Show 357, January 25, 2020: Chef Jason McClain, McClain Chophouse and Philly Jay’s Steaks

Jason McClain of the Jonathan Club and Philly Jay's SteaksAfter 8 years as the popular Executive Chef at the prestigious Jonathan Club (Downtown Los Angeles and on the beach in Santa Monica) Jason McClain has amicably departed to pursue some culinary adventures on his own. At Jonathan Club Chef McClain took traditional club fare in the elevated direction of fine dining at a highly rated, independent restaurant.

On the horizon is McClain Chophouse, an ingredient-focused premium steak house and, just for fun, an authentic Philly Cheesesteak food truck (Philly Jay’s Steaks.)

“Chef McClain received his formal training at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY and honed his skills under the tutelage of some of the USA’s great culinary talents in Philadelphia and Miami. He has evolved his menus by focusing on one thing : ingredients.”

“At Jonathan Club Chef Jason joined forces with a local urban farming company to plant a 42-bed rooftop garden. Four times each year he used his expertise to contribute to the surrounding neighborhood by inviting underprivileged youth to visit the Club to learn the value of growing fresh ingredients firsthand.”

We’ll get an “a la minute” update from Chef Jason.


Show 357, January 25, 2020: Chef Josiah Citrin of Melisse and Citrin, Santa Monica

Josiah CitrinLast December, Chef Josiah Citrin debuted the reimagined Mélisse and Citrin, two new culinary concepts under one iconic roof. After closing Michelin two-star Mélisse in Santa Monica last year, Chef Josiah remade the award-winning dining destination as an engaging, luxe, intimate tasting menu restaurant alongside Citrin, an inviting, á la carte concept paying homage to the original Mélisse’s culinary legacy.

Chef/Partner Ken Takayama, Wine Director Matthew Luczy, and General Manager James Spencer, all formerly of Mélisse, helm both restaurants which were designed by Dex Studios and Redford House. With this double debut of anticipated restaurants, Chef Josiah continues to solidify his status as a central figure of fine dining in Los Angeles.

“Located within the Mélisse space that flourished in Santa Monica for two decades, Chef Josiah and Chef/Partner Ken Takayama revived their Michelin two-star institution with a new service model which brings a more personal, intimate approach to service. Challenging the format of traditional restaurant service, Mélisse brings the intimacy of the kitchen directly to guests with chefs and sommeliers—who also double as servers—leading diners through the experience. The nine-course tasting menu is intended to bring a sense of discovery, shifting in accordance with the seasons while adhering to Chef Josiah’s signature California progressive cooking style.”

“Drawing from Chef Josiah’s classical French training and longtime connection with the Santa Monica Farmers Market, the coursed tasting menu ($295) can be accompanied by a France and California-focused wine pairing ($195) from Wine Director and Certified Sommelier Matthew Luczy. Guests can also opt for a non-alcoholic pairing ($195), featuring housemade kombucha and infusions.”

“An extension of the original Mélisse, Citrin offers an upscale yet comfortable, convivial, and fun dining experience where guests can expect the same meticulous attention to detail and technique for which chefs Josiah Citrin and Ken Takayama are celebrated. Executed in a California progressive style, the á la carte menu inherits some of the signature dishes that made Mélisse a bastion of the Los Angeles fine dining landscape, including Lobster Bolognese and Caviar Egg.”

“Seasonal ingredients shine on Citrin’s menu in dishes like Truffle Pasta with house-made tagliatelle, truffle foam, and white truffles shaved tableside; Wild Japanese Yellowtail “Buri” with radish, grapefruit, and nori; and Santa Barbara Rockfish with chive blossoms, mussels, mussel broth, and quince mustard.”

“Distinct from the 77-seat dining room, the 22-seat bar offers the full menu and cocktails (which take their names from some of Chef Josiah’s favorite songs), as well as a special burger exclusive to the bar. Citrin’s rock n’ roll cocktail list, also available to order at Mélisse, includes libations like the Love Me Two Times made with mezcal, cherry liqueur, cinnamon demerara, yuzu, and angostura; as well as the Wild Horses with white rum, Pimm’s, blueberry-thyme syrup, lime, and angostura.”

