Show 274, May 19, 2018: Executive Chef Govind Armstrong and General Manager Will Holt, The Lobster, Santa Monica

Chef Govind Armstrong of Post and BeamThe Lobster is the long-running, fine-dining restaurant located on the land side of the landmark Santa Monica Pier. Recently installed there as executive chef is culinary celebrity Govind Armstrong.

Situated at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and the Santa Monica Pier, The Lobster seafood restaurant is an internationally recognized dining destination that is as much a part of Santa Monica’s history as the pier itself. Originally opened in 1923, it wasn’t until dishwasher-turned-owner, Mateo Castillo took the helm in 1950 that The Lobster became the quintessential “seafood shack,” so beloved by LA residents and tourists alike throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The Lobster shut its doors for several years in the 1980’s and 90’s, before again being reinvented, expanded and reopened by a family of new investors in 1999. While the original structure was incorporated into the new building’s main entrance, The Lobster as it stands today is a modernly appointed, two-story cantilevered building with glass walls and seating for hundreds.

Chef Govind Armstrong comes to The Lobster with a background that includes training in some of the most famous restaurants in the world. California-born, raised in Costa Rica, and educated in Los Angeles and Europe under culinary legends including Wolfgang Puck, Mark Peel and Susan Feniger, Chef Govind is a master of California Cuisine. As an advocate for food sustainability, Chef Govind is committed to serving dishes that are crafted with only the freshest, locally sourced, and responsibly farmed ingredients.

Chef Govind’s menu takes the seafood dishes at The Lobster in a culinary direction that is sophisticated, yet approachable. With the focus on flavor and a perfect balance of taste and texture, his dishes are updated daily to account for ingredient availability, quality and creative license.

Of course the grilled and butterflied Maine lobster is a standout!

Chef Govind joins us along with the new General Manager, hospitality veteran Will Holt.


Show 239, September 2, 2017: Restaurateur & Chef Michael McCarty, Michael’s Santa Monica & Michael’s New York Part Two

Michael McCartyWhen Chef & Restaurateur Michael McCarty opened the landmark Michael’s in Santa Monica back in 1979 I’m not sure he even suspected that he would become one of the pioneers of what is known as California cuisine along with Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. He pioneered having museum quality art on the restaurant’s wall with not a hint of pretention.

Michael is also known for mentoring rising, young culinary talent that have gone on to open their own successful restaurants. This distinguished alumni club includes Jonathan Waxman, Nancy Silverton, Brooke Williamson, Mark Peel, Ken Frank and Sang Yoon.

Just about a year ago Michael (working with his son, Chas) totally rejuvenated Michael’s Santa Monica by bringing-in a 28-year old rising-star chef with avant-garde ideas. Chef Miles Thompson is already earning deserved accolades from food critics and bringing in a younger crowd of new guests. Michael shares the entertaining story of how he and Chas came to select Chef Thompson.

Dining in the lush, shaded garden patio at Michael’s all these years later remains a uniquely L.A. experience.

Michael, usually, has a hillside vineyard on his residential property in Malibu. Just now he’s harvesting his Pinot Noir grapes for the 2017 vintage of The Malibu Vineyard.

If you’d like to see what Chef Miles Thompson is like away from Michael’s (and where he eats) take a look at his Chef’s Night Out video from Vice.


Show 226, June 3, 2017: Bella Lantsman, General Manager & Partner, Chinois on Main, Santa Monica

Belle LantsmanLongevity for a restaurant in the highly competitive Los Angeles restaurant arena isn’t an easy thing. Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Pucks 2nd fine-dining restaurant in the Los Angeles area after Spago was Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. It launched in 1983 and is still a landmark dining destination in Santa Monica that consistently delivers with memorable food and polished service. Many of the professional servers have, unusually, been there for years.

Chinois on Main boldly combines Chinese tradition and fresh California ingredients with contemporary French techniques. The restaurant pioneered Asian fusion cuisine in the United States. Today, Chinois remains a culinary icon with its timeless interior design by (Partner) Barbara Lazaroff, an open kitchen, full-service bar, and extensive (and expertly crafted) wine list.

The Executive Chef is Rene Mata. He started at Chinois on Main as a line cook in 1987.

GM & Partner Bella Lantsman has, extraordinarily, been there since almost the beginning. We’ll meet her.


