Show 364, March 14, 2020: Executive Chef Jason Paluska, The Lark, Santa Barbara

Jason Paluska of the LarkOriginally from Tomball, Texas, Jason Paluska, the Executive Chef of The Lark in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone (an Acme Hospitality property,) began his cooking career in San Francisco under chefs Mitch and Steve Rosenthal of Town Hall, Salt House and Anchor & Hope in 2006. Jason went on to became a sous chef at Michael Mina’s RN74 in San Francisco. For four years he worked under renowned chef Jason Berthold, formerly of the French Laundry & Per Se.

In 2013 he left the Bay area and moved to Santa Barbara as the opening executive chef of The Lark restaurant for Acme Hospitality. Most recently Jason and his team at The Lark received the Michelin Plate award in June of 2019.

“The Lark, named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968, is situated in the heart of the Funk Zone, a vibrant arts and entertainment district near the Waterfront in downtown Santa Barbara. Our menus are locally sourced and responsibly grown, using the highest quality seasonal ingredients based on the abundant bounty of the Central Coast. Our food is served family style intended for sharing. Our space was designed with an urban style that integrates vintage and repurposed materials for a sophisticated yet casual sensibility with a nod to our neighborhood’s industrial past.”

“The Lark’s full bar features classic and modern craft cocktails using the finest in artisan spirits, mixers and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Our wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers as well as artisan winemakers from afar.”

We entice Chef Jason out of the busy Lark kitchen for a chat.


Show 352, December 21, 2019: Journalist Al Mancini, Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal Part Two

Al Mancini of the Las Vegas Review JournalOne of our most reliable sources of restaurant news in fabulous Las Vegas is Al Mancini, who is a staff writer for The Las Vegas Review Journal covering food, restaurants and other aspects of entertainment. Al has been working the Vegas food scene since 2003. He was one of the creators of the popular, and widely referenced, Eating Las Vegas restaurant guide series.

As we continue our conversation with Al we’ll look ahead for what’s on the culinary horizon in Vegas for new openings of note in early 2020. Al has already previewed Michael Mina’s upcoming International Smoke at the MGM Grand, a collaboration with Chef Ayesha Curry.


Show 282, July 21, 2018: Executive Chef Kyle Johnson, Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Los Angeles

Kyle JohnsonLocated in Glendale, BOURBON STEAK Los Angeles is Chef Michael Mina’s modern American steakhouse offering timeless dining experiences. At once classic and contemporary, the restaurant accomplishes all the traditions expected from a steakhouse with a flair of excitement.

“Discover the Piano Bar abuzz with newfound libations, and the glamorous dining room boasting tableside services including our signature Japanese Whisky Cart and Michael Mina’s signature Lobster Pot Pie.”

Kyle Johnson has worked his way through some of Las Vegas’s finest restaurants and is now at Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak Los Angeles at The Americana at Brand as Executive Chef. With his food philosophy focused on sourcing the highest quality ingredients prepared with a strong technique, he looks forward to cultivating a connection to the community. Through relationships with local farms and purveyors, he surprises guests with a locally influenced menu of modern steakhouse fare that’s sophisticated and approachable all at once.

Chef Kyle proudly shops for his produce every week at both the Santa Monica Farmers Market and the Hollywood Farmers Market.

We’re firing up the broiler with Executive Chef Kyle Johnson.


Show 192, October 9, 2016: Anne Marie Panoringan, Contributor, OC Weekly

Anne Marie PanoringanAnne Marie Panoringan of OC Weekly (regular contributor) is well-known to listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” Anne Marie followed the buzz about a new Downtown Los Angeles restaurant that’s billed as “The West Coast’s Highest Dining Destination” and is situated on the 71st floor of a renovated high-rise. She has now been there twice. Anne Marie will share her first impressions. Is the food (Chef Vartan Abgaryan, ex-Cliff’s Edge) and bar program at 71Above in the US Bank Tower worthy of the view? We’ll find out…

The menu offers “contemporary modern America cuisine that references the ethnic makeup and cultural traditions of the sprawling metropolis.” The pastry chef is Gregory Baumgartner (ex-Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak.) It’s lunch and dinner with Weekend Brunch.