Chef Josiah Cirtin surfs in with all the details.


Show 356, January 18, 2020: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger, SOCALO, Santa Monica Part One

Susan Feniger of Socalo and Border GrillCelebrity chef and restaurateur Susan Feniger is best known for creating Border Grill (Los Angeles & Las Vegas) with her business partner Mary Sue Milliken. She was also one of the first stars on Food Network. The partners have recently made their return to Santa Monica with the launch of Socalo in the Gateway Hotel.

“Socalo serves breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner. The beachy California canteen and Mexican pub features Milliken and Feniger’s iconic balance of tradition and innovation, serving Mexican fare with a California sensibility, alongside Mexican craft beers, wines and cocktails. Socalo’s playful pops of warm colors, breezy accents, and indoor/outdoor dining atmosphere make it a go-to spot for beachgoers, businesspeople, and everyone in between.”

“The duo is known for their beloved restaurant, Border Grill, which opened in Santa Monica in 1990 and has since expanded to locations in Downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Excited to open another restaurant near the coast, Feniger says, “Santa Monica has always felt like home, and we’re excited to be back in a fantastic spot for the community to grab great food and drinks.” Milliken adds, “Socalo is a culmination of everything we love about SoCal – the awesome, local ingredients and incredible neighborhood restaurants – plus our passion for Mexican flavors.””

“Inspired by the Spanish word Zócalo, meaning a central gathering place in Mexican cities, and the restaurant’s home in SoCal, Socalo offers conscientiously-sourced menu options, prepared by Executive Chef Giovanni Lopez. The restaurant provides quick counter service at breakfast, including pastries and fresh juices, as well as at lunch. The dinner menu shifts to full-service dining with raw bar offerings and an array of small plates, salads, taco selections and large plates.”

Also new to the still growing empire are two fast casual concepts, Border BBQ and Pacha Mamas located at 2nd & PCH on Long Beach.

We corral Susan for a chat.


Show 356, January 18, 2020: Celebrity Chef Susan Feniger, SOCALO, Santa Monica Part Two

Susan Feniger of Socalo and Border GrillCelebrity chef and restaurateur Susan Feniger is best known for creating Border Grill (Los Angeles & Las Vegas) with her business partner Mary Sue Milliken. She was also one of the first stars on Food Network. The partners have recently made their return to Santa Monica with the launch of Socalo in the Gateway Hotel.

Also new to the still growing empire are two fast casual concepts, Border BBQ and Pacha Mamas located at 2nd & PCH on Long Beach.

Border BBQ offers a variety of bowls, wraps, and salads full of flavor and filled with slow smoked Texas-style brisket, mesquite smoked chicken, pulled pork and smoked tofu, in addition to housemade lemonades, beertails and wine (coming soon!). Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken utilize seasonal, locally grown ingredients, organic rice and beans, and meats and poultry without antibiotics or hormones. At Border BBQ, slow smoked barbecue meets fresh Southern California ingredients for an easy to eat and affordable option that can be enjoyed on the go.

“At Pacha Mamas, Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken serve freshly composed ceviches and seared skewers a la plancha with bold Peruvian and coastal inspired sauces. Pacha Mamas offers conscientiously-sourced fare, using the finest locally grown and organic ingredients, sustainable seafood, and meats and poultry without antibiotics or hormones, alongside housemade lemonades and sangrias (coming soon!) in a casual and comfortable outdoor setting. Food enthusiasts of all types – vegan, vegetarian, meat and fish lovers alike – will love our satisfying flavors and personable staff.”

Chef Susan Feniger continues…


Show 351, December 14, 2019: Co-Host Chef Andrew Gruel with “Ask the Chef” Part Two

Andy Harris, Andrew Gruel and JC Clow of the Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar at the SoCal Restaurant Show 5th AnniversaryOur own Chef Andrew Gruel of the Slapfish Restaurant Group is in-studio with another informative “Ask the Chef” segment.

