Show 443, September 18, 2021: Chef Jenni Sklar, El Granjero Cantina, Original Farmers Market Part One

Jenni Sklar of El Granjero Cantina

El Granjero Cantina under the culinary direction of Chef Jenni Sklar, (ex-Lucques and Son of a Gun) celebrates Mexican cuisine at the historic Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. El Granjero’s bright and festive cantina including a spacious outdoor patio is a true neighborhood locale, built for local neighbors and visitors alike.”

“El Granjero offers guests a wide selection of options to choose from, including rice bowls, tacos, tlayuda, tacos dorados for a wide range of meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Their bar program is dedicated to honoring traditional agave based spirits of Mexico with frozen margaritas and cocktails on tap.”

El Granjero serves Lunch (weekdays) and Dinner nightly and a newly introduced Weekend Brunch. Also Happy Hour on Weekdays from 3 to 6:00 p.m. with food and libations priced at $9.00.

Chef Jenni Sklar is our guest with fresh guacamole in hand.


Show 411, February 6, 2021: Co-Host Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group with “Ask the Chef”

Chef Andrew Gruel savoring a New Jersey style Pizza

Our own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group provides another timely and informative “Ask the Chef” segment where Chef Andrew responds to listeners thoughtful inquiries. Chef Andrew is regularly updating us on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis in the hospitality field and what we, as diners, can do to support the very survival of restaurants which is a genuine (and increasingly growing) concern. Last week restaurants in Southern California were finally allowed to reopen for outside/patio dining at reduced capacities with all the requisite COVID 19 safety precautions. How is it going so far? We’ll “Ask the Chef.”

Sunday afternoon is the annual celebration of the “Big Game” being hosted in Tampa. “Big Game” snacks worthy of the occasion (this year probably celebrated at home) are a must. Chef Andrew shares a few inspired ideas beyond the expected guacamole. He enjoys dips for the Big Game food table. Chef Andrew suggests using his hot crab dip as the base (not necessarily using the crab) as the jumping off point for other variations. To accompany the creative dips Chef Andrew recommends seasoned, house-made potato chips.

Chef Andrew also updates us on the inspiring progress for the grass-roots, “86 Restaurant Struggle” campaign to benefit out-of-work and struggling restaurant workers. Chef Andrew and his wife, Lauren, have already distributed over $330,000 in small grants to deserving restaurant workers in need. All applications are carefully vetted by the Gruel’s. The need continues…


Show 331, July 6, 2019: Pamela Wnuck, Culinary Arts Supervisor for the OC Fair

Pamela WnuckThe 2019 OC Fair opens the gates on Friday, July 12th. The Culinary Arts programming, including exhibits, tastings & demonstrations in the OC Promenade building, is always a popular attraction during the Fair.

“If you love to cook or love to eat, this is the place to meet!”

Culinary Arts is taking center stage at the 2019 OC Fair. The Main Stage on the OC Promenade is booked every day throughout the fair and will be host to chefs, bakers, farmers, floral artists, food bloggers, mixologists, brewers, butchers and more. (And every evening there’s a great band to provide music.) Learn from the best during demos and tasting sessions stocked with kitchen secrets, war stories and more – straight from the experts.

Thermomix will be in the new “Culinary Playground” with a hands-on cooking school brought to life like never before. Six fairgoers will have the opportunity to make a signature dish alongside Chef Lynette. Class topics include “Waste Not,” exploring how to get the most from your food.”

“Join celebrity pastry chef and MOF Stéphane Tréand on the Main Stage every Sunday at 1 p.m. as he teaches how to make some of his delectable desserts. Each class has limited space of eight spots per Sunday class. Children ages 9-17 and adults 18 and over are welcome. Each session is 30 minutes. Classes are free.”

Northgate Markets will be showcasing a new gourmet Guacamole Bar. Avocado toast and more fresh avocado favorites will be available for sale.

Pamela Wnuck, the Culinary Arts Supervisor for the OC Fair, cooks up a delectable preview of the 23 days of programming there.


Show 237, August 19, 2017: Melissa’s Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez. Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook

Chef Ida Rodriquez of Melissas World Variety ProduceHatch Chile season is upon us! Fresh Hatch Chiles, grown only in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico, are available for just a few short weeks each year in August and September. Many connoisseurs consider them the world’s tastiest chiles.

