Show 474, May 14, 2022: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

UNiTE Food (Woman Owned) was inspired by their fearlessly positive immigrant Founder, Clara Paye, who didn’t see herself represented in the nutrition bar aisle. Clara wanted to capture the magic of family favorites made in kitchens across the globe. So with the help of some beloved neighbors and friends – all representing different nationalities – Clara developed a global sampling of nostalgic, childhood flavors. UNiTE Food was born to shake up the run-of-the-mill protein bar aisle – inviting customers to discover and taste the delicious diversity of flavors from around the world. No passport required. UNiTE Food, a discovery at the recent Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center, is shaking up the run-of-the-mill protein snack bar aisle – uniting globally inspired flavors with wholesome, gluten-free ingredients and superfoods for a nourishing, snack.” Founder Clara Paye joins us.

“The rising star of California’s central coast AVA is the Edna Valley, and in these foothills lies a landmark estate vineyard, its roots spanning four decades. Center of Effort is a crown jewel of this trending wine region, famed for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Edna Valley is notable for the state’s coolest wine conditions and long growing season, brought about by the breezes and morning fog from the Pacific Ocean. Center of Effort harnesses the area’s unique and valuable properties to produce wines that are well balanced and complex. The winemaking operations at Center of Effort are led by Nathan Carlson, a veteran Edna Valley winemaker, who has worked with Center of Effort estate vineyards since 2008.  His experience over this time with the soil, climate, and character of each parcel of the vines has led to a quiet confidence in the ultimate results of their winemaking actions or restraint.” Winemaker & General Manager Nathan Carlson and Culinary Manager Lindsey Morin join us to pull the cork on all that is Center of Effort.

“Los Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery, established in 2004, has the largest portfolio of organic spirits for customers seeking a higher standard of taste and an easier way to make the perfect cocktail. Way back when, founder Melkon Khosrovian was inspired to create infused spirits that his fiance, Litty Mathew (founder) would find more palatable than the harsh liquor served during his Armenian family celebrations— a tall task as Litty is a gourmet at heart.” “Buzz-Less Spirits” is a growing trend and product category. Greenbar has a new line of non-alcoholic canned Highballs (Un Gin+Tonic and Un Rum+Cola) as an addition to their Bitters+Soda (Burnt Orange, Earl Grey, and Lavender) cans. Greenbar Distillery Founder Litty Mathew is our guest.

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. Restaurants are still suffering from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. Last month the House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion in assistance for restaurant owners who previously applied but were unable to receive financial assistance from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Chef Andrew shares where this sits currently. Chef Andrew also remembers friend and colleague Chef Arthur (Art) Gonzalez (Panxa Cocina and Roe Seafood in Long Beach) who sadly left us way too soon this week.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

Play

May 14: UNiTE Food, Center of Effort, Greenbar Distillery

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Clara Paye, Founder, Unite Foods, Protein Snack Bars Part One
Segment Three: Clara Paye, Founder, Unite Foods, Protein Snack Bars Part Two
Segment Four: Center of Effort Wines, Edna Valley AVA, CA Part One
Segment Five: Center of Effort Wines, Edna Valley AVA, CA Part Two
Segment Six: Litty Mathew, Founder, Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Seven: Litty Mathew, Founder, Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Eight: “Ask the Chef” with Co-host Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group

We’re previewing the show with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris.

UNiTE Food (Woman Owned) was inspired by their fearlessly positive immigrant Founder, Clara Payne, who didn’t see herself represented in the nutrition bar aisle. Clara wanted to capture the magic of family favorites made in kitchens across the globe. So with the help of some beloved neighbors and friends – all representing different nationalities – Clara developed a global sampling of nostalgic, childhood flavors. UNiTE Food was born to shake up the run-of-the-mill protein bar aisle – inviting customers to discover and taste the delicious diversity of flavors from around the world. No passport required. UNiTE Food, a discovery at the recent Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center, is shaking up the run-of-the-mill protein snack bar aisle – uniting globally inspired flavors with wholesome, gluten-free ingredients and superfoods for a nourishing, snack.” Founder Clara Payne joins us.

