Show 310, February 9, 2019: Chef Robert Sulatycky, Head Coach, Team USA 2019, Bocuse d’Or Continues…

Robert SulatyckyAfter over a year of intensive training, Team USA, comprised of Chef Matthew Kirkley, Commis Mimi Chen and Head Coach Robert Sulatycky, represented their country in Lyon, France on January 29th at the world’s most prestigious culinary competition, the Bocuse d’Or. Team USA was defending the Gold statue from 2017.

“Every two years, the heart of the Sirha trade exhibition in Lyon, France beats to the beat of the final of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or contest. After many months of preparations, twenty-four of the most promising chefs in the world experience two days of intense competition during which they will have to give their very best in order to try and win the most beautiful trophy in the world of gastronomy.”

For Team USA it’s now looking ahead to 2021. Applications will be going out in April for 2021. Finalists will then be evaluated and selected. A competition will be held late this year in Las Vegas or Napa to then select Team USA 2021 and the training will start anew in the ment’or BKB Bocuse d’Or training kitchen at CIA’s Copia campus in Napa.

Ment’or BKB welcomes your contributions in support of Team USA and young culinarians.


Show 307, January 19, 2019: James Trees, Executive Chef / Proprietor, Esther’s Kitchen, Las Vegas

James TreesJames Trees is a chef in the best, old school meaning of the word. Currently he’s the chef/proprietor of Las Vegas acclaimed Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District adjacent to Downtown. Previously Chef James spent some time in L.A. cooking at high profile establishments. He serves up his own blend of elegant Italian comfort food. Recently added is Weekend Brunch.

“While Chef Trees is descended from Jewish Austrian wine merchants, growing up he spent a lot of time at his best friend Alfio’s house. “I love Italian food because of Alfio and his family,” says Trees. “That’s the food I grew up eating. My mom was always working and didn’t have time to make dinner, so whenever we were hungry we went to Alfio’s house. They’d be making lasagna or braciola, and pasta – there was always pasta. That’s my comfort food.” “

Who is Esther? “Great-aunt Esther was a tough, smart, no-nonsense type who cared about people and gave good advice. “She was a big support to my mom when I was growing up, and that was huge,” says Trees. “She was always there for us.””

“Esther wrote the check that sent Chef Trees off to the CIA (after all, someone had to get him out of Alfio’s kitchen). When she passed in 2016 she left James a nest egg – the money he needed to finally open his own restaurant.”


Show 306, January 12, 2019: Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager, Malibu

Kerry ClasbyA chef’s secret weapon in sourcing exotic produce items is Kerry Clasby known as the Intuitive Forager. Kerry is beloved in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas hospitality communities. She has her own farm in Malibu as well as procuring from farmers markets all over California.

“Aggregator, educator, public speaker, published writer, and acclaimed forager, Kerry Clasby is the founder of Intuitive Forager, a professional foraging, farmers market, and retail company. Kerry is one of the original pioneers of culinary foraging and for over 2 decades has been sourcing top quality-rarefied produce for celebrity chefs with world-renowned restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York. Her awarding winning Farmers Markets are an extension of Kerry’s commitment to bring the same farm-to-table produce to ‘community.’”

“Always an active proponent of great food along with sustainability and a healthy lifestyle, Kerry continues to forage on with lots of projects in the works – including new and exciting things at the Intuitive Foragers Farmers Markets (Downtown 3rd Farmers Market on Friday) in Las Vegas, and The Farm at Malibu – which now includes a Farmstand!”

We’ll find out what is sprouting with Kerry as she bounces back from the devastation of the Woolsey Fire. The good news is that her Malibu Farm Stand has just reopened.


Show 306, January 12, 2019: Food & Entertainment Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review Journal

Al ManciniOne of our most reliable sources of quality restaurant news in Las Vegas is Al Mancini, who is a staff writer for The Las Vegas Review Journal covering food, restaurants, Downtown Las Vegas and other aspects of entertainment. Al has been working the Vegas food scene since 2003. He was one of the creators of the popular, and widely referenced, Eating Las Vegas restaurant guide series.

