Show 239, September 2, 2017: Executive Chef / Proprietor Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit, Cleveland and Charlotte, NC Part One

Rocco WhalenCleveland’s other popular celebrity chef, “Rocco Whalen, if nothing else, is wrapped up in the love of cooking: the idea and vitality of it, the doing of it, the invention and sustainability of it, the day-to-day enrichment of it, and, ultimately and significantly, the memory of learning all about it from his mother, Rosie.

All combine as convictions he affectionately shares with his regulars and first-timers who dine at his remarkable restaurant, Fahrenheit in historic Tremont, a stone’s throw from downtown Cleveland.”

“In 2001, Whalen returned to his native Cleveland from Los Angeles, landed a job as sous chef at Blue Point Grille, a seafood restaurant in downtown Cleveland. With recipe spins from Spago and variations on what he felt would work in a seafood restaurant in a city with a reputation for meat and potatoes, Rocco revised and refined the menu with items such as tuna sashimi, a whole catfish stuffed with ginger and served with coconut and citrus ponzu, and chicken spring rolls. After 18 remarkable and successful months at Blue Point it was time to move on.”

“A friend told him of a space for sale in Tremont, a trendy urban neighborhood five minutes from downtown Cleveland. Rocco bought the space, kept the purchase quiet, tossed a couple of “friends and family” tastings; but, for the most part, flew under the radar until he officially opened Fahrenheit, Oct. 2002. In less than a year, he doubled his projected top line dollars.”

Chef Rocco was just in Los Angeles for the annual Stu & The Kids Benefit at Vibiana in Downtown Los Angeles (July 30th) and will be back here on September 9th for the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade Culinary Cookout at UCLA’s Royce Quad.

We’ll chat with the perpetually on-the-go Chef Rocco.

Play

Show 239, September 2, 2017: Executive Chef / Proprietor Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit, Cleveland and Charlotte, NC Part Two

Rocco WhalenCleveland’s other popular celebrity chef, “Rocco Whalen, if nothing else, is wrapped up in the love of cooking: the idea and vitality of it, the doing of it, the invention and sustainability of it, the day-to-day enrichment of it, and, ultimately and significantly, the memory of learning all about it from his mother.

“Friends and acquaintances were not surprised by Rocco’s success with the original Fahrenheit in Cleveland. He had made an impact as a chef at Blue Point, had brought with him to that restaurant and to the opening of Fahrenheit, a quality product – innovative, unique, and a menu that was affordable. He had learned, also, during his years with Puck, the importance of managing an ambiance that guests, both suburbanites and neighbors, would immediately feel comfortable in; that was genuinely guest friendly.”

Fahrenheit (Charlotte, NC) is situated above the Skye Condos on the 21st Floor. The restaurant features unparalleled views of the Queen City. Also featured on the roof are linear fire pits, a social pool and seasonal herb garden. Fahrenheit provides Room Service for the Skye Condos and the adjacent Hyatt Place Hotel.

Fortunately Chef Rocco hasn’t forgotten the Los Angeles culinary community. He was just out here on July 30th for the annual Stu & The Kids Benefit at Vibiana. On Saturday, September 9th he’s back here in Westwood as one of the participating celebrity chefs in the 8th Annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade Culinary Cookout.

Play

Show 63, March 1, 2013: Executive Chef James Dean Max, James Republic, Long Beach

James Republic combines modern sensibilities with old-world principles to afford a genuine gathering place for the neighborhood and a distinctive dining destination in the heart of Long Beach. Weekend brunch on the patio (Saturdays and Sundays) is a popular attraction for the locals.

James Republic is one of over 50 restaurants participating in EAT LBC – Long Beach Restaurant Week running from March 30 to April 5th.

The style of food at James Republic is what they call “modern California coastal” dining. The goal is to highlight the season’s vibrant, locally sourced bounty from both the land and sea. Look for the upcoming farmers’ dinner series where guest farmers will be in attendance on evenings where their produce is the star of the menu.

Dean James MaxThe Chef and Partner is Dean James Max whose base is in Florida. His flagship is 3030 Ocean restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale. He has been nominated for James Beard Awards, has authored two cookbooks, and has the honor of cooking at The Beard Foundation in Manhattan regularly.