The rising star of California’s central coast AVA is the Edna Valley, and in these foothills lies a landmark estate vineyard, its roots spanning four decades. Center of Effort is a crown jewel of this trending wine region, famed for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Edna Valley is notable for the state’s coolest wine conditions and long growing season, brought about by the breezes and morning fog from the Pacific Ocean. Center of Effort harnesses the area’s unique and valuable properties to produce wines that are well balanced and complex. The winemaking operations at Center of Effort are led by Nathan Carlson, a veteran Edna Valley winemaker, who has worked with Center of Effort estate vineyards since 2008. His experience over this time with the soil, climate, and character of each parcel of the vines has led to a quiet confidence in the ultimate results of their winemaking actions or restraint.” Winemaker & General Manager Nathan Carlson and Culinary Manager Lindsey Morin join us to pull the cork on all that is Center of Effort.

“Los Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery established in 2004 has the largest portfolio of organic spirits for customers seeking a higher standard of taste and an easier way to make the perfect cocktail. Way back when, founder Melkon Khosrovian was inspired to create infused spirits that his fiance, Litty Mathew (founder) would find more palatable than the harsh liquor served during his Armenian family celebrations— a tall task as Litty is a gourmet at heart.” “Buzz-Less Spirits” is a growing trend and product category. Greenbar has a new line of non-alcoholic canned Highballs (Un Gin+Tonic and Un Rum+Cola) as an addition to their Bitters+Soda (Burnt Orange, Earl Grey, and Lavender) cans. Greenbar Distillery Founder Litty Mathew is our guest.

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. Restaurants are still suffering from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. Last month the House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion in assistance for restaurant owners who previously applied but were unable to receive financial assistance from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Chef Andrew shares where this sits currently.

All of this and heaping helpings of extra deliciousness on this week’s not-to-miss show!

Clara Paye of Unite Food Protein Bars

UNiTE Food (Woman Owned) was inspired by their fearlessly positive immigrant Founder, Clara Paye, who didn’t see herself represented in the nutrition bar aisle. Clara wanted to capture the magic of family favorites made in kitchens across the globe. So, with the help of some beloved neighbors and friends – all representing different nationalities – Clara developed a global sampling of nostalgic, childhood flavors. UNiTE Food was born to shake up the run-of-the-mill bar aisle – inviting customers to discover and taste the delicious diversity of flavors from around the world. No passport required!”

UNiTE Food, a discovery at the recent Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center, is shaking up the run-of-the-mill protein snack bar aisle – uniting globally inspired flavors with wholesome, gluten-free ingredients and superfoods for a nourishing, snack.” No artificial sweeteners are used and the snack bars are made with nut butters.

“The flavors of UNiTE protein snack bars are bold and bright. From comforting peanut butter and jelly (with creamy peanut butter and sweet strawberry bits) to crave-worthy churro (crunchy almonds and vanilla, dusted with cinnamon), the snack bars represent real people and places. A new addition is Mexican Hot Chocolate made with real almond butter and chocolate with hints of cinnamon and warm chili. Whether it’s a flavor you grew up with or a flavor you’ve fallen in love with, enjoy the delicious diversity of UNiTE’s bars.”

Founder Clara Paye joins us.

Lindsey Morin of Center of Effort

“The rising star of California’s central coast AVA is the Edna Valley, and in these foothills lies a landmark estate vineyard, its roots spanning four decades. Center of Effort is a crown jewel of this trending wine region, famed for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Edna Valley is notable for the state’s coolest wine conditions and long growing season, brought about by the breezes and morning fog from the Pacific Ocean. Center of Effort harnesses the area’s unique and valuable properties to produce wines that are well balanced and complex.”

“Center of Effort’s respect for the vineyard and its unique environment is reflected with emphasis on sustainable viticulture, natural fermentation and other non-invasive, progressive winemaking practices. The opening of their beautiful, state of the art hospitality center has enabled them to share the vineyard experience with style and comfort both indoors and out. Center of Effort’s estate wines represent the intersection of care taking, skill and commitment, and according to Forbes, “the results are pure and elegant expressions of Edna Valley terroir.””

“The winemaking operations at Center of Effort are led by Nathan Carlson, a veteran Edna Valley winemaker, who has worked with Center of Effort estate vineyards since 2008. His experience over this time with the soil, climate, and character of each parcel of the vines has led to a quiet confidence in the ultimate results of their winemaking actions or restraint.”

