Show 378, June 20, 2020: Chef Nick Shipp of The Upper West, Santa Monica

Nick Shipp of the Upper WestLocally owned and operated, The Upper West opened its doors in 2010 and not long after its arrival on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica has emerged as a consistent local favorite. Upper West’s ever-changing menu draws inspiration from around the world while maintaining eclectic flavors of Chef Nick Shipp’s very own.

“Our dinner menu (currently served Tuesday through Sunday from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.) is always evolving and includes ingredients sourced locally from the Santa Monica Farmers Market as well as local farmers such as Weiser Farms, Niman Ranch, Jimenez Family Farm and Harry’s Berries. Our chef, Nick Shipp, has been described by food critics as a “mad scientist, where no two dining experiences are ever alike.”

“Our wall decor changes regularly, as we host one local artist for each season of the year.”

Dine-in has returned at The Upper West. As the kitchen regains its capacity a new dish is introduced to the menu each Tuesday. Think Ahi Tuna Tacos… Happy Hour is back, too, with beverages only served Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 7:00 p.m.

Curbside To-Go continues to be available, too. Menu selections include Food for 2, Family-style Dinners, Large & Small Plates, sandwiches, desserts and libations.

We entice Chef Nick away from his newly reopened kitchen for a chat.

Show 373, May 16, 2020: Restaurateur Armen Karamardian, Zov’s Bistro & Bakery

Armen Karamardian of ZovsFounded in 1987 by Chef Zov Karamardian, legendary Zov’s Bistro and Bakery in Tustin, CA has become a culinary institution. Serving her unique cuisine that blends contemporary with Eastern Mediterranean influences, in an upscale, chic environment. There are now also Zov’s restaurants in Newport Coast, Irvine and Anaheim. Irvine, currently, is undergoing a needed major refreshening.

The Tustin and Newport Coast locations are serving Family Meals and Takeout Menu items curbside. Zov’s General Store at the Tustin location offers a selection of gourmet groceries for curbside pickup.

“Family support has constantly been Zov’s foundation and inspiration throughout her culinary career. Zov, in addition to her husband, Gary, her son Armen, and her daughter Taleene, have created a rare family business recipe that has taken comforting creations of the family kitchen blended with Chef Zov’s culinary artistry.”

“Over the years, the Bistro in Tustin has greatly expanded into 14,000 sq. ft., encompassing an award-winning bakery, acclaimed Bistro, a luxurious private dining room, specialty foods gourmet market, cooking classes and a busy catering division that brings Zov’s culinary style to homes and special events throughout Southern California.”

2nd Generation Karamardian Family member & restaurateur, Armen, joins us with the details and looks to the future.

Show 373, May 16, 2020: Sommelier Ali Coyle, Fable & Spirit, Newport Beach

Sommelier Ali CoyleNewport Beach’s highly praised, Fable & Spirit, has reopened in the Via Lido Plaza for takeout service. The public, once again, is able to partake in Chef Executive Chef David Shofner’s imaginative, globally inspired dishes. In addition, Sommelier Ali Coyle presents a curated list of wines offered at exceptional prices, and Director of Spirits Drew Coyle offers a selection of signature cocktails to go.

Guests will be able to order by phone or online Tuesday through Sunday. Menu, hours and online ordering will be updated on Fable & Spirit’s website. Orders may be placed between Noon and 6 p.m., for pick-up between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant will be closed on Monday & Tuesday. Contactless curbside pick-up can be requested when placing orders.

“Ours are neighborhood restaurants that have achieved success because of the communities that support them, and we are grateful to reopen to see the reassuring smiles of our friends during this time of uncertainty,” comments Darren Coyle, who owns Fable & Spirit, Dublin 4 Gastropub, and Wineworks for Everyone with his wife, Jean. “We look forward to when we can welcome guests into our dining room again for food, drink and good times, but for now, we will limit service to takeout and strive to share some of the spirit and magic of our family with yours.”

Sommelier & Coyle Family member, Ali, gently pulls the cork for us.

Show 372, May 9, 2020: Executive Chef & Proprietor Neal Fraser, Redbird & Vibiana, Los Angeles

Neal and Amy Knoll FraserChef Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser’s flagship restaurant Redbird in Downtown Los Angeles features Modern American cuisine that is refined yet approachable and highlights the multi-cultural influences of Fraser’s native city – Los Angeles. Wine Director Josh Wibbenmeyer’s wine list is well rounded with great finds from both established and emerging wine regions throughout the world.

