Show 371, May 2, 2020: Robin Christenson, Co-Founder, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana

Robin Christenson of Blinking Owl Distillery with her Hand SanitzerThe Blinking Owl Distillery in Santa Ana is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. They also are one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their tasting room and sell a few bottles of spirits. Blinking Owl crafts Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.

“Stay Safely at Home” provisions have necessitated the temporary closing of The Tasting Room. Wanting to continue serving the community and keep their employees on the job Blinking Owl has thoughtfully shifted production to hand sanitizer (licensed) under the label of Blinking Owl Dirty Bird Hand Sanitizer. So far $50,000 in hand sanitizer has been generously donated to hospitals, First Responders and restaurants in addition to bulk sales to commercial accounts!

Spirits are still available by ordering online.

Joining us from the packaging line for Dirty Bird Hand Sanitizer is Blinking Owl’s Co-founder and Chief Financial Owl, Robin Christenson.

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Show 371, May 2, 2020: Executive Chef Michael Hung, Faith & Flower, Downtown Los Angeles

Michael Hung of Faith and FlowerChef Michael Hung began his culinary career in New York City, where he dropped out of culinary school to do extended stages at acclaimed restaurants Daniel and Aquavit. Michael then followed his heart to San Francisco in 2005 and joined Traci Des Jardins’s James Beard Award-winning team at Jardiniere. His career continued for nearly a decade in San Francisco, culminating with his appointment as Chef de Cuisine at Roland Passot’s Michelin-starred La Folie. In late-2013, Michael left San Francisco for Los Angeles to open Faith & Flower where he has returned as Executive Chef.

Community service in times of need is part of Chef Michael’s makeup. His current ambitious feeding program for those in need is under the banner of Donate to Feed L.A.’s Homeless and Underserved. Chef Michael takes a break from the kitchen and joins us with the critical details.

Faith & Flower hopes to reopen in the near future featuring a limited menu of take-out.

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Show 252, December 16, 2017: Executive Chef Michael Hung, XO on Beverly, Los Angeles & Ardour Hospitality

Michael HungLocated in the heart of Los Angeles on Beverly Boulevard, close to the historic Farmer’s Market and Fairfax District, XO on Beverly delivers casual cuisine featuring a California-Asian menu and international market. Featuring dishes by acclaimed chef Michael Hung / Ardour Hospitality, XO on Beverly aims to be the center of their lively neighborhood, offering fresh seasonal cuisine in a comforting and accessible manner, with top-notch service.

Chef Michael Hung began his culinary career in New York City, where he dropped out of culinary school to do extended stages at acclaimed restaurants Daniel and Aquavit. Michael then followed his heart to San Francisco in 2005 and joined Traci Des Jardins’s James Beard Award-winning team at Jardiniere. His career continued for nearly a decade in San Francisco, culminating with his appointment as Chef de Cuisine at Roland Passot’s Michelin-starred La Folie. In 2014, Michael moved to Los Angeles to open the multi-award-winning Faith & Flower.

Chef Michael Hung is our guest.

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Show 237, August 19, 2017: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris

Now a tantalizing preview of this Saturday’s bubbling over 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…

Travel journalists and chefs Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay have taken on a new life chapter as the well-traveled, “The Cooking Ladies.”

The pair of RV-travel companions have decades of culinary wisdom behind them and thousands of miles of blacktop in the rear-view mirror. Their entertaining new cookbook and travel journal is On The Road With The Cooking Ladies – Let’s Get Grilling. We’ll meet them.

Time to pull the cork on another installment of accessible wine wisdom from our resident (and down-to-earth) wine authority Kyle Meyer, the Managing Partner of Wine Exchange. What wines pair best with SoCal’s engagingly eclectic varieties of cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Mexican? Think lightly fruity wines. Also, the new Spanish and Italian whites matched with seafood. A myriad of appealing possibilities…

Hatch Chile season is upon us! Fresh Hatch Chiles, grown only in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico, are available for just a few short weeks each year in August and September. Many connoisseurs consider them the world’s tastiest chiles. Melissa’s World Variety Produce has led the charge in popularizing the coveted Hatch Chiles and developing many great recipes using them. Their Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez, joins us to discuss the joys of Hatch Chile season. Chef Ida grew up with Hatch Chiles.