Nathan Carlson of Center of Effort

“The estate at Center of Effort has origins that date back to 1978 when it was originally The Lawrence Family Winery. Founder Jim Lawrence was one of the first vintners to grasp the potential of the Edna Valley. In time, the Lawrence estate became an epicenter of the local wine community, serving as a magnet for some of the region’s brightest winemaking talents.”

“Today the vision of owners, Bill and Cheryl Swanson, is an established artisan winery that will maximize the estate’s potential and be unique within the beautiful Edna Valley. The name Center of Effort references a sailing term which is the point on the sail where the forces come together and act as a whole. Through skillful cultivation, artistic winemaking, and a passion for excellence, these forces join to create a wine that is classic, timeless and exudes a sense of place and purpose.”

Adjacent to the Center of Effort vineyard, winery and hospitality center is a beautiful 40-acre property that was acquired in the fall of 2015. After an extensive remodel to the home and event area, a GSM vineyard was planted to produce Rhone style wines. The event area includes a outdoor kitchen, putting green, oyster shell Bocce courts, orchard, and amazing views of the Edna Valley.

“At Center of Effort, we make authentic wines that tell a story of our place and our people. I’m proud that we share that story and our wines with genuine hospitality and connection,” says Winemaker Nathan Carlson.

Winemaker & General Manager Nathan Carlson and Culinary Manager Lindsey Morin join us to pull the cork on all that is Center of Effort.

Litty Mathew of Greenbar Distillery

“Los Angeles-based Greenbar Distillery established in 2004 has the largest portfolio of organic spirits for customers seeking a higher standard of taste and an easier way to make the perfect cocktail.”

“The truth is, great cocktails can be really difficult to make. That’s why Greenbar Distillery does the hard work for you, creating deeply flavorful spirits that remove the hassle, mess and guesswork from making great cocktails. This allows Greenbar’s customers to spend less time making drinks and more time enjoying friends and family.”

“Way back when, founder Melkon Khosrovian was inspired to create infused spirits that his fiance, Litty Mathew (founder) would find more palatable than the harsh liquor served during his Armenian family celebrations— a tall task as Litty is a gourmet at heart.”

“Through relentless research and experimentation, the two began to innovate the art of extracting and capturing clean, rich flavors from organic ingredients. Legend of their concoctions grew and, eventually, led them to create Greenbar Distillery.”

“Buzz-Less Spirits” is a growing trend and product category. Greenbar has a new line of non-alcoholic canned Highballs (Un Gin+Tonic and Un Rum+Cola) as an addition to their Bitters+Soda (Burnt Orange, Earl Grey, and Lavender) cans.

“How did Greenbar Distillery improve non-alcoholic cocktails? By giving them real depth and complexity through the use of authentically distilled and infused spirits. Greenbar simply finishes these by distilling off the alcohol while keeping all of the rich flavors cocktail lovers crave…only now without the buzz.”

“Delicious organic spirits = healthier planet. Saving the planet can be fun. Greenbar customers have the satisfaction of knowing that for every bottle they enjoy, Greenbar Distillery will plant one tree. Simply enjoying one cocktail made with 2oz. of their spirits renders you carbon negative for the day – how easy is that?”

Greenbar Distillery Founder Litty Mathew is our guest.

Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group

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.

Restaurants are still suffering from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. Last month the House of Representatives approved more than $40 billion in assistance for restaurant owners who previously applied but were unable to receive financial assistance from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Chef Andrew shares where this sits currently.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Clara Paye, Founder, Unite Foods, Protein Snack Bars Part One
Segment Three: Clara Paye, Founder, Unite Foods, Protein Snack Bars Part Two
Segment Four: Center of Effort Wines, Edna Valley AVA, CA Part One
Segment Five: Center of Effort Wines, Edna Valley AVA, CA Part Two
Segment Six: Litty Mathew, Founder, Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Seven: Litty Mathew, Founder, Greenbar Distillery, Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Eight: “Ask the Chef” with Co-host Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group

Show 126, June 13, 2015: Show Preview with Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris

Andrew GruelExecutive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and, now, Newport Beach is back as today’s special Guest Host.