He now has restaurants in Columbus, Ohio; Grand Cayman; Cleveland; and Trumbull, CT.

In Los Angeles, Chef Max is remembered as the owner/chef of Woodside in Brentwood in the late 90s. It was highly regarded and well-reviewed.

Play

Show 62, February 22, 2013: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers

Ryan Hankins of Gril Em All BurgersOne of the very first “better burger” food trucks in Los Angeles County, Grill ‘em All Burgers, rolled onto the scene in 2009. As unusual as it sounds it was a heavy metal devotee’s take on the ample burger meal. The founders are Chef Ryan Harkins (a Cleveland native) and Matt Chernus, a former professional wrestler.

The stars were in alignment for them as they were inexplicably cast for the first season of Food Network’s cross-country “Great Food Truck Race.” This was the only season where the competitors were required to have actual food truck experience.

Although the Grill ‘em All guys were on the threshold of elimination on multiple episodes (and expected by the Producers to be out in the early going) they scrappily hung in there and came out on top at the conclusion of the high octane finale in New York! Once the season aired business was such that they needed to secure a second truck.

The gameplan was always to eventually move into the right (affordable) brick and mortar location. That happened last January (2013) when they opened in the Renaissance Theater Plaza in Alhambra in a former (failed) chain 50s diner location. Chef Ryan and Matt have made an odd location work. Grill ‘em All had lines down the block for their anniversary celebration last month. Nights and Weekends are their really busy times.

The most popular burger is The Behemoth. It’s a monster…The patty is one half-pound. It’s grilled cheese sandwich “buns” on the top & bottom, cheddar cheese, bbq sauce, pickle, grilled onion, and bacon.

Future plans include a second location in perhaps Long Beach or North Hollywood. Down the road Chef Ryan’s goal is to open a burger restaurant in his hometown of Cleveland where the dining scene is now really happening.

The remaining Grill ‘em All truck will soon be back in action for private events.

Play

February 22: UNLV, Coffee Bean, Five Crowns, West Coast Prime Meats, Grill ‘em All Burgers, DOMA Beverly Hills

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Segment Three: Jay Isais, Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Segment Four: Jim Colombo, General Manager, Five Crowns and SideDoor, Corona del Mar
Segment Five: David Wicker, Managing Partner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing, West Coast Prime Meats
Segment Six: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Dustin J. Trani, DOMA Beverly Hills
Segment Eight: Jet Tila with your questions and his answers

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Jet Tila and a heritage pig at Cochon 555 in 2013Remember the L.A. tour stop of Cochon USA is Sunday, February 23rd at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica from 4 to 8:00 p.m. Ray Garcia of Fig Restaurant is the host chef. It’s a celebration of heritage pork raised on family farms. Our own Jet Tila will be there cooking an additional late-night heritage pig for the After-Party.

UNLV in Las Vegas has the most respected hospitality management program in the West. The Dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration there joins us to profile the prestigious program. Unusual cuts of beef are finding their way onto fine dining restaurants menus. We’ll be speaking with a meat expert to better understand these cuts. A coffee authority is with us to talk about the current trends in roasting coffee. You’ll also hear about a relatively new contemporary Mediterranean/Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills with an energetic young chef in the kitchen and an exciting pastry chef with impressive credentials. Orange County Restaurant Week launches February 23rd. We’ll have a preview with the GM of one of the classic participating restaurants. Also on the menu is an award-winning and high profile food truck (with an edge) that graduated to opening an even more successful brick and mortar location in an unexpected location.

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

Stowe Shoemaker is the Dean of the William F Harrah College of Hotel Administration at University of Nevada Las VegasThe most distinguished hospitality and restaurant management program in the West is the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV in Las Vegas. Stowe Shoemaker (a Cornell University School of Hotel Administration alum) is the Dean. Before joining UNLV, Dean Shoemaker spent 19 years as an educator at Cornell. Food Network’s Guy Fieri is a graduate of UNLV’s program.

Las Vegas serves as one of the world’s largest hospitality and tourism laboratories. The school provides valuable internships and mentors. The hospitality-management bachelor’s-degree program provides a broad educational approach to a career in the hospitality industry.
Students can select a concentration in gaming management, meetings and conventions, professional golf management, or restaurant management.

The school is ranked #4 in the world by the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research.