Show 64, March 8, 2014: Executive Chef Anthony Carron, co-founder, 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria

Anthony Carron of 800 Degrees PizzaChef Anthony Carron is the creative force behind 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria which is growing rapidly with a devoted following. His background is in fine-dining with Michael Mina. It started in Westwood in 2011. A “To-Go” branch was added in Westwood. Santa Monica and LAX recently opened. Las Vegas, Pasadena, Hollywood, and New York are on the horizon.

It’s thin crust pizza that follows the traditions established in Naples. What’s really different is that once you choose your toppings the pizza is then flash-cooked for about a minute in a wood-burning over at 800 degrees!

“800 Degrees strives to honor the tradition of classic Neapolitan pizza where the integrity of handcrafted ingredients is paramount. We use natural grown California tomatoes, our mozzarella is made for us every day right here in L.A., and our crust is crafted in house from only Italian flour, wild yeast, sea salt and filtered water.”


Show 51, December 7, 2013: Barbara Fairchild, former long-time Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine, educator, food journalist, and cookbook author

Barbara FairchildBarbara has recently been in San Francisco over a couple of trips and shares some great dining in the City by the Bay.

Barbara’s first recommendation is the bit over a year old Rich Table in Hayes Valley. The principals are Evan and Sarah Rich. They are alums of Michael Mina, Coi and Quince so the credentials here are impressive.

Central Kitchen in San FranciscoCentral Kitchen is a new establishment from the team behind the incredibly popular Flour + Water (known for Neapolitan pizza.) Thomas McNaughton is the executive chef of both establishments. Barbara singled out the hen roulade with cauliflower, potato purée & oyster relish as a standout dish.

April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig in Manhattan fame has come West to revitalize the faded North Beach classic, Tosca Cafe. Spotted Pig was a pioneer of the now popular gastropub movement. Tosca has been cleaned up while retaining its classic charm with a new contemporary Italian menu. Added to the bar is a meat slicer and antipasti station. The kitchen was totally rebuilt and now is open.

Barbara suggests the fried artichokes appetizer and the chicken liver.


Life is Beautiful Festival

life-is-beautifulBig news for everyone in the Vegas Tila Army! I’m part of the Culinary Advisory Board for the upcoming Life is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas from Saturday, October 27th to Sunday the 27th. You’ve probably seen the full page ads in LA Weekly emphasizing the incredible music lineup featuring bands like Vegas’ own the Killers along with Kings of Leon. But there’s also an amazing lineup of celebrity chefs as well! Not just me but pretty much everyone associated with the restaurant scene in America. As for as I’m concerned, the food is the main event and the music? That’s kind of dessert. Here’s the press release about the festival and I hope to see my Army in Vegas right before Halloween for this blowout of a party!

Life is Beautiful Festival Announces Culinary Experiences & New Chefs

Two-Day Festival of World Class Music, Food, Art & Learning in Downtown Las Vegas includes “Grills & Guitars” by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, “The Culinary Village”, and “The Alchemy Garden”

New Chef Additions include Nancy Silverton; Headlining Chefs include: Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Aaron Sanchez, Cat Cora, Rick Moonen, Scott Conant, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon.

Friday, October 25th – Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (July 16, 2013) – Life is Beautiful (L.I.B.) Festival announces the lineup of culinary programming and experiences for the inaugural festival taking place Saturday, October 26th and Sunday, October 27th, 2013, with a kickoff event the evening of Friday, October 25th . With more than 60 chefs and restaurants, 24 wineries and 24 breweries participating in the culinary part of the festival alone, L.I.B. presents its attendees with a full-scale food festival experience and expects to draw tens of thousands of people to Downtown Las Vegas. The culinary programming includes experiences that are included in the price of a general-admission festival ticket, such as The Culinary Village, The Alchemy Garden & Chefs on Stage, as well as unique ticketed events that do not require a festival ticket like the Grills & Guitars kick-off party hosted by Blue Ribbon Restaurants and the Take a Stand charity soiree; an eight-course dinner hosted by Elizabeth Blau & Hubert Keller benefitting Three Square Food Bank and Communities in Schools.

