Show 450, November 6, 2021: Chef Michael Doctulero – Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike Part One

Michael Doctulero of Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike

Chef Michael Doctulero is the Chef/Proprietor of Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike located on the lower level of Collage at Bloomingdale’s at South Coast Plaza.

“Why Mah Jong’s? By definition Mah Jong’s is a Chinese social game often accompanied with the theme of gambling. Over many years it has been played in the “benevolent society / clubs” in the depths of Chinatowns across the globe, as well as in homes and public parks everywhere.”

“Chef Mike grew up in the Cow Hallow district of San Francisco in a two-story Victorian house where he lived with his grandparents, mom, and two older sisters. They were one of the five minority families living in the predominately Italian – Irish Catholic neighborhood. His family was definitely on the lower end on economic income growing up, so his grandparents decided to boost family income by renting the extra bedrooms to merchant marines and U.S. Navy sailors who were on leave but traveled to various parts of Asia while on duty.”

“So, ingeniously, Grandma would host Mah Jong games in the kitchen on Wednesday nights, and Pinocle card games on Thursday nights. Chef Mike’s grandfather would come home after work, as the personal chef for the Presidio Army Base Commander, and cook food into the late night for the gamblers. Chef Mike, at nine years old, would make whiskey highballs for his new “uncles”, and they would tip him twenty-five cents a drink. The Chinese laundry at the end of the block would have “numbers gambling” on Fridays, also. Thus, the origins of Mah Jong’s restaurant dream.”

“Executive Chef Mike Doctulero first fell in love with the kitchen when he began cooking with his grandfather at a very early age. His fondest childhood memories are those of he and his grandfather spreading newspaper on the kitchen table and devouring fresh-caught Dungeness crab they caught off the San Francisco Marina pier. Chef Mike began his culinary journey as a line cook at Rosellini’s Other Place in Seattle where he further discovered his passion for seafood. After ten years of honing his craft in Seattle, he returned to his hometown of San Francisco to open Monsoon restaurant under the teaching of Bruce Cost, fortifying his knowledge in Pacific Rim cuisine.”

“Fast forward to Orange County, where he has worked for over the past thirty years, primarily at Scott’s Seafood (now the site of Water Grill adjacent to South Coast Plaza.) Chef Mike has been creating sustainable dishes before they were industry catchwords. His cooking style reflects a philosophy that is timeless and approachable, yet also inventive and progressive. He is also known for his “Omakase style” (Trust the Chef), weaving instantaneous six to seven courses to delight his guests. He is the only Orange County Chef to receive the Golden Foodie Award for Best Seafood two years consecutively.”

Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike serves Lunch and Dinner daily with added Brunch items on the Weekends. It’s the only operating restaurant in Collage that has a full bar.

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Show 450, November 6, 2021: Chef Michael Doctulero – Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike Part Two

Michael Doctulero of Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike

Chef Michael Doctulero is the Chef/Proprietor of Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike located on the lower level of Collage at Bloomingdale’s at South Coast Plaza.

“Why Mah Jong’s? By definition Mah Jong’s is a Chinese social game often accompanied with the theme of gambling. Over many years it has been played in the “benevolent society / clubs” in the depths of Chinatowns across the globe, as well as in homes and public parks everywhere.”

“Chef Mike grew up in the Cow Hallow district of San Francisco in a two-story Victorian house where he lived with his grandparents, mom, and two older sisters. They were one of the five minority families living in the predominately Italian – Irish Catholic neighborhood. His family was definitely on the lower end on economic income growing up, so his grandparents decided to boost family income by renting the extra bedrooms to merchant marines and U.S. Navy sailors who were on leave but traveled to various parts of Asia while on duty.”

“So, ingeniously, Grandma would host Mah Jong games in the kitchen on Wednesday nights, and Pinocle card games on Thursday nights. Chef Mike’s grandfather would come home after work, as the personal chef for the Presidio Army Base Commander, and cook food into the late night for the gamblers. Chef Mike, at nine years old, would make whiskey highballs for his new “uncles”, and they would tip him twenty-five cents a drink. The Chinese laundry at the end of the block would have “numbers gambling” on Fridays, also. Thus, the origins of Mah Jong’s restaurant dream.”