Santa Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.

Our always on-the-go show Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, has been on the road extensively since he was last in-studio. The ambitious itinerary was production for Food Network, New Jersey, New York, London, Orlando, Washington, D.C. and now a new Slapfish opening in Sandy, Utah. We’ll reel him in from the kitchen for a visit.

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

Play

Show 237, August 19, 2017: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana

Brian and Robin ChristensonSanta Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.

“We are locavores, grain nerds, and control freaks so we decided to actually make our booze the long way: from grain rather than pre-made spirit. We mill it, mash it, ferment it, distill it, and, in the case of whiskey, barrel age it (which means we will not have a 9-year old Bourbon to sell until 9 years from now).”

“The Founder, Brian Christenson, had a bootlegging great-grandfather, Fred P. Armbrust. Fred had a still on his dairy farm hidden in the basement behind secret passageways. He would covertly provide his local farmers with his “good spirits”. Brian’s dream is to carry on Fred’s passion by providing “good spirits” to our very own neighborhood, legally, of course!”

Brian and Robin Christenson, longtime Santa Ana residents, had heard stories of the midcentury “Blinking Owl Bar” on the corner of Birch and Third Streets, known for an iconic owl sign that would “blink”. Inspired by the craft cocktail movement, the farm-to-table food movement, and current thriving craft distilleries, the husband and wife team saw an opportunity to bring a local distillery to the neighborhood, paying homage to the history of Santa Ana.”

Brian & Robin step out from behind the long bar in their Tasting Room to join us.

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Show 237, August 19, 2017: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana Continue…

Brian and Robin ChristensonSanta Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.’

The Products

BLINKING OWL VODKA
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Blinking Owl Vodka has stunning earthiness, subtle flavor and rich, full-bodied mouth feel. Distilled in house from organic wheat grown in California, and our unique twist from the organic malted barley that was added to the mash bill adding hints of sweet vanilla and caramel. Distilled in our Carl still from Germany (that includes 34 rectification plates alongside a pot still), Blinking Owl Vodka transfers the essence from the grain it was made from to the glass.”

BLINKING OWL
OC ORANGE
Flavored Vodka
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Beginning with our beautiful Vodka, we add 130 pounds of whole Valencia oranges that come from Heritage Museum of Orange County. We hand-cut the oranges and let the entire orange soak (including flesh, pith, juice and peel) in the Vodka overnight. The vodka is then re-distilled with oranges added to our vapor basket in the still. The combination of natural orange macerations and vapor distillation to an already rich, sweet vodka base creates a true orange essence to this flavored vodka that is full-bodied and delicious. Heritage Museum of Orange County.”

BLINKING OWL AQUAVIT
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“We set out to make an aquavit reminiscent of the great Aquavits of Scandinavia but with a California twist. After crafting our base spirit with organic wheat and malted barley, we macerate 10 gorgeous organic botanicals (with a final steep in Caraway, leaving a natural golden hue). The primary flavors of our Aquavit are caraway, fresh dill, and hibiscus (the flower of Santa Ana), with undertones of fennel and cardamom. The result is a complex aquavit that can served chilled as a digestif or can add incredible flavors to a variety of cocktails.”

OLD TOM Barrel Vacationed GIN
48% ABV (96 PROOF)
“Our super special limited release of Old Tom Barrel Vacationed Gin is coming out soon!

We get a limited number of late harvest semillon wine barrels from a prestigious Napa producer each year. These particular barrels not only allow the Gin to age, but they also impart a hint of sweetness from the late harvest semillon they were previously holding.

This BARREL VACATIONED OLD TOM GIN basically took a vacation in the barrels for approximately 3 months, got a nice tan, and picked up a lucious hint of sweetness (thus we categorized it as an Old Tom). No sugar, flavoring, or coloring was added. The end result is pure, delicious liquid gold!”

Many have been waiting and asking to get on the presale list. The Gin is ready, it will be bottled soon at 48% ABV and released late-August. Each bottle will be numbered for this annual release and will only be sold from our tasting room.

