Show 477, June 4, 2022: Restaurateur Christy Vega, Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks Part One

Christy Vega of Casa Vega

Casa Vega is an iconic Mexican restaurant that has been operating in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles for over 65 years. Casa Vega is located on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks and is one of the longest continuously family-owned restaurants in all of greater Los Angeles. Casa Vega’s roots go back to famous Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. Rafael “Ray” Vega opened Casa Vega in 1956 after being inspired by the success of his parents’ earlier restaurant, Café Caliente, which operated on Olvera Street throughout the 1930s. Casa Vega serves authentic, delicious food and drinks in a warm and festive atmosphere.

Founder Ray passed away in January 2021.”

“Today the Vega Family keeps the family legacy alive with Christina (Christy) Vega at the helm. Christina worked side-by-side with her father for over 15 years. Nothing made Ray prouder than knowing his family legacy would continue.”

This year The James Beard Foundation bestowed to Casa Vega, The America’s Classics Award. Each year since 1998 the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee has recognized our nation’s beloved regional restaurants as America’s Classics. Distinguished by their timeless appeal, they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities. Casa Vega now joins the exclusive collection of L.A. area America’s Classics including Guelaguetza, Langer’s Delicatessen and Philippe the Original. Christy will be in Chicago on the evening of Monday, June 13th to accept the America’s Classics honors for Casa Vega at the 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony.

Show 477, June 4, 2022: Restaurateur Christy Vega, Casa Vega, Sherman Oaks Part Two

Christy Vega of Casa Vega

Casa Vega is an iconic Mexican restaurant that has been operating in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles for over 65 years. Casa Vega is located on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks and is one of the longest continuously family-owned restaurants in all of greater Los Angeles. Casa Vega’s roots go back to famous Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. Rafael “Ray” Vega opened Casa Vega in 1956 after being inspired by the success of his parents’ earlier restaurant, Café Caliente, which operated on Olvera Street throughout the 1930s. Casa Vega serves authentic, delicious food and drinks in a warm and festive atmosphere. Founder Ray passed away in January 2021.”

“Today the Vega Family keeps the family legacy alive with Christina (Christy) Vega at the helm. Christina worked side-by-side with her father for over 15 years. Nothing made Ray prouder than knowing his family legacy would continue.”

This year The James Beard Foundation bestowed to Casa Vega, The America’s Classics Award. Each year since 1998 the James Beard Foundation Awards Committee has recognized our nation’s beloved regional restaurants as America’s Classics. Distinguished by their timeless appeal, they serve quality food that reflects the character of their communities. Casa Vega now joins the exclusive collection of L.A. area America’s Classics including Guelaguetza, Langer’s Delicatessen and Philippe the Original. Christy will be in Chicago on the evening of Monday, June 13th to accept the America’s Classics honors for Casa Vega at the 2022 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony

Christy Vega continues as our guest with Table-Side Guacamole at the ready.

Show 462, February 19, 2022: Executive Chef Victor Juarez, Fuego at The Maya and Hotel Maya, Long Beach

Victor Juarez of Fuego

“Award-winning Executive Chef Victor Juarez is leading Fuego, the modern, Latin infused indoor-outdoor restaurant and lounge at Hotel Maya in Long Beach, with a menu that blends his El Salvadorian roots with his Southern California culinary sensibilities. Fuego’s unique setting at the water’s edge provides service to 146 guests with 80 on the patio area and features stunning open-air views that include the Pacific Ocean, Long Beach skyline and the Queen Mary.”

“Fuego offers breakfast, lunch or dinner under the sun and stars. It’s also well-known for its handcrafted margaritas. Fuego boasts one of the largest tequila selections in the region.”

“Chef Juarez also oversees all food preparation and execution for the resort’s 20,000-square-feet meeting, special event, and wedding venues. In addition, he directs and implements the 199-room hotel’s room service, banquets and catering activities.”

“Prior to joining Hotel Maya in 2010, Chef Juarez spent a year as executive chef at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., leading all culinary efforts for the property’s nine restaurants and lounges. Earlier in his career Chef Juarez was executive chef at the historic Mission Inn in Riverside, Calif., overseeing all facets of the resort’s food operations including four dining outlets, hotel room service and banquet facilities. He began at the Mission Inn in 1993 as executive sous chef. While at the Mission Inn, Chef Juarez was the recipient of many honors for culinary excellence.”

A signature dish at Fuego is Chef Victor’s version of Ropa Vieja. It’s Cuban-style braised short rib, black bean puree, crispy corn tortillas, cabbage escabeche, caramelized plantains and serrano chiles.

