Show 230, July 1, 2017: Betty Porto, Vice President, Community & Guest Relations, Porto’s Bakery & Cafe Continues…

Betty Porto in front of the Porto's Bakery Bread RackThe crowd-pleasing, proudly family-owned Porto’s Bakery & Café (think potato balls & cheese rolls) opened its biggest, long-anticipated branch in Buena Park (25,000 sq.ft.) up the street from Knott’s Berry Farm in early March. The Porto’s own the property. Actor Andy Garcia officiated at the ribbon-cutting. It’s been a resounding success. It even offers complimentary valet parking to negate potential parking hassles.

Porto’s traces its origins to the year 1960, when the Porto family made the tough decision to leave their home in Manzanillo, Cuba. After living through the drastic changes that were taking place around them, they requested permission to leave the country. Immediately Raul Sr. was terminated from his job and sent away to manual labor for the duration of the wait period. Wife, Rosa Porto was also let go. Knowing that it may take years to be able to leave the country, Rosa found herself alone and having to find a means to support her three children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita.

Rosa, always a talented cake maker, with a passion for baking, entrenched herself in perfecting her recipes and began selling her delicious cakes to friends and neighbors not realizing that she was also building herself a loyal customer base.

When the family finally emigrated from Cuba to California, they had not much more than the clothes on their backs, Raul Sr.’s strong work ethic, Rosa’s exceptional baking skills, and a dream for a better life. Soon after the plane landed, Rosa realized that her reputation had preceded her, and met her first customer just as she got off the plane. Raul Sr. took a job as a mechanic and after work delivered Rosa’s cakes. These were hard times, but the family was now in a country filled with limitless opportunities and their dream for a better future became more real as the years passed

Rosa continued on with her cake business and when their home could no longer accommodate the increased demand, opened a little 300-square foot bakery on Sunset Blvd, in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles. From day one, the place was busy, serving close to 50 customers a day. After tirelessly working two jobs, Raul Sr. left his latter job at Van De Kamp’s and joined Rosa full time. Meanwhile, their children Betty, Raul Jr., and Margarita managed to maintain their studies and learn the different parts of the business; baking, decorating, food preparation, customer service, and finances.

Rosa’s Cuban cakes were soon joined by French mousses, Italian sweets, and international savories. As customers flocked to the bakery demanding countless quantities of Cheese Rolls™, Refugiados™-guava and cheese strudels, and the infamous Potato Ball™, space became critical. A move was made to a 2,000-square foot facility in Glendale and six years later to one double in size. The bakery continued to grow and more employees where hired to handle the demand for its increasingly broad line of cakes, desserts, and savories.

Porto’s Bakery & Café now serves thousands of customers and employs hundreds of team members in Southern California, with stores in Glendale, Burbank, Downey and now, Buena Park. In 2018 West Covina is on the horizon. Rumors are out there supporting a future Northridge store thereafter.

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Show 194, October 22, 2016: Shake Shack slides into Greater Los Angeles

Roadside Double Burger at Shake Shack HollywoodIn the last year the New York-based cult favorite burger emporium, Shake Shack, has opened three busy Shacks locally in West Hollywood, Glendale and Hollywood.

What’s next ? Shake Shack’s Culinary Director, Mark Rosati, is back with an update. A Roadside Double with a side of Crinkle Cut Cheese Fries, please.

There was a glitch in connecting with Mark. We hope to have him back at another time. Chef Andrew and Andy instead talk about Shake Shack from a consumer point-of-view.

Shake Shack sprouted from a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park in Manhattan to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation. The cart was quite the success, with Shack fans lined up daily for three summers.

In 2004, a permanent kiosk opened in the park: Shake Shack was born. This modern day “roadside” burger stand serves up delicious burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard, shakes, beer, wine and more. An instant neighborhood fixture, Shake Shack welcomed people from all over the city, country and world who gathered together to enjoy fresh, simple, high-quality versions of the classics in a majestic setting. The rest, as they say, is burger history.

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Show 193, October 15, 2016: Robert Kronfli, Bacari G.D.L. & Brand Boulevard Block Party

Robert KronfliThe Brand Boulevard Block Party on October 22nd will celebrate the latest additions to the Glendale culinary community along with local favorites like Porto’s Bakery. The festival includes the finest fare from 20+ chefs and restaurants, tastings from wineries and local craft breweries, live entertainment and lots more. The charitable beneficiary is the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP.)

Participants include: Shake Shack, Golden Road Brewing, Mainland Poke, The Tsujita, Lobos Truck, Lemonade, Epic Taco Shop, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, K Ramen. Burger. Beer., Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, Coolhaus, Porto’s Bakery, Bourbon Steak Los Angeles, Frida Mexican Cuisine, Bacari G.D.L., Duke Bakery, Granville Cafe, Momed, Philz Coffee, The Pie Hole, The Wooden Fork, Hitching Post Winery, Inception Wines and more!