Valet parking charges (and overages) at fine-dining establishments are starting to skyrocket in the greater L.A. area. In certain congested areas of the City there are few alternatives. Destinations with no street parking or public garages. What’s reasonable?

Andy discusses a recent restaurant valet parking experience that will surprise you. To the new establishment’s credit the restaurant manager graciously turned the situation around.


Show 339, August 31, 2019: Cookie Good’s Co-Founder & Baker, Ross Canter Part One

Ross Canter of Cookie Good“You know that feeling when you take your first bite of a cookie? When you crunch through that crisp exterior and get to the chewy often chocolaty center; when the buttery, slightly salty sweetness hits your tongue? It’s just an instant but suddenly your brain is flooded, senses over-loaded and without even being aware, you find yourself smiling. That’s what we call feeling “Cookie Good”.”

“We take that feeling one step further, working hard to make cookies that not only taste amazing but also feed your soul; that make you remember something wonderful – the gooey, toasted, marshmallowy treat you ate around a campfire, that favorite childhood cereal you only got when your dad went to the market, your grandmother’s once-a-year-apple pie…Cookie Good: it’s how you wanna feel.”

“After a few years of baking thousands of cookies at home with only a 6-quart mixer and a single oven, we decided to move to a commercial kitchen. In just 5 hours a day, 4 days a week, we baked and baked and baked. As the business grew, we knew it was finally time to take the biggest leap of all – building our own bakery. We found the perfect spot in Santa Monica – a small, 1930s brick building right across the street from a park with palm trees, lawn bowling, and a duck pond.”

Cookie Good’s (Santa Monica) Co-Founder & Baker Ross Canter joins us with all the sweet details.


Show 339, August 31, 2019: Cookie Good’s Co-Founder & Baker, Ross Canter Part Two

Ross Canter of Cookie Good“For years I was a “writer who bakes”. I’d spend my days in coffee shops writing screenplays, tv shows. Each day was an emotional rollercoaster as I struggled to find self-worth while being mocked by blank pages. But, relief came on weekends and holidays when I’d get into the kitchen and make cookies. I love that you can take lots of different, totally unrelated ingredients, mix them together, nurture them just a little bit and come out with something wonderful, edible and delicious. I realized that I rarely got that feeling of complete satisfaction while sitting at my computer and I knew that I wanted to feel “cookie good” more often.”

As luck would have it, Hollywood writers went on strike in 2007 and now, with no source of income, Melanie suggested it was time for a career change. We perfected my cookie & brownie recipes, sent an email out to family and friends and three minutes later we had our first order (in truth, it was for my best friend but I still think it counts). We’ve been baking, shipping, developing new flavors and feeling “cookie good” ever since.” – Ross Canter, Baker & Co-Founder

“Unlike Ross, the baker who writes, I don’t bake or write. But luckily after 25 years of marriage, 23 years of parenting, birthday parties & holidays galore, I can wrap a mean gift so we make a great team in the bakery.”

“On a deeper note, Cookie Good isn’t just about delicious cookies and pretty packaging. It’s about our family’s struggle to find our passion in life and our ability to survive; it’s about our desire to give back and make an impact on this crazy world – and having lived with breast cancer for the past 21 years, surviving is something our family knows a lot about. So in 2007, when presented with a sink or swim situation, we decided to dive in and combine Ross’ passion for baking and my quest to give back in the hope that Cookie Good might somehow make the world a better place – even if it’s just one cookie at a time. Besides supporting many schools and charities year-round, every October we donate proceeds from our cookies to the Breast Cancer Care & Research Fund, an organization that is very close to our hearts.” – Melanie Canter, Co-Founder

New from Cookie Good is Cookie Corn.” “This just might be the best thing you’ve never had before.”