This is owner, Robin Christenson’s, personal favorite and she having a very tough time not buying all of this gin herself. BUT she has decided to find it in her heart to share (at least some of it).”

Play

August 19: The Cooking Ladies, Wine Exchange, Melissa’s Hatch Chiles, Blinking Owl Distillery

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Phyllis Hinz & Lamont Mackay, The Cooking Ladies Part One
Segment Three: Phyllis Hinz & Lamont Mackay, The Cooking Ladies Part Two
Segment Four: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, Wine Pairing Wisdom
Segment Five: Melissa’s Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez. Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook
Segment Six: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana Part One
Segment Seven: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana Part Two
Segment Eight: Chef Andrew Gruel, Founder & CEO, Slapfish Restaurant Group

Now a tantalizing preview of this Saturday’s bubbling over 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…

Travel journalists and chefs Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay have taken on a new life chapter as the well-traveled, “The Cooking Ladies.”

The pair of RV-travel companions have decades of culinary wisdom behind them and thousands of miles of blacktop in the rear-view mirror. Their entertaining new cookbook and travel journal is On The Road With The Cooking Ladies – Let’s Get Grilling. We’ll meet them.

Time to pull the cork on another installment of accessible wine wisdom from our resident (and down-to-earth) wine authority Kyle Meyer, the Managing Partner of Wine Exchange. What wines pair best with SoCal’s engagingly eclectic varieties of cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Mexican? Think lightly fruity wines. Also, the new Spanish and Italian whites matched with seafood. A myriad of appealing possibilities…

Hatch Chile season is upon us! Fresh Hatch Chiles, grown only in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico, are available for just a few short weeks each year in August and September. Many connoisseurs consider them the world’s tastiest chiles. Melissa’s World Variety Produce has led the charge in popularizing the coveted Hatch Chiles and developing many great recipes using them. Their Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez, joins us to discuss the joys of Hatch Chile season. Chef Ida grew up with Hatch Chiles.

Santa Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.

Our always on-the-go show Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, has been on the road extensively since he was last in-studio. The ambitious itinerary was production for Food Network, New Jersey, New York, London, Orlando, Washington, D.C. and now a new Slapfish opening in Sandy, Utah. We’ll reel him in from the kitchen for a visit.

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

Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay are the Cooking LadiesAccomplished travel journalists and chefs, Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay. have taken on a new life chapter as the well-traveled “The Cooking Ladies.”

The pair of RV-travel companions have decades of culinary wisdom behind them and thousands of miles of blacktop in the rear-view mirror. Their entertaining new cookbook and travel journal is On The Road With The Cooking Ladies – Let’s Get Grilling. We’ll meet them.

In Let’s Get Grilling, The Cooking Ladies set their GPS coordinates to North America’s greatest grilling destinations, with over a hundred ready-to-grill recipes inspired by their travels. The Cooking Ladies highlight North American grilling cuisine at its finest. It’s a testament to the people and places that make this food all that it can be.

Interspersed with freewheeling tales of life on the road, Let’s Get Grilling maps out easy-to-follow directions for preparing the best smoked meats, grilled veggies, cookout staples, and much more.

The book chronicles their latest adventure, collecting tales of culinary and cultural encounters from roadhouses to back country smoke pits, with recipes that pay tribute to the do-it-yourself spirit of the classic North American cookout.

Having surveyed a whole continent of grilling ideas, The Cooking Ladies encourage readers to expand their own horizons with regional specialties like Hot Brown and Brined Turkey Breast or Loco Moco, alongside dozens of unbeatable recipes for ribs, roasts, chicken wings, pork loin, grilled veggies, and much, much more.

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeTime to pull the cork on another installment of accessible wine wisdom from our resident (and down-to-earth) wine authority Kyle Meyer, the Managing Partner of Wine Exchange. What wines pair best with SoCal’s engagingly eclectic varieties of cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Mexican? Think lightly fruity wines.

