Show 336, August 10, 2019: Mealtop (Korean Shaved Ice) with Proprietor Joon Hyun-Baek

Joon Hyun-Baek of Mealtop CafeSince 1985 Mealtop has been serving traditional Korean shaved ice (Bingsoo) all over South Korea. These popular and traditional Korean desserts have recently arrived in the United States with locations in Buena Park and on L.A.’s Koreatown.

The menu at Mealtop features a multitude of authentic Bingsoo (shaved ice). All of Mealtop’s Bingsoo variations include four classic ingredients: soft shaved ice, braised red beans, chewy rice cakes and sweet condensed milk. The cast-iron braised sweet-but-savory red beans are the most important aspect, while the other three play equal parts in the taste of Korean tradition. All of the flavors come together in harmony and every ingredient is either made in-house using traditional techniques or locally sourced.

In addition to traditional shaved ice, Mealtop also offers other items such as lattes from South Korea (Bibibig Latte, Orange Latte and Babamba Latte), and desserts such as Injelomi Pancake and more.

“Even with an abundance of Korean food in Los Angeles, I felt and still somewhat feel that there is room for growth not only in Korean food but representation of Korean culture; thus I made it one of my life goals to spread Korean culture through food and clothing. Our ultimate goal is to bring a piece of South Korean culture to these communities through traditional Korean shaved ice and desserts.” — CEO Joon Hyun-Baek

We’ll meet proprietor Joon Hyun-Baek.

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Show 230, July 1, 2017: Betty Porto, Vice President, Community & Guest Relations, Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

Betty PortoThe crowd-pleasing, proudly family-owned Porto’s Bakery & Café (think potato balls & cheese rolls) opened its biggest, long-anticipated branch in Buena Park (25,000 sq.ft.) up the street from Knott’s Berry Farm in early March. They own the large parcel of land.

Actor Andy Garcia officiated at the ribbon-cutting. It’s been a resounding success. It even offers complimentary valet parking to negate potential parking hassles.

Don’t let the lines scare you. It all moves fast. The three service areas under one roof include the bakery section, the food station which also offers the pastries and an express premium coffee counter with select, best-selling pastries. There is also a convenient station to pick-up pre-orders. Smart idea for securing celebratory cakes with ease.

On the new Summer Specials menu are a Guava BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, Rustic Tomato Soup with San Marzano Tomatoes and outrageous Lemon Bars.

More stores are on the horizon…

2nd generation Co-proprietor Betty Porto joins us with all the delectable details of this incredible and inspiring success story which started with the Family’s escape from Cuba in 1960.

 

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Show 230, July 1, 2017: Betty Porto, Vice President, Community & Guest Relations, Porto’s Bakery & Cafe Continues…

Betty Porto in front of the Porto's Bakery Bread RackThe crowd-pleasing, proudly family-owned Porto’s Bakery & Café (think potato balls & cheese rolls) opened its biggest, long-anticipated branch in Buena Park (25,000 sq.ft.) up the street from Knott’s Berry Farm in early March. The Porto’s own the property. Actor Andy Garcia officiated at the ribbon-cutting. It’s been a resounding success. It even offers complimentary valet parking to negate potential parking hassles.

Porto’s traces its origins to the year 1960, when the Porto family made the tough decision to leave their home in Manzanillo, Cuba. After living through the drastic changes that were taking place around them, they requested permission to leave the country. Immediately Raul Sr. was terminated from his job and sent away to manual labor for the duration of the wait period. Wife, Rosa Porto was also let go. Knowing that it may take years to be able to leave the country, Rosa found herself alone and having to find a means to support her three children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita.

Rosa, always a talented cake maker, with a passion for baking, entrenched herself in perfecting her recipes and began selling her delicious cakes to friends and neighbors not realizing that she was also building herself a loyal customer base.

When the family finally emigrated from Cuba to California, they had not much more than the clothes on their backs, Raul Sr.’s strong work ethic, Rosa’s exceptional baking skills, and a dream for a better life. Soon after the plane landed, Rosa realized that her reputation had preceded her, and met her first customer just as she got off the plane. Raul Sr. took a job as a mechanic and after work delivered Rosa’s cakes. These were hard times, but the family was now in a country filled with limitless opportunities and their dream for a better future became more real as the years passed

Rosa continued on with her cake business and when their home could no longer accommodate the increased demand, opened a little 300-square foot bakery on Sunset Blvd, in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. From day one, the place was busy, serving close to 50 customers a day. After tirelessly working two jobs, Raul Sr. left his latter job at Van De Kamp’s and joined Rosa full time. Meanwhile, their children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita managed to maintain their studies and learn the different parts of the business; baking, decorating, food preparation, customer service, and finances.

