Show 524, May 6, 2023: Vegas Test Kitchen with Founder Jolene Mannina and Pastry Chef Andrea McLean of Pop N Pies Part One

Food Entrepreneur Jolene Mannina

A bit over two years ago Vegas Test Kitchen located in Downtown Las Vegas debuted under the direction of Vegas food entrepreneur Jolene Mannina. “It’s purpose during the pandemic was to provide a creative space for chefs to test out restaurant concepts, host popup dinners and stage events. Over 50 chefs have participated in Vegas Test Kitchen.”

Their lease is not being renewed and VTK will have a Closing Night Food Fest and Farewell Party on Saturday, June 3rd from 6 to 9:00 p.m.

“The pandemic persuaded Jolene to launch the Vegas Test Kitchen, and now she fully appreciates its value to small businesses. VTK helped so many people kickstart their dreams. Culinary incubators are needed in all cities to help chefs take their first step in business. Within only three months of being at the Test Kitchen chefs have the ability to dive into their proposed menu, make adjustments, start recipe development, and build their brand with little out-of-pocket expenses.”

VTK success stories include everything from ethereal bagels to gourmet pizza made with a sourdough starter base.

Pastry Chef Andrea McLean is one of the earliest chefs with a residency at VTK with her incredibly popular PopNpies bakery. Specialties include Blueberry Crumble and Peanut Butter Chocolate pies. Definitely a VTK success story.

We’ll meet Chef Andrea as well as highlight the successes of VTK with Jolene Mannina.

Show 524, May 6, 2023: Vegas Test Kitchen with Founder Jolene Mannina and Pastry Chef Andrea McLean of Pop N Pies Part Two

Andrea McLean of Pop N Pies

A bit over two years ago Vegas Test Kitchen located in Downtown Las Vegas debuted under the direction of Vegas food entrepreneur Jolene Mannina. “It’s purpose during the pandemic was to provide a creative space for chefs to test out restaurant concepts, host popup dinners and stage events. Over 50 chefs have participated in Vegas Test Kitchen.”

Their lease is not being renewed and VTK will have a Closing Night Food Fest and Farewell Party on Saturday, June 3rd from 6 to 9:00 p.m.

“The pandemic persuaded Jolene to launch the Vegas Test Kitchen, and now she fully appreciates its value to small businesses. VTK helped so many people kickstart their dreams. Culinary incubators are needed in all cities to help chefs take their first step in business. Within only three months of being at the Test Kitchen chefs have the ability to dive into their proposed menu, make adjustments, start recipe development, and build their brand with little out-of-pocket expenses.”

VTK success stories include everything from ethereal bagels to gourmet pizza made with a sourdough starter base.

Pastry Chef Andrea McLean is one of the earliest chefs with a residency at VTK with her incredibly popular PopNpies bakery. Specialties include Blueberry Crumble and Peanut Butter Chocolate pies. Definitely one of the many VTK success stories.

Pastry Chef Andrea McLean and VTK Founder Jolene Mannina continue with us.

Show 459, January 22, 2022: Chef Vida Virgillito of the Gone Loco Spicy Food Truck, Long Beach

Vida Virgillito of the Gone Lock Spicy Food Truck

“The city-wide inaugural Long Beach Black Restaurant Week will take place January 23-30, 2022. Long Beach Black Restaurant Week will be a platform to bring everyone to the table, from all walks of life, to showcase the city’s diverse Black food scene. Organized by Long Beach Food & Beverage, a California registered 501(c)3 non-profit, along with Velika Turner, former co-owner of Derricks on Atlantic, Long Black Restaurant Week will be an eight day event devoted to celebrating African, African American, and Caribbean fare in and around Long Beach. The event also seeks to highlight Black-owned food businesses as well as Black chefs and bartenders.”

A participating food truck is Chef Vida Virgillito’s Gone Loco Spicy Food Truck. It’s the first certified rolling grill in Long Beach that features a menu of all spicy foods. You choose your preferred level of spice ranging from “Tame” to “Insane.” All the hot sauces and special seasonings are Chef Vida’s creations. They are vegan and vegetarian options on the Gone Loco menu.