Also, the new Spanish and Italian whites matched with seafood. A myriad of appealing possibilities…

Chef Ida Rodriquez of Melissas World Variety ProduceHatch Chile season is upon us! Fresh Hatch Chiles, grown only in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico, are available for just a few short weeks each year in August and September. Many connoisseurs consider them the world’s tastiest chiles.

Once roasted, Hatch Chiles are easy to peel and seed. Roasting heightens the robust earthy flavor of the chiles and the texture of the thick walls of the chile pod becomes lusciously rich. These unique qualities, and the pepper’s variable heat (unlike other chile peppers, Hatch Chiles come in varieties that cover the full spectrum of heat levels) have earned Hatch Chiles great popularity far beyond the local community of Hatch, New Mexico.

Melissa’s World Variety Produce has led the charge in popularizing the coveted Hatch Chiles and developing many great recipes using them. From now through mid-September Melissa’s will be sponsoring weekend Hatch Chile Roasting parties at area supermarkets including at select Gelson’s and Bristol Farms. Check the Melissa’s website for locations, dates and times.

Melissa’s Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez, joins us to discuss the joys of Hatch Chile season.

Brian and Robin ChristensonSanta Ana’s The Blinking Owl Distillery is the very first craft distillery in Orange County. The Blinking Owl is one of the first distilleries in the state of California to hold the Type 74 Craft Distillers License allowing them to operate their own tasting room and sell a few bottles there. The Distillery makes Vodka, Gin, several types of Whiskey, and the Scandinavian spirit, Aquavit.

“We are locavores, grain nerds, and control freaks so we decided to actually make our booze the long way: from grain rather than pre-made spirit. We mill it, mash it, ferment it, distill it, and, in the case of whiskey, barrel age it (which means we will not have a 9-year old Bourbon to sell until 9 years from now).”

“The Founder, Brian Christenson, had a bootlegging great-grandfather, Fred P. Armbrust. Fred had a still on his dairy farm hidden in the basement behind secret passageways. He would covertly provide his local farmers with his “good spirits”. Brian’s dream is to carry on Fred’s passion by providing “good spirits” to our very own neighborhood, legally, of course!”

Brian and Robin Christenson, longtime Santa Ana residents, had heard stories of the midcentury “Blinking Owl Bar” on the corner of Birch and Third Streets, known for an iconic owl sign that would “blink”. Inspired by the craft cocktail movement, the farm-to-table food movement, and current thriving craft distilleries, the husband and wife team saw an opportunity to bring a local distillery to the neighborhood, paying homage to the history of Santa Ana.”

Brian & Robin step out from behind the long bar in their Tasting Room to join us.

BLINKING OWL VODKA
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Blinking Owl Vodka has stunning earthiness, subtle flavor and rich, full-bodied mouth feel. Distilled in house from organic wheat grown in California, and our unique twist from the organic malted barley that was added to the mash bill adding hints of sweet vanilla and caramel. Distilled in our Carl still from Germany (that includes 34 rectification plates alongside a pot still), Blinking Owl Vodka transfers the essence from the grain it was made from to the glass.”

BLINKING OWL
OC ORANGE
Flavored Vodka
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“Beginning with our beautiful Vodka, we add 130 pounds of whole Valencia oranges that come from Heritage Museum of Orange County. We hand-cut the oranges and let the entire orange soak (including flesh, pith, juice and peel) in the Vodka overnight. The vodka is then re-distilled with oranges added to our vapor basket in the still. The combination of natural orange macerations and vapor distillation to an already rich, sweet vodka base creates a true orange essence to this flavored vodka that is full-bodied and delicious. Heritage Museum of Orange County.”

BLINKING OWL AQUAVIT
42.5% ABV (85 PROOF)
“We set out to make an aquavit reminiscent of the great Aquavits of Scandinavia but with a California twist. After crafting our base spirit with organic wheat and malted barley, we macerate 10 gorgeous organic botanicals (with a final steep in Caraway, leaving a natural golden hue). The primary flavors of our Aquavit are caraway, fresh dill, and hibiscus (the flower of Santa Ana), with undertones of fennel and cardamom. The result is a complex aquavit that can served chilled as a digestif or can add incredible flavors to a variety of cocktails.”