Once roasted, Hatch Chiles are easy to peel and seed. Roasting heightens the robust earthy flavor of the chiles and the texture of the thick walls of the chile pod becomes lusciously rich. These unique qualities, and the pepper’s variable heat (unlike other chile peppers, Hatch Chiles come in varieties that cover the full spectrum of heat levels) have earned Hatch Chiles great popularity far beyond the local community of Hatch, New Mexico.

Melissa’s World Variety Produce has led the charge in popularizing the coveted Hatch Chiles and developing many great recipes using them. From now through mid-September Melissa’s will be sponsoring weekend Hatch Chile Roasting parties at area supermarkets including at select Gelson’s and Bristol Farms. Check the Melissa’s website for locations, dates and times. The roasting is conveniently included in the price of the case of chiles.

Melissa’s website has lots of good information on Hatch Chiles. Recipes are there, too, including Hatch Chile Guacamole, Hatch Chile Chili and Hatch Chile Salsa.

Melissa’s Corporate Chef, Ida Rodriguez, joins us to discuss the joys of Hatch Chile season.


Show 206, January 14, 2017: Marc Johnson, Corporate Executive Chef, Red O Restaurants

Marc JohnsonWe know Chef Marc Johnson as the opening chef for both the Oak Grill Restaurant and Aqua Lounge at The Island Hotel in Newport Beach. Chef Marc has now taken his spice rack and rubs over to the Red O Restaurants (Fashion Island, Los Angeles and Santa Monica) where is the Corporate Executive Chef. La Jolla launches in April.

Focusing on Red O Restaurants, Chef Johnson is shaking things up with his passionate drive. “Joining Red O Restaurants has been an amazing opportunity to push the limits of what I can do creatively in the kitchen,” says Chef Johnson.

With a focus on flavors from Central Mexico, Baja and MexiCali, Chef Johnson finds a balance with Red O mainstays that guests have come to love, while introducing new menu offerings with a seafood focal point. Hearty or light, all of Chef Johnson’s dishes feature fresh, vibrant ingredients reminiscent of the beachy lifestyle South of the Border.

From the sauces to the tortillas all made fresh daily, nearly 100% of the food prepared at Red O Restaurants is made in-house. “A lot of labor and passion goes into the process of bringing the components of these dishes to life,” says Johnson.

Chef Marc has the good fortune to be able to travel a couple of times per year with Red O Culinary Director Rick Bayless (the premier American chef cooking authentic, regional Mexican fare in the USA) and his staff on his immersion culinary research travels in Mexico.

We’ll get all the spicy details with a side of guacamole and house-prepared tortilla chips with Chef Marc



Show 206, January 14, 2017: Bob Price, Curator and Founder, Vallarta Botanical Garden, Jardin Botanico De Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta

Bob PriceSome of the best & tastiest Mexican street food available in Puerto Vallarta is found at the Vallarta Botanical Garden (“Where Mexican plants meet the imagination!”) Let’s talk about those incredible fish tacos and fresh guacamole! The serving vessels are all distinctive, custom Mexican pottery. It’s all served with style, too, in an unequaled setting. The garden itself is an impressive attraction, too.

They are also known for their pizza. They are baked in an oak fueled, wood-burning brick oven.

“The mission of the Vallarta Botanical Gardens is to create Mexico’s foremost botanical garden for the discovery, study, propagation, conservation and display of native and exotic plants for the enjoyment of Puerto Vallarta’s residents and visitors.”

Out of the 187 Puerto Vallarta attractions rated by TripAdvisor the Vallarta Botanical Garden has impressively earned the Number 3 spot.

It’s easy to get to. There is a City Bus that runs to their front entrance. It’s about a half-hour ride from Downtown. Also, it’s a reasonable cab fare from all districts of Puerto Vallarta.

We’re sipping local Raicilla (available at the VBG gift shop and resrtaurant) with Curator and Founder, Bob Price.



Show 184, August 13, 2016: Robert Schueller, Melissa’s World Variety Produce, Hatch Chile Season Continues…

Melissa's Hatch ChilesIt’s that most wonderful time of the year – Hatch Chile season! Grown only in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico they are only available fresh for a few shorts weeks annually, now through mid-September.

Once roasted, Hatch Chiles are easy to peel and seed. Roasting heightens the robust earthy flavor of chiles and the texture of thick walls of the chile pod becomes lusciously rich. These unique qualities, and the peppers’ variable heat (unlike other chile peppers. Hatch Chiles come in varieties that cover the full spectrum of heat levels) have earned Hatch Chiles great popularity far beyond the local community of Hatch New Mexico.

