Show 354, January 4, 2020: Executive Chef Tony Esnault and Restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, Knife Pleat at South Coast Plaza Part One

Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi of Knife PleatKnife Pleat in South Coast Plaza’s Penthouse, Level 3, was one of the most eagerly anticipated restaurant launches of last year. It’s an elegant and approachable French restaurant with an appealing (and unusual) garden patio helmed by Michelin-starred chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, who are well-known from the Los Angeles culinary scene with Church & State and Spring. The couple’s chic new restaurant at lunch and dinner showcases modern, seasonal interpretations of classic French techniques by Esnault, one of California’s best French chefs.

“The husband-and-wife team is regarded as a powerful force in Southern California’s culinary scene, having partnered on their previous Los Angeles-based French restaurants, Spring and Church & State. Spring mesmerized critics by using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients to create a cultured tasting tour of the south of France. Church & State, under Sarmadi’s ownership, was named as one of the inaugural Michelin Guide California’s 2019 Bib Gourmand establishments.”

We’ll meet the dynamic husband-and-wife couple of both Chef Tony & Restaurateur Yassmin.


Show 354, January 4, 2020: Executive Chef Tony Esnault and Restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, Knife Pleat at South Coast Plaza Part Two

Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi of Knife PleatKnife Pleat in South Coast Plaza’s Penthouse, Level 3, was one of the most eagerly anticipated restaurant launches of last year. It’s an elegant and approachable French restaurant with an unusual garden patio helmed by Michelin-starred chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, who are well-known from the Los Angeles culinary scene with Church & State and Spring. The couple’s chic new restaurant showcases modern, seasonal interpretations of classic French techniques by Esnault, one of California’s best French chefs.

“For Knife Pleat, Esnault has created an elegant menu that features highlights such as Escargot Ravioli with a filling of wild burgundy snails in a mushroom broth with celery, garlic and watercress; chilled Langoustine with radish, green papaya, coconut espuma and lemongrass; Crescent Duck featuring breast and leg confit with Swiss chard, Tokyo turnip and pickled rhubarb. Esnault shows his appreciation for California’s incredible produce with a Vegetable Mosaic starter composed of tomato, zucchini, watermelon radish, kohlrabi and fresh chickpea.”

“Knife Pleat’s beverage program features craft cocktails that pay homage to designers who also call South Coast Plaza home. The Oscar de la Renta, for example, plays on the late fashion icon’s Dominican Republic roots with Brugal Añejo Rum, chinola, passion fruit and lemon.”

“The cuisine is set in a dramatic 5,000-square-foot space that has 80 seats and two dining areas – an airy dining room wrapped with floor-to-ceiling translucent windows and a plein air patio accented with greenery. A seven-seat bar provides views of the striking exhibition kitchen where Esnault and his team can be observed in action. The refined architecture and interiors by Johnson Fain – in collaboration with Sarmadi and Esnault – is decidedly understated, with a high fashion aesthetic and a soft palette.”

Knife Pleat serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. daily; dinner 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and Afternoon Tea from 3 to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.

We continue our conversation with the dynamic husband & wife couple of both Chef Tony & Restaurateur Yassmin.


Show 201, December 10, 2016: Emma Bengtsson, Executive Chef, Aquavit, New York

Emma BengtssonAquavit, a landmark New York-based fine dining establishment featuring the cuisine of Sweden is a classic. In the Spring of 2014 their former Pastry Chef, Emma Bengtsson, was unusually elevated to the Executive Chef post there by proprietor Hakan Swahn.

Former Aquavit Executive Chef Marcus Jernmark recruited Bengtsson in 2010 to join the restaurant as Pastry Chef. Bengtsson quickly became known for her creative interpretations of classic Scandinavian desserts, as well as establishing a new bread program. Her style was reflective of the region’s penchant for local products, progressive techniques, and continuing traditions; and it was well received, as Aquavit was recognized with one star in the Michelin Guide New York City in 2013 and 2014.

Håkan Swahn, the owner of Aquavit, saw talent and fresh perspective in Chef Bengtsson’s skillset and offered her the role of Executive Chef in spring 2014. She accepted the job, and since then has injected the critically acclaimed menu with her personal style and experience.

In October of 2015, her work garnered a second Michelin Star for Aquavit, making her the second female chef in the U.S. to run a two-star kitchen and the first ever Swedish female chef to do so.