OLD TOM Barrel Vacationed GIN
48% ABV (96 PROOF)
“Our super special limited release of Old Tom Barrel Vacationed Gin is coming out soon!

We get a limited number of late harvest semillon wine barrels from a prestigious Napa producer each year. These particular barrels not only allow the Gin to age, but they also impart a hint of sweetness from the late harvest semillon they were previously holding.

This BARREL VACATIONED OLD TOM GIN basically took a vacation in the barrels for approximately 3 months, got a nice tan, and picked up a lucious hint of sweetness (thus we categorized it as an Old Tom). No sugar, flavoring, or coloring was added. The end result is pure, delicious liquid gold!”

Many have been waiting and asking to get on the presale list. The Gin is ready, it will be bottled soon at 48% ABV and released mid August. Each bottle will be numbered for this annual release and will only be sold from our tasting room.

This is owner, Robin Christenson’s, personal favorite and she having a very tough time not buying all of this gin herself. BUT she has decided to find it in her heart to share (at least some of it).”

Andrew and William GruelOur always on-the-go show Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, has been on the road extensively since he was last in-studio. The ambitious itinerary was production for Food Network, New Jersey, New York, London, Orlando, Washington, D.C. and now a new Slapfish opening in Sandy, Utah.

We’ll reel him in from the Slapfish kitchen in Sandy, Utah for a visit. (This is actually the 2nd Slapfish in Utah.)

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Phyllis Hinz & Lamont Mackay, The Cooking Ladies Part One
Segment Three: Phyllis Hinz & Lamont Mackay, The Cooking Ladies Part Two
Segment Four: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, Wine Pairing Wisdom
Segment Five: Melissa’s Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez. Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook
Segment Six: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana Part One
Segment Seven: Robin & Brian Christenson, Founders, Blinking Owl Distillery, Santa Ana Part Two
Segment Eight: Chef Andrew Gruel, Founder & CEO, Slapfish Restaurant Group

Show 201, December 10, 2016: Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef, Aquavit, New York

Emma BengtssonAquavit, a landmark New York-based fine dining establishment featuring the cuisine of Sweden is a classic. In the Spring of 2014 their former Pastry Chef, Emma Bengtsson, was unusually elevated to the Executive Chef post there by proprietor Hakan Swahn.

Former Aquavit Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark recruited Bengtsson in 2010 to join the restaurant as Pastry Chef. Bengtsson quickly became known for her creative interpretations of classic Scandinavian desserts, as well as establishing a new bread program. Her style was reflective of the region’s penchant for local products, progressive techniques, and continuing traditions; and it was well received, as Aquavit was recognized with one star in the Michelin Guide New York City in 2013 and 2014.

Håkan Swahn, the owner of Aquavit, saw talent and fresh perspective in Chef Bengtsson’s skillset and offered her the role of Executive Chef in spring 2014. She accepted the job, and since then has injected the critically acclaimed menu with her personal style and experience.

In October of 2015, her work garnered a second Michelin Star for Aquavit, making her the second female chef in the U.S. to run a two-star kitchen and the first ever Swedish female chef to do so.

We’ll hear Emma’s incredible story.

 

Play

December 10: Live from Lagasse’s Stadium at the Palazzo Las Vegas

Podcasts

Segment One: Daniel and Georges Daou, DAOU Vineyards & Winery
Segment Two: Young Yun, Executive Director, Mentor BKB Foundation
Segment Three: Mourad Lahlou, Owner / Chef, Mourad and Aziza, San Francisco
Segment Four: Paul Bartolotta, Executive Chef / Proprietor, The Bartolotta Restaurants
Segment Five: Chef Ming Tsai, Blue Ginger, Blue Dragon and Public Television’s “Simply Ming”
Segment Six: Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef, Aquavit, New York
Segment Seven: Chef Curtis Stone, Maude in Beverly Hills & Gwen in Hollywood
Segment Eight: Chef Scott Pajak, Chef de Cuisine, Lagasse’s Stadium, The Palazzo Resort, Las Vegas

Ultimo A Weekend ExcellenceWe’re in fabulous Las Vegas on Saturday coming to you from the radio studio at Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo on the fabled Strip.