“Executive Chef Mike Doctulero first fell in love with the kitchen when he began cooking with his grandfather at a very early age. His fondest childhood memories are those of he and his grandfather spreading newspaper on the kitchen table and devouring fresh-caught Dungeness crab they caught off the San Francisco Marina pier. Chef Mike began his culinary journey as a line cook at Rosellini’s Other Place in Seattle where he further discovered his passion for seafood. After ten years of honing his craft in Seattle, he returned to his hometown of San Francisco to open Monsoon restaurant under the teaching of Bruce Cost, fortifying his knowledge in Pacific Rim cuisine.”

“Fast forward to Orange County, where he has worked for over the past thirty years, primarily at Scott’s Seafood (now the site of Water Grill adjacent to South Coast Plaza.) Chef Mike has been creating sustainable dishes before they were industry catchwords. His cooking style reflects a philosophy that is timeless and approachable, yet also inventive and progressive. He is also known for his “Omakase style” (Trust the Chef), weaving instantaneous six to seven courses to delight his guests. He is the only Orange County Chef to receive the Golden Foodie Award for Best Seafood two years consecutively.”

Mah Jong’s by Chef Mike serves Lunch and Dinner daily with added Brunch items on the Weekends. It’s the only operating restaurant in Collage that has a full bar.

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Show 337, August 17, 2019: Chef Scooter Kanfer, The Tropicale Restaurant & Coral Seas Lounge, Palm Springs

Scooter Kanfer of the TropicaleChef Scooter Kanfer is the menu maker (with proprietor Tony Di Lembo) at Palm Springs’ The Tropicale Restaurant & Coral Seas Lounge (Comfort Food for a Modern World.) “Every night at Tropicale is a party.”

Newly published is The Tropicale Restaurant Cookbook.

“A chic and sophisticated décor provides the setting for our distinctive “world cuisine”, a provocative mix of zesty influences that creates a delightful dining experience in Palm Springs, California. Plush high-backed semicircular banquettes surround our dining room and offer comfortable and private seating. The cuisine has a light, exotic feel with an emphasis on Pacific Rim specialties, from Chilean Sea Bass baked in Banana Leaves or Kahlua-Barbecued Pork Chops to all sorts of tasty tapas, salads, wood-fired pizzas, and desserts.”

“The Coral Seas Lounge, a hip mid-century style bar is lined with sexy black leather bar-stools and is reminiscent of the upbeat lounges of old Palm Springs. It wraps around the dining room and leads outside to a lush, tropical, 2000 square foot dining patio where a variety of specialty cocktails and old-school favorites are mixed – an ideal place where friends gather and martinis are sipped under the starlit desert sky.”

We spirit Chef Scooter away from her busy kitchen at Brunch for a chat.

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Show 80, July 19, 2014: Executive Chef Eric Wadlund, Spencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain, Palm Springs

Eric WadlundSpencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain is consistently one of the most popular and favorably reviewed restaurants in the greater Palm Springs area. Since 2008 the secret has been the culinary talents of Executive Chef Eric Wadlund in the kitchen. Their relaxing Sunday Brunch is top of the mind with the locals. Their specialty is “Benedicts.”

“Featuring Four Star American Cuisine with a French – Pacific Rim Influence in a casually elegant atmosphere.” Chef Eric sources a lot of the produce he uses from two local Farmers Markets.

The restaurant’s outdoor patios and the striking indoor dining area create an extremely inviting visual experience.

Chef Eric was just four when he whipped up his first culinary delight: doughnuts. His father owned a bakery (Butterball Bakery) and taught him the tricks of the trade, and, most of all, to love food and cooking.

His banana cream pie is a locals’ favorite and all the ice creams and sorbets are house-made.

By the way, he’s cooked for the President, too, at Sunnylands (the former Walter Annenberg Estate.)

