Show 237, August 19, 2017: Kyle Meyer, Wine Exchange, Wine Pairing Wisdom

Kyle Meyer of Wine ExchangeTime to pull the cork on another installment of accessible and genuinely useful wine wisdom from our resident (and down-to-earth) wine authority Kyle Meyer, the Managing Partner of Wine Exchange.

What wines pair best with SoCal’s engagingly eclectic varieties of cuisine including Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Mexican? Think lightly fruity wines. Perhaps a bone-dry Riesling.

Also, the new Spanish and Italian whites from, perhaps, unfamiliar grape varieties matched with seafood. Think Chenin Blanc, Albarino and Vermentino…A myriad of appealing possibilities…


February 8: Caroline Styne, San Antonio Winery, Andrew Gruel, Brad A. Johnson, Paul Gstrein, Linda Kissam


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Caroline Styne, Wine Director and Partner, Lucques, A.O.C., The Tavern, and The Larder
Segment Three: Allan Stark, San Antonio Winery, Los Angeles
Segment Four: Andrew Gruel, Executive Chef & Partner, Slapfish
Segment Five: Brad A. Johnson, Restaurant Critic, Orange County Register
Segment Six: Paul Gstrein, Executive Chef, Bayside Restaurant
Segment Seven: Linda Kissam, Food, Wine & Travel Journalist, 1st Vice President, IFWTWA
Segment Eight: Jet Tila on Manhattan Dining

Chef Jet and Producer Andy preview the show.

Valentine’s Day is next week so get moving and don’t panic. It falls on a Friday this year. Friday is an especially tough day for restaurants due to Valentine’s Day anxiety so if you want to be a bit more relaxed make your plans for Saturday or Sunday instead. Still the Valentine’s Day orbit but a bit less crazed for the restaurant. You’ll definitely have better service…

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.

It’s the Winter Olympics in Sochi and a classic Newport Beach restaurant is serving a special Olympics-themed menu for the duration. We’ll go inside the menu with the creative executive chef. Caroline Styne is the partner and Wine Director (with Chef Suzanne Goin) in Lucques, A.O.C. and Tavern in West Hollywood and Los Angeles. We’ll talk with her and get insight on how you keep a firmly established and growing restaurant group fresh for the dining public. We’ll also hear the story of Slapfish which started as a modest food truck and now is a growing international empire. Did you know there is an emerging wine region in Northern Baja? You’ll learn about a promising winery in the Guadalupe Valley founded by Italians. Brad A. Johnson, the restaurant critic for The Orange County Register, joins us to talk about letter grades for restaurants. We’ll also have a visit with travel journalist Linda Kissam, who was recently in Spain touring the wineries representing the 50 best Cavas produced there.

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

Caroline StyneCaroline Styne had an extensive background in specialty food products, catering, and restaurant management before partnering with Chef Suzanne Goin to open Lucques in 1988. In December of 2002, Goin & Styne opened their second restaurant, A.O.C., where the concept of small plates and fifty wines by the glass was born out of their shared passion for going out and sampling a variety of appetizers and intriguing wines. A.O.C. relocated to the face-lifted former Orso space about a mile West on 3rd Street in late 2012. Styne is the Wine Director for all the restaurants.

Tavern, in Brentwood, followed in May of 2009. It offers fine dining all day along with The Larder which has gourmet prepared foods and packaged goods. There is a new Larder at Burton Way in the luxury 8500 Burton Way Apartments on the border of L.A. and Beverly Hills as well as at LAX.

Styne contributed the helpful wine notes to Suzanne’s The A.O.C. Cookbook.

“And because wine and cheese are at the heart of A.O.C. there are two exciting additions. Caroline Styne presents a specific wine pairing for each dish. Styne explains why each varietal works well with the ingredients and which flavors she’s trying to highlight, and she gives you room to experiment as well – showing how to shape the wine to your own palate. Whether you’re just grabbing a glass to go with dinner or planning an entire menu, her expert notes are a real education in wine.”

LA Cetto WinesDid you know there is a burgeoning wine industry in Mexico? Finally some of these affordable wines are finding their way into the United States. Shouldn’t a fine Mexican restaurant also offer premium Mexican wines?

One of the premier grape growing areas of Mexico is in the Guadalupe Valley (and adjacent valleys) located in Northern Baja California. It has the rural feel of the flat areas of Sonoma County from 40 years ago.

The predecessor wine interests of L.A. Cetto were established in Baja by Italians in the late 1920s. In 1960 L.A. Cetto acquired their first vineyards in the Guadalupe Valley. Today they have some 2,500 acres in the Valley under the stewardship of the 3rd generation of the Baja-based Cetto Family. They are the largest producer of table wines in Mexico.

L.A’s own San Antonio Winery (dating to 1917) is the distributor of L.A. Cetto wines in Southern California. Allan Stark, a 25-year veteran of San Antonio Winery joins us to tell the L.A. Cetto story and discuss some of their premium reserve wines including Nebbiolo, Chardonnay, and a Brut Sparkling wine.

Andrew GruelFood trucks have proven to be a worthwhile testing ground for innovative food concepts. A great example is Slapfish with a limited service, fast-casual restaurant in Huntington Beach located in a strip center. A new Laguna Beach location will launch later this year.

The partners started with one food truck serving the OC in 2009. By 2011 they had three trucks serving both Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Executive Chef Andrew Gruel is with us to fill us in on the Slapfish tale. They have just signed a franchise agreement to open 75 full service restaurants in the Middle East over the next 5 to 7 years.