Show 226, June 3, 2017: Bella Lantsman, General Manager & Partner, Chinois on Main, Santa Monica Continues…

Belle LantsmanLongevity for a restaurant in the highly competitive Los Angeles restaurant arena isn’t an easy thing. Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Pucks 2nd fine-dining restaurant in the Los Angeles area after Spago was Chinois on Main in Santa Monica. It launched in 1983 and is still a landmark dining destination in Santa Monica that consistently delivers with memorable food and polished service. Many of the professional servers have, unusually, been there for years.

There is a hidden (and very exclusive) private dining room with all the amenities at Chinois accommodating up to 40 seated guests. It even has its own kitchen.



Show 212, February 25, 2017: Executive Chef Eric Klein, Vice President, Culinary, Wolfgang Puck Catering

Eric Klein of Wolfgang Puck CateringFor the 23rd consecutive year the celebrity chef to the stars Wolfgang Puck will set the stage for the Oscars’ Governors Ball menu pairing classic Hollywood glamour with culinary whimsy. It’s for 1,500 VIP guests including Oscar winners and Nominees in the Ray Dolby Ballroom on the top level of the Hollywood & Highland Center. It starts immediately followiing the Oscar telecast. Talk about a hungry crowd…

Working alongside Chef Puck is Wolfgang Puck Catering’s Executive Chef and Vice President, Culinary, Eric Klein (formerly Executive Chef & Partner of Spago Las Vegas, Wolfgang’s first restaurant in Las Vegas.)

The culinary team creates more than 50 imaginative dishes from one-bite hors d’oeuvres to small-plate entrees that will be passed throughout the evening.

Some 32,000 plates of food will be enjoyed by the guests served by a team of 10 maitre d’ staff, 950 service and support staff and 300 culinary staff.

On the order list for the Governors Ball is 350 pounds of Atlantic Bigeye tuna, 10 kilos of American, farm-raised caviar, 250 Maine lobsters, and 800 stone crab claws.

The guests will toast with 1,400 bottles of Piper-Heidsieck (more than 12,000 glasses) and 2,200 bottles of fine wine from Francis Ford Coppola Winery.

Favorite guest comfort foods are Smoked Salmon Oscar Matzo, Chicken Pot Pie with Black Truffle, and Baked Potato with Caviar. New for this year is Vegan Gnocchetti (fresh) with Braised Mushrooms and Cashew Cream.

We’ll have an exclusive kitchen chat with Chef Eric.


Show 141, October 10, 2015: Bracero Cocina de Raiz and General Manager JM Woody van Horn

JM Woody Von HornThe “Wolfgang Puck” of Northern Baja is acclaimed Chef Javier Plascencia. Savvy Southern Californians have enjoyed dining at both Romesco in Bonita and Mision 19 in Tijuana. His newest restaurant, Bracero Cocina de Raiz is located in San Diego’s Little Italy.

He’s been all over Food TV in recent years including visits with Anthony Bourdain and Travel Channel’s Andrew Zimmern. He’s also been profiled in The New York Times.

Chef Javier will be preparing a special 9 course wine-paired tasting menu on Monday evening, Oct. 19th at Bracero for American Institute of Wine & Food – San Diego Chapter’s members and guests. Distinguished Winemakers from Northern Baja will be there, too.

Javier Plasencia’s General Manager and Sommelier at Bracero, JM Woody van Horn is our guest.

Woody is a past recipient (twice) of an AIWF-San Diego culinary education scholarship. The San Diego Chapter of the AIWF is one of the most active chapters in the United States. They host a creative series of ongoing culinary events and activities for their members including visits to wineries and artisan food purveyors in Northern Baja. They were very early in recognizing the promise of Chef Javier Plascencia.


Show 139, September 26, 2015: Executive Chef Eric Klein of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Las Vegas

Eric KleinExecutive Chef Eric Klein of Spago Las Vegas is no stranger to the “SoCal Restaurant Show.” In the last couple of weeks he has cooked a private dinner for The President, been the celebrity guest chef aboard Holland America Line’s ms Maasdam on a 7-day Northeast Canada Discovery voyage, and been at-the-stoves with Wolfgang Puck as the host chef at one of the most prestigious annual charity funds-raisers in Las Vegas.

