Category Archives: Los Angeles

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupThanks to the entertainment industry, the City of Los Angeles creates opportunities arguably better than most cities in the United States. Case in point is the The Lucques Group, headed by chef Suzanne Goin and her business partner Caroline Styne, who has been the sommelier and wine director for the company since its inception.

A scant 20 years ago, there still weren’t many women who owned restaurants. Of course, Josie La Blach had her eponymous Santa Monica eatery. We also can’t forget the Border Grill ladies, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feininger. Nancy Silverton was baking bread and scones at La Brea Bakery, and Joan McNamara, a caterer turned restaurateur, are about a few of the holdovers from the previous century.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Started in 1998, the now legendary Lucques was a success cementing at least the future of the two young women at the helm, Goin, in front of the stove, and Styne, managing the business and front of house and beverage direction.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupFormer Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbilia noted in her 2009 review of their Brentwood Larder, “Styne and Goin are the food world’s equivalent of Lerner and Loewe or Leiber and Stoller. Everything they do just seems to work effortlessly. The two share a certain sensibility and aesthetic. At any of their restaurants, there’s a sense of comfort and sensuality, contemporary rustic cuisine and warm but crisp service, and enticing environment. But most of all, they each have a strong sense of place.”

Ms. Styne, along with Ms. Goin, are native Angelenos, which is as hard to find as needle in a haystack. Both exude the clean living of a California life, but Ms. Styne was the epitome of West Coast style at a recent Hollywood Bowl media event. She appeared nonplussed by the media attention around her and her partner. In LA style, she smiled for the camera in a black and white herringbone frock perfect for the chill air on the stage of the arena. A glass of white swirled in her hand as the lightbulbs burst; she looked elegant and fit.

In her blog, Styne on Wine, she noted, “At my home, I played the role of wine steward and service captain. I would set the table, open the bottles of Bordeaux and pour wine for my guests throughout dinner.”

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupNow as part owner of one of the most thriving restaurant businesses in Los Angeles, with not one but five restaurants, a James Beard nominee, and catering for the Hollywood Bowl, Styne is a quintessential L.A. person living out their California dream in food and wine!

Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I’m the vegetable and grain cook in our home. My husband does the grilling because I’m the least comfortable with that. I love roasting or sautéing vegetables, making salsas and other yummy sauces to spoon over them.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
We always have Greek yogurt, olives, an array of cheeses, and wine!

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I love sharing a meal with people who love food and like trying new things. I don’t necessarily need to discuss each morsel and aspect of the food to death, but I like to know that I’m with someone who appreciates food and the art of cooking.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I don’t love eating with people who are uber picky or don’t love or appreciate food. It makes me feel uptight and uncomfortable. I’d rather just meet that person for coffee.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupBeer, wine, or cocktail?
There is a time and place for all three, but usually cocktails and wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Suzanne Goin

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
Breville Citrus juicer

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Indian and Mediterranean

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
Chicken and seafood…love pork, too

Favorite vegetable?
Romanesco

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
Jose Andres….great chef, great attitude, great humanitarian.

Food you like the most to eat?
Cheese – all kinds, from all milks in all shapes and sizes

Food you dislike the most?
Offal…just not into it

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
I’m big on physical fitness. I really like to keep active and actually enjoy walking, jogging, and just moving my body. I also love fashion in too big a way.

Whom do you most admire in food?
Danny Meyer

Where is your favorite place to eat/drink?
I think Italy is one of the most fun and satisfying places to enjoy food and wine.

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques GroupWhat is your favorite restaurant?
If I’m not at home, I really love eating at my restaurants. I obviously love the food and the drinks. Suzanne and I always try to create restaurants that we ourselves would like to patronize, so I guess we’ve succeeded in that respect

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No tattoos…I’m boring that way.

Recipe: Asparagus and Proscuitto

Recipe from Sunday Suppers at Lucques. To drink, Styne recommended in a William Sonoma blog post, “You can never wrong with champagne or rosé. I think both say, “Party!” and can take you from appetizers to dessert.”

i8tonite: L.A. Woman Caroline Styne: The Other Half of Lucques Group

Ingredients:
• 1¼ pounds asparagus, pencil-thin variety
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
• ½ cup creme fraiche
• 12 thin slices prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele
• ½ lemon, for juicing
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
Light the grill 30 to 40 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

Snap the ends off the asparagus to remove the tough woody portion. Toss the asparagus on a baking sheet with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some pepper.