Now a delectable preview of Saturday’s fully-leaded show.

Greenbar Craft Distillery located in Downtown Los Angeles represents the world’s largest portfolio of organic, handcrafted spirits, including BAR KEEP organic bitters, CRUSOE organic rums, FRUITLAB organic liquers, IXA organic tequila, SLOW HAND organic whiskey, TRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas. It’s the first new distillery located in Los Angeles since the repeal of Prohibition. Co-Founder Litty Mathew joins us with the spirited background.

Catch & Release, newly opened in Marina del Rey in the previous Paiche space, is an ode to New England seafood with California inspiration from Chef/Partner Jason Neroni (exSuperba Snack Bar in Venice.) It’s a partnership with restaurateur Bill Chait’s Sprout L.A. Chef Neroni’s memories of Maine summers and precious time bonding over food with family led to the conception of Catch & Release. He’s our guest.

Beverly Hills is one of the toughest, and most unforgiving, markets for sophisticated dining in Los Angeles County. It’s hard to imagine thinking about quality Italian cuisine in Beverly Hills without mentioning il Pastaio, the celebrated Italian restaurant in the city’s center. For 21 years now, il Pastaio has served as an important gathering spot for locals as well as a place for celebrities to be seen. And for all of these years, one man has run the kitchen with an extraordinary eye for detail : Owner/Chef Giacomino Drago.

The soon-to-be-discovered Lodi Wine Country is one of California’s major winegrowing regions. It’s located 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, south of Sacramento and west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lodi is characterized by rural atmosphere where wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting–edge technology to the region.

Camron King, the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, joins us with all the exciting 411.

Chef Akasha Richmond is one of the pioneers in destination dining in Culver City with Akasha which she debuted in 2008. Now she has launched her second restaurant in Culver City, Sambar, which is located steps away from Akasha. It’s inspired by her travels throughout India as well as her affinity for the rich culture and traditions of the country. Sambar showcases the diversity of Indian cuisine with an invigorating array of clean, bright flavors and choices – all inflected with familiar ingredients as interpreted through a California lens. Chef Akasha Richmond is our guest.

Don’t miss Guest Host Chef Andrew Gruel’s new restaurant makeover series, “Say It To My Face” on FYI. An original episode is aired every Thursday evening with an encore episode thereafter. Check your local listings. On-line food reviewers confront restaurateurs with the shortcomings of their establishments. It’s then up to Chef Andrew and his colleague, Chef Anthony Dispensa, to coach the chef and restaurateur to achieve a much higher level of guest satisfaction when the on-line reviews return for another look! Sometimes it’s tough-love…

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Play

Show 126, June 13, 2015: Litty Mathew, Co-Owner, Greenbar Craft Distillery

Litty MathewGreenbar Craft Distillery located in Downtown Los Angeles represents the world’s largest portfolio of organic, handcrafted spirits, including BAR KEEP organic bitters, CRUSOE organic rums, FRUITLAB organic liquers, IXA organic tequila, SLOW HAND organic whiskey, TRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas. It’s the first new distillery located in Los Angeles since the repeal of Prohibition.

When husband-and-wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew started Greenbar in 2004, they made conventional spirits with local, hand-processed produce. As their farmers switched to organics the Greenbar spirits started tasting different – better ! Greenbar Distillery switched, too.

Soon, their unique spirits won many awards. Melkon and Litty graciously couldn’t take all the credit. They learned their successes also hinged on some silent partners – the farmers who grew their ingredients. Several had moved to organic farming, resulting in more aromatic, flavorful produce. That, in turn, led to more flavorful, aromatic spirits.

“Today, Greenbar Craft Distillery produces and distributes the world’s biggest portfolio of organic spirits – all made by hand with real ingredients. The environment also benefits because the company uses lightweight bottles, 100 % recycled labels and plants a tree for every bottle sold.”

Greenbar Distillery hosts entertaining interactive tours and tastings at The Distillery. The tours are scheduled for Friday nights and Weekend afternoons. It’s an affordable $12 per guest and there are discount tickets available regularly on Living Social and Groupon. They have their own, secured lot for easy parking.

Co-Founder Litty Mathew joins us with the spirited background.

