Show 321, April 27, 2019: Tom Bean, General Manager, Merriman’s Waimea – a Pioneer of Hawaii Regional Cuisine

Tom Bean of Merriman's Waimea and Andy HarrisTom Bean is acclaimed Chef Peter Merriman’s General Manager at the iconic Merriman’s Restaurant Waimea. This was Chef Merriman’s first solo venture with modest expectations.

Last year Merriman’s celebrated their 30th anniversary and is consistently the highest rated restaurant on The Big Island. Chef Merriman is one of the original pioneers of Hawaii Regional Cuisine.

“Merriman’s Waimea is the flagship establishment from award-winning Chef Peter Merriman who maintains a single vision “Do the right thing”—for local farmers, for the islands and for you—our guest.”

“Thirty years ago, no one dreamed of growing vine ripened tomatoes, fresh sweet corn or crisp baby lettuce in Hawaii. Sugar cane and pineapple plantations dominated the farming landscape, and most food was shipped to Hawaii from thousands of miles away.”

“Chef Peter Merriman had a vision for the growth of local agriculture and the potential of Hawaii’s rich volcanic soils. He along with twelve other prominent chefs encouraged farmers to grow local produce, raise meats locally, and start a healthier more sustainable Hawaii.”

“Peter Merriman has been as a culinary pioneer in Hawaii for over 30 years. Known as the original “locavore,” Peter is a vocal champion of Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers and fishermen. His restaurants showcase island grown and harvested foods through simple preparations that reflect the myriad flavors of Hawaii’s multiculturalism. Dubbed the “Pied Piper of Hawaii Regional Cuisine” by The Los Angeles Times, he is a continuing inspiration to Hawaii’s thriving culinary scene.”

We’ll talk story with Tom.

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Show 303, December 22, 2018: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, The 411 on screw caps on wine bottles

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeOur esteemed wine expert, Kyle Meyer of Santa Ana’s Wine Exchange joins us for two commentaries. You’ve been seeing them on the wines from Australia and New Zealand for awhile and now screw caps on premium wine are becoming more common on domestic wines for very sound reasons.

Wines sealed with screw caps can actually age with grace. A cork is perhaps more romantic but it proven not to be the best closure for wine.

It’s not sustainable, either.

There is also a shortage of premium natural cork worldwide.

 

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Show 288, September 1, 2018: Chef Andrew Gruel, Founder, Slapfish Restaurant Group

Andy Harris and Andrew Gruel at Cabana 14 at the Cove at Pechanga Resort and CasinoChef Andrew Gruel, the founder of The Slapfish Restaurant Group, joins us with another installment of Ask the Chef.”

When it comes to shellfish, clams are probably more of a staple on the East Coast. There are some 150 edible species. They are sustainable.

Clams are high in protein and versatile in the kitchen. Simply steaming them with garlic and butter couldn’t be easier. Since their ocean home is in the sand and mud the only caution is to properly clean them. Live clams should always have a closed shell.

What do you use clam juice for, anyway? Also does a clam really belong on a pizza? Chef Andrew will provide the tasty basics.

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Show 270, April 21, 2018: Chef Jose Mendoza, Lobby Bar & Grill, Pechanga Resort & Casino

Jose MendozaThe most ambitious of the recently debuted restaurants is the Lobby Bar & Grill located in the striking Atrium between the Casino Hotel Tower and the Resort Hotel Tower.

“Fresh. Sustainable. Locally sourced ingredients. All blended together into a flavorful fusion of American, Mexican and Asian-inspired fare that pleases the palate and stimulates the senses.”

“Chef Jose Mendoza takes the California bistro concept to another level, using items grown in the rich Temecula Valley to create a menu that is both inspiring and inviting. This extends not only to the numerous vegetarian dishes available, but to the hand-crafted cocktails infused with local fruits and herbs. The Lobby Bar’s atrium location and versatile menu that includes dessert specialties from Pechanga’s in-house bakery make for a satisfying dining experience.”