Jay Isais of the Coffee Bean and Tea LeafWe had such a great response to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Jay Isais ( eye-zay-us) from last year that we’ve invited him back to share another steaming cup of brew. This time the discussion is on the roasting of coffee beans and how that impacts flavor. Jay is the Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing for the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Jay also provides insight into the three major coffee growing areas of the world and what the flavor profile of the resulting coffee is.

Orange County Restaurant WeekThe OC’s most anticipated, and delicious, dining event, Orange County Restaurant Week, returns from February 23rd to March 1st. Diners will have the opportunity to enjoy the wide spectrum of dining options in the County at special prices for prix-fixe menus for both lunch and dinner.

Over 100 restaurants are part of Orange County Restaurant Week.

The iconic Five Crowns, a Corona del Mar landmark, is one of the participating restaurants. General Manager Jim Colombo (also a chef by background and training) joins us to preview his special menu.

West Coast Prime MeatsWest Coast Prime Meats really knows the meat business as only an insider can. Most of their seasoned, senior executives have an extensive background in the restaurant business or are master butchers. If fact West Coast’s key master butcher has more than 30 years experience in the field.

Dave Wicker, WCPM’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Managing Partner, is with us to talk beef. What’s prime beef? An explanation of the process of aging of beef is on the menu. We’ll discuss previously uncommon cuts which are now attracting attention including the Teres Major and the Flat Iron Steak.

Ryan Hankins of Gril Em All BurgersOne of the very first “better burger” food trucks in Los Angeles County, Grill ‘em All Burgers, rolled onto the scene in 2009. As unusual as it sounds it was a heavy metal devotee’s take on the ample burger meal. The founders are Chef Ryan Harkins (a Cleveland native) and Matt Chernus, a former professional wrestler.

The stars were in alignment for them as they were inexplicably cast for the first season of Food Network’s cross-country “Great Food Truck Race.” This was the only season where the competitors were required to have actual food truck experience.

Although the Grill ‘em All guys were on the threshold of elimination on multiple episodes (and expected by the Producers to be out in the early going) they scrappily hung in there and came out on top at the conclusion of the high octane finale in New York! Once the season aired business was such that they needed to secure a second truck.

The gameplan was always to eventually move into the right (affordable) brick and mortar location. That happened last January (2013) when they opened in the Renaissance Theater Plaza in Alhambra in a former (failed) chain 50s diner location. Chef Ryan and Matt have made an odd location work. Grill ‘em All had lines down the block for their anniversary celebration last month. Nights and Weekends are their really busy times.

Future plans include a second location. Down the road Chef Ryan’s goal is to open a burger restaurant in his hometown of Cleveland where the dining scene is now really happening.

The remaining Grill ‘em All truck will soon be back in action for private events.

Dustin TraniDoma Beverly Hills opened rather quietly at 362 N. Camden Dr. in Beverly Hills in 2012. The address is well-known as the long-standing former home of Prego.

What’s creating a lot of excitement there with foodies is the young executive chef, Dustin Trani. He’s all of 29 years-old. He has worked at a Michelin starred restaurant in Italy, cooked at the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, and was chosen by the Governor to represent California in a prestigious national seafood competition in New Orleans.

He’s a 4th generation Los Angeles area Italian chef who started working at age 11 in his family’s restaurant, J. Trani’s, in San Pedro which opened in 1925. He’s also a C-CAP alum. His food is contemporary Mediterranean/Italian with an emphasis on seafood.

His talented pastry chef is Marissa Sharon previously at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in Beverly Hills. Her mini-cannoli are a real standout.

KnivesWe get questions…

Chef Jet responds to an assortment of inquiries from the overflowing e-mailbag. Jet talks about safety concerns with raw chicken, the selection process for proper knives in the home kitchen, and the quality of frozen fish.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Stowe Shoemaker, Dean, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Segment Three: Jay Isais, Senior Director, Coffee Roasting & Manufacturing, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Segment Four: Jim Colombo, General Manager, Five Crowns and SideDoor, Corona del Mar
Segment Five: David Wicker, Managing Partner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing, West Coast Prime Meats
Segment Six: Ryan Harkins, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Grill ‘em All Burgers
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Dustin J. Trani, DOMA Beverly Hills
Segment Eight: Jet Tila with your questions and his answers