 

Play

June 13: Greenbar Craft Distillery, Jason Neroni, Giacomino Drago, Lodi Wines, Akasha Richmond

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Litty Mathew, Co-Owner, Greenbar Craft Distillery
Segment Three: Executive Chef & Partner Jason Neroni, Catch & Release
Segment Four: Executive Chef and Restaurateur Giacomino Drago
Segment Five: Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Wine Commission Part One
Segment Six: Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Wine Commission Part Two
Segment Seven: Chef Akasha Richmond, Sambar, Culver City Part One
Segment Eight: Chef Akasha Richmond, Sambar, Culver City Part Two

Andrew GruelExecutive Chef Andrew Gruel of the rapidly growing Slapfish empire with restaurants in Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, and, now, Newport Beach is back as today’s special Guest Host.

Now an enticing preview of Saturday’s fully-loaded show. Our goal is to leave you hungry and thirsty. In our case, that’s a good thing…

Greenbar Craft Distillery located in Downtown Los Angeles represents the world’s largest portfolio of organic, handcrafted spirits, including BAR KEEP organic bitters, CRUSOE organic rums, FRUITLAB organic liquers, IXA organic tequila, SLOW HAND organic whiskey, TRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas. It’s the first new distillery located in Los Angeles since the repeal of Prohibition. Co-Founder Litty Mathew joins us with the spirited background.

Catch & Release, newly opened in Marina del Rey in the previous Paiche space, is an ode to New England seafood with California inspiration from Chef/Partner Jason Neroni (ex-Superba Snack Bar in Venice.) It’s a partnership with restaurateur Bill Chait’s Sprout L.A. Chef Neroni’s memories of Maine summers and precious time bonding over food with family led to the conception of Catch & Release. He’s our guest.

Beverly Hills is one of the toughest, and most unforgiving, markets for sophisticated dining in Los Angeles County. It’s hard to imagine thinking about quality Italian cuisine in Beverly Hills without mentioning il Pastaio, the celebrated Italian restaurant in the city’s center. For 21 years now, il Pastaio has served as an important gathering spot for locals as well as a place for celebrities to be seen. And for all of these years, one man has run the kitchen with an extraordinary eye for detail : Owner/Chef Giacomino Drago.

The soon-to-be-discovered “Lodi Wine Country” is one of California’s major winegrowing regions. It’s located 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, south of Sacramento and west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lodi is characterized by rural atmosphere where wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting–edge technology to the region.

Camron King, the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission joins us with all the exciting 411.

Chef Akasha Richmond is one of the pioneers in destination dining in Culver City with Akasha which she debuted in 2008 in the historic building which was originally the City’s first hospital. Now she has launched her second restaurant in Culver City, Sambar, which is located steps away from Akasha. It’s inspired by her travels throughout India as well as her affinity for the rich culture and traditions of the country. Sambar showcases the diversity of Indian cuisine with an invigorating array of clean, bright flavors and choices – all inflected with familiar ingredients as interpreted through a California lens. Chef Akasha Richmond is our guest.

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Litty MathewGreenbar Craft Distillery located in Downtown Los Angeles represents the world’s largest portfolio of organic, handcrafted spirits, including BAR KEEP organic bitters, CRUSOE organic rums, FRUITLAB organic liquers, IXA organic tequila, SLOW HAND organic whiskey, TRU organic gin and TRU organic vodkas. It’s the first new distillery located in Los Angeles since the repeal of Prohibition.

When husband-and-wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew started Greenbar in 2004, they made conventional spirits with local, hand-processed produce. As their farmers switched to organics the Greenbar spirits started tasting different – better ! Greenbar Distillery switched, too.

Soon, their unique spirits won many awards. Melkon and Litty graciously couldn’t take all the credit. They learned their successes also hinged on some silent partners – the farmers who grew their ingredients. Several had moved to organic farming, resulting in more aromatic, flavorful produce. That, in turn, led to more flavorful, aromatic spirits.

“Today, Greenbar Craft Distillery produces and distributes the world’s biggest portfolio of organic spirits – all made by hand with real ingredients. The environment also benefits because the company uses lightweight bottles, 100 % recycled labels and plants a tree for every bottle sold.”

