Show 195, October 29, 2016: Andre Pinto, Restaurant Chef, Paisano’s Italian Restaurant, Pechanga Resort & Casino

Andre Pinto of Paisanos Italian Restaurant at PechangaPechanga Resort & Casino in Wine Country Temecula just off the 15 Freeway has a well-earned reputation for excellence in all levels of dining. Their signature Italian restaurant is Paisano’s Italian Restaurant. Newly arrived there in the open kitchen is Chef Andre Pinto. We’ll meet him.

Promoted from the position of kitchen supervisor for Kelsey’s restaurant, Chef Pinto, 32, showed Pechanga culinary management he possesses both the technical and creative passion for food required to be a head chef at California’s largest resort / casino. Before spending a year and one-half in the kitchen at the newly renovated Kelsey’s restaurant, Pinto spent 10 years working at two of the east coast’s top restaurants. Earlier in his career he was immersed in preparing Italian cuisine at respected establishments in the Boston area.

Originally from Salvador, Bahia in Brazil, Andre Pinto recalls helping his mother in the kitchen at home often when he was a teenager. “The other kids would be out playing soccer, and I love soccer, but I wanted to help my mom make cold feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew) and see how it came together,” says Pinto. He also tried his hand at making cakes.

“I’m so happy and humbled to have been promoted to the head chef for Paisano’s,” said Pinto. “We have a great team here, and already, it’s exciting to see some of the regulars who have come back for my dishes. My approach to food is Brazilian meets East Coast meets West Coast while still remaining true to authentic Italian flavors, though the most important thing, every ingredient must be the freshest it possibly can.”

Show 145, November 7, 2015: Wing Lam, Co-Founder, Wahoo’s Fish Taco

Wing Lam of Wahoo's Fish TacosWing Lam is well-known to Southern Californians as the personable co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco. He’s affectionately known by others as “Mr. Cool.” You’ve probably seen him in his long-running Ford Transit Connect truck commercial.

He’s 3rd generation in his Family in the restaurant business. His Father emigrated from Brazil to the United States and opened his first Chinese restaurant on Balboa Island in 1970. Wing worked there initially as a busboy with very little capacity for understanding English. He grew up in Brazil speaking Portuguese.

The restaurant, New Shanghai Pine Garden, remains in operation and the property is still owned by Wing’s father, Mr. Lee. He lives nearby so he pops in regularly.

Shanghai Pine Garden serves Mandarin and Cantonese-style dishes at surprisingly affordable prices. It’s a throwback to another era but lucky for the residents of Balboa Island.

It’s a real bargain. Family Dinner includes choice of soup, appetizer, rice and one Entrée for $15.99. And this is on Balboa Island…

Mr. Lee’s Hot Sauce (a tribute to Wing’s Dad) is on the menu at Wahoo’s.

We’ll hear about this fun slice of local restaurant history from Wing Lam himself.


Show 55, January 4, 2013: Bill Esparza, The Mexican Food Maestro and Street Gourmet LA Blog

Bill EsparzaThe 16th Annual Los Angeles Times Travel Show returns to the West Hall of the L.A. Convention Center on January 18 & 19. Our favorite Mexican Food Maestro, Bill Esparza, of the Street Gourmet LA blog is with us to preview his activities at the show.

Bill has cooking demos on the Flavors of the World Stage on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. The Sunday demo he is doing with Mariana Oviedo who represents the 2nd generation of the acclaimed Guerrerense food cart in Ensenada, Mexico started by her mother, Sabina Bandera in 1962.

Bill joins us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he is on assignment.