Connoisseurs and chefs from all over the globe have adopted Hatch Chiles as a condiment of choice. Many a home cook and celebrity chef have gone further, incorporating Hatch Chiles into all kinds of superb dishes from burgers, pizzas, quiches, pancakes, milkshakes, pastries and even spiced ice cubes.

Chef Marco’s Zapien’s Salsa Grill & Taqueria in Pico Rivera really makes a celebration out of Hatch Chile season. For the 6th straight year Chef Marco Zapien is hosting an evening Hatch Chile interactive cooking demonstration, Hatch Chile Saturday parking lot roast and Hatch Chile Saturday brunch. The cooking demo is Wednesday, September 7th from 6 to 8:00 p.m. The roasting and Saturday Hatch Chile Brunch is set for September 17th. Think Hatch Chile Picadillo, and Tacos de papa con Hatch Chile.

Mouth-watering Hatch Chile recipes are available on the Melissa’s Website. Perfected recipes for Hatch Chile Guacamole, Hatch Chile Chili and Hatch Chile Salsa are all right there at the ready. The informative Melissa’s Hatch Chile Cookbook is also an excellent reference.


Show 122, May 16, 2015: Executive Chef Deborah Schneider, SOL Mexican Cocina and solita Tacos & Margaritas

Deborah SchneiderExecutive Chef Deborah Schneider’s new cookbook is Salsas and Moles – Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More. Dubbed “the reigning queen of San Diego chefs” by Bon Appetit, Chef Schneider brings three decades of professional cooking experience and deep knowledge of Mexican cuisine to Salsa and Moles.

“It can be argued that salsa has surpassed ketchup as America’s favorite condiment, and my latest book, Salsa and Moles, presents authentic salsa and mole recipes that showcase the unique flavors of Mexico and beyond,” says Chef Schneider, who is a James Beard Award-nominated cookbook author. “We make more than 20 salsas fresh daily in our kitchen.”

Chef Deborah is the executive chef/partner of SOL Cocina in Newport Beach and Scottsdale, Arizona (and soon to be in Playa Vista), and solita in Huntington Beach and Santa Clarita. Chef Deb is our guest talking about America’s new favorite condiment, salsa.


Show 122, May 16, 2015: Executive Chef Deborah Schneider, SOL Mexican Cocina and solita Tacos & Margaritas Continues…

Deborah SchneiderExecutive Chef Deborah Schneider’s new cookbook is Salsas and Moles – Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guacamole, and More.

Chef Deborah Schneider is the Executive Chef/Partner of SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, CA and Scottsdale, AZ, as well as solita in Huntington Beach and Santa Clarita. She is the author of The Mexican Slow Cooker; The James Beard Award-nominated Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta; Amor y Tacos; Baja! Cooking on the Edge, which was one of Food & Wine’s Best of the Best of 2006. She is also the co-author of Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Latin Cooking.

We’re now talking about mole. Chef Deb points out that all moles don’t have chocolate as their base. She also shares her recipe for a “quick mole” that’s great in a pinch. In her extensive research for the book Chef Deb developed a new-found appreciation for the depth of moles.


Show 61, February 15, 2013: Chef Rick Bayless, Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, and Red O (in West Hollywood & Newport Beach)

Rick BaylessWhen it comes to possessing a vast knowledge of the regional cooking of the various states in Mexico the recognized “el jefe” in the United States is Chicago’s Rick Bayless. Locally he’s probably best known for the PBS’s series “Mexico – One Plate at a Time” (now starting its 9th award-winning season) and from Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.” In Chicago he’s a local culinary celebrity for his highly popular restaurants including River North’s Topolobampo and Frontera Grill.

Chef Bayless has created the menu for the recently opened, and much talked about, highly designed Red O in Fashion Island, Newport Beach. It’s basically his contemporary take on Oaxacan fare and other culinary regions of Mexico.

Certain dishes are exclusive to Fashion Island (including the well-received guacamole sampler) and the tequila list includes 100 selections.

Chef Bayless offers tips for preparing the perfect guacamole. He gives a lot of credit to his executive chef in Newport Beach Keith Stich. He spent two months in Chicago learning Rick’s style of Mexican cooking.