Show 432, July 3, 2021: Al Mancini, Food & Entertainment Journalist, “Food and Loathing” Podcast, Las Vegas

Al Mancini of the Las Vegas Review Journal

One of our most reliable sources of accurate restaurant news in fabulous Las Vegas is Al Mancini, who is the former staff writer for The Las Vegas Review-Journal covering food, restaurants and other aspects of entertainment. After four and one-half years with the Review-Journal Al has now embarked on more personal entrepreneurial ventures covering (without filters) the dynamic Vegas dining and beverage scene. He has just launched the weekly podcast, Food and Loathing with Jason Harris. We’ll hear about the first two episodes (including the opening of the massive Resorts World on The Strip) and how the Vegas dining scene is recovering from the pandemic. Episode 2 is a look at the expanding Plant-Based dining scene in Las Vegas and an overview of the restaurants in the just debuted Virgin Hotel & Casino. New episodes are released on Friday.

Al has been working the Vegas food scene for 20 years. He was one of the creators of the popular, and widely referenced, Eating Las Vegas restaurant guidebook series. Al joins us with his insider’s Las Vegas update.

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Show 422, April 24, 2021: Chef Jet Tila, Cookbook Author, Culinary Educator and Food TV Personality Part One

Jet Tila and a heritage pig at Cochon 555 in 2013

Celebrity Chef, Author and Food TV Personality, Jet Tila, needs no introduction to the listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” With his wife, Ali, he has written the best-selling 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die and,most recently, 101 Epic Dishes. Jet’s latest cookbook will be out in January of 2022. It’s a comprehensive guide to Thai cooking at home made easy.

On Food Network Chef Jet was one of the 3 regular judges for the entire run of “Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown” and the knowledgeable Floor Reporter on the most recent season of the refreshed “Iron Chef America.” Earlier in his career he crossed knives with Iron Chef Masaharu Moromoto (an original Iron Chef from the predecessor Japanese version) on “Iron Chef America” in “Battle Seaweed.” In addition to other worthy accomplishments Chef Jet holds the most Guinness World Records for creating large format food.

Just concluded on Sunday nights was Chef Jet competing on Food Network’s “Tournament of Champions” bracket competition series hosted by Guy Fieri. After winning his first round (Number 3 seed) Chef Jet was matched against the highly competitive Antonio Lofaso (Number 2 seed.) For the first time in Tournament history the judges ranked them a tie with the same scores in all three categories. They then competed head-to-head again to determine which cheftestant earned the final spot in the West Coast bracket to go up against (Number 1 seed) Brooke Williamson. How did Chef Jet do ? We’ll find out…

Chef Jet has an exclusive partnership with Pei Wei to bring his creative dishes to you exclusively at your local Pei Wei fast casual restaurant. Southern California locations are in Valencia, Tustin and San Diego’s Mission Valley. For Spring 2021 Chef Jet’s new seasonal creations are House Special Chicken and Mongolian Green Beans.

House Special Chicken features lightly battered chicken with pineapple, ginger, garlic and mint, tossed in a tangy caramel sauce and served over a bed of rice sticks and topped with an Asian slaw of cucumbers, red bell peppers, carrots, cilantro, and onions in a Vietnamese vinaigrette.”

Chef Jet was in Las Vegas last weekend to launch the first two locations of his new fast casual concept, Dragon Tiger Noodle Co. The current operating locations are Southern Highlands and Henderson. A future location will launch in the Rainbow Commons retail center in Spring Valley (Summerlin.)

“At the Dragon Tiger Noodle Co., the choice is yours! You choose the noodle; ramen to low carb, You choose the broth; Tonkotsu to Chinese Chicken Soup, You choose the protein and vegetables; thinly sliced beef to corn. Served fast with only the freshest ingredients.”

Chef Jet Tila is our special guest chopsticks at the ready.

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Show 422, April 24, 2021: Chef Jet Tila, Cookbook Author, Culinary Educator and Food TV Personality Part Two

Jet Tila and a heritage pig at Cochon 555 in 2013

Celebrity Chef, Author and Food TV Personality, Jet Tila, needs no introduction to the listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” With his wife, Ali, he has written the best-selling 101 Asian Dishes You Need To Cook Before You Die and,most recently, 101 Epic Dishes. Jet’s latest cookbook will be out in January of 2022. It’s a comprehensive guide to Thai cooking at home made easy.

On Food Network Chef Jet was one of the 3 regular judges for the entire run of “Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown” and the knowledgeable Floor Reporter on the most recent season of the refreshed “Iron Chef America.” Earlier in his career he crossed knives with Iron Chef Masaharu Moromoto (an original Iron Chef from the predecessor Japanese version) on “Iron Chef America” in “Battle Seaweed.” In addition to other worthy accomplishments Chef Jet holds the most Guinness World Records for creating large format food.