We’re here for the 4th annual Ultimo: Le Grand Voyage, The Venetian’s and The Palazzo’s ultra-extravagant, dream food and wine weekend for 140 discriminating foodies. It’s so anticipated the food, wine and libation spectacular always sells out within a couple of days of being announced.

On to a tasty preview of Saturday’s show…

Ultimo: Le Grand Voyage shouts out for incredible wines. Each year The Grand Banquet is the stellar dining experience of the Weekend festivities with courses prepared by big-name celebrity chefs. Brothers Daniel and Georges Daou of DAOU Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles will debut their Patrimony Cabernet Sauvignon at The Grand Banquet. We’ll uncork it with them.

Young Yun is the Executive Director of the Ment’or BKB Foundation in New York, a charitable beneficiary of Ultimo Weekend. Ment’or is a leading nonprofit organization devoted to INSPIRING CULINARY EXCELLENCE in young professionals and preserving the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. Will get an update from Young on the Foundation’s busy year.

Considered by many as the pioneer of modern Moroccan cuisine in the United States, the James Beard award-nominated Mourad Lahlou (San Francisco’s Aziza and Mourad) never envisioned becoming a world-famous chef. Chef Mourad is one of the celebrity chefs preparing a course for The Grand Banquet of Ultimo Weekend at The Venetian. He’ll lift the lid on the tagine for us.

Paul Bartolotta of The Bartolotta Restaurants is a two-time, James Beard Award-winner for culinary excellence. He’s best known in Las Vegas for creating the memorable Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 which redefined high end Italian cuisine with seafood as its center. (Chef Paul is no longer associated with the renamed and repositioned restaurant as of the end of 2015.) Paul is our guest.

The Boston area’s Ming Tsai is one of the distinguished, high-profile, celebrity chefs preparing Ultimo Weekend’s Grand Banquet at the Venetian. You know Chef Ming from Food TV including his long-running acclaimed series for Public Television, “Simply Ming.” His popular restaurants in the greater Boston area are the long-running Blue Ginger and the more recent, Blue Dragon. We’ll meet him.

Aquavit, a landmark New York-based fine dining establishment featuring the cuisine of Sweden is a classic. In the Spring of 2014 their former Pastry Chef, Emma Bengtsson, was unusually elevated to the Executive Chef there post by proprietor Hakan Swahn. We’ll hear Emma’s incredible story.

Melbourne-born Chef Curtis Stone now resides in Los Angeles. In addition to being all over Food TV (“Kitchen Inferno” and the upcoming “My Kitchen Rules” on Fox), Chef Curtis has the intimate Maude in Beverly Hills and Gwen (also a butcher shop) in Hollywood. Chef Curtis, also a participating chef in The Grand Banquet, joins us.

Scott Pajak is the Chef de Cuisine at the high-volume Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo. He’s been with Emeril Lagasse since 2002 and was promoted to his current position in May of 2011. Bring on the kicked-up wings and we’ll talk hearty tailgate fare (and more) with Chef Scott.

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

Daniel DaouUltimo: Le Grand Voyage calls for incredible wines. Each year The Grand Banquet is the stellar dining experience of the Weekend festivities with courses prepared by huge celebrity chefs. Brothers Daniel and Georges Daou of DAOU Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles will debut their Patrimony Cabernet Sauvignon at The Grand Banquet. We’ll chat with them.

DAOU Estate Collection wines are made from the finest vineyard blocks on Daou Mountain and aged extensively in hand-selected custom-crafted, new French oak barrels. These wines showcase the visionary talent of Winemaker Daniel Daou, and embody DAOU’s mission to produce first-growth Cabernet Sauvignon from the unrivaled terroir of DAOU Mountain.

DAOU Reserve Collection wines are made from premium fruit sourced from DAOU Mountain as well as select Paso Robles vineyards. Throughout the growing season, Daniel Daou is actively involved in the management of these vineyards to ensure the highest quality. These wines are distinguished by signature qualities of grace and structure.

Young YunYoung Yun is the Executive Director of the Ment’or BKB Foundation in New York, a charitable beneficiary of Ultimo Weekend. Ment’or is a leading nonprofit organization devoted to INSPIRING CULINARY EXCELLENCE in young professionals and preserving the traditions and quality of cuisine in America.