“There are few more satisfying culinary indulgences than the perfect Sunday brunch, and at its newest dining establishment – the Lobby Bar & Grill — Pechanga Resort Casino has fused the Sunday brunch with the California bistro and live musical accompaniment to create the perfect mid-morning/early afternoon dining experience for every palate and taste. Plus, perhaps the perfect complement to Sunday brunch – a bottomless Bloody Mary bar and bottomless Mimosa bar.”

To add atmosphere to the elevated dining experience there is live music on the menu during the evenings and for the Sunday Brunch.

Overseeing this stylish new California bistro and bar serving breakfast, lunch, Sunday Brunch and dinner is Chef Jose Mendoza. We’ll meet him.

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Show 255, January 6, 2018: Executive Chef Brendan Collins, The Wilshire, Santa Monica

Brendan CollinsWe last spoke with Chef Brendan Collins when he was running the underappreciated Birch located on a side street just off Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood. He is now back on the Westside creating the rejuvenated menu at The Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica. Guests have already noticed the new energy there along with the refreshed commitment to service.

The transition is complete. The entire menu for lunch and dinner now represents Chef Brendan’s creations. The Roast has moved there too, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.

“At Wilshire our menu has been developed by acclaimed Chef Brendan Collins around local, organic and seasonal ingredients taking advantage of our uniquely rich and diverse farmers’ markets. Dishes originate from a fusion of American and International influences presented in a simple and accessible style. We call this “New Urban Cuisine”, reflecting the modern sensibilities of supporting sustainable farming, enjoying sophisticated and excellent food, and gathering in a beautiful but casual atmosphere.”

“Wilshire is a neighborhood restaurant. We pride ourselves on friendly and attentive service, and look forward to welcoming you for lunch, dinner, or a cocktail sometime soon.”

Wilshire Happy Hour is in full swing from 3pm-7pm M-F and 5-8pm Saturdays. To cap off those long work weeks, the restaurant is serving $4-5 beers, $7-8 cocktails, $5-6 wine and a delicious array of bar bites starting at $6.

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Show 240, September 9, 2017: Chef Ivan Calderon, Taco Rosa’s “Battle of the Taquileros” Part Two

Ivan CalderonWith locations in Newport Beach and Irvine, California, Taco Rosa is the upscale, full-service sister restaurant to Taco Mesa. Chef Ivan Calderon’s award-winning menu utilizes sustainable ingredients and artisanal spices brought to life through authentic and contemporary cooking techniques.

Presenting the very best dishes and beverages from a variety of regions throughout Mexico, Taco Rosa takes their commitment to authenticity and sustainability one step further by using GMO-free masa for their corn products and tortillas. For more information, visit the Taco Rosa website.

Ivan Rogelio Calderon is the founder of Taco Mesa, Taco Rosa, and Taco Mesa Tortillería Orgánica & Café. As a third-generation restaurateur, Calderon began his career in the restaurant industry at El Torito Grill as a bus boy in Marina del Rey and as he worked his way through college began to move upward within the company, eventually earning himself a role in management. As a manager, he made it his mission to elevate El Torito’s operating standards. He helped lead the chain in opening several locations across the United States, eventually earning a position as regional manager.

In 1992, he opened the original Taco Mesa in Costa Mesa which garnered him recognition for bringing healthy and authentic, quick-service Mexican cuisine to Orange County. The Taco Mesa brand has expanded to include four locations in Costa Mesa, Mission Viejo, Orange (which he re-opened as his new tortilleria), and Foothill Ranch.

Calderon’s newest concept,Taco Mesa Tortillería Orgánica & Café, produces GMO-free corn masa for all his locations and will soon offer GMO-free tortillas to retailers and other restaurants.

 

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Show 240, September 9, 2017: Proprietor Chef Rich Mead, Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

Rich MeadDuring his 35 years of professional cooking, Chef Rich Mead has cultivated relationships with the highest regarded local sustainable farms, allowing him to create the freshest menus using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and specially grown vegetables. For years he has made the long trek to the Wednesday morning Santa Monica Farmers Market way before it became the trendy place for young chefs to be seen as it is today.

In 2016, after years of planning, Chef Mead unveiled a unique and sustainable field-to-fork dining experience at Farmhouse, located within Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar. Nestled on over 6 acres in the garden-like setting, Farmhouse features exclusive wines, craft beers, signature cocktails, artisan refreshments and a healthy based seasonal cuisine.