We’ll hear Emma’s incredible story.



Show 172, May 21, 2016: Chef Daniel Burns, Torst and Luksus, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Daniel BurnsFood & Beer is a newly published, 60-recipe book from an internationally acclaimed chef/brewer duo dedicated to elevating and pairing beer with high-end dining. The debut book by Danish gypsy brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø of the bar Tørst, and Canadian chef Daniel Burns of the Michelin-starred restaurant Luksus—both in a shared space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where they elevate beer to the level of wine in fine dining. Chef Burns is with us to tap the keg on this unusual reference book.

With a dialogue running throughout the book, Food & Beer examines the vision and philosophy of this duo at the forefront of a new gastronomic movement. With a stunning, bold aesthetic, the design will highlight the dual visions of the authors and the spaces—Tørst, which is more rustic and relaxed, and Luksus, which is more sleek and refined.

The Foreword is by internationally renowned chef René Redzepi, co-owner of Noma, Copenhagen, the Number 3 ranked restaurant in the world.

“The chance meeting of two remarkable individuals. One of the best brewers in a generation of greats, with a good sense of business and fresh attitude, and the other a creative, driven chef with crazy food work ethics. But it also signified the start of a new style of restaurant, a place in which light, creative cooking, Michelin-star-worthy stuff, was at home with beer. I’m pretty sure that individually both would’ve succeeded in their own right-Jeppe creating great brews, and Daniel with a Michelin star or two doing something else-but together I believe they’ve created something truly special. Something new.” —René Redzepi (from his foreword).


Show 172, May 21, 2016: Executive Chef Carrie Nahabedian, NAHA and Brindille, Chicago Continues…

Carrie NahabedianChef Carrie Nahabedian is one of the pillars of dining in Chicago. After departing her position as Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Carrie Nahabedian returned to her native Chicago to open NAHA in 2000, which garnered her a James Beard Award and four consecutive Michelin stars. Chef Nahabedian continues with us.

Brindille (Chef Carrie’s latest venture), named “Best New Restaurant in 2013” by Chicago Tribune, offers a glimpse into refined Parisian cuisine and atmosphere from the team that brought you NAHA. It’s Dinner, only.

In 2015 Brindille was awarded the James Beard Award for outstanding Restaurant Design (for an establishment under 75 seats.) It’s all of 30 seats.

For all restaurant information, go to their website.


Show 154, January 9, 2016: Executive Chef Josiah Citrin, Charcoal Venice, Venice, CA

Josiah CitrinCharcoal Venice, the new inviting, neighborhood restaurant from Michelin-starred Chef and Proprietor Josiah Citrin (our guest), opened early last month on W. Washington Blvd., a burgeoning culinary destination in Venice, CA bordering Marina del Rey. A more casual concept than Citrin’s Melisse, Charcoal Venice upholds the chef’s philosophy “In Pursuit of Excellence,” with a simpler, more approachable menu.

As the name suggests, the daily menu features craveable comfort foods cooked over a live fire via a wood oven, over charcoal, in the coals, or in a Big Green Egg – imparting a smoky, backyard barbeque flavor with the use of premium oak and hickory lump coals. Adding to the communal atmosphere of the restaurant, these dishes are all large, family-style portions meant to be shared.

Citrin also offers starters, including a unique tartare selection, such as beef heart and lamb, alongside a selection of farmers’ market vegetables including a whole head of cabbage baked in the coals until it’s completely black on the outside and smoky on the inside. The Cabbage Baked in Embers (a nice variation on the standard grilled artichoke) is becoming a signature of the restaurant.

“This is the type of casual concept I’ve always wanted to open. It’s the food that I prepare for my friends and family in my backyard on the weekend. Not too fancy, just delicious food that you crave,” says Citrin. “Mélisse is your special occasion restaurant, while Charcoal Venice is an every night place for a refreshing beer and a perfectly grilled entrée.”


Show 151, December 19, 2015: Chef James Kent, Executive Chef, NoMad, NYC, ment’or BKB Culinary Council

James KentChef James Kent led Team USA 2011 for the Bocuse d’Or, served as Competition Captain for the Team USA 2017 selection and a member of the ment’or BKB Culinary Council. Chef Kent is the Executive Chef of the acclaimed NoMad in New York City. A new NoMad is on its way to Downtown Los Angeles in 2017. We’ll meet him.

