taste sensations at The Orange County Fair on now through August 13th. Already creating excitement is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on virtually everything edible including pizza. The master of midway food himself, Chef Dominic Palmieri, the Midway Gourmet, joins us for the tempting high calorie update.

DINE LBC Long Beach Restaurant Week is set for August 5th through August 13th, 2017. More than 60 diverse Long Beach restaurants spanning 12 neighborhoods will offer special multi-course menus at affordable prices. New to DINE LBC is Great Society Cider & Mead, Southern California’s first all-cider pub located on Broadway at the edge of Downtown. They serve an unusual selection of draft ciders and meads in addition to the expected craft beers. We’ll meet the proprietor, Otto Radtke.

On Thursday evening, August 10th Chef Amar Santana’s Vaca in Costa Mesa is hosting a sumptuous, 7-course wine-paired dinner with an abundance of passed hors d’oeuvre as a festive Friends of James Beard Foundation Benefit to celebrate South Coast Plaza’s 50th Anniversary. VACA Group Partner & CEO Ahmed Labbate provides the tempting preview.

Brea’s popular Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen has just opened a second location in The Market Place in Irvine. Proprietor Don Myers, a veteran restaurateur, is our guest.

If all the delicate, closed-door negotiations between The International Olympic Committee (IOC), Paris and Los Angeles go well Los Angeles will host the Olympics for the third time in either 2024 or 2028. What does it all mean? Our Olympics expert, Richard B. Perelman, joins us with a true insider’s perspective. Rich was the youngest Vice President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) for the 1984 Games and also was the Editor of the official 1984 Olympic Games Final Report, a massive two-volume book.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s show!

Dominic Palmieri of Midway GourmetWe always look forward to sharing with you the new, creative taste sensations at The Orange County Fair on now through August 13th. Already creating excitement from The Midway Gourmet is Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on virtually everything edible including pizza and fresh corn.

Last year, 50% of Fairgoers surveyed said their favorite part of the Fair is the food. Fried, sugary or savory – and sometimes all three at once – the delectable edibles are some of the big stars of the OC Fair.

New from RCS Cowboy Kettle Corn is Unicorn Nitro Pop, a cotton candy ring around a colorful cup of kettle corn and whipped cream, submerged in liquid nitrogen (also available: Nitro Whip)

The master of midway food himself, Chef Dominic Palmieri, the Midway Gourmet, joins us for the tempting, high calorie update.

One of Chef Dominic’s returning star items is Fried A Fair’s deep-fried butter balls with maple syrup. Four to an order. The Orange County’s Register food staff writer, Nancy Luna, has already declared it one of her all-time Fair favorites.

Ottto RadtkeDINE LBC Long Beach Restaurant Week is set for August 5th through August 13th, 2017. More than 60 diverse Long Beach restaurants spanning 12 neighborhoods will offer special multi-course menus at affordable prices. New to DINE LBC is Great Society Cider & Mead, Southern California’s first all-cider pub located on Broadway at the edge of Downtown. They serve an unusual selection of draft ciders and meads in addition to the expected craft beers.

“A social house where fine food, craft cider and mead set the stage for conversations between old and new friends alike, Great Society has the largest selection of craft cider and meads in all of Southern California. Featuring 20 draughts and more in bottles, our extensive cider and mead list showcases craft producers from nearly every corner of the world. You’ll find flavors and profiles ranging from sweet to sour, still to sparkling, barrel-aged to hopped, rare to near-impossible to find.”

“Complementing this incredible list, our food menu fuses seasonal offerings with unexpected spicing to create dishes that don’t just taste great, but pair well with whatever profile you choose. Try our signature burger with an unfiltered whiskey barrel-aged cider from Michigan; or an artisanal cheese plate with a tart, lightly sparkling Sidra from the Basque region of Spain. There’s a variety of pairings to tantalize your taste buds.”

“With its origins lost in history, cider remains the most noble of beverages, having played a role in Old and New World alike. These ancient elixirs, fermented mainly from apples, have been the drink of kings and presidents, farmers and the working class. Though its fortunes have occasionally wavered, cider’s incredible diversity, and close connection with the land, has led to an amazing renaissance. Cider is a beverage that deserves homage and we are the first restaurant and taphouse in Southern California to feature it!”

We’ll meet the proprietor, Otto Radtke.

Ahmed LabatteOn Thursday evening, August 10th Chef Amar Santana’s Vaca in Costa Mesa is hosting a sumptuous, 7-course, premium wine-paired dinner with an abundance of passed hors d’oeuvre as a festive Friends of James Beard Foundation Benefit to celebrate South Coast Plaza’s 50th Anniversary. Chef Amar is also well-known locally for Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna beach and as the runner-up from lucky Season 13 of Bravo’s “Top Chef” in what the judges noted was the tightest final competition of the series’ long history!