Stir the mustard and crème fraîche together in a small bowl, and set aside.

When the coals are broken down, red, and glowing, drape the prosciutto over a platter. Grill the asparagus 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly charred and tender.

Arrange the asparagus on the prosciutto and drizzle the mustard crème fraîche over the top.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeNicole Gulotta is a writer, editor, and tea enthusiast. She’s the author of Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry (Roost Books, 2017), and pens a blog by the same name. I first discovered Nicole’s website years ago, when looking for travel guides that encompassed both bookstores and great food. What gems Eat This Poem’s literary city guides are – written by those in the know, so it’s a local’s guide to goodness, when you travel. Nicole’s website is fill of musings on cooking – and life, and is one that I turn to again and again.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeImagine my elation when I saw Nicole’s new book being created, published, and released (next week!). I caught up with Nicole in sunny California, while snowbound in Michigan, and asked her about writing a combination of food and poetry. She noted that while she had been writing the blog for several years, and had felt rooted in the combination of food and poetry, she was approached by an editor about starting the book – and it felt like the right project at the right time. And while the gestation process for Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry was long, she had been writing of these topics for years, had found her footing with it, and was excited to do something more substantial with it – for which I am grateful.

When I delved into her history, I learned that while poetry arrived early in her life, food came much later – and so it wasn’t a natural fit to pair the two. But Nicole noted that when you can step away from your life experiences and look at them, it enables those insightful moments to happen.

The Eat This Poem cookbook features more than 75 new recipes paired alongside verse from 25 of America’s most beloved poets. Forage mushrooms with Mary Oliver, then wander into your kitchen to stir creamy truffle risotto. Study the skin of a pear with Billy Collins while you bake a warm vanilla-pear crumble. And honor the devoted work of farmers with Wendell Berry while snacking on popcorn dusted with rosemary and drizzled with brown butter.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

You know me – when I asked what she hoped readers take away from the book, Nicole said, “The idea of being still in a kitchen, and having food and poetry be an opportunity to do something that takes care of yourself and the people around you as well. Our lives are so rushed and busy and we have all these things to do…and I want people to feel like they can indulge in poetry and food and ENJOY that, even if only for a brief moment.”

And, when I asked about poetry, Nicole (a life-long poetry lover) remarked, “Poetry is so great because it really keeps you rooted in the moment/present, and if you read a poem it might take a short time (or longer), but it is a special, be-present time. You can do this and inspire your day!”

Indeed – food and poetry are the perfect combination for stillness, thoughtfulness, and a good life.

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook?
Something Italian, like bolognese that simmers for hours

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Homemade almond milk, Dijon mustard, a wedge of Parmesan, and eggs from the farmers’ market

What do you cook at home?
I keep things simple, especially Monday through Friday, like quick bean tacos, lentil curry, and pasta with whatever fresh vegetables are in season.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
A good appetite

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Chewing with your mouth open

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

Your favorite cookbook author?
Nigel Slater’s writing is so welcoming and poetic

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie RecipeYour favorite kitchen tool?
My Japanese chef’s knife

Your favorite ingredient?
Garlic. It’s the beginning of everything.

Your least favorite ingredient?
Dried fennel

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Empty the dishwasher

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian, Indian, and Mexican. But these days, anything I can get on the table in under 30 minutes.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef, medium rare, with a touch of flaky salt on top

Favorite vegetable?
I know they’re technically a fruit, but tomatoes have my heart every summer. I also love roasted cauliflower.

Chef you most admire?
Suzanne Goin

Food you like the most to eat?
Always pasta, preferably spaghetti with a slice of garlic bread alongside

Food you dislike the most?
A poorly dressed salad

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Spend time with my son

Who do you most admire in food?
Anyone who helps support local farmers, treats animals and the environment with respect, and values seasonal cooking

Where is your favorite place to eat?
My kitchen table, or Bestia, in downtown Los Angeles

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
Zero.

