Show 182, July 30, 2016: LA International Wine Competition

Jim PalmerFor 77 years, the Los Angeles International Wine Competition has showcased the finest domestic and international vintages through a wine-tasting event that is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious in the United States. The winning wines are available for tasting at the upcoming L.A. County Fair.

Malibu winemaker Jim Palmer Vineyards scored an impressive 98 point rating from the judges for his 2014 Pinot Noir earning a Gold Medal. Palmer’s wine bested 3000 plus entries from around the Globe. He’s our guest along with Master Sommelier Michael Jordan, the Competition Chairman.

Judged in May using a point system, the wine competition saw 3,010 international wines tasted. Many varietals and price ranges were represented, with the point system acknowledging each varietal’s special attributes and providing a level of precision in the competition’s wine ranking systems, a benefit for the competition and wine enthusiasts.

Wines were tasted by an international panel comprised of judges ranging from Master Sommeliers to chefs to wine writers. There were a total of 168 Best of Class Awards, 572 Gold Medal Awards, 1,271 Silver Medal Awards and 736 Bronze Medal Awards.

“The wonderful thing about our competition is that you’ll find something for everyone among the winners,” said competition chairman Michael Jordan, Master Sommelier, Certified Wine Educator and director of global key accounts with Jackson Family Fine Wines. “From the complex with a higher-price point for the experienced palate to wonderful lower-price point wines for the novice, our winners represent a variety of wines.”

Jim Palmer points out there is a (not well known) rich history of wine-making in Los Angeles prior to Prohibition (which then put most L.A. wineries out of business.) He recommends the book, Los Angeles Wine: A History from the Mission Era to the Present by Stuart Douglas Byles.

Jim’s current wine releases are available for tasting and purchase at Cornell Winery and Tasting Room on Mulholland Highway in Agoura. You can also find his wines on the lists at Spago Beverly Hills and Bouchon Beverly Hills.

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Show 40, September 14, 2013: Elizabeth Huettinger, Wine Director, Addison Del Mar

Elizabeth Huettinger of the Addison in Del MarSommelier Elizabeth Huettinger is the new Wine Director at Addison restaurant and The Grand Del Mar Resort in Del Mar. She was previously part of the celebrated wine team at Spago Beverly Hills.

Elizabeth just took the incredibly difficult “Advanced” certification test from the Court of Master Sommeliers. It’s in three parts, including service, theory, and blind tasting. She shared that humbling experience with us.

Earlier in the Summer the Grand hosted a special screening of the documentary, “SOMM”. It’s the first effort by filmmaker Jason Wise.
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“SOMM” tells the fascinating story of four sommeliers attempting to pass the rigorous and prestigious Master Sommelier exam. This test has one of the lowest pass rates imaginable. Elizabeth’s head sommelier at Spago (her previous post) is a Master Sommelier. She talked about hosting the screening (there was wine and abundant food stations) and her reaction to the highly acclaimed documentary.

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September 14: Azunia Tequila, Vegas Food Trucks, Elizabeth Huettinger, Lena Kwak, Amar Santana, Eric Klein, Michael Passmore

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Jim Riley, founder of Azunia Tequila
Segment Three: Brock Radke, Food and Web Editor, Las Vegas Weekly
Segment Four: Elizabeth Huettinger, Wine Director, Addison Del Mar
Segment Five: Lena Kwak, Research and Development Chef, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group
Segment Six: Amar Santana, Executive Chef / Owner, Broadway by Amar Santana
Segment Seven: Eric Klein, Executive Chef & Partner, Spago Las Vegas
Segment Eight: Michael Passmore, Passmore Ranch, Sustainable Aqua Farming

Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris preview the show.

Thai 2013 Food FestivalMark Sunday afternoon, September 29th on your calendar. Our very own Jet Tila is hosting the Thai 2013 Food Festival at Paramount Pictures Studios in the heart of Hollywood. It starts at 3:00 p.m.

Celebrity chefs from around the country and outstanding local Thai chefs will be there presenting their signature dishes for the guests to sample and enjoy. Entertainment will include music, Thai dancers and fruit carving.