We’ll chat about his incredible five-course, farm-to-table lunch Chef Eric cooked on the fly in Bar Harbor, Maine at The Looking Glass Restaurant there with Host Chef Matt McPherson. The Chefs had never cooked together previously. The Captain of the ms Maasdam was one of the fortunate attendees.

Last week Chef Eric was the host chef for Chef Wolfgang Puck’s 3rd annual “Sip & Savor” benefit at Spago Las Vegas. It benefits Keep Memory Alive.

It’s a mix-and-mingle, wine-and-dine event which gave the guests the opportunity to indulge in an interactive culinary affair sampling the signature cuisine of each of Puck’s six Las Vegas restaurants, paired with a number of Chef Puck’s favorite wines.

We’ll catch-up with Chef Eric. He’s at the Saturday morning Downtown Summerlin Farmers Market. Spago Las Vegas is selling limited-production artisan bread there (baked in their own kitchen) as part of their local community outreach.



Show 108, January 31, 2015: Chef Mark Peel and Rascal

Mark PeelChef Mark Peel was the founding executive chef of the landmark Campanile in Hollywood which closed in 2012 after a long run. He was also the opening chef for Wolfgang Puck’s original Spago in West Hollywood.

Now, after the announcement of Bombo, Peel’s new seafood driven space scheduled to open in March at the iconic Grand Central Market, Chef Peel is giving enthusiasts the chance to get a sneak peak of what tempting new dishes may appear on the restaurant’s debut menu with two additional Pop-Up Dinners at Rascal (known for casual American fare.) Look for the steamed clams and pork sausage with roasted onion, chick peas, lobster broth and flax seed rice.

“Mark is a really wonderful guy, and it has been an amazing experience to have a Chef of his caliber working alongside our very own Chef,” says Rebecca Clark, who Co-owns Rascal with her husband, Sandy. The Clarks’ have both worked in the hospitality industry for a very long time and had met Peel in passing years ago. Peel’s true relationship with Rascal developed when he began frequenting the restaurant with his family, quickly becoming one of their neighborhood regulars.

The final Pop-Up Dinner Menu in this encore series from Chef Mark at Rascal is Tuesday February 3rd from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Reservations are suggested.

Chef Mark Peel is our guest along with Rebecca Clark, the co-owner of Rascal.


Show 101, December 13, 2014: Spago Las Vegas

Eric KleinEric Klein is the Executive Chef and Partner at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Las Vegas located in the Forum Shops, his first fine-dining restaurant in Las Vegas. It led the way for other prominent fine-dining chefs to establish destination restaurants in Las Vegas.

Chef Eric has been the highly visible face of Spago Las Vegas since 2007. The adjacent more casual Café, has a people-watching view of the throngs of shoppers navigating the Forum Shops. He supervised the successful remodeling and refreshing of the classic restaurant.

Spago is now celebrating their 22nd anniversary with a throwback menu (think Smoked Salmon Pizza & House Smoked Sturgeon with crisp potato galette and horseradish cream) and retro prices from December 15th through 19th.

Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group now has seven busy destination restaurants in Las Vegas. Their first off The Strip location, Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill, just debuted in Downtown Summerlin, part of a growing, upscale Vegas suburb.


Show 85, August 23, 2014: Chef Michael Knowles, Black & Blue Steakhouse, Valley View Casino

Michael Knowles of Black and Blue SteakhouseThe show was live on Saturday morning from The Valley View Casino. The fine dining restaurant there is Black & Blue – The Place For Steak.

We met Chef de Cuisine Michael Knowles.He started cooking at age 14! Chef Michael cooked at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio in San Francisco in the 90s. He has elevated Black & Blue to an award-winning California steakhouse that’s true destination dining for discerning San Diego residents.

All of his pastas are made in-house along with some of the cheese, including the mozzarella. There is a fresh pasta selection each night.

He uses as many local suppliers as possible. His beef purveyor is San Diego’s Brandt Beef. Seafood is from family-owned Santa Monica Seafood (celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year.) Local produce comes from Crows Pass Farm in Temecula and the legendary Chino Farms in addition to other small farmers.

Chef Michael’s “Signature Indulgence” on the Black & Blue menu is “The Ultimate Surf & Turf” for a reasonable $75.00. That’s a meal…It’s also part of a betting challenge where you might get your dinner for free or at a reduced price. It’s interactive and all in good fun…

How about Lobster Creamed Spinach as a premium side with lots of tender bites of lobster?