Chef Victor Juarez is our guest.

Show 455, December 11, 2021: Chef Thomas Ortega, Amorcito SoCal Taqueria, Long Beach & Costa Mesa Part One

Chef Thomas Ortega

Amorcito SoCal Taqueria is a quick service off shoot of Chef Thomas Ortega’s multi awarded Amor y Tacos in Cerritos, CA, that’s bringing its own style of a Modern Taqueria while being true to the familiar Mexican flavors of Southern California. The original location is at the Hangar at the Long Beach Exchange. Amorcito SoCal Taqueria has quickly stood out on its own bringing rave reviews from multiple restaurant critics including Brad A. Johnson of the Orange County Register and Patricia Escarcega of the Los Angeles Times.” “

“At Amorcito SoCal Taqueria the principals come from a Chef- driven background and pride themselves on sourcing incredible ingredients from farmers, ranchers, bakers and food purveyors who all share their core values of helping Amorcito deliver the freshest, best tasting menu Amorcito SoCal Taqueria can offer.”

A year-round specialty is the juicy Hatch Burger. It’s an Angus beef patty with garlic aioli, Hatch chile, mustard onions, pickles, American cheese and served on a soft potato bun.

Chef Thomas Ortega joins us with a stack of warm corn tortillas in hand.

Show 455, December 11, 2021: Chef Thomas Ortega, Amorcito SoCal Taqueria, Long Beach & Costa Mesa Part Two

Chef Thomas Ortega

Amorcito SoCal Taqueria is a quick service off shoot of Chef Thomas Ortega’s multi awarded Amor y Tacos in Cerritos, CA, that’s bringing its own style of a Modern Taqueria while being true to the familiar Mexican flavors of Southern California. The original location is at the Hangar at the Long Beach Exchange. Amorcito SoCal Taqueria has quickly stood out on its own bringing rave reviews from multiple restaurant critics including Brad A. Johnson of the Orange County Register and Patricia Escarcega of the Los Angeles Times.” “

“At Amorcito SoCal Taqueria the principals come from a Chef- driven background and pride themselves on sourcing incredible ingredients from farmers, ranchers, bakers and food purveyors who all share their core values of helping Amorcito deliver the freshest, best tasting menu Amorcito SoCal Taqueria can offer.”

A year-round specialty is the juicy Hatch Burger. It’s an Angus beef patty with garlic aioli, Hatch chile, mustard onions, pickles, American cheese and served on a soft potato bun.

Chef Thomas Ortega again joins us with a stack of warm corn tortillas in hand.

Show 443, September 18, 2021: Chef Jenni Sklar, El Granjero Cantina, Original Farmers Market Part One

Jenni Sklar of El Granjero Cantina

El Granjero Cantina under the culinary direction of Chef Jenni Sklar, (ex-Lucques and Son of a Gun) celebrates Mexican cuisine at the historic Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. El Granjero’s bright and festive cantina including a spacious outdoor patio is a true neighborhood locale, built for local neighbors and visitors alike.”

“El Granjero offers guests a wide selection of options to choose from, including rice bowls, tacos, tlayuda, tacos dorados for a wide range of meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Their bar program is dedicated to honoring traditional agave based spirits of Mexico with frozen margaritas and cocktails on tap.”

El Granjero serves Lunch (weekdays) and Dinner nightly and a newly introduced Weekend Brunch. Also Happy Hour on Weekdays from 3 to 6:00 p.m. with food and libations priced at $9.00.

Chef Jenni Sklar is our guest with fresh guacamole in hand.

Show 443, September 18, 2021: Chef Jenni Sklar, El Granjero Cantina, Original Farmers Market Part Two

Jenni Sklar of El Granjero Cantina

El Granjero Cantina under the culinary direction of Chef Jenni Sklar, celebrates Mexican cuisine at the historic Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. El Granjero’s bright and festive cantina including a spacious outdoor patio is a true neighborhood locale, built for local neighbors and visitors alike.”

“El Granjero offers guests a wide selection of options to choose from, including rice bowls, tacos, tlayuda, tacos dorados for a wide range of meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Their bar program is dedicated to honoring traditional agave based spirits of Mexico with frozen margaritas and cocktails on tap.”

El Granjero serves Lunch (weekdays) and Dinner nightly and a newly introduced Weekend Brunch. Also Happy Hour on Weekdays from 3 to 6:00 p.m. with food and libations priced at $9.00.

Chef Jenni Sklar continues with a Chili Braised Beef Dorado in hand.