Early Birds $50 | At the Door $60

One of the participating restaurants is the soon-to-open Bacari G.D.L at The Americana at Brand. Glendale is the Kronfli Brothers 3rd restaurant (Bacaro L.A. (2008) & Bacari P.D.R. (2014)) in partnership with Executive Chef Lior Hillel. They describe the restaurants as a “Wine & Cicchetti Bar”. The cleverness of the small plates demonstrates that there is a creative executive chef planning the menus. Also the wine selections are obviously selected with great care. Everything isn’t sourced from one distributor which is the easy way to go for convenience.

Co-founder Robert Kronfli joins us.

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Show 48, November 16, 2013: Linda Burum, food journalist & contributor to Los Angeles Magazine and L.A. Weekly

Linda BurumThe current issue (November) of Los Angeles Magazine is a special issue highlighting foods from around the world that are available in Los Angeles. Linda three articles are “Dumplings around the world,” Fried chicken around the world,” and “Skewers around the world.”
Linda is just back from a trip to Taipei, Taiwan where she conducted some intensive restaurant research.

Linda reports on her dining adventures there and mentions where you can get some of these same signature dishes locally.

Correction: “Lou rou fan” is braised pork over rice. In Linda’s commentary she mistakenly defined them as “Slack Season noodles.”

Din Tai Fung, known for outrageous Shanghai soup dumplings, is very popular in Taiwan. They have a well-established branch in Arcadia. They just opened at The Americana at Brand in Glendale and a restaurant in South Coast Plaza will debut in the near future.

Linda’s Notes :

“While every tourist to Taipei will hear about all the wonderful night markets (especially the unusual offerings such as blood cake, braised pig intestines and stinky tofu) so popular with T.V. hosts for their play value, I have decided to expand the idea of great food locations in Taipei. Some visitors want to sit down to eat, have a drink and relax.)

Many of the countries iconic dishes like danzai noodles, lou rou fan, braised pork over rice and three cup chicken can be found in dedicated specialty restaurants.

Just a brief mention of why Taipei has such a diverse supply of regional Chinese restaurants that have influenced the Island’s cuisine.

Early on, waves of Mainland Chinese immigrants settled there especially Funnanese and Hakka’s from southern China. But one of the biggest influences came after WWII when over a million mainlanders from all over fled during the post war revolution

Throughout the war many leaders hid out in remote spots like the Sichuan and Hunan mountains. They brought their chefs with them when they escaped to Taiwan. All this left its mark on the food and restaurants you find today and why Taiwan is known for its diversity of regional Chinese restaurants.

1) I stopped by two places that serve perhaps the most beloved dish in Taiwan: braised pork over rice (lurou fan) the first and most famous Jin Feng lu rou fan always has a line so my friends sometimes go to Ji Shan restaurant which is only 4 minute walk for Youngchun station near the famed 101 Building (more about that later) which they say is equally good. (So I talk about why dish is fabulous, what’s in it etc.)

2) Tu Hsiao Yueh restaurant: Danzai (or Tan Tsai) noodles (slack season noodles) and other southern Taiwanese specialties. Some think the noodle dish is so great that criminals on the lam would sneak into town at the risk of getting caught just to get a bowl. The restaurant is now run by 4th generation; more facts about dish and family

3) Tripod King hot pot restaurants
For years Taipei residents had to travel to the city of Taichung to taste the Dongbei (northeastern China) flavor of Tripod King’s hotpot. Now there are several branches in Taipei. The broth is so good people bring jars of it home (and take leftover broth from their dinner) to make more hot pot.

4) Northsea Fishing Village Seafood
Specializes in fish and seafood from around the Penghu archipelago which lies between Taiwan and mainland China. Very fresh fish, sea urchin, rock lobster from that region.—English menu.

5) Hakka-style Chinese restaurant called Chiachia. What is Hakka food like?—this place has color photos on the walls and outside to show you—yet extremely casual and inexpensive.

6) Next I’ll discuss three classic Taiwanese restaurants of different price levels and what comprises Taiwanese cuisine.

  • Sit-fun: neighborhood style
  • Shen Yeh Chain of semi-formal
  • Shen Yeh Ambiences –which as sort of semi molecular gastronomy style Taiwanese

7) Then: Badasan Aboriginal Restaurant. These people preceded the Chinese. They serve things like wild boar and pigeon and food cooked wrapped in leaves, etc.

8) If you had only one day in Taipei where would you go? (I’ll tell why the 101 Building is a foodie must). Among other things it has a Din Tai Fung which is now so famous here . (I ate the truffle dumplings there and black pork dumplings which are not served here on the regular menu.)

And of course we know they have opened in Glendale and pretty soon in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

Here in L.A. we have lots of Taiwanese spots.

The newest homestyle place is BEBE Fusion in Alhambra.”

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