VIP and Regular Tickets are now on sale!

Azunia TequilaJim Riley, the founder of Azunia Tequila joins us. In his spare time Jim is a professional off-road racer of some note.

This is a case study of how a boutique tequila company grows a brand in an environment dominated by cash-rich giants. Riley has built his brand with clever grass-roots marketing and being seen in the right places.

Azunia Tequila is organic and 100 per cent Weber Blue Agave. It is available in the styles of Platinum Blanco (great for cocktails,) Reposado, and Anejo.

Brock Radke of Las Vegas WeeklyOur man in Las Vegas, Brock Radke, is back with us. Brock is the respected Web and Food Editor for The Las Vegas Weekly.

Last month Brock had a great piece in The Weekly entitled. “Where are they now? Checking up on the first wave of Vegas food truckers.”

Fukuburger has probably been the most successful and is still on the streets. A brick and mortar location for Las Vegas is in the plans. Sloppi Jo’s was a big success with the food critics but, ultimately, not a viable business model. Proprietress Jolene Mannina has parlayed this into other food projects for herself. In fact she’s the head of Culinary Arts for the upcoming “Life is Beautiful” Festival in Downtown Las Vegas. The originator of Slidin’ Thru has moved on but the truck still does events and catering and there is a bricks and mortar drive-through.

Brock also talked about the just launched Heritage Steak at The Mirage on The Strip. The proprietor is Tom Colicchio of Bravo’s “Top Chef” fame and a James Beard Award recipient.

Elizabeth Huettinger of the Addison in Del MarSommelier Elizabeth Huettinger is the new Wine Director at Addison restaurant and The Grand Del Mar Resort in Del Mar. She was previously part of the wine team at Spago Beverly Hills.

Elizabeth just took the incredibly difficult “Advanced” certification test from the Court of Master Sommeliers. She shares that humbling experience with us.

Earlier in the Summer the Grand hosted a special screening of the documentary, “SOMM”. It’s the first effort by filmmaker Jason Wise.
.
“SOMM” tells the fascinating story of four sommeliers attempting to pass the rigorous and prestigious Master Sommelier exam. This test has one of the lowest pass rates imaginable. Elizabeth’s head sommelier at Spago (her previous post) is a Master Sommelier. She talks about hosting the screening (there was wine and abundant food stations) and her reaction to the highly acclaimed documentary.

Lena KwakChef Lena Kwak is the highly acclaimed research development chef for The French Laundry and The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in Yountville, CA. She created the position.

With the backing of Keller she developed Cup4Cup, a healthy wheat flour-substitute which has gone national over the last two years. It’s carried in Williams-Sonoma stores and also available at the Bouchon Bakeries in Yountville, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and New York.

Last year Kwak was named as one of Forbes Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30” for her work with Cup4Cup.

In addition to bread mixes the proprietary line also includes a brownie mix, pizza dough, and pancake/waffle mix.

Amar SantanaChef Amar Santana is very familiar to Orange County foodies. His mentor, Chef Charlie Palmer (Aureole,) brought him out here from Manhattan in 2008 to open Charlie Palmer’s at Bloomingdales at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. Talk about a plum assignment for a young chef…

With the backing of one of his very loyal guests he later departed to open a venture of his own, Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach. Since opening in 2011 it’s been a hit with both the food critics and guests. The bar has also created its own loyal following for unusual libations and a welcoming atmosphere. Their superior Moscow Mule (not listed on the bar menu) is a thoughtful homage to the original version created in the late 30s in Hollywood and now using all fresh ingredients and from scratch ginger beer.

Eric KleinIn 2007 Executive Chef Eric Klein (now a partner) was handed the keys to Spago Las Vegas by Wolfgang Puck and charged with freshening up the concept. This was quite a formidable assignment given that Spago is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant in Las Vegas! They celebrated their 20th Anniversary last year.

The restaurant is a busy café (with exhibition pizza oven) in the front and an elegant fine-dining restaurant in the back. The front patio opens onto the busy main Forum Shops walkway.

As with the Beverly Hills original Spago Las Vegas attracts the celebrity clientele in addition to sophisticated foodies. Chef Eric is the visible personality of the establishment.