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July 19: Bestia, ADYA, Allan Karl, Spencer’s on the Mountain, Tomas Estes

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show
Segment Two: Chefs Ori Menashe and Chef Genevieve Gergis of Bestia, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Three: Chefs Ori Menashe and Chef Genevieve Gergis of Bestia, Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Four: Chef Shachi Mehra, ADYA – Fresh Indian Flavors, Anaheim
Segment Five: Allan Karl – Author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine and Connection Part One
Segment Six: Allan Karl – Author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine and Connection Part Two
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Eric Wadlund, Spencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain, Palm Springs
Segment Eight: Tomas Estes, Mexico’s Tequila Ambassador to Europe

Jet Tila and Producer Andy preview the show.

Bestia, which launched in late 2012 in a secluded location in the former warehouse district of Downtown Los Angeles (now known as the Arts District,) has been a high-profile foodie destination since the beginning. Meet the husband and wife team of Executive Chef Ori Menashe and Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis and you’ll understand why.

Chef Shachi Mehra is well-known to Orange County diners as the opening chef for the fine-dining Tamarind of London in Newport Coast. Now Chef Shachi has branched out on her own and launched the more accessible ADYA in the Anaheim Packing House. It’s a reflection of modern India cuisine revolving around fresh, sustainable ingredients, simply prepared, in a casual setting.

Why would anyone sell nearly everything he owns, then pack up and travel for three years – alone – on a motorcycle? Meet world traveler and adventurer, Allan Karl, the author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine And Connection. The standout book documents his 62,000 mile journey through 35 countries on 5 continents as well as provides authentic local recipes.

Spencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain is consistently one of the most popular and favorably reviewed restaurants in the greater Palm Springs area. Since 2008 the secret has been the culinary talents of Executive Chef Eric Wadlund in the kitchen.

The Museum of the American Cocktail is hosting one of their special “Touring the Cocktail” evenings at Guelaguetza Restaurante on July 23rd. It’s a tequila appreciation evening with Oaxacan food tastes. Tomas Estes, Mexico’s official Tequila Ambassador to Europe has the details.

All of this and lots more absolutely incredible deliciousness on Saturday’s show!

Executive Chef Ori Menashe and Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis of BestiaBestia, which launched in late 2012 in a secluded location in the former warehouse district of Downtown Los Angeles (now known as the Arts District,) has been a high-profile foodie destination since the very beginning. Meet the husband and wife team of Executive Chef Ori Menashe and Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis and you’ll better understand why.

Restaurant impresario Bill Chait is a partner.

The food is multi-regional Italian.

“The overall industrial feel of Bestia, couplled with the passion, hard work and talent of Chef Ori and Chef Genevieve make Bestia an honest Mom and Pop restaurant (with character) built to last.”

Charcuterie and Cured Meats at Bestia“Chef Ori maintains an aggressive house-cured meats program with over 60 different forms of charcuterie for Bestia. Bestia means “Beast” in Italian. He is also responsible for raising his own yeast culture which he uses to bake Bestia’s sourdough Pain au Levain, used as toast ubiquitously on the menu, as well as for the pizza dough, which rises and falls over a 24-hour cycle prior to being composed as a Napolitana pizza. It’s then baked in the Acunto (wood burning) oven at 900 degrees.”

‘On the dolci side of the menu, Chef Genevieve is preparing a plethora of desserts from scratch using the finest raw ingredients such as acquarello rice for her al dente rice pudding served with perfectly ripened in-season fruit or her earthy, nutty, chestnut flour zeppole served with house-made coffee gelato and cream. In addition Chef Genevieve was partially responsible for the design of Bestia. She re-furbished oil drum spouts converting them into lighting fixtures.”

Shachi MehraChef Shachi Mehra is well-known to Orange County diners as the opening chef for the fine-dining Tamarind of London in Newport Coast. Now Chef Shachi has branched out on her own and launched the more accessible ADYA in the Anaheim Packing House. It’s a reflection of modern India cuisine revolving around fresh, sustainable ingredients, simply prepared, in a casual setting.

Earlier in her career Chef Shachi was mentored by pioneering Indian Chef Floyd Cardoz in Manhattan. She worked at both Tabla and Bread Bar eventually rising to the position of Head Cook at Bread Bar.

