Show 399, November 14, 2020: Drew Brahs of Harper Barbecue in Costa Mesa

Drew Brahs of Harper BarbecueDrew Brahs of Harper Barbecue (Costa Mesa based) is well-known in the West as the go-to builder (via word-if-mouth and Instagram) of hand-crafted, custom smokers for skilled pitmasters and backyard barbecue fans alike. He crafts everything from small backyard pits to large versions on trailers. Drew is responsible for creating the twin, 1,000 gallon smokers offset smokers used at Danny Castillo’s Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano.

Drew is a fan of the Central Texas style of barbecue. In the early stages of development and construction is his long-in-the works restaurant, Harper Barbecue, in Costa Mesa which will be a Family affair. While the restaurant is being built Drew will shift the smoker enterprise to selling stock items. Website coming soon…

We’ll meet barbecue entrepreneur Drew Brahs.


Show 153, January 2, 2016: Chef Ronnel Capacia, Kelsey’s, Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula

Ronnel Capacia photo byy Todd MontgomeryKelsey’s is the long-running sports bar at The Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. After a $2.5 million and nearly four-month renovation, Kelsey’s has transitioned into an upscale American pub with an emphasis on hand-cut, barbecued meats and craft beers. It now seats 303 guests but doesn’t feel cavernous.

Guests will immediately notice the industrial brick, concrete, exposed and reclaimed wood, juxtaposed with delicate glass and velvet textures as a major departure from the cherry-stained wood furnishings and closed-in booths that defined the restaurant’s prior look.

In developing the new menu, Kelsey’s culinary team initially conducted several guest polls. People were asked what kind of food and new concepts they would like to see in a new restaurant. The barbecue and craft beer theme surfaced repeatedly in the results.

“From there, we went to work developing recipes and methods for smoking and barbecuing meats, crafting sauces, and adding a few other items like gourmet burgers and pizzas we know guests in this restaurant appreciate,” said Kelsey’s Head Chef, Ronnel Capacia.

Smoked Meats at Kelsey's at PechangaWith 10 “From the Smoker” items and 14 southern specialty sides gracing the menu, Capacia and his team are confident diners will enjoy the new dishes. Other selections include several hearty salads and wraps, steak and seafood, and the beloved wood-fired, handmade pizzas held over from Kelsey’s pre-facelift menu.

There are now 48 beers on tap at Kelsey’s. All except three are craft or microbrews, and most are from Southern California-brewed breweries. Temecula is known for wines but there are now a handful of serious craft brewers there, too. Temecula’s Refuge Brewery is represented at Kelsey’s with their acclaimed Blood Orange Wit. A happy accident for them which has now become a huge hit in the area and way beyond.

A newer concept for casino restaurant table seating, Kelsey’s offers an indoor patio adjacent to the casino floor allowing guests to be next to the energy and excitement of slot machines and table games. Kelsey’s is open every day.

Ronnel Capacia, Kelsey’s Chef, joins us with the overview with Todd Montgomery providing the photgraphy.


Show 129, July 4, 2015: Executive Chef Andrew Monterrosa, TAPS Fish House & Brewery, Irvine

Andrew Monterrosa at the KLAA AM830 Studios in AnaheimTAPS Fish House & Brewery (Brea and Corona) has an impressive new location in Irvine at The Market Place. All the TAPS locations differ in design so you never have the feeling you’re dining in an impersonal, corporate restaurant.

The stylish environment offers fine dining and a more casual bar-lounge area. There is a comfortable patio, too. They are famous for their Sunday brunch and serve lunch, dinner and happy hour.

The private dining room at the news TAPS Irvine accommodates 125 guests and features a handsome stone fireplace and large barn doors that slide open across an arched entry. A 1,800-squarte-foot, cigar-friendly patio with a full-service menu and cocktails seats 100.

TAPS is as well known for its quality cuisine served in generous portions as it is for award-winning, handcrafted ales and lagers. There is a critically acclaimed wine list, which includes 150 California-centric selections by the bottle and 20 wines by the glass.

The Irvine location has an impressive 24 taps – 14 of them for TAPS seasonal and signature ales and lagers. There are an additional four guest beers on draft selected by Brewmaster David Huls.

This is the first TAPS to showcase select meats and fish cooked on a J & R “Little Red Smokehouse” smoker. This Rolls Royce of smokers from Mesquite, TX is fueled by apple wood and cherry wood. It’s inspired by the smoker at sister restaurant, Lillie’s Q in Brea. A smoked prime rib is offered nightly. Rotating smoked fish offerings include trout, albacore, salmon, mussels and oysters.

Chef Andrew Monterrosa joins us in-studio with all the 411 on TAPS Irvine.


