Show 54, December 28, 2013: Deborah Schneider, Executive Chef & Partner, solita tacos & margaritas

Deborah SchneiderExecutive Chef Deborah Schneider is the acclaimed author of five well-received cookbooks (a sixth is on the way) and a partner in the highly regarded SOL Mexican Cocina on the Bay in Newport Beach (and in Scottsdale.) Over the years she has become the go-to authority on the cuisine and libations of Baja California and, more recently, other culinary regions of Mexico. One of her specialties is the tasty street food of Baja. Do I hear Street Tacos?

Newly opened this week is Chef Deb’s latest venture, solita tacos & margaritas, facing a pocket park and fountain in Huntington Beach’s Bella Terra Center. It’s a neighborhood-casual Mexican spot with an authentic food experience representing the most appreciated culinary aspects from the coast of Baja and other culinary regions of Mexico Chef Deb has visited and researched extensively.

“What makes solita so unique is that we incorporated a wood grill like so many we have enjoyed in Mexico, and created a menu around it that offers fresh, simple preparations made with seasonal ingredients,” explains Chef Deb.

The bar takes an equally fresh approach to traditional Mexican libations. All margaritas are made with 100 per cent blue agave tequilas and the fruit used is all fresh. The only sweetener in the beverages is agave.

Show 37, August 3, 2013: Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas

Life is Beautiful FestivalLas Vegas, a spot known for excess on a grand scale, has never seen anything quite like this before and it’s a really big one!

It’s the Life is Beautiful festival set for some 18 blocks of Downtown Las Vegas (including the grounds of a large casino hotel) from October 25th through Sunday, October 27th. It’s an impressive line-up of world class music, food, art and learning. Tickets are already on sale.

With more than 60 prominent chefs and restaurants, 24 wineries and 24 breweries participating in the culinary part of the festival alone, L.I.B presents the attendees with a full-scale food festival experience. The elite Culinary Advisory Board is headed by Chef Bruce Bromberg of the Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York. (His Las Vegas flagship is Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at The Cosmopolitan.)

“The food experiences of L.I.B. were carefully designed to be interactive, innovative and unexpected,” says Jolene Mannina, Head of Culinary Arts for the festival. “Working with the vision of our Culinary Advisory Board of 12 world-renowned chefs, we’ve created an approach that we feel will set us apart from other food festivals, giving both our patrons and chefs a chance to enjoy something new, fresh and, of course, delicious.”

Jolene is a local celebrity in her own right in the Las Vegas culinary community. Food critic and former ABC Radio correspondent Al Mancini (creator of the popular Eating Las Vegas guidebook series) calls her the “Queen of The Scene”. She originated a much-talked-about late night chefs’ completion series, the Back of the House Brawl.