Rosa’s Cuban cakes were soon joined by French mousses, Italian sweets, and international savories. As customers flocked to the bakery demanding countless quantities of Cheese Rolls™, Refugiados™-guava and cheese strudels, and the infamous Potato Ball™, space became critical. A move was made to a 2,000-square foot facility in Glendale and six years later to one double in size. The bakery continued to grow and more employees where hired to handle the demand for its increasingly broad line of cakes, desserts, and savories.

Porto’s Bakery & Café now serves thousands of customers and employs hundreds of team members in Southern California, with stores in Glendale, Burbank, Downey and now, Buena Park. In 2018 West Covina is on the horizon. Rumors are out there supporting a future Northridge store thereafter.

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Show 3: October 20, 2012: Produce Guru Robert Schueller and Food Republic’s Jason Kessler

Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce explains what organic really means when it comes to fruits and vegetables. He also highlights what new organics are fresh in the marketplace. Jet is particularly fond of the new crop of Honeycrisp Apples.

Jason Kessler is the Los Angeles correspondent for the Food Republic Blog co-founded by Marcus Samuelsson. He’s a Chicago native. Jason is a fan of the 1st Portillo’s Hot Dog location in the West which was opened in Buena Park in early 2006. He describes it as the In-N-Out of Chicago and it’s still Family-owned with no franchising. Jason gets there as often as he can for their specialty, Italian Beef as originated in Chicago. He likes it fully loaded and the sandwich dipped in gravy. It’s a mess but an ethereal nosh. They are also known for the Portillo’s Chocolate Cake for dessert which was adapted from founder Dick Portillo’s daughter-in-laws’s home recipe !

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Oct 20: Zov Karamardian, Barbara Fairchild, Daniel Nelson, Melissa’s Produce Guru

Podcasts

Segment One: Zov Karamardian Part One
Segment Two: Zov Karamardian Part Two
Segment Three: Barbara Fairchild Part One
Segment Four: Barbara Fairchild Part Two
Segment Five: Mixologist Daniel Nelson of The Writer’s Room
Segment Six: Produce Guru Robert Schueller and Food Republic’s Jason Kessler

Zov Karamardian or Zov's in TustinIf there is a dynasty in the Orange County restaurant business it has to be Zov Karamardian and her hard-working Family. They took a small space in the Enderle Center in Tustin and over the years have grown the enterprise into the largest food tenant in the center at 12,000 sq. ft.. It’s a bakery, gourmet specialty food store, cafe, restaurant, and catering space under one large roof. Zov is just back from Istanbul, Turkey and will discuss the food scene there.

Barbara Fairchild is the long-serving Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit Magazine. She retired when the publisher abandoned their original Los Angeles base. Barbara will be highlighting her recent culinary adventures in Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Isle. It’s the best in joints to fine dining!

Mixologist Daniel Nelson (The Writer’s Room) then joins the party. He’s part of Fog and Smog Films latest YouTube hit, “Mixologist.” He’ll be telling us about pairing cocktails with food and how a good master bartender can really enhance the dining experience for the guest.

Robert Schueller of Melissa's World Variety ProduceDo you wonder about what “organic” fruits and vegetables are all about? Produce guru Robert Schueller of Melissa’s World Variety Produce is with Jet to explain what it’s all about.

Finally the L.A. based and always opinionated Jason Kessler of Food Republic blog fame has the last word on an unexpected restaurant in Buena Park that he goes way out of his way to frequent. You’ll hear why…

Podcasts

Segment One: Zov Karamardian Part One
Segment Two: Zov Karamardian Part Two
Segment Three: Barbara Fairchild Part One
Segment Four: Barbara Fairchild Part Two
Segment Five: Mixologist Daniel Nelson of The Writer’s Room
Segment Six: Produce Guru Robert Schueller and Food Republic’s Jason Kessler