Show 384, August 1, 2020: Executive Chef Craig Hopson, Sea Level Restaurant & Lounge, Shade Hotel Redondo Beach

Craig Hopson of SeaLevel Restaurant and LoungeAt Sea Level Restaurant & Lounge at the Shade Hotel Redondo Beach Executive Chef Craig Hopson offers premium California coastal cuisine that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a weekend brunch. Start with a hand-crafted cocktail and fresh oysters from the raw bar, then move onto one of Chef Craig’s coastal inspired main dishes (Roasted Salmon Fillet with squash, radish, cucumber, quinoa and miso dressing) with a glass of wine or one of the on-tap craft beers from their extensive selection.

“Through it all, you’ll enjoy spectacular views from Palos Verdes to Malibu on plush outdoor seating, all complete with fire pits and heaters in a comfortable, inviting, and modern space that blends a beach feel with a luxury approach to indoor and outdoor dining. Enjoy Chef Craig Hopson’s gourmet culinary talent and experience all that California’s uniquely modern cuisine has to offer: visit for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.”

Newly launched is Chef Craig’s Friday and Saturday night Rooftop Izakaya with Sushi, Sashimi and Izakaya specialties along with a menu of Hand-Crafted Cocktails. Think Japanese Curry with a beef short rib, onion, carrots and served over rice with pickles or the Sea Level Roll with crab, avocado, aioli, masago and tempura crunchies

We reel in Executive Chef Craig Hopson for a chat.


Show 334, July 27, 2019: Executive Chef Chris Garasic, Navy Proof Food and Spirits and The Westin Long Beach

Chef Chris GarasicNavy Proof Food & Spirits, located in the Westin Long Beach, is their newly debuted destination restaurant. A concept created by Howe & Brown Hospitality, the restaurant offers locals and travelers alike new-American fare and craft cocktails with bold flavors. Inspired by the history of maritime traditions and the sea, the cuisine emphasizes technique and texture to highlight the versatility of seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced seafood and meat.

“Executive Chef Chris Garasic has combined the resilient spirit, sense of adventure and love with the sea, with local ingredients and modern techniques to create his beautifully plated and flavorful dishes. Highlights of the menu include Smoked and Crispy Fried Chicken, served with honey & green goddess dressing; Duck Confit Banh Mi, piled high with duck pate, pickled vegetables, and spicy aioli; and Fried Green Tomato with burrata & roasted beets for lunch.”

“Guests may enjoy a variety of entrees from the land or sea for dinner, including Dry Aged Organic Ribeye with potato rosti, black kale, and porcini jus; Roasted Zucchini Cavatelli topped with harissa, lemon, mint and creme fraiche; and Grilled Spanish Octopus accompanied by potato salad and green romesco.”

“As a graduate of Western Culinary School in Portland, Oregon, Executive Chef Chris Garasic joined Navy Proof after previously leading kitchens at Mucho Ultima, The Shade Hotel, and Malibu Farm Lido, and consulting for Rock’N Fish. Using his finely tuned culinary skills to develop menus that are both simple and unique, Chef Chris has continued to leave a lasting impression on the culinary industry for more than two decades.”

We gently pull executive Chef Chris Garasic out of his busy kitchen (Breakfast service is on…) for a chat.


Show 334, July 27, 2019: John (J.T.) Thompson, Managing Director, The Westin Long Beach

John Thompson of the Westin Long BeachThe Westin Long Beach is celebrating the completion of an ambitious $23 million renovation which includes the launch of their destination restaurant, Navy Proof Food & Spirits. The refreshing includes a spacious lobby and revitalized guest rooms. The refurbished spaces reflect a modern, sophisticated style reflecting the property’s vibrant California coastline setting.

“This is such an exciting time to be in Long Beach. There is an abundance of growth as well as an overall elevation of our city, and we are thrilled to be able to contribute by offering Long Beach a chic and welcoming revamped destination in the heart of downtown,” said John Thompson, Westin Long Beach Managing Director. “Transformations like the one we are currently going through bring a new, fresh dynamic to the overall cityscape of Long Beach but also instill a sense of pride for our loyal team members who have been with us from the beginning. For the community and guests alike, the Westin’s new spaces will set the tone for an innovative way to gather, interact and connect.”

Managing Director John Thompson is our hospitable guide.


Show 193, October 15, 2016: Thomas O’Keefe, C.E.C, Executive Chef, Los Angeles Airport Marriott

Thomas O'KeefeWhen it comes to excitement in food and beverage a large, transient hotel property designed for the business traveler located near Los Angeles International Airport with 985 rooms probably wouldn’t be top of the mind. That assumption would be a mistake as Executive Chef Thomas O’Keefe of the LA Airport Marriott will reveal.

This is a busy Marriott airport property (55,000 square feet of meeting space) that Chef Thomas has made a destination for locals to dine at, too. His three full-service restaurants are JW’s Steakhouse, Latitude 33 (3 meals a day), and Champions Sports Bar. Chef Thomas makes it a point to buy locally when he can.

The beef at JW’s is local premium, true natural, from Brandt Farms. It’s corn fed beef, sustainably raised without hormones or antibiotics. Chef Thomas and his attentive front-of-the-house team built the business of JW’s by pleasing guests one table at a time and giving the locals a reason to come back.

Also all the LAX Airport Marriott restaurants are guest friendly when it comes to parking which can be a hassle around LAX. Diners get 3-hours of free parking with a restaurant validation.

We’ll get an unusual behind-the-scenes look at the kitchen happenings at the L.A. Airport Marriott.