The creative direction of the food festival portion of Life is Beautiful Festival was shaped by a culinary advisory board of 12 top chefs chaired by Bruce Bromberg of Blue Ribbon Restaurants. The food festival will be anchored by The Culinary Village a Moroccan-style bazaar featuring stations manned by more than 60 well-known chefs. Within The Village, guests can enjoy an entertaining and informative series of chef demonstrations (Chefs on Stage), culinary affairs, intimate meals and a beer, wine and spirits garden (The Alchemy Garden). All experiences within the food and wine program will allow attendees the opportunity to engage with these talented chefs up-close and gain insight into their creative process in the kitchen and beyond.

“The food experiences of Life is Beautiful Festival were carefully designed to be interactive, innovative and unexpected,” says Jolene Mannina, Head of Culinary Arts for the festival. “Working with the vision of our Culinary Advisory Board of 12 world-renowned Chefs, we’ve created an approach that we feel will set us apart from other food festivals, giving both our patrons and chefs a chance to enjoy something new, fresh and, of course, delicious.”

The current chef lineup features: Bruce Bromberg and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jonathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, Michael Mina, Chris Cosentino, Rick Moonen, Kim Canteenwalla, Jet Tila, Donald Link, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon, Aaron Sanchez, David Burke, Charlie Palmer, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Paul Bartolotta, David Myers, Todd English, Kerry Simon, Carla Pellegrino, André Rochat, Sven Mede, Marcel Vigneron, Mike Minor, Megan Romano, Elias Cairo, Josh Graves, Jason Tuley, Rebecca Wilcomb, Ben Hammond, Grant MacPherson, Michael Kornick, Natalie Young, Dan Coughlin, Sean Kinoshita, Massimiliano Campanari, Carlos Buscaglia, Vinod Ahuja, Manuel Hinojosa.

New Chefs / Mixologists Added to the lineup: Nancy Silverton, Akira Back, Richard Camarota, Frank Goriceta, Carlos Guia, Joseph Leibowitz, Hiew Gun Khong, Nina Manchev, Tony Abou-Ganim, Drew Levinson, Andrew Pollard, Eric Swanson, Kent Bearden, Thomas Burke, Michael Shetler, Kevin Vanegas, Jack Kramer and Mike Tadich.

Tickets for the Life is Beautiful Festival Culinary Programs go on sale July 19, 2013 at

Link to Culinary Experiences video:

Life Is Beautiful Festival – Culinary Experiences Premier Sponsor: Whole Foods Market

– The Culinary Village: Located in the heart of the festival and home to the world’s best chefs and restaurants, The Culinary Village is where the aromas of earth’s four corners collide. Over 50 restaurants will partake in this bazaar of epicurean delight that takes festival food options to a whole new level.

Restaurants: Blue Ribbon Restaurant, Honey Salt, Fleur, Strip Steak, Wolfgang Puck, Nobu Hard Rock, DMK Burger Bar, Due Forni, Yellowtail, Kumi, D.O.C.G., Herbsaint, LAVO, TAO, Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina, EAT, Chocolate & Spice, Origin India, Barbuto, rm Seafood, Kuma Snow Cream, Curbside Cafe, LBS Burger, Smokin Bros BBQ, Sin City Hot Dogs, Forte European Tapas & Bistro and more.

Price: General Admission or VIP festival ticket required, a la carte selection Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– The Alchemy Gardens Presented by Wirtz Beverage: Craft brewers, wine makers and distillers will pour a-la-carte libations at this garden, overflowing with liquid creativity. Enthusiasts can also choose to purchase additional tickets to meet and mingle with master brewers, wine makers and distillers over flight tastings.

Price: General Admission or VIP festival ticket required a la carte Beer, Wine, Spirits and Sake; must be 21 or over. Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– Flights Tastings (In The Alchemy Gardens): For a better understanding of the passion and history poured into each glass, additional tickets may be purchased for tastings with master brewers, wine makers and distillers.

Price: $40 for 9 tastings, General Admission or VIP festival ticket required Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:00pm – 12:00am Midnight; Sunday, 12:00pm – 11:00pm

– Chefs on Stage Presented by Sub-Zero Wolf & Whole Foods Market: Over two days, 20 of the most highly regarded chefs in the industry give attendees a chance to get up close and personal as they showcase their skills live on a Sub-Zero Wolf stage located in a climate-controlled tent. These demonstrations will tantalize taste buds and teach viewers how to create the same experience at home.