The huge restaurant news of the moment is L.A.’s own Chef Roy Choi (Kogi BBQ) opening his first venture outside of California, Best Friend restaurant at the new Park MGM. Al explains what he means by saying the spot has an “L.A. feel” to it.

Al shares a preview of what is on the menu there with us plus the other enticing food options at Park MGM. We also talk about the locals’ phenomenon that is the Vegas Golden Knights.


Show 302, December 15, 2018: Chef Ian P. Cairns, Winner of ment’or BKB’s Young Chef Competition

Ian CairnsWe’ve been in Las Vegas this week covering ment’or BKB Foundations’ Fifth Annual Young Chef and Third Annual Commis Competition held in the new Hospitality Hall on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The seven Candidates developed a unique recipe based on the selected protein for the competition which was one, whole Bone-In Lamb Saddle provided by Pure Bred. Each Young Chef candidate had a hand-picked assistant helping them during the competition. They had 2 hours and 35 minutes to cook and plate 10 tasting-size portions of the dish for the chef judges.

The celebrated Chef Jury included Paul Bartolotta, Gavin Kaysen, Timothy Hollingsworth, Hawaii’s Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Philip Tessier (Silver medalist for Team USA at 2015 Bocuse d’Or.)

The winners are awarded the extraordinary opportunity to travel to Lyon, France and support Team USA at the 2019 Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition Finale in January. Team USA will be defending their Gold Medal win from 2017 (an extraordinary achievement.)

Our guest, Ian P. Cairns is the talented and poised winner of the Young Chef Competition. He was sponsored by Chef Josiah Citrin of Melisse in Santa Monica. Ian has also cooked at The French Laundry.


Show 302, December 15, 2018: Eric C. Gladstone, The Feast of Friends, Las Vegas

Eric GladstoneLas Vegas Insider Eric Gladstone is the principal of The Feast of Friends. In Las Vegas Eric produces food festivals and provides creative marketing services to restaurants. His specialty is independent, chef-driven projects. He also does important pro bono work supporting the independent Las Vegas hospitality industry.

Eric is the organizer of the inaugural Vegas UnStripped food festival which will return in 2019.

Eric also helped to organize a two-night benefit series (December 14th & 15th overseen by Rooster Boy Cafe) for the Intuitive Forager, Kerry Clasby. She lost part of her Malibu farm in the Woolsey fire.


Show 300, December 1, 2018: Chef Matthew Peters, Gold Medalist, Team USA, Bocuse d’Or 2017

Mathew PetersWe last spoke with Chef Mathew Peters early last year after he won the first ever Gold Medal for Team USA at the Bocuse d’Or International Culinary Competition, a never-before achieved highlight for the American culinary arts! He’s now Austin, Texas based and is in the process of launching his own destination restaurant there.

Chef Peters is part of the Culinary Council of the ment’or BKB Foundation which supports and funds Team USA. On Wednesday, December 12th in Las Vegas ment’or BKB is staging their Young Chef and Commis Competition. The food-loving public can support the non-profit ment’or BKB Foundation (and the culinary arts in the USA) and attend.

“All competitors in the Young Chef and Commis Competitions are paired with mentors from the Foundation’s Culinary Council or previous Bocuse d’Or Team USA representatives, in tandem with the foundation’s goal of inspiring culinary excellence and fostering a supportive community for the next generation of great chefs in America.”

“This year’s 2018 Young Chef & Commis candidates will congregate in Las Vegas from all across the country, with competitors hailing from Washington, D.C, Chicago, IL and Boston, MA all the way to Honolulu, HI.”

Following the competition, ment’or will host a 10th anniversary celebration dinner. Chefs Paul Bartolotta, Justin Cogley, Timothy Hollingsworth, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, Mathew Peters, Rich Rosendale and Philip Tessier will come together to prepare a special menu honoring the late Chef Paul Bocuse, for whom the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious culinary competition, is named. The festivities will begin at Bouchon Las Vegas at The Venetian Resort with a 45-minute cocktail reception at 7:15pm with passed canapés, followed by a four-course menu.

