Show 87, September 6, 2014: Travel Writer Michelle Winner, President, IFWTWA

Michelle Winner of IFWTWA and Culinary TravelerFood, wine & travel writer Michelle Winner is the President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA.). She will be talking to us from Hawaii.

Over Labor Day Weekend Michelle was part of the Kaanapali Fresh – A Culinary Experience on Maui and right now she is in the middle of the 4th Annual Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on Oahu.

At Kaanapali Fresh, Michelle was a judge for the “Kaanapali Range to Sea.” Each competing chef was paired with a farmer and utilized his produce or product. The winning dish (vegetarian) was Ti Leaf Wrapped Corn Tamale with Syl’s Produce, corn truffle salsa in a smoked tomato emulsion. The winning chef was Raymond Nicasio of the Sheraton Maui Resort.

Michelle also talked about the revitalization of the well-known Maui Gold pineapple brand. These coveted pineapples are only grown on Maui. It’s an agriculture success story of quality over quantity.

The Hawaii Food & Wine Festival event Michelle attended Thursday evening was the sold out “A Lucky Modern Buddha Belly” at The Modern Honolulu. The event put a spotlight on Hawaii’s unique location as a culinary hub of the Pacific where East Meets West. 14 esteemed chefs (including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto) showcased dishes inspired by the Lucky Buddha who is known for happiness, plenitude, and wisdom of contentment.

Ti Leaf Wrapped Corn Tamales with Corn Truffle Salsa and Smoked Tomato Emulsion

Recipe yield:   6 x 4” tamales or 12 x 2” tamales
Recipes for Corn Tamales

1 ½ cups Fresh Corn kernels
½ cup Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Masa harina (Tamales flour)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup Corn Stock or water
3 each Ti leaf
1/2 cup Corn Truffle Salsa (separate recipe below)
1 cup Smoked Tomato emulsion


  • Clean and remove husk from the corn. Using a knife scrape the corn kernel off the cob and reserve corn cob to make corn stock. Place ¾ cup of fresh corn kernel in a blender or food processor and grind the corn until almost smooth, set aside.   Place vegetable shortening in an electric mixing bowl with a wire whip attachment. Set mixer on medium high and whip the shortening until light and fluffy.
  • On a separate mixing bowl place Masa Harina, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly until well incorporated. Heat up corn stock or water to lukewarm and gradually stir stock or water to the flour mix until it forms a thick dough.
  • Change the whip attachment to dough hook attachment. Transfer the dough to the mixing bowl and add the grinded corn and the rest of the corn kernels mix thoroughly. The dough will be quite sticky.
  • Remove the spine off the ti leaf wash, pat dry and line on a flat suface. Using a pastry piping bag, pipe dough on to the leaf and proceed to roll the dough on the leaf making sure it is completely wrapped.
  • On a steamer or pot with a wire rack with boiling water, steam the tamales for 45 minutes. Cut to desired length. Remove the tamales from the leaf and serve with corn truffle salsa and smoked tomato emulsion.

Corn Truffle salsa recipe

1 can Corn truffle or Cuitlacoche (4 oz) can be found in latin specialty store
1 cup Fresh corn kernels
1 1/2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tbs Red bell peppers, small dice
1 tbs Maui Onions, small dice
2 tbs Olive oil

  • Put cuitlacoche in a blender and puree until smooth.
  • Heat saute pan, saute onions and bell pepper until tender
  • Add corn to the pan and sauté until it is tender and has slight caramelized color.
  • Add pureed corn truffle. Stir until completely coated.
  • Remove from heat and add white balsamic vinegar. Stir until well incorporated.

Smoked Tomato salsa

4 ea Vine riped tomato, cut in half
1 ea Maui onion, cut in half
1 ea Jalapeno, cut in half and seeds removed
1 ea Red Bell Pepper, seeds removed and cut in half
4 cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Tbs Liquid smoke
3 Tbs Olive oil
1 ea juice of lime
1 tbs Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs Salt
1 Tbs Chipotle in adobo sauce, use only the sauce

  • In a mixing bowl, place cut tomato, onion, peeled garlic, jalapeno, bell pepper, olive oil, and liquid smoke. Mix well until well coated with olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet or pan. Season with 1 tablespoon of salt.
  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F, place the mixture in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes or until vegetables have a slight char.
  • Transfer to a food processor bowl and add the chipotle adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro. Process the mixture to a slight smoothness.
  • Season with the remaining salt.