Recipe: Energizing Orange Smoothie

i8tonite with Eat This Poem author Nicole Gulotta and Energizing Orange Smoothie Recipe

In a high speed blender, add 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 chopped carrot, 1 banana, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 small piece of peeled ginger (1-inch), ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, and 1 cup ice.

Process until smooth, and garnish with chia seeds, if desired.

 

Find Nicole on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/nicolegulotta
Instagram: instagram.com/nicolegulotta
Facebook: facebook.com/eatthispoem
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ngulotta/

 

  – The End. Go Eat. – 

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw RecipeIn our global world, food is often the first thing that changes. Chinese noodles appropriated by the Italians after Marco Polo’s visit. How about al pastor brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, or the deliciousness of a French-Vietnamese banh mi, which features tons of crunchy vegetables and savory pork stuffed into a baguette? This is the case for the much-lauded Revolutionario, near the University of Southern California, helmed by Chef Farid Zadi and his wife Susan Park. The couple came up with an ingenious concept of marrying North African diaspora (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya) tastes with Mexico. The successful result is a delicious fusion of international flavors as noted by the alternative paper, LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, and the queue of college students and food-oriented people standing at the counter ordering their $3.00 tacos.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Revolutionario

Zadi’s career started in his birthplace of Lyon, France, ultimately leading him to working in Michelin starred restaurants throughout the world, including stints in Seoul, Korea, and Scotland. Upon coming to the United States, Zadi focused his epicurean talents on being a chef consultant and culinary educator, teaching cooking classes – for the beginner to the accomplished – at such places as Sur La Table, Whole Foods Market, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Makroud (Algerian Date Newtons)

Last year, he and Susan wanted to create something different. Park says, “We saw the market going in a different direction towards a fast casual experience. Millennials didn’t really want to participate in the sit down service.” Along Jefferson, Revolutionario is not hard to find, as there are hordes of people waiting for service. Together, the couple have created a refreshing and unique melding of cultures…and the world was ready. Algerian butter and Mexican crema top a cob of corn. An Algerian roasted chicken with rasa al hanout – a Northern African spice mixture — called mechoui — is served up with feta and tortillas to wrap the bird. Wood-roasted cauliflower is also a standout when bound in a corn tortilla.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Mexican Street Corn with Algerian Creole Butter, Crema, and Cotija

Park comments, “North African tacos are an interesting cuisine. Food writers, those who are well-traveled, and people exposed to unique flavors love our food. Where else can you get merguez sausage served like a burrito?

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
34 years professionally

What is your favorite food to cook?
Dover sole with lemon butter sauce

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, cheese, and cured meat.

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Merguez and Crispy Potato Tacos

What do you cook at home?
Nothing

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Openness

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Don’t know what they want

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer in the summer, wine for fall and winter

Your favorite cookbook author?
Clifford Wright

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Chef’s knife

Your favorite ingredient?
Water

Your least favorite ingredient?
Lard

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Home stove that doesn’t burn high enough

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe
Roasted Sweet Potato and Crispy Kale, Yukon Gold with Lentil Chili or Charred Vegetables.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Mediterranean and Californian

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Potatoes

Chef you most admire?
Pierre Gagnaire

Food you like the most to eat?
Buttered pasta

Food you dislike the most?
Calf’s brain

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None. Never.

Recipe: Fennel and carrot slaw

i8tonite with LA’s Revolutionario Chef Farid Zadi & Fennel and Carrot Slaw Recipe

• 2 medium fennel bulbs
• 5 carrots, coarsely grated
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup Spanish green olives, pitted and finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon dried Aleppo chile or Espelette pepper flakes (optional), or to taste
• 6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and very thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Chop enough fennel fronds to measure 3 tablespoons and reserve.

Discard remaining fronds and stalks. Cut bulbs into thin matchsticks and toss with carrots in a bowl.

Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, oil, olives, Aleppo chile (if using), and salt to taste and toss with vegetables.

Chill, covered, at least 30 minutes (for flavors to develop).

Photo WILLIAM ABRANOWICZ

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with OC’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas“The cuisine at Who Song’s & Larry is meant to be fun. It’s Mexican-inspired food,” say 32-year old Chef Johannes Bernau. “The food at Las Brisas finds its inspiration in Mexico, but is really Southern California.”