A native New Yorker, Chef James Kent started his culinary career as a summer apprentice at Bouley when he was fifteen years old. Chef Kent joined the team at Eleven Madison Park as a line cook in the spring of 2007 and was quickly promoted to Sous Chef.

In 2011, Chef Kent was chosen to represent the United States at the Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France. After a year of intense training for this culinary competition, he placed tenth in the world. Upon returning to New York, Chef Kent was named Chef de Cuisine of Eleven Madison Park and during his time there, the restaurant received numerous accolades including three Michelin stars. Chef Kent was promoted to Executive Chef of the NoMad in the fall of 2013.


Show 150, December 12, 2015: Anita Lau, Mad Hungry Woman Blogger

Anita Lau of Mad Hungry WomanAnita Lau is better known to regular listeners of the “SoCal Restaurant Show” as the Mad Hungry Woman blogger. She was living in Hong Kong in the 90s before the turnover by the British to China. Anita was just back to Hong Kong for a 3-week visit. We’ll get a insider’s view of the dining scene there during the glory days of the British and now under Chinese authority.

Anita will fill us in on the impact of Michelin Stars in Hong Kong and also the best street food. Michelin in now even rating “Street Food” which seems a bit odd.

Anita notes that the big deal celebrity chefs are opening high-profile restaurants in Hong Kong. Gordon Ramsay is already there and Anita crossed paths with Chris Cosentino of “Top Chef Masters” fame there, too.

We’ll also get the morsel-by-morsel details of her favorite dining experience of the trip. It’s French and elegant…Go to her blog to read her full review of EPURE. Beautiful food photography of the meal, too.

Born in Hong Kong and now living in Orange County, California, Anita Lau is an international author and writer who has lived in Malaysia, Australia, Nebraska, Oregon, San Francisco and also, Hawaii. Her obsession with food began at an early age but it wasn’t until her early 20s when her experimentation with cooking led her to start a small catering business which she would run in her spare time while at college in Australia.



Show 134, August 8, 2015: Executive Chef Brendan Collins, Birch and The Corner Door

Brendan CollinsAt the age of 15, Chef Brendan Collins quit secondary school to follow his dream and enroll in culinary school, where is was classically trained in French technique. By 17, the talented Nottingham native had his first job at London’s La Gavroche, a Michelin two-star restaurant. Today Collins is the Executive Chef and Proprietor of both Birch in Hollywood as well as the Executive Chef of The Corner Door in Culver City.

Drawing on his training in butchery and belief in using the whole animal, Collins is dedicated to using only the best ingredients and cooking food that he likes to eat. He combines impeccable French technique, seasonal California ingredients, and his inimitable “British lad” attitude to create a cuisine that is at once comforting and exciting, while maintaining a relaxed, English pub atmosphere

His newest project is a modest British pub, Butcher’s Dog, located in Sawtelle’s Little Tokyo on the Westside. It’s where he likes to go to relax and watch his favorite soccer team, Manchester United.


Show 128, June 27, 2015: Author Joan Borsten – Malibu Beach Recovery Diet Cookbook Continues…

Joan BorstenThe war on drugs in America may not be won on its streets – but in its kitchens. The weapon? A groundbreaking new cookbook that uses food to naturally heal brain chemistry in addicts and alcoholics. It’s the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet Cookbook and was authored by Joan Borsten.

Borsten asked four executive chefs, trained in her addiction-busting diet as well as in Michelin-Star traditions and restaurants (the gold standard among foodies), to create the brain-healing recipes. They include such delicacies as Jamaican Mango Shrimp over Coconut Rice; Asparagus, Peas and Basil Salad; and Chocolate Mousse.

“It’s hard to tell that the recipes in Malibu Beach Recovery Diet Cookbook are designed to promote recovery,” notes Dr. Gold who observes they also work on depression and anxiety. “They’re absolutely delicious.”

The cookbook was created to help those who can’t afford treatment, which accounts for about 90 percent of all addicts and alcoholics. But the book will be equally important to the thousands of rehabilitation clinics around the country that have yet to recognize the link between food and addiction.

“Currently, most drug and alcohol treatment centers unknowingly serve the very foods that sabotage recovery and can lead to relapse,” Borsten says. “Even those with five-star chefs.”

Joan was talking to us from Milan, Italy where she had been visiting Expo Milano. She was particularly impressed with the massive vertical produce gardens that are part of both the Israel and USA Pavilions. Joan feels she was looking at the future…