Show 406, January 2, 2021: Executive Chef Michael Patria and Assistant General Manager, Lana Nguyen, Cara Restaurant at Cara Los Feliz

Michael Patria of Cara RestaurantOpening rather quietly without fanfare in September was the Cara Los Feliz (Hotel,) a boutique luxury property with 60 well-appointed rooms located on the western edge of Thai Town adjacent to the Los Feliz neighborhood. It’s the result of a tasteful and ambitious (and expensive) makeover of a former dowdy motel. There is obviously big money behind this project.

For foodies the major attraction is the Cara Restaurant which offers relaxed patio dining around a tranquil interior pool. The lush landscaping includes 100-year old olive trees and California Palms. It’s a touch of class with no pretentiousness whatsoever. The menu maker is Executive Chef Michael Patria, most recently with the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara. The cuisine is California-Mediterranean inspired based around ingredients sourced from local farmers using biodynamic and organic methods.

The Lemon Fettuccine with lemon and Parmesan, and Pappardelle with short rib and mushroom ragout are standout pastas.  Both are available on the Cara At Home menu.

Cara debuted with nightly dinner until the ban on patio/outside dining arriving just before Thanksgiving. In the interim Cara is providing their guests with Cara At Home with both a prix fixe menu (for 2) option and a la carte offerings. Room Service is also on the menu for Hotel Guests.

The current Cara at Home complete meal package is centered around Charcoal Smoked Chicken prepared in Chef Patria’s Big Green Egg grills. The starter is Burrata with seasonal cherry tomatoes and grilled sourdough. The accompanying veggies are roasted carrots, broccolini, winter squash and colcannon. Raspberry Galette with almond cream completes the ample meal for two.

We’ll meet Chef Patria as well as Restaurant Manager Lana Nguyen.

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Show 393, October 3, 2020: Mayfield Restaurant and Market, San Juan Capistrano Part One

George Barker of Mayfield Restaurant and MarketMayfield Restaurant & Market is an ambitious, modern California restaurant and market located in Downtown San Juan Capistrano in an extensively refurbished historic building. It’s on two levels and includes a comfortable covered patio. The menu has a Mediterranean and Levant flair and there is also an extensive cocktail list created by a serious Mixologist along with an ample selection of craft beers and natural wines. All of the ingredients are organic.

Friday through Saturday (and Sunday afternoon) is their Supper Club menu. It’s served family-style. The menu categories (with choices in each area) include Rip and Dip, Small Plates, Large Plates and Desserts. Already attracting a following is the Za’atar Fried Chicken with hot honey, house ranch and house pickles. (Wednesday and Thursday evenings it’s an a la carte menu with dishes designed to be shared.)

The daytime, a la carte menu (served Wednesday through Sunday,) offers menu categories of Dips, Breakfast Bits and Lunch Dishes.

The Mayfield Market is stocked with food products Chef Jayro makes in-house and items Mayfield uses and loves. They carry anything to do with eating and drinking well, including pantry items, natural wines, homeware, cookbooks and more.

Proprietor George Barker and Executive Chef Jayro Martinez join us with all the tempting details.

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Show 393, October 3, 2020: Mayfield Restaurant and Market, San Juan Capistrano Part Two

George Barker of Mayfield Restaurant and MarketMayfield Restaurant & Market is an ambitious, modern California restaurant and market located in Downtown San Juan Capistrano in an extensively refurbished historic building. It’s on two levels and includes a comfortable covered patio. The menu has a Mediterranean and Levant flair and there is also an extensive cocktail list created by a serious Mixologist along with an ample selection of craft beers and natural wines. All of the ingredients are organic.

Friday through Saturday (and Sunday afternoon) is their Supper Club menu. It’s served family-style. The menu categories (with choices in each area) include Rip and Dip, Small Plates, Large Plates and Desserts. Already attracting a following is the Za’atar Fried Chicken with hot honey, house ranch and house pickles. (Wednesday and Thursday evenings it’s an a la carte menu with dishes designed to be shared.)

The daytime, a la carte menu (served Wednesday through Sunday,) offers menu categories of Dips, Breakfast Bits and Lunch Dishes.

The Mayfield Market is stocked with premium food products Chef Jayro makes in-house and items Mayfield uses and loves. They carry anything to do with eating and drinking well, including pantry items, natural wines, homeware, cookbooks and more.

Proprietor George Barker and Executive Chef Jayro Martinez continue the conversation.