Born in Utah to a Japanese mother and Dutch Indonesian father, the talented man behind the Real Mex Restaurants stove holds the unwieldy title of Corporate Chef for Specialty Brands. Behind that long designation lies a thoughtful human who creates delectable South of the Border-encouraged dishes at Las Brisas, an iconic cliff side eatery overlooking California’s famed Laguna Beach, and Who Song’s & Larry’s, a newcomer to the restaurant scene. Real Mex also owns additional Southern California chains such as Acapulco, Chevy’s, and El Torito Grill. Bernau oversees the kitchens of the single standing operations, which include the aforementioned, but also El Paso Cantina in Torrance, CA and New York City’s Sinigual.

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

“Like every chef, I started out helping as a kid in the kitchen, then I started inviting my friends over for barbeques that I would make,” Bernau recalls. “I worked at a pizza place between the ages of 18 – 19. Today, I still crank out a pizza for family (staff) meals.”

Seafood Tower Las Brisas. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Seafood Tower Las Brisas

The food at Las Brisas, with its breaktaking views of Laguna’s golden sand beaches and Pacific Ocean waves, is a must for every traveler and visitor to the legendary ocean community. The white tablecloth eatery serves dishes such as the fruta del mar, a mixture of lobster, scallops, shrimp, and the catch of the day with a saffron sauce. Also, surf and turf plates exist with Latin flavors, such as the New York Strip with Mexican Shrimp. Adding to the overall theme of Southern California dishes are starters such as ceviche and Ahi Tuna Poke.

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas

Who Song’s & Larry is themed more like a cantina with lustful eats, including Hangover Fries. Created by Chef Bernau, the dish is crispy fries covered in carnitas, bacon, green chili sauce, melted pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, a fried egg, and fresno chiles. Served in a small crock, the mighty curative sounds overwhelming but in truth, it’s delicious with bold flavors to settle anyone who might be leaning too far after a night of drinking. “The inspiration was from the Canadian poutine and from my love of smothered fries…plus a fried egg can go on anything,” chuckles Bernau. “It was so popular we named our brunch after our fries.”

Hangover fries. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Hangover fries

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since I was able to crack eggs… (Mom and dad probably ate plenty of egg shell omelets…)

What is your favorite food to cook?
Anything off the grill, especially Steak.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Surge (classic soda from the 90’s) – they took it away once… not going to let that happen again.

What do you cook at home?
Mac and cheese.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Their love for food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Customers that want their steaks well done.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer

Your favorite cookbook author?
Ferran Adria

Street Corn - Who Song and Larry's. i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Street Corn – Who Song and Larry’s

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Chef’s Knife.

Your favorite ingredient?
Thyme – everything could use a little more thyme.

Your least favorite ingredient?
MSG

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
When I was a young cook, one of my jobs was to peel grapes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Tacos

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

Favorite vegetable?
Broccolini

Chef you most admire?
Jose Andreas – worked for him back in the day & learned how to cook with liquid nitrogen.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ramen (not instant)

Food you dislike the most?
Natto, a Japanese dish of fermented soy beans.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
none

Recipe: Coke Cola Carnitas

i8tonite with LA’s Las Brisas Chef Johannes Bernau and Recipe for Coca Cola Carnitas
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Mike McCune

5 lbs of large chunks of pork butt
1 onion chopped
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of oregano
1 can of coke
1 can of beer
2 TBSP salt
1 tsp pepper
Water

Put everything in crock pot on medium before you go to work.

Eat after work. With tortillas and cheese.

– The End. Go Eat. –

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes RecipeOn a Wednesday night in Larchmont Village in the heart of Los Angeles, every table at Vernetti was full. The owner and chef Steve Vernetti was in the house, moving between the kitchen and the dining room, talking to everyone as though they were old friends. Indeed, it was obvious that there were many regulars. Vernetti is a neighborhood restaurant, the kind of place you come to rely on for all the important events of life – birthdays, anniversaries, and first dates. The atmosphere was lively, casual, and comfortable. There’s a modern European bistro aesthetic, thanks to Steve’s wife Joanne, who worked with designer David Thompson on the remodel of the original space. The staff made us feel like rock stars. The food was excellent.