Show 73, May 24, 2014: Executive Chef John Shelton, Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA

John Shelton of Hotel del CoronadoThe Hotel Del Coronado is California’s premier, classic beachfront hotel dating back to 1888. It represents luxury from another age.

Executive Chef John Shelton who oversees all the food and beverage operation at The Del is our guest. He also loves to fish.

Restaurants at the Del range from the beverage 1500 OCEAN to the award-winning Sunday Brunch spectacular buffet served in the historic and architecturally significant Crown Room. It’s the largest free-standing wood structure in the United States and was built by a team of highly-skilled, master shipwrights.

June is Culinary Craftsman Month at Sunday Brunch. Local exceptional food products will be featured.

The big Summer kick-off event at the Del is the SEA + FOOD event on Saturday afternoon, June 7th on the Windsor Lawn. It’s a one-day Pacific Coast Food Festival to remember with delicious local seafood, BBQ from the Lil’ Del BBQ (a top-of-the-line Southern Pride smoker on four wheels,) and libations including craft beers, wines, and spirits. Live retro rhythm and blues music, too.

The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to benefit childhood cancer research is the charitable beneficiary.

$100 admission includes tax, gratuities and parking. Adults only, please.


January 25: South Coast Collection, Carla Hall, Roger Havot, Sanford D’Amoto, Chefs to the Max


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Chef jet Tila and Alton BrownFood Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen” with host Alton Brown is back on Sunday nights for Season 2. Our own Chef Jet Tila is the most frequently appearing solo judge on this tough competition show that requires strategy as well as cooking chops. Look for Jet’s new episodes starting in February.

On Friday morning, January 31st catch Chef Jet on NBC’s “Today Show” in the 9:00 a.m. hour PST. He’s sharing his recipe for Peking Duck Sliders for Chinese New Year and The Big Game!

ABC’s “The Chew’s,” Carla Hall, is back with us talking about the very special Culinary Concert she is doing at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin on Sunday, February 9th to benefit the scholarship fund of The James Beard Foundation. “Hootie Hoo”…You’ll meet Sandy D’Amato, a kid from Milwaukee, who grew up to become one of the most outstanding chefs in America. Chef Roger Hayot joins us. You may not know his name but you really should. In the 90s Chef Roger had one of the most acclaimed restaurants in L.A. Now he’s quietly making waves again at a hidden gem of a neighborhood place in Marina del Rey.

All of that and lots more incredible deliciousness on the “SoCal Restaurant Show.”

The first Saturday of last October we were live at South Coast Collection (SoCo) and The Mix in Costa Mesa for the first Patchwork Show: Edible Edition.

Anais TangieWe showcased the growing collection of outstanding boutique food businesses and restaurants there. The SoCo and Mix’s Marketing Coordinator, Anais Tangie, joins us to talk about the new additions and what’s soon on the way. Think handcrafted artisanal chocolates and also a one-of-kind cocktail education and tools-of-the-trade store owned by a master bartender…

Carla HallFood fans know Chef Carla Hall as the “Hootie Hoo” lady and fan favorite from multiple seasons of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” She is now the co-host of ABC’s daytime lifestyle series, “The Chew.” Last month “The Chew” celebrated their 500th episode and the show continues to gain in popularity. Carla also is the author of Cooking with Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You, newly available in paperback.

Carla is being honored by Zov Karamardian of Zov’s Bistro in Tustin at her Culinary Concert to benefit the James Beard Foundation on Sunday, February 9th.

That Sunday Carla and Zov will conduct a highly entertaining, interactive cooking class for the guests followed by a lavish lunch. Carla will be available to sign copies of her book and interact with the guests. It all starts at Noon.

Pastry Chef to the Stars and a multiple James Beard Award-winner, Sherry Yard, is the celebrity MC.

For more info and to make reservations please call 714.838.8855 ext. 21

Carla is represented in Saveur’s 100 which is the current January/February issue. Item 13 on the list is Carla’s suggestion of Lemon Olive Oil.

Roger Hayot of J. Nichols KitchenIn 1987 the Authentic Café opened on Beverly Blvd. near CBS’s Television City in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles. It was the inspiration of Chef Roger Hayot who was mentored by his prior employer, David Overton, the creator of The Cheesecake Factory. It was initially a small place and from Day 1 they had lines of patient guests out the door…Eventually they expanded into the space next-door to accommodate the strong demand.

Roger’s always intriguing menu was inspired by the cuisines of the American Southwest, Latin America, Asia, and the Mediterranean. He used authentic global ingredients which was unusual at the time. Thai fish sauce was one of his regular ingredients. The exotic appeal of his cooking was always balanced by its hominess.

He had the honor of cooking at The James Beard Foundation in New York.