Cookie Good’s Ross Canter continues…


Show 329, June 22, 2019: The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories

Clemence Gossett of the Gourmandise SchoolThe Gourmandise School at Santa Monica Place offers hands-on cooking classes for all ages and skill levels, with a focus on teaching classic techniques using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. The school offers cooking and baking classes, professional series, kid’s classes, fascinating food workshops and private events.

The school works with the finest instructors to teach the very best techniques and inspire people to develop their culinary intuition. The Gourmandise School is a culinary resource for amateur chefs and bakers as well as the LA food community. Classes are offered mornings, afternoons and evenings, seven days a week.

The Gourmandise School has quickly become LA’s most revered culinary education outpost, offering highly specialized courses such as bean-to-bar chocolate workshops, cheese-making and cooking classes featuring global cuisines. The growing popularity of the unique classes and high demand for private parties ultimately led to the need for expansion. The new, expanded location brings an additional layer of cultural programming and culinary adventure to the community of Santa Monica as well as further enhances the customer experience at Santa Monica Place.

More information can be found here.

Co-Owner, Co-Founder and Pastry Chef Clemence Gossett is our instructive guide.


Show 311, February 16, 2019: Executive Chef Nick Shipp, The Upper West, Santa Monica, CA

Nick ShippLocally owned and operated, The Upper West opened its doors in 2010 and not long after it’s arrival on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica has emerged as a consistent local favorite. Upper West’s ever-changing menu draws inspiration from around the world while maintaining eclectic flavors of Chef Nick Shipp’s very own.

“Our bar offers a nightly happy hour from 5-7 p.m. as well an all -night happy hour every Monday that serves refreshing craft cocktails, handcrafted beer, and a unique array of small bites that can only be enjoyed during this time frame. Some of the local favorites happy small bites are braised pork belly lettuce wraps, sausage and goat cheese quesadilla and lamb nachitos.”

“Our lunch and dinner menu is always evolving and includes ingredients sourced locally from the Santa Monica Farmers Market as well as local farmers such as Weiser Farms, Niman Ranch, Jimenez Family Farm and Harries Berries. Our chef, Nick Shipp, has been described by food critics as a “mad scientist, where no two dining experiences are ever alike.”

Our wall decor changes regularly, as we host one local artist for each season of the year. Make sure you come and celebrate them at our quarterly art openings.”

“Every month, Chef Nick gets to show off his culinary talents with a special pairing dinner co-hosted by select liquor brands who will walk you through each of the individual tasting notes in accompaniment with each course. We offer whiskey, gin, and wine dinners, with a small intimate group, and we always have a great time!”

Their 6th Annual Oscar Fundraiser is Sunday evening, February 24th.

We pull Chef Nick away from his busy kitchen for a chat.


Show 308, January 26, 2019: Chef Geraldine Gilliland, The Lula Cocina Cookbook & Lula Cocina Mexicana, Santa Monica

Geraldine Gilliland at Melissa's ProduceGeraldine Gilliland is a well-known and long-time restaurateur in Santa Monica. Her popular establishment on Main Street is the long-running Lula Cocina Mexicana launched in 1991. It’s a living tribute to her (Mexico City-based) Mexican cooking teacher, Lula Bertran. Geraldine is also a long-time resident of Malibu and dedicated to animal rescue with Chiquita’s Friends.

There is a new printing of Geraldine’s The Lula Cocina Cookbook – My favorite Recipes, from Mexico to Malibu. All of the proceeds from book sales generously benefit Chiquita’s Friends.

“Learn not only her best recipes, but how to put your own spin on them to create your own signature dishes…all while helping a great cause.

“Chiquita’s Friends,” is a 501 © 3 I founded that is dedicated to helping abused, neglected and abandoned dogs in and around Southern California. We have rescued and successfully placed over 1,000 dogs in loving homes with the help of this network of allies in the fight against animal negligence and abuse.”

Geraldine spoke to us from the LXV Wine Tasting Room in Paso Robles where she is on a research trip. She recommends their wines.