Think Grilled Corn and Summer Squash “Succotash” with fried shishito pepper or Roasted Weiser Farms Pee Wee Potatoes with pancetta bread crumbs.

The full Summer menu at Farmhouse is also offered in the Farmhouse bar. It features four refreshing new Summer cocktails, hand-crafted by Anthony Laborin, head of Cocktail R&D.

We pull Chef Rich out of the crowded aisles of the local farmers market for a chat.

 

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Show 240, September 9, 2017: Chef Andrew Gruel’s “Ask the Chef” continues

Andrew Gruel and his son WilliamWe continue Chef Andrew’s informative tutorial on Fish and Chips.

Any mild-flavored white fish is a good base for the fish & chips. This gives you a lot of flexibility in utilizing the best, and most sustainable, of what is seasonably available.

A great tip is to keep the batter cold and prepare it in small batches. It’s important that the coating adheres to the fish fillet once the fish is cooked.

A shot of vodka added to the batter is another good tip.

Chips are up to discussion. Some go for the thick steak fries and others prefer thin strips. Definitely the chips need to be crisp on the outside.

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Show 184, August 13, 2016: Chef Andrew Gruel, Slapfish – In Defense of Tilapia

Andrew Gruel at the AM830 KLAA StudiosTilapia is particularly appreciated in the Asian and Hispanic communities but needs more love in the United States. It’s flavorful, easy-to-prepare and value priced. It’s been called the “aqua-chicken.”

Our resident seafood authority and Co-Host, Chef Andrew Gruel, provides the informed perspective with no fish tales.

It’s key to source your Tilapia from a country with safe seafood practices including The United States, Canada and Ecuador. Also look for BAP (Best Aquaculture Practices) certification.

According to Seafood Health Facts:

“Tilapia has progressively grown in popularity since 2002 when it first entered the top ten list of the most frequently consumed seafood products in the United States. It’s the third most popular aquaculture or farm raised seafood product behind shrimp and salmon. Since 2006, Americans have consumed over 1 pound of tilapia per person each year. Predictions suggest it will remain a popular selection due to its mild flavor and taste, versatility in preparation, and competitive prices.”

“Tilapia is a sustainable farm-raised product. Because tilapia are herbivorous fish that feed on algae, there is no need for feeds produced from wild caught fish. Raising tilapia in some ponds or other small water bodies can actually help improve the quality of waters compromised by excessive algae blooms. Some farming operations are using a technique called aquaponics to cultivate fish and vegetables or herbs together to produce two or more products in the same water based system.”

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Show 162, March 5, 2016: Chef Jason Montelibano, EATS Kitchen & Bar, Irvine

Jason MontelibanoChef Jason Montelibano at EATS Kitchen & Bar at Hotel Irvine (a locals’ favorite) in Irvine is at it again. He’s just rolled out an all-new Good EATS Sunday Brunch starting at 10:00 a.m. It runs until 2:00 p.m.

There is an epic $14 build-you-own Bloody Mary bar and Mimosa flights. The Mimosa flight arrives with four, 6 oz. Mimosas. Passion Fruit and Blood Orange was a recent selection along with Strawberry Lemon. Look for the just-debuted, over-the-top menu items including Shrimp and Grits, and Cinnamon Crunch French Toast.

A “SoCal Restaurant Show” favorite is the Chilaquiles con Pollo. With the chicken is a sunny-side up egg, fried tortillas, roasted tomato salsa, lime sour cream, avocado and cotija cheese.

There is comfortable indoor and outdoor seating available. A cozy fire pit, too. With the lush landscaping and thoughtful design you’d never know you’re a long fly ball from the 405 San Diego Freeway.

Chef Jason knew he was destined to be a chef from an early age. From starting culinary school as a teenager, to refining his skills in some of the best kitchens in Southern California, his love for chef-driven, sustainable cuisine has been honed through years of hard work and dedication. His passion for international flavors and market-fresh ingredients are on full display in every single plate that leaves his kitchen.

 

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