They like to characterize Slapfish as a modern seafood shack. It’s a real American seafood experience that revolves around fresh, sustainable fish, prepared simply, but delivering big flavors.

Letter Grades at RestaurantsLast month The Orange County Register’s James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic, Brad A. Johnson, was looking to review a Newport Beach restaurant. Instead all of the members of his dining group came down with severe cases of food poisoning. When Brad checked the Health Department records of this restaurant he was surprised to learn that they had received a serious violation on each of their previous inspections since they opened two years ago.

Brad is with us to discuss his campaign for Orange County restaurants to receive Letter Grades as a result of their Health Department inspections as is practice in Los Angeles County and other areas of California.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi is underway. Russia is on peoples’ minds.

Paul Gstrein of Bayside RestaurantPaul Gstrein, the long-time (Austria-born) executive chef at Bayside Restaurant in Newport Beach has been inspired by Russia, too. For the duration of the Games Paul will be featuring Russian dishes as appetizers, entrees, and even desserts. How about Beef Short Rib Borscht and Berkshire Pork Tenderloin Stroganoff?

Please note that not every appetizer or entrée on the special Russian menu will be available each night.

Linda KissamThe very well-traveled Linda Kissam is a respected food, wine, and travel writer who is on the go most of the time. She serves as the 1st Vice President of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association. She is also an author and the Global Wine & Travel Editor-at-Large for Luxe Beat Magazine.

Late last year Linda was invited to Spain to tour the Penedes wine region, the heart of cava sparkling wine production. Her mission was to taste and evaluate 50 fine cavas over an intensive five day period. Linda shares the highlights of this very special experience with us.

Le BernardinChef Jet has been in New York twice over the last two weeks and has enjoyed some standout dining adventures along the way. Jet shares the details of his truly exquisite meal at the classic Le Bernardin. It’s expertly prepared French seafood from Chef Eric Ripert at a very high level.

Jet also visited Ippudo, a well-known Japanese ramen shop.


Segment One: Host Jet Tila and Producer Andy Harris
Segment Two: Caroline Styne, Wine Director and Partner, Lucques, A.O.C., The Tavern, and The Larder
Segment Three: Allan Stark, San Antonio Winery, Los Angeles
Segment Four: Andrew Gruel, Executive Chef & Partner, Slapfish
Segment Five: Brad A. Johnson, Restaurant Critic, Orange County Register
Segment Six: Paul Gstrein, Executive Chef, Bayside Restaurant
Segment Seven: Linda Kissam, Food, Wine & Travel Journalist, 1st Vice President, IFWTWA
Segment Eight: Jet Tila on Manhattan Dining

Show 33, June 29, 2013: David Vergari, Winemaker at Thornton Winery in Temecula

Thornton Winery in TemeculaYou really know David is a regular guy when he shares with you the winemakers’ tip that after a long day of tasting and blending a winemakers’ remedy for refreshing the fatigued taste buds is to enjoy a cold beer.

Vergari is only the 3rd winemaker in the rich, 25 year history of the proudly Family-owner Thornton Winery, and he has been in residence there for three years. They are known for consistently excellent California sparkling wines but in recent years they have developed a reputation for producing significant still wines, too. He has a current release of a Nebbiolo and Vermentino (both Italian grape varietals) that he’s very pleased with.

2013 is also the 25th Anniversary of Thornton’s Champagne Jazz Series. The concerts are performed outdoors in their acoustically superior Mediterranean fountain terrace and continue through October. The intimate space overlooks the scenic Temecula Valley wine country.

Huge acts who you would normally only see in large concert halls perform in this special venue because it’s a quality space. Headliner Dave Koz performed last weekend and tonight is Spyro Gyra and Acoustic Alchemy,

Thornton Winery’s long-time executive chef Steve Pickell of Café Champagne prepares a seated picnic menu (enjoyed under a shaded canopy) for every concert. It’s really an unfussy fine-dining experience with three courses. Both Thornton and other carefully selected premium wines are suggested as appropriate pairings for each course.

The appetizer course is field-to-table as all the fresh fruits and vegetables are sourced from local family farmers. Besides the wine grapes the unincorporated Riverside County portion of Temecula is an abundant agricultural area.

Show 23, March 30, 2013: Celebrity Chef Graham Elliot

Graham ElliotYou know Chef Graham Elliot as the personable, outgoing judge on Fox’s “Master Chef” series. Graham is in Los Angeles right now completing production on Season 4 of “Master Chef.”

In Chicago he has the 2 Michelin Star graham elliot, a casual bistro, and a sandwich shop. All are within a mile of each other.

If you make your plans quickly you don’t have to fly to Chicago to enjoy Chef Graham’s food. On April 8th and 9th Chef Elliot will be the guest chef at Son on a Gun on West Third St. in Los Angeles. He’s really doing this right. Cooking with him for those two nights will be his sous chef, John Slack, and his Corporate Executive Chef, Merlin Verrier. His Sommelier, Jamie Kluz, will be there, too, suggesting the wine pairings.

Show 9, December 15, 2012: Jet Tila, William Lewis and Chef Elizabeth Whitt Part One

To get the party going Jet asked each of the panelists to share their holiday food traditions of Christmas and Hanukkah.

Chef Elizabeth then offered some suggestions for holiday hors d’oeuvres including Brie and Truffle Oil Tartines with Chives. All of Elizabeth’s hors d’oeuvre recipes are available on her Web site.

William then suggested festive wine pairings for the hors d’oeuvres.