Show 233, July 22, 2017: Ahmed Labbate, VACA Group, Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner at Vaca

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. If you’re celebrating something very special this is the over-the-top culinary evening experience you’ll want to be a part of!

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.


Show 190, September 24, 2016: Robert Egger, Founder & CEO, L.A. Kitchen

Robert EggarL.A. Kitchen is a growing-in-profile, local non-profit whose thoughtful mission is that food and people should never go to waste. On Saturday evening, October 22nd they are launching their first ever fundraiser: Shared Plates. It’s “a night of 100 dinner parties” across Los Angeles.

“On behalf of the L.A. Kitchen, I’m thrilled to invite you to SHARED PLATES, an extraordinary night of 100 dinner parties hosted in homes all across our great city on Saturday, October 22nd. By sharing plates, stories, and a few surprises, these dinners will bring Angelenos from every walk of life together to reveal the power of food”

“Thanks to the generosity of our hosts, 100 per cent of your ticket revenue goes to support the L.A. Kitchen’s vital work to ensure that neither food nor people will ever go to waste.” – From Robert Egger, Founder & CEO, L.A. Kitchen

Robert Egger, Founder & CEO of L.A. Kitchen is our guest with a tantalizing preview.


The Makings of a Successful Chef

What are the attributes of a successful chef? What is the difference between an executive chef and a chef de cuisine?


Show 70, April 26, 2014: Michael Leb, Chief Executive Officer, Choctal Single-Origin Ice Creams

Choctal Single Origin Ice CreamIt’s ice cream weather. New to SoCal is Choctal – Single-origin Ice Creams. The premium flavors are properly rich and decadent as the name suggests.

Michael Leb, Chief Executive Officer, is our guest with all the sinful details.

“Indulgent treats sustainably sourced from the world’s finest indigenous sources.”

“Choctal ice cream is decidedly different because we highlight the different flavor profiles by using:

  • Single-origin chocolate or vanilla from rainforests across the globe.
  • All natural base; no artificial additives.
  • Gluten-free, egg free recipes.
  • Less air for more density.”

Show 61, February 15, 2013: Bob Spivak, President, CEO, and Co-Founder, Grill Concepts, Inc.

The Grill on the Alley30 years ago dining history was made in Beverly Hills (a tough city for restaurant longevity) with the launch of The Grill on the Alley which is better known as The Grill. It soon evolved into a high profile business destination for lunch for the power brokers of Hollywood. Where your table was signified your status in the Entertainment Business. No one arrived before 1:00 p.m. At night it became a destination for affluent locals with a very loyal following. Unusually for the time pretentiousness was never part of the gameplan. It also was the start of a significant restaurant company with three successful concepts.

To this day the signature Cobb Salad (a faithful homage to the iconic Brown Derby) is the most popular menu item. Bob likes to feel it’s a true recreation of this classic dish from the long departed heritage restaurant in Beverly Hills that was a forerunner of The Grill. The most popular dessert is the house rice pudding, a perennial favorite.

Grill Concepts, Inc. continues to flourish to this day. Public School (“an education in the art of food and beer”) is the newest concept (with a sense of humor) with locations in Downtown Los Angeles, Culver City and Thousand Oaks. Northern California (Mountain View) and Sherman Oaks are next, and more locations are on the horizon. It’s a bar & restaurant gathering spot.

Founder Bob Spivak, a second generation restaurateur with a love for the hospitality business, joins us to share the fascinating story.

“We are so fortunate to have been in business for 30 years,” President, CEO, and Co-Founder Bob Spivak said. “In the ever changing restaurant industry, we are proud to say that we were vintage before it was trendy. And we will continue to maintain the tradition of exceptional service and timeless cuisine that guests have come to count on.”


Show 38, August 10, 2013: Dave Bernahl of LA Food & Wine Festival

David BernahlToday’s show was a preview of the upcoming 3rd Annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival taking place in Downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica on August 22nd through 25th.

Dave Bernahl, the co-founding partner and CEO of Coastal Luxury Management, joined us to preview the Festival. Costal Luxury Management (organizers of the famed annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival) produces the event.

The new charity beneficiary this year is Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.