“Our aim is to build a sustainable community of young American professionals that are knowledgeable and confident in their career pursuits and will be life-long ambassadors of quality and excellence in the world of gastronomy. The organization is dedicated to making the careers of serious young individuals more meaningful and successful by offering them unique educational opportunities, internships and access to a Culinary Council of established mentors.”

Will get an update from Young on the Foundation’s busy year supporting Team USA for the upcoming Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Challenge in Lyon and Ment’or’s Young Chef and Commis Competition.

Mourad LahlouConsidered by many as the pioneer of modern Moroccan cuisine in the United States, the James Beard award-nominated Mourad Lahlou (San Francisco’s Aziza and Mourad) never envisioned becoming a world-famous chef. Chef Mourad is one of the celebrity chefs preparing a course for The Grand Banquet of Ultimo Weekend at The Venetian. He’ll lift the lid on the tagine for us.

The Marrakesh native immigrated to the United States when he was 20 years old to pursue a master’s degree in economics. Missing his country’s cuisine, Lahlou taught himself how to recreate versions of his favorite Moroccan dishes with local ingredients using his own inventive techniques. Most of the lessons he learned about food came from his mother, who cooked traditional Moroccan recipes, and grandfather, who took him to the markets.

Chef Mourad’s strikingly modern reinventions of traditional Moroccan dishes are all about showcasing the great flavors of his native cuisine in ways that harmonize with the fresh, local, artisanal ingredients available in Northern California. “I’m not sure I would even call it a Moroccan restaurant anymore,” he says. Like his jet-black tattoos, Lahlou’s food and restaurants reveal a very personal story, one rooted both in San Francisco and abroad, and recount the memories that have inspired his life’s work.

Paul BartolottaPaul Bartolotta of The Bartolotta Restaurants is a two-time, James Beard Award-winner for culinary excellence. He’s best known in Las Vegas for creating the memorable Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas in 2005 which redefined high end Italian cuisine with seafood as its center. (Chef Paul is no longer associated with the renamed and repositioned restaurant as of the end of 2015.)

Joe and Paul Bartolotta grew up in a traditional Italian family in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Along with siblings, Maria and Felicia, they enjoyed large gatherings centered around unbelievably good food and plenty of love. In 1993, Joe and Paul collaborated to realize their dream of creating signature restaurants in Milwaukee. Paying homage to the family name, Ristorante Bartolotta opened in March of 1993. Embracing the culinary concept of “cucina rustica,” the restaurant offers simple, traditional Italian dishes using the freshest ingredients available.

In 1995, the company opened a second restaurant: Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, a spacious, brasserie-style restaurant, focusing on casual and authentic French cuisine. After Lake Park Bistro earned a four-star review, Joe became Milwaukee’s first “eight-star general,” a restaurateur with two top-rated restaurants to his name. Lake Park Bistro was recognized in 2008 when Executive Chef Adam Siegel won the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest.

Over the next two decades, The Bartolotta Restaurants added a variety of fine dining and casual concepts to its portfolio. Joe, Paul and The Bartolotta Restaurants family will continue to grow their lineup of distinguished Southeastern Wisconsin venues and look forward to potential expansion throughout the Midwest.

Chef Paul is our guest.

Ming TsaiThe Boston area’s Ming Tsai is one of the distinguished, high-profile, celebrity chefs preparing Ultimo Weekend’s Grand Banquet at the Venetian. You know Chef Ming from Food TV including his long-running acclaimed series for Public Television, Simply Ming.” His popular restaurants in the greater Boston area are the long-running Blue Ginger and the more recent, Blue Dragon. We’ll meet him.

“Ming’s love of cooking was forged in his early years. Ming was raised in Dayton, Ohio, where he spent hours cooking alongside his mother and father at Mandarin Kitchen, the family-owned restaurant. His experience also taught him about restaurant operations and the art of making customers happy.”