His chef training started early. Vernetti notes, “Growing up, we learned how to butcher our goats, pigs, chicken, and turkeys. My brother and I got up at 5 every day before we went to school and milked the goats. We learned how to grow our food. My mother bought me my first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The first thing I made from that book was chocolate eclairs.”

Before settling in Los Angeles in the 90s, Vernetti traveled throughout Europe, gathering influences from Berlin, Paris, Venice, Amsterdam, and Florence. He then lived in London for seven years, working with Chef Charles Fontaine at Quality Chop House and Le Caprice. It is easy to see the old world influences mixed with the new at Vernetti, where Steve is in the kitchen every day experimenting with inventive takes on classic recipes.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

He’s also a thoughtful owner – “Working in the restaurant industry for as long as I have, I want my staff to be happy. We run a place where my dishwashers are key players in the business, just as much as the front of the house. We need the staff to be happy. If they are happy, my customers will notice it and they will be happy, too.”

We decided to try many dishes and share them round, starting with the gnocchi, a traditional northern Italian dish that is typically a rather dense potato pasta. This gnocchi was light and airy, rich with ricotta cheese and egg yolks, and topped with sage butter.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

We followed the gnocchi with vongole and shrimp scampi, since Vernetti is known for their house-made pastas. You’ll definitely want to try at least one.

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Linguine alla Vongole
i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Shrimp Scampi

Dessert was a trifecta of orange cannoli, strawberry cheesecake, and chocolate mousse. Hey, there were three of us! I didn’t eat all of this on my own. Look, though…

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe
Chocolate Budino

Vernetti has an excellent wine menu, with a selection of Italian wines that covers the boot from north to south. There are also some great California wines on the menu. We decided to order by the glass so we could pair a different wine with each dish, which I think is a lot more fun. If you find something you love, you can always order more! You can also bring your own bottle and pay the corkage fee of $25.00. If wine is not your thing, Vernetti’s has a decent beer selection, though I confess my knowledge of beer is limited. I prefer the juice of the grape.

Vernetti is a neighborhood restaurant, and since I’m not a local there, I felt quite lucky to have found it. It reminded me of an Italian trattoria where the owners are always there and live nearby. The menu is fresh, and dishes are served until they run out of the ingredients to make that particular dish. I recommend this restaurant to everyone!

Steve Vernetti’s philosophy is to “feed the community as I do my family, providing a special place to celebrate all the amazing things that happen when sharing a delicious meal.” Cin Cin, Steve Vernetti.

 

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking? 41 years

What is your favorite food to cook? Thanksgiving dinner

What do you always have in your fridge at home? strawberry jam

What do you cook at home? everything

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? hunger

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? unadventurous

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail? wine

Your favorite cookbook author? Julia Child

Your favorite kitchen tool? my tongue

Your favorite ingredient? salt

Your least favorite ingredient? kale

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes RecipeLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? French, Italian, & British

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? beef

Favorite vegetable? potato

Chef you most admire? Eric Rippert

Food you like the most to eat? sweetbreads prepared by my mother

Food you dislike the most? anything that has the word molecular in it

How many tattoos? one

And if so, how many are of food? None

Recipe: Vernetti’s Semolina Pancakes

i8tonite with Larchmont Village’s Vernetti Chef Steve Vernetti & his Semolina Pancakes Recipe

Ingredients
2cups Semolina
2cups all purpose flour
4tsp baking powder
2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt

Sift dry ingredients in a bowl and add:
4eggs
3-4 cups buttermilk (plain whole milk will work)
1/2cup vegetable oil

Directions
Mix but leave lumps. Use well oiled cast iron pan or griddle on medium high heat and brush browned tops with melted butter – enjoy!