Chef Eric’s first assignment in Las Vegas (after relocating from Beverly Hills) was SW Steakhouse at Wynn Las Vegas.

Michael Passmore of Passmore RanchMichael Passmore is an elite class freshwater fish farmer in the Sacramento area. His Passmore Ranch is sustainable aqua farming and his clientele are discriminating celebrity chefs all across the country who he, unusually, supplies directly.

They started modestly by selling live fish at Northern California farmers’ markets, and their quality and service quickly established them as premium purveyors for top restaurants and Michelin-starred chefs around the country.

Passmore Ranch offers premium freshwater white sturgeon, black bass, striped bass, catfish, silver carp and trout, plus prized domestic caviar.

Today Passmore Ranch is 86 acres and they raise fish in 80 million gallons of fresh water pumped up from the pristine Cosumnes aquifer. The ranch has a variety of open lakes and massive tanks used to increase the variety of sustainable fish they grow.

In the works is a plan to begin a thoughtful rollout of limited direct sales to serious home cooks. The info will be posted on their website.

Podcasts

Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Jim Riley, founder of Azunia Tequila
Segment Three: Brock Radke, Food and Web Editor, Las Vegas Weekly
Segment Four: Elizabeth Huettinger, Wine Director, Addison Del Mar
Segment Five: Lena Kwak, Research and Development Chef, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group
Segment Six: Amar Santana, Executive Chef / Owner, Broadway by Amar Santana
Segment Seven: Eric Klein, Executive Chef & Partner, Spago Las Vegas
Segment Eight: Michael Passmore, Passmore Ranch, Sustainable Aqua Farming

Show 31, June 15, 2013: Dining with Jet and Producer Andy

The new dining room of Spago Beverly HillsChef Jet and Producer Andy have been doing some noteworthy dining around…

Jet recently experienced the renovated Spago Beverly Hills which remains one of the bastions of fine dining in the West. The new look is more retro in the style of AMC’s “Mad Men” series. The servers are smartly attired in vests with ties.

Serving portions are by the numbers. One’s are the appetizers. Two’s are small plates and Three’s are big plates which you can share. Standouts for Jet are the grilled corn agnolotti and the veal steak tartar. Expensive but worth it…

Connie & Ted's in West HollywoodProducer Andy reported on the new Connie & Ted’s on Santa Monica Blvd. in WeHo. This is Celebrity Chef Michael Cimarusti’s (Providence) greatly anticipated East Coast / New England-style seafood “shack” with his front of the house partner from Providence, Donato Poto, one of the most welcoming in the business. It’s housed in an architecturally significant new building. The front looks like a wave and the inside has the feeling of openness with an open kitchen.

Producer Andy was particularly taken with their lobster roll. You can get it hot or cold but Andy commented on the hot variation which is poached lobster served on a house-baked, toasted hot dog –style bun slathered in drawn butter. All breads and rolls are baked in-house including the oyster crackers for the three versions of clam chowder.

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Show 29, May 18, 2013: Pastry Chef Sherry Yard

Sherry YardSherry Yard was Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck’s incredible executive pastry chef for Spago Beverly Hills and all his operations for twenty years! She created all the exquisite desserts for the Governor’s Ball Dinner as part of the Annual Academy Awards festivities for all the years they have been at the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater) in Hollywood. She is the recipient of two prestigious James Beard Awards. Sherry also authored two must-have books on the pastry arts, The Secrets of Baking: Simple Techniques for Sophisticated Desserts, and Desserts by the Yard, Recipes from the Sweetest Life Ever.

Special thanks to the incredible Sherry Yard for flying back early from Boca Raton to guest-host the show. You’re the absolute best.

The James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the food world, are presented annually in early May at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. Chefs put on their finery and celebrate achievement in the culinary arts.

Sherry shared her insights on being both a presenter as well as an award recipient at The Beard Awards. She recounted a very funny story about what was going on backstage when celebrated French chef Jacques Pepin (Trustee Emeritus of The James Beard Foundation) announced her name from the stage for her first Beard Award in 2002 for “Outstanding Pastry Chef.”

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