Popular menu items include My Chick Bangin’ Sandwich with a spicy chicken breast (grilled or fried,) spicy house aioli, spicy pickles, lettuce and tomato; and Mom’s Grilled PB&PJ Sammie with pepper jelly and peanut butter on grilled artisan bread. The onion rings have a special seasoning that elevates the taste and flavor. Chef Vida takes a break from the rolling grill and joins us with spatula in hand.

Thai-Inspired Lettuce Wraps

Thai Inspired Lettuce Wraps by MJ Hong

Recipe excerpt from:
The One-Pan College Cookbook: 80 Easy Recipes for Quick, Good Food
by MJ Hong

Fresh and tangy flavors paired with crunchy vegetables make for a satisfying bite in these refreshing lettuce wraps. Use your favorite ground meat or omit it altogether and double up on the vegetables. You can also make this into a bowl and serve it over chopped fresh lettuce or cooked rice.

Serves 2
Prep TIme: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken, turkey, pork, or beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 carrot, diced or grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter or any nut butter
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Romaine or iceberg lettuce leaves
  1. In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meat and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it up, for about 3 minutes, or until no longer pink.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, carrot, bell pepper, hoisin sauce, and peanut butter and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in the scallion, cilantro, and lime juice.
  4. To serve, separate the lettuce leaves and place on a plate. Add a couple of spoonfuls of the filling into the center of each leaf and eat taco-style.

REMIX TIP: For a Korean-inspired flavor, omit the hoisin sauce and peanut butter and instead add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. For spice, add 1 tablespoon of gochujang (Korean red chili paste).

Show 314, March 9, 2019: Pic Picot, Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter, New Zealand

Pic PicotEver consider the delights of top-quality peanut butter? The style (with no sugar) that is dense with spreadable crunch and oozing with the rich taste and aroma of freshly roasted peanuts? Kiwi Pic Picot certainly has. Since founding Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter Co. in his garage in Nelson, NZ back in 2008 he is now the best-selling (and best loved) peanut butter in New Zealand. Pic’s is now conquering California with availability in Pavilions, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms.

“In 2008 I sold 48 jars to our local supermarket and took to the road. Within a year you could buy Pic’s in 50 outlets around the country. Then we were picked up by both of NZ’s supermarket chains and suddenly Pic’s was available pretty much anywhere in New Zealand.” – Pic Picot

Just launched in Nelson is Pic’s Peanut Butter World, a new 25,000 square foot production facility designed to also accommodate comprehensive factory tours as a tourist attraction. It doubles Pic’s previous production capabilities. At capacity Pic’s can now produce up to 50,000 jars of smooth or crunchy peanut butter per day!

Opening Day an overflow crowd of 6,000 mostly locals toured Pic’s Peanut Butter World. Among the excited guests was the principal Australian farmer who supplies raw, hi-oleic peanuts to Pic’s.

The inspirational NZ peanut butter baron, Pic Picot, is our return guest live from Nelson, NZ.

 

Show 264, March 10, 2018: Pic Picot, Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter, Nelson, New Zealand Continues…

Pic PicotEver consider the delights of top quality peanut butter? The style (with no sugar) that is dense with spreadable crunch and oozing with the rich taste and aroma of freshly roasted peanuts? Kiwi Pic Picot certainly has. Since founding Pic’s Really Good Peanut Butter Co. in his garage in Nelson, NZ back in 2008 he is now the best-selling (and best loved) peanut butter in New Zealand. Pic’s is now conquering California with availability in Pavilions, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms.

“My Mum and Auntie had made a bit of peanut butter when I was little. They’d both bought a new Vitamix and peanut butter was one of the cool things you could make with them. Anyway, I bought a few kilos of peanuts, roasted them in the oven and squished them up with a bit of salt, blowing up my cheap modern blender in the process.”

“But the peanut butter was beautiful. A million times nicer than the stuff I’d got used to. I filled a few jars for friends, and one of my twelve year old son’s mates liked it so much he bought a jar with his pocket money.”

“I was fifty- five, going a bit blind (macular degeneration runs in the family) and had just had to close a little Laundromat that had been earning me a couple of hundred dollars a week. I figured if I could make 30 jars of peanut butter on Friday morning I could sell it at our farmers market on Friday afternoon and get my $200 back.”