 

 

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtA cursory internet search on Lithuanian chefs yields one or two male names located in Europe. Narrowing the searching to California leads us to San Francisco’s East Bay and the Los Angeles’ Annual Lithuanian Festival, which recently celebrated its annual event in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood.  Digging a little deeper brings us to Doma (which means “home” in Lithuanian) Kitchen in Los Angeles County’s coastal community of Manhattan Beach. It’s a delicious neighborhood bistro with a heavy focus on Eastern European foods using seasonal California ingredients. In other words, going to Doma Kitchen is an enlightening travel experience without having to leave the county.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Owned by three people, Chef Kristina Miksyte and entrepreneurial couple Angelika Corrente and Stanislav Mayzalis, Doma Kitchen brings together a taste of Lithuania to the Southern California food scene. The latter was already a working chef in her homeland before winning the green card lottery and becoming an American citizen.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Having attended a culinary school in her hometown of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, like so many immigrants, Miksyte’s dream was to live and cook in the United States. She says, “I love my country but it didn’t give me the opportunities to work. In Los Angeles, I have a restaurant, I am married, and I cook what I want.”

Lithuanian food is characterized by the cooking of potatoes, beets, pork, barley, berries, and mushrooms. The use of indigenous herbs such as dill, caraway, and juniper mimic their Eastern European neighbors (Uzbekistan, southern Russia, Latvia, Poland, and Belarus). And Doma Kitchen’s menu reflects this rich, fragrant cuisine with plov (braised rice or rice pilaf), kasha (braised barley or buckwheat-like risotto), and vareniki (similar to pierogies).

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

However the food isn’t all relegated to the “stans” of the world; Chef Miksyte makes liberal use of other Mediterranean ingredients, such as burrata, basil, tomato, and walnuts to showcase her global tastes. “I wanted to come to the States to become a better cook and learn more of what the world offers,” says Doma Kitchen’s stove director.

Los Angeles is all the better for it.

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
I’ve been cooking for almost twenty years.

What is your favorite food to cook?
I love to bake and also enjoy cooking good meat

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtWhat do you always have in your fridge at home?
Fresh veggies and fruits, fresh meat or fish, few cheeses and salami. Almost nothing in the freezer. Basically I’m stocked with produce for all meals, something for breakfast, snacks and for a nice dinner.

What do you cook at home?
I’m constantly experimenting and messing around with new recipes. Often go back to authentic recipes either from Russia, Lithuania, or Persian. Weekends are BBQ.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I love to make my customers happy through eating my food. When I see the excitement after first look at the food followed up with “Wow,” “OMG,” “This looks so good and tastes even better.” The love is mutual between us – I love to cook and they like to eat.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
I hate when the customer changes the ingredients in my dishes. It’s basically changing the whole dish completely, and creating a new dish.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Pyrex

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Your favorite cookbook author?
My Grandma

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Knives

Your favorite ingredient?
Fresh herbs and dill, of course!

Your least favorite ingredient?
Don’t have one

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Wipe down and polishing the dishes

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Central Asian, Middle eastern, and whatever that’s on my mind

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for BorschtFavorite vegetable?
Fresh cucumbers from my mother’s garden

Chef you most admire?
Egidijus Lapinskas in Lithuania

Food you like the most to eat?
Good piece of meat, sushi, or fish

Food you dislike the most?
Overly spicy food that you can’t taste anything else.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I have two tattoos. No food tattoos to date.

Recipe: Doma Kitchen’s Borscht

i8tonite with Manhattan Beach’s Doma Kitchen Chef Kristina Miksyte & Recipe for Borscht

Doma Kitchen Borscht recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Lamb, stew meat, or whatever kind of beef you like, bone-in or boneless
  • 1 Tbsp salt + more to taste
  • 2 large or 3 medium beets, washed, peeled and grated
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ head of small cabbage, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced (**see note)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley and dill
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Garnish: Sour cream and fresh sprigs of parsley or dill.

Instructions

  1. Wash meat in cold water, cut into 1″ pieces and place in a large soup pot with 14 cups cold water and 1 Tbsp salt. Bring it to a boil and remove the foam crud as soon as it boils (if you wait, it will be hard to get rid of the crud as it integrates into the broth and you’d have to strain it later). Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer 45 minutes – 1 hr, periodically skimming off any crud that rises to the top.
  2. Grate beets on the large grater holes (a food processor works amazingly well). Place them in a large heavy-bottom skillet with 4 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp vinegar and sauté for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to med/low and add 1 Tbsp sugar. Mix thoroughly and sauté until starting to soften, stirring occasionally (about 10 min). Remove from pan and set aside. In the same skillet (no need to wash it), Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp butter for 2 min. Add grated carrot and sauté another 5 min or until softened, adding more oil if it seems too dry.
  3. Once the meat has been cooking at least 45 min, place sliced potatoes into the soup pot and cook 10 min, then add cabbage, sautéed beets, onion & carrot, and chopped tomatoes. Cook another 10 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Add 2 bay leaves, ¼ tsp pepper, and more salt to taste (I added another ½ tsp salt).
  5. Chop parsley and pressed garlic then stir them into the soup pot, immediately cover and remove from heat. Let the pot rest covered for 20 minutes for the flavors to meld.