There is a new chapter to Chef Roger Hayot’s inspirational cooking story in Los Angeles so we continue.

Mezze Plate at J. Nichols KitchenIn 2012 Roger moved into the Executive Chef position at J Nichols Kitchen in Marina del Rey. This originally opened as Nichols Family Restaurant in 1974 as a friendly, neighborhood coffee shop with reasonable prices and big portions. When the founders’ son and daughter took over the operation they faced a dilemma. The retail center they were in was about to undergo a major renovation (and upscaling) and their clientele was aging and the younger crowd wasn’t patronizing them. The Nichols made the tough decision to remodel and reposition themselves as a destination neighborhood restaurant with more serious food and no snootiness. That’s a major transition…

The first 6 months of the new concept was a bit rocky. The seniors didn’t like the new menu or pricing and the Millennials thought it was still a coffee shop. A lot of guest confusion…Chef Roger joined the team in progress with the mission of improving the food and consistency. Over the last 18 months that has happened and the successful transition accomplished! A great turnaround story…

Virtually everything is now made from scratch from the pizza dough (3-day process) to the fruit preserves served at breakfast. Chef Roger takes the time to make his own biscuits (very popular) as well as flavorful premium sausages. He has his own smoker. All the desserts are house-prepared. The novel Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is perhaps Chef Roger’s tribute to The Cheesecake Factory. It’s light, has a graham cracker crust, crushed pistachios, and a honey drizzle. Yum…

Sanford D'AmotoGood Stock: Life on Low Simmer was written by Sanford “Sandy” D’Amato, one of America’s most respected chefs and restaurateurs. It is a special memoir of a life in cooking that weaves more than 80 recipes and both personal and food photos in a beautiful and engaging way.

Chef D’Amato tells his life story in brief episodes that are keyed to more than 80 of this James Beard Award-winning chef’s favorite recipes.

Sanford, the restaurant D’Amato opened in his native Milwaukee in 1989 (in the space that once housed his grandfather’s grocery store,) has long been one of the highest rated restaurants in America.

D’Amato and his wife, Angie, currently split their time between Milwaukee and their mini-farm in Hatfield, MA, where they are preparing to open a cooking school (also called Good Stock.)

If you really want to understand what it takes to be a successful, career executive chef this is the book for you. It’s also highly entertaining and a fascinating read. Chef Sandy’s encounters with the legendary Julia Child over the years are priceless.

Max JacobsonMax Jacobson is a serious food journalist who relocated to Las Vegas from Southern California in 1999 to cover the burgeoning dining scene there. Southern Californians remember his coverage of the Orange County dining scene for The Los Angeles Times. He is currently Vegas Seven’s restaurant critic. His colleagues have great respect for him.

Two days before Christmas 2013, Jacobson was struck by a hit-and-run driver while he was in a crosswalk. He sustained severe brain trauma from the accident. He remains hospitalized in serious condition and his prognosis is uncertain.

Chefs to the Max benefit for Max Jacobson at RX Boiler RoomIn true hospitality industry fashion a group of prominent, celebrity chefs have joined together to launch the Chefs to the Max fundraising series to assist with Max Jacobson’s horrendous medical expenses.

The first dinner was January 19th at Chef Rick Moonen’s Rx Boiler Room at Mandalay Place on the Las Vegas Strip. The evening raised an impressive $275,799.

Fellow Las Vegas-based food journalist, Al Mancini, joins us to talk about the Chefs to the Max benefits and working with Max. Al and Max collaborated (with a third Las Vegas-based restaurant writer) on the three editions of the very popular Las Vegas dining guidebook series, Eating Las Vegas.

Republique Restaurant in Los AngelesLet’s talk food…Chef Jet and Producer Andy share some of their recent dining adventures.

Jet has experienced the much talked-about Republique with Walter Manzke and Chef Margarita Manzke behind the stoves at the former Campanile space. Andy has dined at Downtown’s Orsa & Winston, the new fine-dining spot from Josef Centeno (Bar Ama & Baco Mercat.)


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Anais Tangie, Marketing Coordinator, SoCo and The Mix
Segment Three: Chef Carla Hall, ABC’s “The Chew,” “Bravo’s “Top Chef ,” and Carla Hall Petit Cookies
Segment Four: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part One
Segment Five: Roger Hayot, Executive Chef, J. Nichols Kitchen Part Two
Segment Six: Sanford D’Amato, founder and former Executive Chef of the award-winning Sanford restaurant, Milwaukee, WI
Segment Seven: Al Mancini, Las Vegas-based food journalist and co-author of Eating Las Vegas guidebook for 2011, 2012, and 2013
Segment Eight: Chef Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris of “SoCal Restaurant Show”