March 15: Ivan Flowers, Bruxie Bold Blend Coffee, Michael Puglisi, All Star Chef Classic, Cook Pigs Ranch


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Executive Chef Ivan Flowers, Top of the Market, San Diego
Segment Three: Chef Kelly Mullarney, Co-Owner, Bruxie
Segment Four: Chef Michael Puglisi, Proprietor, Electric City Butcher Shop
Segment Five: Lucy Lean, Co-Producer / Executive Director, All-Star Chef Classic at L.A. Live
Segment Six: Krys and Mike Cook, Co-Presidents, Cook Pigs Ranch, Julian Part One
Segment Seven: Krys and Mike Cook, Co-Presidents, Cook Pigs Ranch, Julian Part Two
Segment Eight: Jet Tila and Andy Harris on “The 14 Most Expensive Tasting Menus in America”

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Heritage breed pigs are the talk of in-the-know chefs these days. We’ll meet the enterprising husband & wife couple behind Cook Pigs Ranch, a noted local producer of “farm to table heritage pigs.” You’ll also learn the intriguing story of a former Bouchon Beverly Hills chef who is soon to open an ambitious artisan butcher shop utilizing Old-World techniques in Santa Ana.

We’re journeying to San Diego where an energetic new executive chef is taking a San Diego seafood classic to a higher level with nightly changing tasting menus that are paired with boutique premium wines. The meals are, surprisingly, served with an incredible view of the bay.

We’re nuts about coffee on the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” So are our friends at the chef-driven Bruxie, the Belgian waffle sandwich guys. After a lot of research they have recently introduced their own “Bold Blend” custom crafted coffee. It’s a proprietary four-bean blend.

Los Angeles has a new food event with celebrity master chefs. It’s the All-Star Chef Classic at L.A. Live. We’ll have a preview.

High-end Tasting Menus at rarified fine-dining establishments are getting a lot of attention. Chef Jet and Producer Andy will be talking about Eater’s “14 Most Expensive Tasting Menus in America.”

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

Ivan Flowers of Top of the MarketTop of the Market, harbor-side in Downtown San Diego, is one of those classic destination restaurants where the food is actually on par with the magnificent bay view. Quite a feat…

Executive Chef Ivan Flowers in newly arrived and his worthy mission is to add to the achievements of this popular restaurant. His concept is “boat-to-table.” New to the dinner menu options is a very special seven-course tasting menu. Chef Ivan then works with their inspired and talented Sommelier, Anne Estrada, to offer carefully selected boutique wines to compliment each dish. No mass market wines in this cellar…As a package it’s an evening of memorable dining. We’ll be visiting with Chef Flowers to get all the specifics.

Bruxie Bold Blend CoffeeWe’re fans of Bruxie. These are the premium sandwich folks who use a creative version of an authentic Belgian Waffle (they developed the proprietary recipe) as the bread. The waffle is light, airy, crispy and not sweet. Since they opened their first location in a classic former burger stand in Old Towne Orange within walking distance of Chapman University they have quickly grown to a total of six company-owned restaurants! No short cuts with quality ingredients here.

Bruxie partner and noted chef, Kelly Mullarney, is truly coffee obsessed. As a side project he set out to create a chef-driven coffee experience that would be bold and complex enough to stand up to, and complement, the flavors on the Bruxie menu.

The result is The Bold Blend, a proprietary, four-bean blend of 100 percent fair trade imported coffee beans. It’s now the house blend served at all Bruxies.

Michael PuglisiMembers of Chef Michael Puglisi’s immediate family in Sicily are well-known Old World artisan butchers. Starting this summer Chef Puglisi will be using those skills at his own Electric City Butcher Shop which is a major component of Santa Ana’s much –anticipated (and talked about) 4th Street Market Food & Culinary emporium. Puglisi was previously the sous chef of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills.

While the build-out of 4th Street Market is going on Chef Puglisi will be honing his hand-made sausage making skills at the just opened Picnik in Old Town Pasadena in partnership with Chef Eduardo Ruiz of Corazon y Miel in Bell. Old World sausage-making traditions will be used. Every gourmet sausage served will be twisted and cased by hand.

All Star Chef ClassicThe Inaugural All-Star Chef Classic at L.A. LIVE, a never-before-seen modern food event bringing together over 25 highly acclaimed chefs from around the country for unique and interactive dining experiences, is set to launch March 21st to 23rd at L.A. Live’s Event Deck. The event is organized by culinary industry veterans and founders of Alice in Events, LLC., Lucy Lean and Krissy Lefebvre. They have partnered with AEG, owners and operators of the downtown Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment District.