“With ADYA, I present an Indian experience that will allow those who are both familiar and less experienced with Indian cuisine to embark on a delicious, unique culinary journey that emphasizes fresh ingredients and pronounced flavors,” commented Chef Shachi, who blends Western and Indian cultures to create artful dishes that successfully marry tradition with modernity. “The casual setting of ADYA makes it inviting and accommodating to a wide range of guests who seek out the rich experiences that Indian cuisine has to offer.”

Allan KarlWhy would anyone of sound mind sell nearly everything he owns (including a premium wine collection with cult California labels,) then pack up and travel for three years – alone – on a motorcycle? Meet world traveler and adventurer, Allan Karl, the author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine And Connection. The standout book documents his incredible 62,000 mile journey through 35 countries on 5 continents over three years as well as provides authentic local recipes.

Getting the beautiful coffee table book published was an additional three-year odyssey of its own that became a Kickstarter case study..

From Allan: “Through the pages of this book, I share not only incredible adventures, I share the powerful gift of human connection – often made over good food and drink. Readers can experience the world as I did by traveling through each country, meeting the people and their unique cultures, and tasting their food.”

“As I traveled it occurred to me how important is the ritual of sharing food and how much we learn when we take the time to connect and share a meal with strangers or good friends alike.”

Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine And Connections by Allan KarlForks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine And Connections is an oversized, coffee-table art-book with more than 700 photos, stories of adventure and survival and global local food.”

For two years Allan struggled to find a publisher willing to take on this unusual and ambitious book project. They couldn’t pigeonhole it…Finally he turned to Kickstarter to raise the needed initial funds to self publish. He raised almost twice his initial goal for a total of $44,994

After three years on the road Allan truly believes the Irish Proverb: “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met.”

Eric WadlundSpencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain is consistently one of the most popular and favorably reviewed restaurants in the greater Palm Springs area. Since 2008 the secret has been the culinary talents of Executive Chef Eric Wadlund in the kitchen. Their relaxing Sunday Brunch is top of the mind with the locals.

“Featuring Four Star American Cuisine with a French – Pacific Rim Influence in a casually elegant atmosphere.”

The restaurant’s outdoor patios and the striking indoor dining area create an extremely inviting visual experience.

Chef Eric was just four when he whipped up his first culinary delight: doughnuts. His father owned a bakery and taught him the tricks of the trade, and, most of all, to love food and cooking.

By the way, he’s cooked for the President, too.

Tomas EstesThe Museum of the American Cocktail is hosting one of their special “Touring the Cocktail” evenings at Guelaguetza Restaurante on July 23rd. It’s a tequila appreciation evening with Oaxacan food tastes. Tomas Estes, Mexico’s official Tequila Ambassador to Europe has the details for us.

Tomas Estes, London resident, native Angeleno, acclaimed restaurateur, and Mexico’s “Official Tequila Ambassador to Europe,” issues participants a passport to the world of tequila and takes them on a behind-the-scenes tour of agave spirits. Josh Goldman, Co-Founder of Soigné Group, a portfolio of 12 Los Angeles-area craft cocktail bars and restaurants, executes a drink menu that demonstrates tequila’s range and versatility.

A sampling of savory specialties from the authentic Oaxacan kitchen of Koreatown’s Restaurante Guelaguetza are included in the price of admission. Come taste why Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold says “Guelaguetza is the best Oaxacan restaurant in the country.”

Tickets are $45 in advance, $40 for MOTAC/SoFAB and USBG Members, and $50 at the door.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show
Segment Two: Chefs Ori Menashe and Chef Genevieve Gergis of Bestia, Los Angeles Part One
Segment Three: Chefs Ori Menashe and Chef Genevieve Gergis of Bestia, Los Angeles Part Two
Segment Four: Chef Shachi Mehra, ADYA – Fresh Indian Flavors, Anaheim
Segment Five: Allan Karl – Author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine and Connection Part One
Segment Six: Allan Karl – Author of Forks: A Quest For Culture, Cuisine and Connection Part Two
Segment Seven: Executive Chef Eric Wadlund, Spencer’s Restaurant at The Mountain, Palm Springs
Segment Eight: Tomas Estes, Mexico’s Tequila Ambassador to Europe