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.


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.


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.


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

We’re in the kitchen with Amy.


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.”


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.)


Show 321, April 27, 2019: Christopher Galindo, Restaurant Chef, Meridia at The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort

Chef Chris Galindo and Andy HarrisWe first met Chef Christopher Galindo two years ago when he was overseeing Hau Tree on the beach next door at the Resort’s sister property, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Last year he switched beaches and moved over to The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort’s new Meridia as the menu-maker.

It’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine created with locally sourced ingredients and infused with Hawaii’s rich local bounty. Also know for creative, signature cocktails and a primo 180 degree view of the Pacific at Sunset.

“The fresh seasonal menu is complemented by expanded al fresco seating, a private dining room, a charcuterie and crudo bar, and a house- made artisanal bread nook.”

We entice Chef Chris out of his busy kitchen for a chat.


Show 315, March 16, 2019: Oasis Mediterranean Cuisine, (Jordanian fare) Los Angeles

Ahmad and Hanny BulfeilatOasis Mediterranean Cuisine in the Pico-Robertson district of Los Angeles is full of pleasant surprises. It’s unassuming on the outside but an oasis of tranquility with stylish appointments (and tablecloths) in the welcoming dining room. It’s also one of the few restaurants in the West serving authentic Jordanian cuisine plated with sophistication. Think mansaff, the Jordanian national dish of tender lamb shoulder. A real gem of a find.

“Welcome, you’ve arrived! Oasis is a sophisticated, modern retreat amidst the frenzy of the city. Unwind, relax and enjoy all we have to offer. Sit down and sip mint tea, indulge your sweet tooth with delicate desserts. Dip pita, warm out of the oven, into a selection of meze redolent of fragrant spice markets of the Middle East. We are proud to serve the finest meats delicately spiced, grilled and slow roasted according to family recipes passed down for generations.”

“Whether you are hungry, thirsty, or seeking you enjoy the company of friends and family, Oasis is here to fulfill your needs. Celebrate your special occasions with us in our private dining room. Allow us to cater your next party or office event. We are here to serve you and ensure that your time at Oasis leaves you refreshed and recharged as you continue on with your journey!”

Proprietor / Chef Ahmad Abulfeilsat (Abu-fay-lot) and his son, Hanny, join us.


Show 265, March 17, 2018: Chef Zov Karmardian, Zov’s & Anne Grey, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association

Zov Karamardian or Zov's in TustinChef Zov Karamardian, founder of the long-running and popular Zov’s Restaurants, will receive the Epicenter Award honoring her passion and commitment for creating a strong and healthy community from the Alzheimer’s Association at their Women #ENDALZ Luncheon (from 12 Noon to 2:00 p.m.) at the Fashion Island Hotel in Newport Beach on April 13th.

“WOMEN #ENDALZ celebrates the power and influence of women. By using our collective voices, we can create awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s on our health, our families and our nation. Women are disproportionally affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Almost two-thirds of Americans with the disease are women and 65 percent of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s are women.”

“A woman’s estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s at age 65 is 1 in 6. As real a concern as breast cancer is to women’s health, women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to develop breast cancer. Not only are women more likely to have Alzheimer’s, they are also more likely to be caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.”

The $200 per ticket price includes valet parking, champagne reception and lunch with wine.

Zov is also conducting a cooking class and lunch on Saturday, March 24th @ 11:30 a.m. to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. It’s a “Love Your Brain” Mediterranean Menu. The full $75 ticket cost will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association for more information or to purchase tickets for the April 13th Lunch at The Fashion Island Hotel.

Chef Zov and Anne Grey, Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association join us.



Show 255, January 6, 2018: Ahmed Labatte, Partner, Vaca Restaurant Group

Ahmed LabatteChef Amar Santana and his business partner, Ahmed Labatte (Broadway by Amar Santana and Vaca in Costa Mesa) had an incredible 2017. Among other notable achievements they hosted one of the premier events celebrating the 50th Anniversary of South Coast Plaza at Vaca. It was a lavish, multi-course dinner matched with outstanding wines to benefit The James Beard Foundation.

For late 2018 their ambitious new project will be The Hall Global Eatery in South Coast Plaza. Early advance info is that it will be a Global Marketplace with multiple food counters and an exhibition kitchen.

There will be a grab-and-go market area with freshly prepared salads and sandwiches. Everything else will be prepared to order. Expect Mediterranean kebabs and Shawarma.  The location is the expansive former Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill space.

Ahmed joins us with a tantalizing sneak preview.