Show 435, July 24, 2021: Laura Slipak, General Manager, Azucar Restaurant and La Serena Villas, Palm Springs

Azucar, located in La Serena Villas in Palm Springs, is a hidden gem of a boutique dining experience. They serve modern contemporary cuisine (American, Mediterranean and Spanish flavors) to a sophisticated, adults-only crowd, focusing on flavor utilizing high quality and local ingredients. Azucar offers outdoor seating by the beautiful La Serena Villas pool and on their designed rooftop deck with a view. Reservations are politely recommended.

Sugar High Rooftop Lounge at La Serena Villas is a great mix of Boho chic meets cool Palm Springs. The little desert oasis sits atop the fresh and vibrant restaurant Azucar. It is the perfect slice of heaven to sip on amazing cocktails and nosh on appetizers. You can have all this while surrounded by the breathtaking San Jacinto mountains.”

“Originally built in 1933, La Serena Villas sits on over an acre of beautiful landscaped grounds in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, walking distance to the famous Palm Canyon Drive, where you will find the best restaurants, boutiques and galleries.”

“Redeveloped as a luxury hotel with 18 guest rooms in 2016 by award -winning architect, May Sung, with all the modern amenities of a 5-star hotel. Each piece of furniture, all materials and finishes have been carefully hand- picked by interior design group, Avenue Interior Design.”

“The stunning San Jacinto Mountains are the backdrop for this luxury boutique hotel. The secluded private villas each have a private patio, complete with a romantic claw foot tub, fire-pit, and built-in benches.”

Laura Slipak, the General Manager of both La Serena Villas and Azucar restaurant is our guest.

Show 434, July 17, 2021: Diego Aguirre, Co-Proprietor, FINCA restaurant, Paso Robles

Diego Aguirre of Finca Paso Robles

FINCA Paso Robles is a casual restaurant which highlights Baja and Sonora style Mexican food with an emphasis on wood-grilled seafood and carne asada. Located in the historic farmhouse of the Old Hometown Nursery of Paso Robles adjacent to the Paso Market Walk comes the latest project from the owners of La Taquiza – a casual Napa based Mexican restaurant launched in 2006 that has been in the Michelin Guide over the years.”

“With over 20 years experience in the service industry, co-owner Patrick Aguirre has worked under the likes of Thomas Keller at Bouchon Bakery and Suzanne Goin of A.O.C. His business partner and wife Stephanie, has managed multiple businesses, from aiding in her family’s seafood distribution company to running restaurants in both Napa and Los Angeles.”

“Accompanying them in opening FINCA is son, Diego, and daughter-in-law, Cecilia, who both graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and have been in the area since 2013. With a combined 15 years experience in the wine and service industry between them, they are excited to bring their passion and love for their community to this home-grown venture.”

Everything on the menu that can be scratch-made, is. Also hand-selected wines and beers.

Diego Aguirre, a 3rd generation restaurateur, is our guest.

Show 430, June 19, 2021: Restaurateur and Chef Geraldine Gilliland, Lula Cocina Mexicana, Santa Monica

Geraldine Gilliland

Chef Geraldine Gilliland, dog lover, animal activist, Chef, and owner of Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica is celebrating Lula’s 30th anniversary this year on the evening of July 2nd. Geraldine’s lifelong love affair with Mexican cuisine culminated in 2019 with the publication of “The Lula Cookbook”, a collection of her favorite recipes in traditional Mexican cuisine and modern interpretations of classics, and of course some original dishes as well. Witty and charming with a commonsense approach to cooking, Geraldine takes the reader through a few of her favorite recipes in each section of the book and explains tips, tricks, and short cuts the modern home Cook can employ in their own kitchen to execute some of these dishes as well as improvise and put a personal spin on the dishes.

“Being originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and from a family of plain home cooking, it’s safe to say Geraldine entered a whole new world with Lula. It’s been a wonderful journey. Her love of Mexican cuisine started when one of the cooks at her original Gilliland’s Café would cook their own meals. That is what first attracted her to the flair and flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine.”

“One day, as Geraldine was casually flipping through the latest edition of Bon Appétit magazine, she stumbled upon an article that profiled the best female Mexican chefs of the time, including Lula Bertran. So, she called up the editor and asked her which of these chefs she would recommend to teach her true Mexican cooking. Without missing a beat, she told her to call Lula. The rest (as they say) is history!”

Friends of Lula’s are invited to the evening anniversary festivities on Friday, July 2nd. Reservations are limited to ensure the comfort of all guests. Please call Chuck at 310.392.5711 for availability info & reservations.

Geraldine joins us with a house Margarita in hand.