“So that’s what I did. I made a roaster out of a concrete mixer and bought a bench top grinder and a tonne of peanuts from Australia and got to work.” –Pic Picot

Show 210, February 11, 2017: Melba and Steve Artea, Crown City Toffee

Melba ArteaWe love inspirational entrepreneurial food success stories. For Melba Artea of Crown City Toffee it all started with a family recipe for toffee (with chocolate & nuts) and a pressing need to provide more financial resources for her Family. Husband, Steve, provides added guidance on the business side.

“Our English toffee is made with the freshest ingredients available. It is crispy with a wonderful buttery crunch and topped with a coat of creamy chocolate (milk or dark) with fresh-roasted almonds sprinkled on top.”

“Our Peanut Butter Drizzle is a huge favorite of many of our customers. It’s roasted peanuts topped over melted Peanut Butter Morsels and drizzled with milk chocolate.”

Crown City Toffee is part of the Pechanga Wine Festival. We’ll get the full story from Melba on her popular toffee line that started in her home kitchen. Based on demand they have graduated to producing in a commercial kitchen.

Update: About an hour and one-half into the 9th Annual Pechanga Wine Festival, Crown City Toffee was about sold out.

Show 164, March 19, 2016: Julianna Abdallah, Earned Media Manager, Justin’s

Justin Gold The story of Justin’s began when Justin Gold, a lover of the active lifestyle, moved to Boulder, Colorado in his 20’s. In order to fuel his long bike rides, Justin embarked on a mission to create new varieties of nut butter that not only packed the protein, but also tasted great.He began crafting the very first batches of his now-famous, culinary nut butters in his home kitchen.

Justin’s family and friends encouraged him to start selling his nut butter at the Boulder Farmers’ Market. With the help of mentors and extensive research at Colorado University’s Leeds School of Business, he developed his first business plan. The jars of nut butter, filled with passion, were an instant hit at the Farmers’ Market.

Justin used this success as leverage to convince select retailers to allow him to stock their shelves and demo the nut butters in store. As a one-man operation, he tirelessly overcame one challenge after another and slowly the business grew.

Show 164, March 19, 2016: Julianna Abdallah, Earned Media Manager, Justin’s Continues…

Justin Gold The story of Justin’s began when Justin Gold, a lover of the active lifestyle, moved to Boulder, Colorado in his 20’s. In order to fuel his long bike rides, Justin embarked on a mission to create new varieties of nut butter that not only packed the protein, but also tasted great. He began crafting the very first batches of his now-famous, culinary nut butters in his home kitchen.

The newest addition to the Justin’s line of products is a fun lifestyle cookbook, Justin My Kitchen – simple, delicious recipes in a nutshell. The effervescent author of the book, Julianna Abdallah, is our guest. She is also the Earned Media Manager fur Justin’s.

Julianna is a sweets’ person and is known around Justin’s for two of her “All The Treats.” It’s joked that her recipe for “Easiest Peanut Butter Cup Cookies Ever” perhaps got her hired and also of acclaim within the Justin’s Family is her “Maple Almond Butter Snickerdoodles.” Who are we to disagree? Both recipes are generously shared in the book.

Show 36, July 20, 2013: Customer Service and Speculoos Cookie Butter

SupermarketProducer Andy sounded off about a less than satisfactory customer service story he experienced at his neighborhood chain grocery store. Is it acceptable customer service for a store employee to shrug off a simple customer request when the employee didn’t have a clue where a common item was stocked in his area. Shouldn’t a store employee have enough training and basic initiative to instead go ask  a co-worker who knows instead of giving up?

Next we jumped into the Speculoos Cookie Butter craze playing out at a Trader Joe’s near you.

Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe'sSpeculoos Cookie Butter is made by a small Danish company and is apparently a Trader Joe’s exclusive in the U.S. It comes in both a smooth and crunchy version. It tastes like the best fresh ginger bread you ever had with a kick. It’s incredible, melted, over ice cream when used like a fudge sauce. People use it like peanut butter but it has a much richer flavor profile.

Surprisingly it’s the number one selling product in all Trader Joe’s right now, and they seemingly can’t keep it on the shelf. The crunch variety is presently out of stock and they aren’t sure when it will be back. The explanation is the manufacturer makes one version at a time. The smooth, when you can find it, is limited to the purchase of two jars per customer.

Crazy but absolutely delicious …!