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Show 384, August 1, 2020: Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate and Partner / Executive Chef Amar Santana of The Hall Global Eatery

Ahmed Labatte and Amar Santana of Vaca Restaurant GroupExecutive Chef & Restaurateur Amar Santana and Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate have reopened The Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza for dine-in on their comfortable, shaded front patio or for curbside pickup. The extensive fast-casual menu is available at the Mediterranean Grill including hand-carved Shawarma, Babaganoush and Hummus. A selection of cocktails from master barman Michael Rooney, beer and wine are available to enjoy on the patio or To-Go. The grab and go Patisserie features a wide variety of baked goods, salads, sandwiches, coffee and juices.

The former full-service Crudo and Charcuterie Bar has been reimagined with the addition of a selection of made-to-order (and customizable) Poke. Guests, to start, have their choice of two proteins including Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Albacore, Octopus, Spicy Tuna, Scallop, King Crab or Tofu. From there a diner has a choice of five toppings from an available selection of 13 options.

Chef Amar’s and Ahmed’s other pair of popular restaurants, Vaca adjacent to South Coast Plaza and Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, are again accommodating guests with full-service patio dining and curbside pickup and delivery.

Chef Amar Santana and Ahmed Labbate are with us providing all the enticing details.

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Show 373, May 16, 2020: Chef & Partner Ted Hopson, The Bellwether, Studio City

Ann Marie Verdi and Ted Hopson of the Bellwether“After honing his skills at some of the most influential restaurants in Southern California –including The Eveleigh, Father’s Office, and Umami Restaurant Group—Chef & Proprietor Ted Hopson now brings his diverse experience and curious palate to The Bellwether in Studio City, incorporating Italian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern flavors for a culinary spread that proudly crashes borders and challenges convention.”

His Partner at The Bellwether is Beverage Director Ann-Marie Verdi. At The Bellwether (in normal times,) Verdi creates a beverage program that pleases all palates through both contemporary and classic selections.

The Bellwether reopened briefly for nighttime curbside pick-up but found it impractical to sustain. Their focus has shifted to preparing wholesome meals for frontline workers and charity groups working with Chef Jose Andres’ much-accomplished World Central Kitchen. Chef Ted and his kitchen staff (depending on fluctuating need) are preparing and delivering some 400 to 600 restaurant quality meals daily with a lot of variety.

Chef Ted brings us up-to-date.

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Show 364, March 14, 2020: Executive Chef Travis Watson, Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara

Travis Watson of the Hotel CalifornianThe new Executive Chef at Hotel Californian is Travis Watson. Chef Travis has refreshed and revamped Hotel Californian’s signature (dinner only) restaurant, Blackbird Restaurant and Bar. On the menu is Mediterranean-influenced, locally sourced, and hyper-seasonal cuisine.

Travis Watson brings 20 years of award-winning culinary experience to Hotel Californian. “Chef Watson’s career has led him all over the world, including France where he served as an apprentice to Chef Georges Paccard of Michelin-starred La Ciboulette. He most recently served as Executive Chef at Rancho Bernardo Inn & Spa in San Diego and is now thrilled to tap into the distinctive terroir of the Central Coast.”

He’s also the menu-maker for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner at the al-fresco Goat Tree, banquets and in-room dining at Hotel Californian. Unusually Chef Travis has an acclaimed, in-house pastry chef as part of his culinary team creating exceptional baked goods (think croissants) and confections from scratch.

Chef Travis takes a break from his busy kitchens to join us.

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Show 353, December 28, 2019: Olive Pit Mediterranean Grill with Chef Yianni Koufodontis

Yianni Koufodontis of the Olive Pit Fresh Mediterranean GrillChef Yianni Koufodontis of the Olive Pit Mediterranean Grill (Brea & Huntington Beach) prepares his dishes with a careful eye on healthy, low fat, low cholesterol and always-natural ingredients.

“For Chef Yianni, cooking is more than an art form; it is a way of life. Eating is the focal point of all Greek family gatherings, and Yianni grew up cooking daily with his mother and grandmother. His talents in the kitchen were unmistakable, even as a young man.”

“Yianni obtained his formal culinary training at the prestigious California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. After graduation he worked under his first culinary mentor, Chef Daniel Boulud, a James Beard Award-winning chef, cookbook author and restaurateur at Restaurant Daniel Manhattan.”

“Just two years later, Yianni was asked to join Chef Wolfgang Puck’s team at Spago in Beverly Hills, where he worked closely with world cuisine chef Lee Hefter, and Wolfgang Puck.”

“In 2005, Yianni was brought in to open Petros Greek Cuisine, where he served as Executive Chef. With much press and praise for Petro’s Greek, and his knowledge and passion for Mediterranean foods rekindled, Yianni decided it was time to open a restaurant of his own.”