Co-Founder Litty Mathew joins us with the spirited background.

jason-neroniCatch & Release, newly opened in Marina del Rey in the previous Paiche space, is an ode to New England seafood with California inspiration from Chef/Partner Jason Neroni (exSuperba Snack Bar in Venice.) It’s a partnership with restaurateur Bill Chait’s Sprout L.A.

Chef Neroni’s memories of Maine summers and precious time bonding over food with family led to the conception of Catch & Release. Neroni has honed his culinary craft in kitchens all over the world, and these experiences are evidenced by the international influences on the menu. The range is from French bouillabaisse to Spanish paella. Catch & Release, while finding its providence in Maine, will retain the California sensibility for which Neroni has become known, serving seasonal seafood and vegetables, whenever possible, from local and sustainable sources.

As a 16-year-old kid from Orange County, Neroni got a job working in Disneyland’s Club 33. There he discovered a love of, and aptitude for, the kitchen that would set him apart. His newfound interest and abilities took him north to Chez Panisse, where he worked the line for a year and began his career-long reverence for responsibly sourced ingredients.

Giacomino DragoBeverly Hills is one of the toughest, and most unforgiving, markets for sophisticated dining in Los Angeles County. It’s hard to imagine thinking about quality Italian cuisine in Beverly Hills without mentioning il Pastaio, the celebrated Italian restaurant in the city’s center. For 21 years now, il Pastaio has served as an important gathering spot for locals as well as a place for celebrities to be seen. And for all of these years, one man has run the kitchen with an extraordinary eye for detail : Owner/Chef Giacomino Drago.

In Beverly Hills with its fickle clientele, it’s never easy to keep patrons happy. That Giacomino has consistently pleased his demanding customers for over two decades is a feat to be lauded. It’s clear something special is happening in the kitchen. Daily fresh-made pastas, traditional risottos, salads with Italian staples like artichokes, lentils and aged Parmesean, and entrees, including whole Branzino prepared simply with lemon, butter and capers. These are just a few of the fresh flavors that emerge from Giacomino’s kitchen.

Building upon the immediate success of il Pastaio, Giacomino opened the charming boutique trattoria Piccolo Paradiso in Beverly Hills. He also founded Panzanella in Sherman Oaks, il Segreto in the Bel Air hills, Via Alloro and il Buco, both in Beverly Hills, and Celestinio in Pasadena. In addition, Giacomino owns two fine dining sushi restaurants, SHU Sushi House Unico just a few doors away from his il Segreto in Bel Air, and Yojisan, a unique concept marrying Japanese and Italian cuisines into one. Here, albacore sashimi meets olive oil and persimmon for flavors never before considered. Taste the food you’ll agree it’s delicious.

Chef Giacomino is our guest.

Camron King of the Lodi Winegrape AssociationThe about-to-be-discovered “Lodi Wine Country” is one of California’s major winegrowing regions. It’s located 100 miles east of San Francisco near the San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta, south of Sacramento and west of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Lodi is characterized by rural atmosphere where wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting–edge technology to the region.

In Lodi, grape growing is inextricably woven into the culture : the city of Lodi’s police department prominently features a grape cluster in its logo, and high school teams are named after grape varieties.

Lodi has been a major winegrape growing region for over 150 years. Unlike many U.S. wine regions, Lodi actually prospered during Prohibition and as such has been a continuous source of wine grapes since the 1850s. In fact, when early trappers wandered into what is now Lodi, they called one stream they discovered “Wine Creek” because of the proliferation of wild vines found there. As more and more Italian and German immigrants made their homes in Lodi, vinifera varieties such as Zinfandel, Tokay, and Alicante appeared by the 1880s.

Camron King, the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission joins us with all the exciting 411.

The about-to-be-discovered “Lodi Wine Country” is one of California’s major winegrowing regions but maintains a low profile. Lodi is characterized by rural atmosphere where wineries and farms run by 4th and 5th generation families operate in tandem with a new group of vintners who have brought creative winemaking and cutting–edge technology to the region.

The Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA) was recognized by the federal government in 1986, and seven smaller AVAs within the Lodi area were added in 2005.