The End. Go Eat. 

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran’s 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk PorkThe petite picturesque coastal town of Hermosa Beach, along with its sister sandlots, Manhattan and Redondo, has never been known as a culinary hub. Typical Southern California seaside fare of good burgers, sustainable salads and grilled meats paired with frothy beers and California wines is de rigueur.   Yet, epicures who love the waves between their toes and food prepared with culinary prowess can now have both at the few weeks old Baran’s 2239 and their chef Tyler Gugliotta, using South of the Border and Asian influences.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe. Photo Kent Kanouse
Photo Kent Kanouse

Generally speaking, food made by a cook of some repute can be had at any of the Golden State’s seaside hotels, which dot the Pacific Coast Highway. Luxury resorts such as Monterey’s Post Ranch Inn, Aubergine in Carmel-By-The-Sea, or The Resort at Pelican Hill’s Andrea in Newport Beach come to mind, yet it’s difficult to find independent dining. With Gugliotta, his ambition is to change that direction – and with his background, he just might. His father, a chef who cooks at Shugrue’s in Lake Havasu, Arizona – and his aunt and uncle own noted Weiser Farms, one of California’s best producers of root vegetables – so food is in his blood.

Interestingly, Gugliotta’s first love and his college major was English Literature. He was planning to become a professor but when he got on the kitchen line, all bets were off. On why he changed career directions, “Honestly, it was the creative aspect. As a young cook, I wanted to be mixing my own flavors, putting together my tastes.”

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe. Photo by Robin Kanouse
Photo by Robin Kanouse

His menus are fairly sophisticated for a sleepy seashore town – and, rightly, are a perfect stage for his family’s farms vegetable fortune. There is the nod to Gugliotta’s Italian roots with spigarello (broccoli leaves) with cauliflower, cannellini beans, and garlic scapes; plus, the bounty of California’s seasonality with white asparagus, chanterelle, and truffles. Then on the meat side a pork char sui with a crispy coleslaw or housemade chorizo verde.

More importantly, the thirty-one year old is excited to be elevating the food scene in his hometown, presenting exciting California cuisine with inspirations from his travels to Mexico, the Pan-Pacific, and Europe. And, the Hermosa Beach gourmands, flip-flops and board shorts, are happy to have him.

Chef Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust); 

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork Recipe
Photo by Monica Simpson

How long have you been cooking? Cooking since 8 years old, but professionally for 10 years.

What is your favorite food to cook? Anything with chilies.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Cheese.

What do you cook at home? I like to grill.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer ?Adventurous.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? No shows.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork RecipeTupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Deli cups.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Beer when I’m thirsty, wine with food, cocktails on my day off.

Your favorite cookbook author? Escoffier.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My hands.

Your favorite ingredient? Cilantro.

Your least favorite ingredient? Not big on tripe. Hate canned vegetables.

i8tonite: with Chef Tyler Gugliotta, Baran's 2239 in Hermosa Beach & Jerk Pork RecipeLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Dishes.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Mexican/ Italian/Southeast Asian.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu? All but tofu.

Favorite vegetable? Chilies.

Chef you most admire? My Dad.

Food you like the most to eat? Tacos/sandwiches.

Food you dislike the most? Fake meat products.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? One tattoo which is of food.

Recipe: Jerk pork Tenderloin – Chef Tyler Gugliotta

  • 2 cups chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 habanero peppers, seed for less spice (i leave them in)
  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin

Blend or food process all ingredients, and pour into a ziploc bag with the pork. Marinade for at least three hours, but the day before works best. Grill until caramelized, about 4-6 mins a side and the internal temp is 140.