“In 2008, together with his partner George Makridis, Yianni opened the first Olive Pit Grill in Brea, California. The restaurant’s success was immediate, and in order to keep up with demand, they opened their second location in Huntington Beach, California two years later.” This year the Brea restaurant moved to a new, expanded space in Downtown Brea on S. Brea Blvd.

“For many generations our family has been dedicated to serving the best Mediterranean cuisine. We serve Greek and Italian classic dishes prepared old-world style… but toss in Chef Yanni’s inspired personal touches, and what you end up with is uniquely Olive Pit Fresh Mediterranean Grill.”

We spirit Chef Yianni out of his busy kitchens for a chat.

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Show 339, August 31, 2019: Chef Amy Riolo with The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, 2nd Edition Part One

Cookbook Author Amy RioloAmy Riolo is a recognized authority on culinary culture as well as an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television and radio personality and educator. Amy is known for sharing history, culture and nutrition through global cuisine as well as simplifying recipes for the home cook. A graduate of Cornell University she is a considered a culinary thought leader who reports on the way we think about food.

Her latest cookbook (The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd edition, May 20, 2019, American Diabetes Association, $22.95) is the new edition of her best-selling book which was a recipient of the Nautilus Silver Award and dubbed “Best. Diabetes. Cookbook. Ever.” by DiabetesMine.com.

We’re in the kitchen with Amy.

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Show 339, August 31, 2019: Chef Amy Riolo with The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, 2nd Edition Part Two

Cookbook Author Amy RioloAmy Riolo is a recognized authority on culinary culture as well as an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television and radio personality and educator. Amy is known for sharing history, culture and nutrition through global cuisine as well as simplifying recipes for the home cook. A graduate of Cornell University she is a considered a culinary thought leader who reports on the way we think about food.

Her latest cookbook (The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd edition, May 20, 2019, American Diabetes Association, $22.95) is the new edition of her best-selling book.

“Amy began promoting the benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle after spending time with relatives in her ancestral homeland of Crotone, Italy. When she noticed the healthful and enjoyable traditions that enabled her family to live better, longer, she decided to make it her life’s mission to share their secrets (along with those of other Mediterranean cultures). She named her culinary philosophy after the popular Egyptian expression “bilhanna we shefa” which means “with pleasure and health” and is said prior to eating in place of “bon appetit.” Since Amy grew up preparing diabetes-friendly recipes for her mother that her whole family enjoyed, she began collaborating with the American Diabetes Association to help others enjoy eating healthful, mouth-watering Mediterranean dishes that just so happen to be diabetes-friendly.”

“Named “Best Overall Diet” in 2019 by US News and World Report, experts agree that a Mediterranean-style eating pattern is one of the best for people with diabetes. The new edition of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook enables you to easy implement and enjoy the nutritional benefits and exciting flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. With an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and healthful cooking methods, this collection delivers over 200 new and revised recipes that are delicious, authentic, and naturally nutritious. Get inspired by amazing dishes from Southern Europe, the Levant, and North Africa including: Roasted Beet, Tahini, and Greek Yogurt Dip, Valencian Seafood Paella, Orzo with Lemon, Artichokes, and Asparagus, Corsican Prawns with Chickpea Cream, Moroccan Style Tuna, Strawberry Mascarpone Parfaits and Mango Tiramisu to name a few.”

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Show 324, May 18, 2019: Innkeeper Richard Slosky, La Maison Palm Springs Hotel

Richard SchusterLa Maison Palm Springs Hotel is an award-winning boutique hotel property in Palm Springs. They are a member of the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. This boutique hotel is a Mediterranean-inspired property, complete with clay tile roofs, terracotta floors, and a walled garden, offering a tranquil place for guests to unwind. The unique ambiance combines the relaxing colors and warmth of Provence with the vibrant energy of Palm Springs.

“Indulge in lavender scones and handcrafted lattes each morning. Spend the day lounging by the pool in our charming inner courtyard. At night, enjoy the most peaceful sleep on your feather bed dressed in imported luxury linens.”

“Here at La Maison Palm Springs Hotel, we know that every detail is important. All 13 guest rooms surround the pool and lush gardens. Each room is individually decorated and includes either a queen or king feather bed with luxury linens, seasonal down comforters and a small guest fridge. Our bathrooms have marble or granite accents, L’Occitane bath amenities, plush bathrobes and rain showerheads. The pièce de résistance? A complimentary lavender sachet on your pillow at night.”

Our gracious host is Proprietor Richard Slosky (who operates the property with his wife, Cornelia Schuster.)

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