Lodi leads the state in its commitment to sustainable agriculture and has demonstrated this by establishing Lodi Rules™ in 2005, California’s first third-party sustainable winegrowing program. As the first in California, Lodi Rules™ serves as a model for many wine regions that are now adopting sustainable winegrowing programs.

The Lodi AVA has about 100,000 acres of winegrapes, farmed by more than 750 growers, many of whose families have grown grapes for a century or more. The region’s annual yield of nearly 750,000 tons of grapes in 2012 was valued at $500 million and comprised 19 % of California’s total wine grape production.

He’s our guest.

Akasha RichmondChef Akasha Richmond is one of the pioneers in destination dining in Downtown Culver City with Akasha which she debuted in 2008. Now she has launched her second restaurant in Culver City, Sambar, which is located steps away from Akasha.

It’s inspired by her travels throughout India as well as her affinity for the rich culture and traditions of the country. Sambar showcases the diversity of Indian cuisine with an invigorating array of clean, bright flavors and choices – all inflected with familiar ingredients as interpreted through a California lens.

The concept takes its name from a traditional Indian based vegetable stew that is a staple in most South Indian homes. It was the first Indian dish that Richmond had ever tried many years ago. “I’m enamored by the balance of the very complex yet comforting approach to Indian cooking,” says Richmond.

The menu at Sāmbār will change with the season as the kitchen turns out a selection of spice-driven dishes that focus on local California ingredients including small plates, snacks, and street foods. While the foods of India can be as diverse as the varying states, from the heartier and richer curries of the North, to the rice-based and more tropical fare found in the south, there is a common thread which Richmond has effortlessly captured with the Sāmbār menu emphasizing a balance of sweet, spicy, hot, and salty, dishes such as Sevpuri Chaat, Gunpowder Smashed Potatoes, Truck Stop Goat Curry, Mississippi Masala Wings, Cheese Thali, or Black Quinoa Uttapam–a small fermented pancake.

Chef Akasha Richmond is our guest.

Sambar is open for dinner to start with an announcement of lunch to follow. Richmond’s penchant for the lighter foods of the Southern region, as well as nourishing and curative ingredients will stand out at Sāmbār, such as the Pigeon Pea Fritters, Goan Chicken Xacuti, or Lemon Rice, as well as Curries and Vegetables including a Backwater Shrimp Stir-Fry and Punjabi Mama Greens, to name a few.

Exploring new techniques, the ever-evolving menu will showcase Richmond’s culinary prowess and ambition to try inventive dishes while striking a balance with approachable and crowd-pleasing items. “While there will be vegetarian options and we won’t have beef on the menu, we will have goat, lamb, and pork dishes, there will be something for everyone,” says Richmond. Additional entrées will include Tandoori-Style dishes such as a British Raj Chicken, Pistachio Lamp Chops, and Pork Shoulder roasted with vindaloo masala served with naan focaccia.

Think Indian food only pairs with beer ? Nonsense! Sāmbār’s resident mixology team will be led by Clare Ward who, together with Richmond’s influence, inspired the cocktail program at Sāmbār. Ward also serves as the lead mixologist at AKASHA, Richmond’s landmark Culver City neighborhood eatery. Spice driven cocktails, housemade bitters, and rare and interesting spirits will be found on the drinks menu including “Last Train to Goa” ̶ a punch made with Arrack and rose syrup, or East Indian Pimms made with fresh curry leaves.

The beverage program will also incorporate housemade chai and organic Indian teas. Guests can enjoy cocktails at the bar or take a front-row seat just steps from the kitchen and share Head on Prawns with Mango Powder Marinade and Turmeric Naan, or the Sāmbār Snack Mix and a drink.

Podcasts

Segment One: Show Preview with Chef Andrew Gruel and Executive Producer & Co-Host Andy Harris
Segment Two: Litty Mathew, Co-Owner, Greenbar Craft Distillery
Segment Three: Executive Chef & Partner Jason Neroni, Catch & Release
Segment Four: Executive Chef and Restaurateur Giacomino Drago
Segment Five: Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Wine Commission Part One
Segment Six: Camron King, Executive Director, Lodi Wine Commission Part Two
Segment Seven: Chef Akasha Richmond, Sambar, Culver City Part One
Segment Eight: Chef Akasha Richmond, Sambar, Culver City Part Two