The three-day event will feature master chefs cooking and collaborating in venues designed to provide guests with up-close, unique and interactive culinary experiences.

The grand finale on Sunday, March 23rd from Noon to 2:30 p.m. is “Savor the Season Presented by Melissa’s Produce.” This event will wrap up the enticing weekend with a Farmer’s Market celebration of what LA has in abundance – seasonal , fresh, local ingredients cooked up and elevated to great heights by All-Star Chefs including Wylie Dufresne, Graham Elliot, Nancy Silverton, David Myers, Vinny Dotolo, David LeFevre, Josiah Citrin, and Waylynn Lucas. The chefs will create seasonal dishes using produce from a local purveyor/farmer providing the 600 guests with a variety of tastes as well as recipe cards to prepare each dish at home.

Co-Producer/Executive Director Lucy Lean is our guest.

Cook Pigs Ranch is a proudly family-owned, farm-to-table operation with a focus on Heritage pigs. The varieties include Red Wattles, GOS, Large Blacks, Berkshires, Durocs, Tamworth, Mulefoot, and crosses of these magnificent breeds. Cooks also raises KuneKune pigs. The ranch is located in Julian, CA, in the Cleveland National Forest, about one hour East of San Diego.

Cook Pigs Ranch is not a large commercial farming / ranching business. Instead their goal is to maintain a small and boutique ranching operation which allows their pigs to free-range and grow slowly in a humane and stress-free environment.

Kryz and Mike Cook of Cook Pigs RanchKrys and Mike Cook are the co-Presidents of Cook Pigs, and they run the day-to-day operations of the ranch.

At Cook Pigs Ranch they experience all four seasons. The ranch is situated at approximately 4,200 feet in elevation. The combination of the local environment and Cook’s feed program produces a high quality product very similar to the renown Iberian Pork from Spain & Portugal.

Cook Pigs RanchAt the recent Cochon 555 stop in Los Angeles defending champion Chef Ray Garcia of FIG Restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica successfully defended his title once again. He prepared & cooked a Large Black from Cooks Pig Ranch.

The Pop-Up Butcher Shop (Lindy & Grundy) @ Cochon 555 used a Berkshire from Cook Pigs Ranch.

Cook Pigs Ranch will soon have a retail facility in San Diego ( Kearny Mesa) to serve the public.

The Farm Shop at Primal Pastures in Temecula all sells Cook Pigs Ranch meats.

The Fourteen Most Expensive Tasting Menus in America by Eater NationalEater National posted an intriguing piece entitled “The 14 Most Expensive Tasting Menus In America” back on January 28th. The feature was authored by Gabe Ulla.

Number 14 is Daniel in New York with a price tag of $567 for two guests. It gets progressively more expensive on the way up to Number 1 which carries a lofty $1,160 tab for two. Ouch…

Chef Jet and Producer Andy have been fortunate enough to experience a handful of these incredible dining spectaculars. We’ll paint the rarified picture…It’s not for everyone. Forgive us.


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Executive Chef Ivan Flowers, Top of the Market, San Diego
Segment Three: Chef Kelly Mullarney, Co-Owner, Bruxie
Segment Four: Chef Michael Puglisi, Proprietor, Electric City Butcher Shop
Segment Five: Lucy Lean, Co-Producer / Executive Director, All-Star Chef Classic at L.A. Live
Segment Six: Krys and Mike Cook, Co-Presidents, Cook Pigs Ranch, Julian Part One
Segment Seven: Krys and Mike Cook, Co-Presidents, Cook Pigs Ranch, Julian Part Two
Segment Eight: Jet Tila and Andy Harris on “The 14 Most Expensive Tasting Menus in America”

Show 16, February 9, 2013: Rachel Klemek of Blackmarket Bakery at The Camp in Costa Mesa and Irvine (production facility & small retail shop)

Rachel Klemek of Blackmarket Bakery and the CampRachel of Blackmarket Bakery is the underground baker (with extensive training) in Orange County. In 2004 she launched her “hidden” production facility in Irvine near John Wayne Orange County Airport. It was strictly a wholesale operation but somehow determined retail customers sought her out and she couldn’t disappoint them.

The game plan is quality using real ingredients and the indulgent products are always made from scratch. No mixes are used whatsoever.

The name sounds more nefarious than it really is. Explains Klemek, “By using baking fundamentals such as butter, flour, sugar and eggs – all of which were blackmarket goods during WWII – I intend to deliver a culinary experience which revolves around natural ingredients, complex textures, and global flavors, with a bit of punk rock tucked inside, of course.”