Santana and partner Ahmed Labbate, whose roots together at South Coast Plaza go back to 2008 when they opened Charlie Palmer, will welcome 100 discriminating guests with a love of food and wine to the Beard dinner. Santana is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

The festivities on August 10 will include a small silent auction during an al fresco reception. While enjoying the signature Vaca Tonic and hors d’oeuvres, guests may peruse deluxe offerings, which will include a LVMH luxury Champagne experience for 16 guests; packages from South Coast Plaza, the Montage Laguna Beach and Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, unique dining experiences, luxury travel destinations, and high-end wines.

Seats are $350 and $300 for members of the James Beard Foundation, all inclusive. For reservations to the Friends of James Beard Dinner at Vaca, please register online here. For more information, please contact VACA GM Ghali Benhima at 714.463.6060. A credit card will be requested to secure the reservation.

VACA Group Partner & CEO Ahmed Labbate provides the tempting preview.

Don Myers of Cha Cha's Latin Kitchen in Brea and IrvineBrea’s popular Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen has just opened a second location in The Market Place in Irvine.

“Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen was born out of a love and passion for Latin cuisine…”

“The Latin inspired menu adapts the culinary heritage of Mexico and Latin America to a fresh modern style. In the open kitchen guests can watch savory dishes being prepared in the wood-fired oven, while free-range Jidori chickens roast to perfection and tacos are topped with house-made fire-roasted salsa.”

Proprietor Don Myers (also Brunos Italian Kitchen), a veteran restaurateur, is our guest.

“In the Lounge the lively sound of handcrafted cocktails being shaken provides the backdrop. These tequila libations utilize freshly squeezed juices, house-made infusions, and fresh seasonal fruit. A variety of popular and boutique wineries from the Central Coast, Spain and South America also add a great complement to any meal.”

Don Myers started his restaurant career at the young age of fourteen in Tucson, Arizona at the fifty-year-old Casa Molina Mexican Restaurant. He graduated from the University of Arizona and was a four -year varsity athlete and competitive international gymnast.

In 2008, Don created P&D Restaurant Concept that now boasts two award-winning restaurants. He was later featured in OC Metro and named the “Unofficial Mayor of Brea” in 2013 for his leadership role in the revival of Brea Downtown. In 2014, Myers and his business partner Peter Serantoni were named Orange County Business Journal’s Restaurateurs of The Year.

If all the hush-hush, closed-door negotiations between The International Olympic Committee (IOC), Paris and Los Angeles go well Los Angeles will host the Olympics again for the 3rd time in either 2024 or 2028. What does it all mean? Can a modern Olympics even break-even for the host city?

Rich PerelmanOur Olympics expert and historian, Richard B. Perelman, joins us with a true insider’s perspective. Rich was the youngest Vice President of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) for the 1984 Games and also was the Editor of the 1984 Olympic Games Final Report, a massive two-volume book.

In his daily e-newsletter, The Sports Examiner, Perelman suggested the simultaneous dual city awards for 2024 and 2028 (and the reasoning for this unprecedented approach) weeks before it was reported on in the mainstream media as even a possibility for the IOC to consider.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Dominic Palmieri, The Midway Gourmet, OC Fair Part One
Segment Three: Dominic Palmieri, The Midway Gourmet, OC Fair Part Two
Segment Four: Otto Radtke, Great Society Cider & Mead, DINE LBC – Long Beach Restaurant Week
Segment Five: Ahmed Labbate, VACA Group, Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner at Vaca
Segment Six: Restaurateur Don Myers, Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen Part One
Segment Seven: Restaurateur Don Myers, Cha Cha’s Latin Kitchen Part Two
Segment Eight: Olympic Historian Richard B. Perelman, Editor & Publisher – The Sports Examiner

Show 134, August 8, 2015: Chef Amar Santana, Broadway by Amar Santana, Laguna Beach

Amar SantanaIt’s safe to say Chef Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach has created quite a following for himself in Orange County. He was recently recognized by the Orange County Register as one of the five top toques. Not bad for a 33-year old who immigrated to the United States when he was 13.

Broadway by Amar Santana, located in the heart of beautiful Laguna Beach, opened in 2011. The restaurant evokes the culinary style and ambiance of New York City where Chef Amar received his early culinary training.

Inspired by the legitimate theaters in Manhattan, award-winning Chef Amar along with his partners Ahmed Labbate and Rich Cadarette, create an atmosphere where the food becomes the main show. The restaurant’s menu is inspired by the creativity of Santana and his version of Modern Cuisine of The Americas. It features top quality ingredients, with a focus on local farmers who can provide the menu’s seasonal requirements.

The interior reflects an industrial New York look with an open kitchen that is center stage. There are six coveted seats at the chef’s table overlooking the activity of the kitchen. One of the restaurants’ distinctive features is an intimate speakeasy cocktail bar with master bartenders and classic libations.

Labbate is Chef Amar’s partner and runs the front-of-the-house. They worked together previously at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales. Chef Amar gives him a lot of credit in achieving the success that Broadway is.

 

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