Currently Redbird is offering contactless curbside pickup with an a la carte menu and Redbird at Home Family Style Dinner for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. An added option is Wine Director’s Josh’s Hunker Down Wine List (with 40 per cent off Redbird’s list prices.)

Redbird also has been preparing meals for LA Family Housing and raising money for displaced staff.

Executive Chef Neal Fraser is our guest.

Show 371, May 2, 2020: Betty Porto, Vice President of Community and Guest Relations, Porto’s Bakery & Café

Betty Porto in front of the Porto's Bakery Bread RackPorto’s Bakery & Café started modestly in the greater L.A. area in the 1960s and has grown steadily since then becoming a popular, local and revered institution. Founder Rosa Porto’s life took an unexpected turn back at the beginning when she and her family made the difficult decision to leave their beloved Cuba and emigrate to the United States. Out of a job, Rosa relied on her love of baking and began selling cakes out of her house for her neighbors and friends to support her family. Porto’s has gradually grown into five high-volume locations in Glendale, Burbank, Downey, Buena Park, and the newly opened West Covina.

Porto’s is now open for contactless ordering, payment and curbside pick-up. This can be done online or by phone. Also available is the convenient Porto’s Bake-At-Home.

Betty Porto, Vice President of Community and Guest Relations for Porto’s, is our guest.

Show 367, April 4, 2020: Executive Chef Michael Rossi of The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim

Michael Rossi of the Ranch Restaurant and SaloonThe Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim is, of course, not available for dine-in during the present health crisis. Executive Chef Michael Rossi has artfully shifted to a new, a la carte Curbside Pick-Up Menu including some of their signature house specialties that travel reasonably well. There are ample choices of Starters, Salads, Pasta, Sandwiches & Burgers, Steak, Fish & Chicken, and Pastry Chef David Rossi’s incredibly decadent desserts (including the award-winning Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream by the pint.) Think 8 oz. Prime Flat Iron Steak with Baby Dutch Potatoes, House-Made Pancetta, Saint Agur Blue Cheese and Wild Arugula.

Available to Order & Pick-Up daily between 12 Noon and 7:00 p.m. Ordering starts at 9:00 a.m.

“Executive Chef, Michael Rossi and our talented culinary team craft our seasonally driven menu at The Ranch with hand selected produce harvested from our own farm. Our chefs have the unique ability to pick produce at the perfect time just before the peak of maturity to capture maximum flavor and within hours served at your table with old fashioned genuine hospitality and gracious service. To complete your dining experience, sample one of our many desserts created in house by Pastry Chef, David Rossi.”

Executive Chef Michael Rossi joins us from curbside at The Ranch.

Show 366, March 28, 2020: Executive Chef & Proprietor Sandro Nardone of Bello in Newport Beach

Sandro Nardone of Bello by Sandro Nardone“A newcomer to the vibrant culinary scene that can be found in and around Newport Beach, BELLO by Sandro Nardone offers a combination of traditional authentic Italian food and modern dishes in a style similar to that served at the top restaurants in Italy. Born in a small town located between Rome and Naples, Chef Sandro comes from Atina, Italy, where he was raised in a family of chefs.”

“From an early age, he adopted food as his passion as his parents ran a small chain of restaurants, with his mother, Giovanna, as chef. At BELLO, Chef Sandro’s menu revolves around the very best ingredients and simplicity, the two guiding principles that have always been the foundation of traditional Italian cuisine.”

Chef Sandro is offering some of his most popular offerings on BELLO’s menu, including his signature made-to-order, wood-fired pizzas, for curbside pick-up and delivery through Grubhub and Ubereats. Guests may order online for curbside pick-up.

Chef Sandro is preparing a limited number of Family Meals inspired by those from his youth in Italy. Meals will change nightly and feature dishes such as Baked Rigatoni Bolognese and Lasagna. Guests may check current offering and place orders by calling the restaurant at 949-520-7191 or emailing Roberto at BELLO by Sergio Nardone.

Bello is offering Cocktails to go (single servings or a “4-pack”), as well as wines by the glass and their bottle list is being offered at 25% off.

We gently pull Chef Sandro away from his wood-burning pizza oven to tell us about his adapted take-out & delivery menu.