Just concluded on Sunday nights was Chef Jet competing on Food Network’s “Tournament of Champions” bracket competition series hosted by Guy Fieri. After winning his first round (Number 3 seed) Chef Jet was matched against the highly competitive Antonio Lofaso (Number 2 seed.) For the first time in Tournament history the judges ranked them a tie with the same scores in all three categories. They then competed head-to-head again to determine which cheftestant earned the final spot in the West Coast bracket to go up against (Number 1 seed) Brooke Williamson. How did Chef Jet do ? We’ll find out…

Chef Jet has an exclusive partnership with Pei Wei to bring his creative dishes to you exclusively at your local Pei Wei fast casual restaurant. Southern California locations are in Valencia, Tustin and San Diego’s Mission Valley. For Spring 2021 Chef Jet’s new seasonal creations are House Special Chicken and Mongolian Green Beans.

House Special Chicken features lightly battered chicken with pineapple, ginger, garlic and mint, tossed in a tangy caramel sauce and served over a bed of rice sticks and topped with an Asian slaw of cucumbers, red bell peppers, carrots, cilantro, and onions in a Vietnamese vinaigrette.”

Chef Jet was in Las Vegas last weekend to launch the first two locations of his new fast casual concept, Dragon Tiger Noodle Co. The current operating locations are Southern Highlands and Henderson. A future location will launch in the Rainbow Commons retail center in Spring Valley (Summerlin.)

“At the Dragon Tiger Noodle Co., the choice is yours! You choose the noodle; ramen to low carb, You choose the broth; Tonkotsu to Chinese Chicken Soup, You choose the protein and vegetables; thinly sliced beef to corn. Served fast with only the freshest ingredients.”

Chef Jet Tila continues with us chopsticks at the ready.

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Show 421, April 17, 2021: Donald Contursi of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours, Las Vegas

Donald Contursi of Lipsmacking Foodie Tours

Donald Contursi is the founder of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours based in Las Vegas. In a few short years they have earned the reputation as the premier food walking tour operator in Las Vegas. They offer both fully escorted as well as self -guides foodie tours of the most significant dining areas in Las Vegas both on and off The Strip. Downtown and the neighboring Arts District are now a huge dining destination known for a variety of ethnic cuisines.

“Lady Luck may be a necessity at the gaming tables in Vegas, but not at the dining ones. Not with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours ensuring you the ultimate payoff with the best bites this exciting city has to offer. Our award-winning culinary walking tour company was founded by veteran restaurant industry professionals with years of experience and exclusive connections, who have made it their mission to introduce visitors and locals alike to the best signature dishes, unique preparations, and exciting tastes in Vegas, complete with superlative VIP service.”

The range of fully escorted VIP Lip Smacking Foodie Tours includes “Savors of The Strip,” “Savory Bites & Neon Lights,” “Downtown Lip Smacking Tour” and “Arts District Lip Smacking Tour.” Finger Licking Foodie Tours self-guided options are “Downtown,” “Arts District,” “Chinatown,” And ARIA Resort & Casino.”

Founder Donald Contursi hospitably leads us on the tour of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours.

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Show 410, January 30, 2021: Jolene Mannina, Founder, Vegas Test Kitchen, Las Vegas Part One

Food Entrepreneur Jolene Mannina

“The restaurant world is changing faster than ever before and some of the best chefs are all looking for ways to test out new concepts without a huge investment.”  Food entrepreneur Jolene Mannina, President of  SecretBurger.com  has brought Las Vegas its first Test Kitchen (Vegas Test Kitchen.) “It’s a brick & mortar location in downtown Las Vegas on E. Fremont St. offering a variety of cuisines five days a week (Wednesday through Saturday) from celebrated chefs testing new concepts.” 

“This is a win-win for these amazing chefs and the food loving community we all know Vegas has.” Jolene is our enterprising guest.

Slurp Society is a Ramen concept by Chef Lanny Chin. Chef Lanny is the Vegas Test Kitchen’s first Resident concept. Pop-Up establishments include Nina Manchev’s Banichka Downtown LV serving Baniza, a traditional Bulgarian street food; Pastry Chef Andrea Mclean with PopNPies offering a variety of pies by the slice; Chef Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe with Bodega Bagel and Yukon Pizza with Sourdough wood-fired pizza made with 120-year old family heirloom starter from Chef Alex White.