Tickets for the competition and celebration dinner are available for purchase here.

Chef Matt, who will also be a competition judge, joins us with all the mouthwatering details.


Show 289, September 8, 2018: Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas

Al ManciniJournalist and Las Vegas insider Al Mancini is a graduate of Seton Hall University and Brooklyn Law School, who began his career in journalism as a music reporter for ABC News Radio in 1996. He moved to Las Vegas to cover Southern Nevada for the network in 2001, and has covered the local dining scene for numerous publications since 2003. Al joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a Staff Writer in 2016.

Al got to know the celebrated Robin Leach (“Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous”) over all those years. First it was crossing paths with Robin frequently at the numerous, high-profile Vegas red carpet events they both covered. Robin was already a contributor to the Las-Vegas Review-Journal when Al joined the paper in 2016.

Al joins us to share a side of Robin (beyond the gruff exterior) that you probably don’t know from just seeing him on television. Robin Leach was an unrivaled champion of promoting Las Vegas as a world class destination. Also, very charitable.

Looking for more…Al did a wonderful remembering Robin Leach video feature for Facebook Live with Review-Journal colleague John Katsilometes.




Show 278, June 23, 2018: Chef Colin Fukunaga, FukuBurger, Las Vegas

Colin FukunagaWhen it comes to award-winning burgers for the true enthusiast the place to go in Las Vegas is FukuBurger. They have their original rolling grill food truck on the road (now mainly used for special events & catering) as well as a bricks-and-mortar location in Chinatown. They were recently in L.A. at the Sunday Smorgasburg LA as the invited guest of noted burger authority, George Motz (Hamburger America – A State-By-State Guide to 200 Great Burger Joints.)

Our emeritus Co-Host, Chef Jet Tila, is a big fan of Fukuburger’s Tamago. Chef Jet even profiled it on Food Network’s “Guilty Pleasures.” It’s an all-beef Fukupatty topped with a fried runny egg, furikake, crispy onion strings, and finished with house-prepared teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayo.

A 2nd brick-and-mortar FukuBurger will soon launch is Vegas.

We’re flipping a Tamago Burger with Co-Founder Colin Fukunaga.


Show 274, May 19, 2018: Chef Ricardo Zarate, Once at The Palazzo Resort, Las Vegas

Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica and PiccaSeveral years ago Chef Ricardo Zarate created quite a foodie sensation with his original Mo-Chica restaurant located within walking distance of USC in the Mercado la Paloma. The menu was modern interpretations of traditional Peruvian comfort food.

Currently Chef Ricardo operates Rosaline in Los Angeles and the recently debuted Once in the Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas.

Once is a one-of-a-kind Peruvian Nikkei dining experience from Chef Ricardo Zarate. Once (on-seh), which means ’11’ in Spanish and symbolizes Ricardo Zarate’s spot in his line of 13 siblings, is inspired by the food of his native Peru.

Drawing distinct flavors from both Peru and Japan, along with the comforting dishes of Chef Ricardo Zarate’s childhood, the menu includes dishes such as Big Eye Tuna Sashimi Ceviche, with black truffle and kizami tigers milk; Arroz Chaufa, Peruvian fried rice, snow crab, yuzu aioli and crispy calamari; and Ox Tail Bibimbap, with black mint stew, tacu tacu rice, fried egg and plantains. To compliment the menu, there are 11 signature cocktails, including a Rum & Cola “slushee” machine for an irreverent, Vegas-style twist on a boozy classic.

Dinner nightly with the recently introduced Brunch on Weekends.

One of the distinct design elements is the chefs’ counter. Guests have front row, center views of the goings-on in the open kitchen and can interact with the engaging culinary team. Live theater of the culinary variety…

We relished the “Avocado Toast” on the Brunch menu. It’s not what you expect…It’s spicy tuna, crispy quinoa bread, avocado mousse with a Yuzu aioli.

Chef Ricardo is our guest.