“Ming headed east to attend school at Phillips Academy Andover. From there, Ming continued to Yale Universityearning his degree in Mechanical Engineering. During this time, Ming spent his summers attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and apprenticing at area restaurants in Paris. After graduating from Yale, Ming moved to Paris and trained under renowned Pastry Chef Pierre Herme and then on to Osaka with Sushi Master Kobayashi.”

Upon his return to the United States, Ming enrolled in graduate school at Cornell University, earning a Master’s degree in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Marketing.

Emma BengtssonAquavit, a landmark New York-based fine dining establishment featuring the cuisine of Sweden is a classic. In the Spring of 2014 their former Pastry Chef, Emma Bengtsson, was unusually elevated to the Executive Chef post there by proprietor Hakan Swahn.

Former Aquavit Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark recruited Bengtsson in 2010 to join the restaurant as Pastry Chef. Bengtsson quickly became known for her creative interpretations of classic Scandinavian desserts, as well as establishing a new bread program. Her style was reflective of the region’s penchant for local products, progressive techniques, and continuing traditions; and it was well received, as Aquavit was recognized with one star in the Michelin Guide New York City in 2013 and 2014.

Håkan Swahn, the owner of Aquavit, saw talent and fresh perspective in Chef Bengtsson’s skillset and offered her the role of Executive Chef in spring 2014. She accepted the job, and since then has injected the critically acclaimed menu with her personal style and experience.

In October of 2015, her work garnered a second Michelin Star for Aquavit, making her the second female chef in the U.S. to run a two-star kitchen and the first ever Swedish female chef to do so.

We’ll hear Emma’s incredible story.

Curtis StoneMelbourne-born Chef Curtis Stone now resides in Los Angeles. In addition to being all over Food TV (“Kitchen Inferno” and the upcoming “My Kitchen Rules” on FOX), Chef Curtis has the intimate Maude in Beverly Hills and Gwen (also a butcher shop) in Hollywood.

“My mum and granny taught me everything I know about food and cooking. My mum, Lozza, is a great cook, in particular a phenomenal baker, and I would watch her every move while she baked. I am very partial to her corn and bacon muffins so she makes these for me whenever I visit. I still call on her regularly for advice when I’m developing recipes – thanks Lozza!”

Curtis Stone is also the author of six cookbooks. The most recent title is Good Food, Good Life.

Chef Curtis, also a participating chef in The Grand Banquet, joins us.

Scott PajakScott Pajak is the Chef de Cuisine at the high volume Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo. It sets the standard for Sports Bars in Sin City. He’s been with Emeril Lagasse since 2002 and was promoted to his current position in May of 2011.

Growing up in Lancaster, NY, Scott Pajak could often be found in the kitchen – cooking chicken noodle soup and sauces with his grandparents, or helping his dad tend the grill and savoring the smoky aroma of barbecue.

While studying at UNLV, he worked in numerous restaurants around Las Vegas, including Planet Hollywood, New York New York Casino and TPC Country Club, where he prepared meals for participants on the PGA Tour.

In 2002, Pajak entered the kitchen at Emeril Lagasse’s seafood eatery Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House as a line cook. Over the next 9 years, he would work in nearly every position in Lagasse’s kitchen, from saucier to butcher, eventually rising to the post of sous chef. He helped write the restaurant’s daily menus and showed off his creativity as he cooked for guests at the chef’s kitchen table.

Bring on the kicked-up wings and we’ll talk hearty tailgate food (and more) with Chef Scott.

Podcasts

Segment One: Daniel and Georges Daou, DAOU Vineyards & Winery
Segment Two: Young Yun, Executive Director, Mentor BKB Foundation
Segment Three: Mourad Lahlou, Owner / Chef, Mourad and Aziza, San Francisco
Segment Four: Paul Bartolotta, Executive Chef / Proprietor, The Bartolotta Restaurants
Segment Five: Chef Ming Tsai, Blue Ginger, Blue Dragon and Public Television’s “Simply Ming”
Segment Six: Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef, Aquavit, New York
Segment Seven: Chef Curtis Stone, Maude in Beverly Hills & Gwen in Hollywood
Segment Eight: Chef Scott Pajak, Chef de Cuisine, Lagasse’s Stadium, The Palazzo Resort, Las Vegas