 Jolene’s other creation, “SECRETBURGER, is a collection of off-the-menu dishes created by some of the best chefs across the U.S. The mission is to allow chefs to be creative day-by-day and for the city to experience new food that can assist advancing the culinary scene forward.” SecretBurger.com is also the conduit for interactive cooking demonstrations with accomplished chefs.

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Show 410, January 30, 2021: Jolene Mannina, Founder, Vegas Test Kitchen, Las Vegas Part Two

Food Entrepreneur Jolene Mannina

“The restaurant world is changing faster than ever before and some of the best chefs are all looking for ways to test out new concepts without a huge investment.”  Food entrepreneur Jolene Mannina, President of  SecretBurger.com  has brought Las Vegas its first Test Kitchen (Vegas Test Kitchen.) “It’s a brick & mortar location in downtown Las Vegas on E. Fremont St. offering a variety of cuisines five days a week (Wednesday through Saturday) from celebrated chefs testing new concepts.” 

“This is a win-win for these amazing chefs and the food loving community we all know Vegas has.” Jolene continues with us furthering the conversation on Vegas Test Kitchen and SecretBurger.

Slurp Society is a Ramen concept by Chef Lanny Chin. Chef Lanny is the Vegas Test Kitchen’s first Resident concept. Pop-Up establishments include Nina Manchev’s Banichka Downtown LV serving Baniza, a traditional Bulgarian street food; Pastry Chef Andrea Mclean with PopNPies offering a variety of pies by the slice; Chef Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe with Bodega Bagel and Yukon Pizza with Sourdough wood-fired pizza made with 120-year old family heirloom starter from Chef Alex White.

 Jolene’s other creation, “SECRETBURGER, is a collection of off-the-menu dishes created by some of the best chefs across the U.S. The mission is to allow chefs to be creative day-by-day and for the city to experience new food that can assist advancing the culinary scene forward.” SecretBurger.com is also the conduit for interactive cooking demonstrations with accomplished chefs.

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Show 409, January 23, 2021: Chef & Restaurateur James Trees of Al Solito Posto, Las Vegas

James Trees of Ada's and Esthers Kitchen in Las VegasWe know Chef James Trees from Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District of Las Vegas adjacent to Downtown. It’s Chef James’ interpretation of elegant Italian comfort food. “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.””

Trees’ latest creation is the newly opened Al Solito Posto in Trivoli Village. Al Solito Posto which translates to “At the Usual Place” is an Italian Restaurant with a focus on the classics. The dinner only menu features house-made pasta, fresh ingredients and quality seafood, steaks and chops. Think a chef-driven minestrone, chicken piccata and cioppino.

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Show 391, September 19, 2020: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

Angelenos know the name of Chef & Restaurateur Luciano Pellegrini (Italian-born) from his days in Los Angeles with Piero Selvaggio as executive chef of Primi in West Los Angeles and Posto in Sherman Oaks. In 1999 Luciano relocated to Las Vegas to open the well-received Valentino Las Vegas in the Venetian Resort as Executive Chef and Partner with Piero Selvaggio. In 2004 the James Beard Foundation awarded Pellegrini a prestigious James Beard Award as Best Chef Southwest. Very few Las Vegas-based chefs have achieved this high honor. Chef Luciano’s recent venture is the launching of Heavenly Pies with his cousin David Ryan Brister. Chef Luciano joins us with pizza peel securely in hand.

Food journalist Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7 TV’s “Hungry Hound” in Chicago, is the recipient of an impressive 13 James Beard Foundation Awards for journalistic excellence. The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala is in Chicago on Friday evening, September 25th in an unexpected virtual format to be broadcast live via Twitter. Steve previews the dramatically reformatted (and virtual) 2020 James Beard Foundation Awards Gala. Steve Dolinsky joins us to better explain the unprecedented specifics.

Founded in 1987 by Chef Zov Karamardian, the iconic Zov’s Bistro and Bakery in Tustin, CA has become a culinary institution. Serving her unique cuisine that blends contemporary with Eastern Mediterranean influences, in an upscale, chic environment. There are now also Zov’s restaurants in Newport Coast, Irvine and Anaheim (temporarily on hiatus.) The Tustin, Irvine and Newport Coast locations are also serving Family Meals and Takeout Menu items curbside. Tailgating in Tustin (twice a month) with live music returns for Happy Hour and Dinner on Saturday, September 19th. New from Zov’s Catering are value-priced, individual meals that are table-ready. 2nd generation Karamardian Family member, Armen, joins us with the updates and looks to the future.

Orange County Restaurant Week Uncorked is on now through Saturday, September 26th. Orange County restaurants are participating with value priced menus available for lunch and/or dinner. Some have specialty cocktails as part of their offerings. The restaurants encourage you to savor the full guest experience with the return of limited dine-in with proper social distancing but most menus are also available To-Go.