Chefs: Bruce and Eric Bromberg, Scott Conant, Jet Tila, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Chris Cosentino, Rick Moonen, Aaron Sanchez, Hubert Keller, Kerry Simon, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Mike Minor, Donald Link, Grant MacPherson, Carla Pellegrino, Jason Tuley, David Myers, Elias Caro, Josh Graves,Todd English

Location: The Culinary Village Price: Free Event with Festival General Admission or VIP ticket Date: Saturday and Sunday, October 26th & 27th Time: Saturday, 1:45pm – 9:00pm; Sunday, 12:45pm – 8:00pm

– Take A Stand: Elizabeth Blau and Hubert Keller will host the Life is Beautiful grand opening soiree to benefit Three Square Food Bank and Communities in Schools. Showcasing the mystery and wonderment of Old Vegas at its finest, this charity dinner will feature eight award-winning chefs serving eight courses

in various styles throughout the night paired with priceless wines and crafted cocktails by Wirtz Beverage mixologists and sommeliers.

Chefs: Hubert Keller, Michael Mina, Todd English, Akira Back, Paul Bartolotta, Grant MacPherson, Charlie Palmer, Megan Romano Location: Secret Downtown Location to be revealed upon purchase confirmation Price: $5,000

(1) VIP two-day festival ticket included

(1) Grills & Guitars ticket included Seats: 40 (must be 21 or over)

Date: Friday, October 25th Time: 7pm – 10pm

– Grills & Guitars: Start the festival weekend with 15 well-known chefs, gourmet comfort food and live music. A twist on the traditional backyard barbecue, the festival kick-off party will pair beer, wine and cocktails with flamed-kissed fare that will satisfy all the senses.

Chefs: Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Jonathan Waxman, Cat Cora, Tom Colicchio, Michael Symon, Nancy Silverton, Jet Tila, Scott Conant, Kim Canteenwalla, Aaron Sanchez, Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger, Rick Moonen & David Myers Price: $175, VIP $225 *Does not require purchase of a festival ticket. Must be 21 or over.

Date: Friday, October 25th Time: 8pm VIP, 9pm – Midnight

– Culinary Crawl: This three-hour dining tour is designed to introduce palates to a variety of tastes. Guests will be escorted to three different venues, each with a different chef host who has customized a unique experience that pairs their creative dishes with specially selected drinks provided by Wirtz Beverage Group.

Saturday Chefs & Locations:

“Pig & Whiskey” hosted by Kim Canteenwalla and Sven Mede at The Flame Steakhouse “From Korea to Japan”, hosted by Akira Back at Park on Fremont “Amaro & Amare”, hosted by Richard Camarota & Megan Romano at EAT


$130 – Single pass to the Culinary Crawl, GA or VIP festival ticket required for purchase

$290 – Includes a two (2) day General Admission festival ticket Date: Saturday, October 26th

Time: 5pm – 8pm Sunday

Chefs & Locations:

 “Rare & Rosso” Jonathan Waxman & Nancy Silverton at EAT  “Tongue & Cheek” Rick Moonen at Le Thai  “Bones & Brews” Iron chef Cat Cora & Jason Tuley at Park on Fremont

Price: Date: Sunday, October 27th

$130 – Single pass to the Culinary Crawl, GA or VIP festival ticket required for purchase $290 – Includes a two (2) day General Admission festival ticket

Time: 5pm – 8pm ***Chef and event details subject to change.

Regular Two-Day General Admission & VIP Tickets for the 2013 Life is Beautiful Festival are available for purchase at

General Admission Tickets:

 Regular Two-Day GA: $159.50 VIP Tickets:

 TWO-DAY VIP Ticket: $349.50

o VIP tickets include: Exclusive VIP lounge with shade, lounge seating, activities and more; Viewing Areas at Main Stages; VIP restroom facilities; Access to special VIP food concessions; Access to special VIP beer, wine and spirits concessions; Commemorative Poster and more!

Life is Beautiful Sponsors

Sponsors of the inaugural Life is Beautiful Festival include Wirtz Beverage Group, Heineken, Zappos, Cirque du Soleil, Las Vegas Review Journal, Red Bull, Esquire, Whole Foods Market, Caesars Entertainment, and many more. *Sponsors listed are current as of release date.

L.I.B. is being developed by Aurelian Marketing Group in partnership with Another Planet Entertainment, MAKTUB Marketing and Downtown Project. Visit and sign up to receive information updates via email. Connect with the Life is Beautiful team socially at and