Restaurateur Russ Bendel and Executive Chef Jared Cook join us to tempt with their prix fixe dinner menus at Sapphire, Cellar. Craft. Cook in Laguna Beach, Ironwood in Laguna Hills, Olea in Newport Beach, and Vine Restaurant & Bar in San Clemente.

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. Dine-in is slowly, with multiple hiccups, starting to come back but with a lot of new rules that greatly restrict guest counts. Alternately Take-Out / Delivery when you can surely helps… The consensus is that fine dining will look a bit different once the Covid 19 crisis finally subsides and there is a safe & proven vaccine readily available to all Americans. We all anticipate other changes in eating out at all levels of price and service. We’ll get Chef Andrew’s informed and insightful thoughts on the future.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness (with proper Social Distancing) on this week’s not-to-miss show!

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Show 391, September 19, 2020: Chef & Restaurateur Luciano Pellegrini of Heavenly Pies and Dolce Vita Gelato, Las Vegas Part One

Luciano Pellegrini of Heavenly Pies in Las VegasAngelenos know the name of Chef & Restaurateur Luciano Pellegrini (Italian-born) from his days in Los Angeles with Piero Selvaggio as executive chef of Primi in West Los Angeles (the unofficial commissary of Twentieth Century-Fox Studios at the time) and Posto in Sherman Oaks. In 1999 Luciano relocated to Las Vegas to open the well-received Valentino Las Vegas in the Venetian Resort as Executive Chef and Partner with Piero Selvaggio. In 2004 the James Beard Foundation awarded Pellegrini a prestigious James Beard Award as Best Chef Southwest. Very few Las Vegas-based chefs have achieved this honor.

After Valentino Las Vegas closed Pellegrini remained in Las Vegas and continued to expand Dolce Vita Gelato, a premium artisan gelato producer (wholesale) serving the hospitality business. He also consults for other restaurants in Las Vegas and California.

Chef Luciano’s latest venture is the launching of Heavenly Pies in the Southern Highlands neighborhood of Las Vegas with his cousin David Ryan Brister. The style of pizza is a mash up of Roman and Neapolitan varieties with premium ingredients. The signature Heavenly Pizza features black truffle tomato, brie cheese, porcini mushrooms, roasted garlic, speck and escarole.

The Trattoria Menu is Chef Luciano’s take on classic Italian dishes with a few surprises. Think Zeppole (fried dumplings) with anchovies, mozzarella and basil served with marinara or Philly cheese steak eggrolls. Also his Grandmother’s Lasagna.

Additionally on the menu are an assortment of six Takeout Meal packages. Each is designed to serve four guests and are packaged ready to eat or reheat.

Chef Luciano joins us with pizza peel securely in hand.

 

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Show 391, September 19, 2020: Chef & Restaurateur Luciano Pellegrini of Heavenly Pies and Dolce Vita Gelato, Las Vegas Part Two

Luciano Pellegrini of Heavenly Pies in Las VegasAngelenos know the name of Chef & Restaurateur Luciano Pellegrini (Italian-born) from his days in Los Angeles with Piero Selvaggio as executive chef of Primi in West Los Angeles (the unofficial commissary of Twentieth Century-Fox Studios at the time) and Posto in Sherman Oaks. In 1999 Luciano relocated to Las Vegas to open the well-received Valentino Las Vegas in the Venetian Resort as Executive Chef and Partner with Piero Selvaggio. In 2004 the James Beard Foundation awarded Pellegrini a prestigious James Beard Award as Best Chef Southwest. Very few Las Vegas-based chefs have achieved this honor.

After Valentino Las Vegas closed Pellegrini remained in Las Vegas and continued to expand Dolce Vita Gelato, a premium artisan gelato producer (wholesale) serving the hospitality business. He also consults for other restaurants in Las Vegas and California.

Chef Luciano’s latest venture is the launching of Heavenly Pies in the Southern Highlands neighborhood of Las Vegas with his cousin David Ryan Brister. The style of pizza is a mash up of Roman and Neapolitan varieties with premium ingredients. The signature Heavenly Pizza features black truffle tomato, brie cheese, porcini mushrooms, roasted garlic, speck and escarole.

The Trattoria Menu is Chef Luciano’s take on classic Italian dishes with a few surprises. Think Zeppole (fried dumplings) with anchovies, mozzarella and basil served with marinara or Philly cheese steak eggrolls. Also his Grandmother’s Lasagna.

Additionally on the menu are an assortment of six Takeout Meal packages. Each is designed to serve four guests and are packaged ready to eat or reheat.

Chef Luciano continues with us, pizza peel securely in hand.

 

Play