 

–       The End. Go Eat. –

 

i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles

Women work hard, and that includes being a mother, an actress, or a chef. Therefore, regardless of gender, women should be paid equally, and that’s this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Parity.  It’s the reason we decided to highlight women-owned places – more specifically female chefs of Los Angeles –  for our bi-monthly edition of Food Destinations. Tuesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day.

In the City of Angels, not only are there delicious places to eat, but there are many women creating delicious dining experiences, whether as an owner or as an owner-chef. If you want to choose an eating theme, why not an interesting food tour of women-owned restaurants?

Margarita Manzke, Republique. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Margarita and Walter Manzke

Breakfast: Margarita Manzke, Republique:

Start your day at Republique with one of the pastry creations by Philippines Islands-born Margarita Manzke, co-owner of the famed space with her husband Walter. While Mr. Manzke is noted for his French-inspired culinary prowess in the evening, the mornings belong to “Madge.” Her pastries are clouds of flour and butter in the former of buttery croissants, brioches, scones, muffins, and breads. Go ahead and eat her Brioche French Toast, dipped in the egg and served up with fresh fruit. The idea of never eating carbs won’t enter your mind again. Or even better, for something just a little lighter to get the energy going with a cup of the couple’s hand-selected coffee, have a few slices of Ms. Manzke’s daily selection, fresh from the oven, daily served with housemade butter, jam, or honey. Everyday it’s something different – rye, whole cracked wheat, 7-grain, raisin, pumpernickel, sourdough ($4).

Republique

  • 624 South La Brea Avenue
  • Los Angeles, CA  90036
  • (310) 362 – 6115
  • www.republicquela.com
  • Breakfast 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Coffee and pastries until 4:00pm

 

Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Alisa Reynolds

Lunch:  Alisa Reynolds, My Two Cents

In a residential part of Los Angeles, far from the maddening crowd, Chef Alisa Reynolds crafted a small eatery, with a dedicated following – including Beyoncé – cooking healthy soul food cooking, definitely words you don’t hear together. With six tables on the sidewalk and about as many on the inside, Reynolds has become known for her gluten-free quinoa macaroni and cheese, Creole Shrimp and Corn Grits, and BBQ Fried Chicken. Her recipes are still rich in flavor and family tradition, but have lower calories and a higher nutrition value than what she grew up eating. Yes, you can have your mac and cheese, but with a dose of healthy grains as well. What a concept.

My Two Cents

  • 5583 West Pico Boulevard
  • Los Angeles, CA  90016
  • (323) 938 – 1012
  • www.mytwocentsla.com
  • Closed on Mondays
  • Tuesday – Thursday 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Friday – Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Sundays: Brunch only  11: 00 am – 4:00pm

 

Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los AngelesSnack: Restauranteur Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan: ICDC

Last year, co-owners Amy Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan created a loving ode to ice cream, donuts, and coffee (ICDC), right next door to BLD (Neal Fraser’s eatery — Amy’s husband’s place — with breakfast, lunch and dinner). Out of the gate, the freshly churned cream made into adult type flavors such as the Guiness with Bourbon Fudge Ripple, and the Grapefruit Campari, or the Salt and Pepper Donut, or Beer Nuts and Pretzels have become an immediate hit — sort of like a Stars Wars sequel. Everything is handcrafted and single-batched, so once a flavor is out – it’s out for the rest of the day (or even the week). Therefore, you keep coming back hoping to catch that favorite flavor – but never quite making it, so it’s discover another taste – which keeps you coming back for that, and before you know it – you are in a 12-step group saying, “Hi, my name is (your name here) and I’m an ICDC addict.”

ICDC LA

  • 7454 1/2 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • (323) 746-3346
  • http://icdc.la/
  • Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, 11am-11pm

 

 Susan Feniger: Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill. From i8tonite: A Cheat Sheet to Eating at Women-owned Restaurants in Los Angeles
Chef Susan Feniger

Dinner:  Susan Feniger:  Mud Hen Tavern & Border Grill

Long before the Food Network was stuck on Guy Fieri road trips and Bobby Flay contests, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken were broadcast to millions of homes. Then, the gourmet duo known as Two Hot Tamales showcased mostly Mexican but Latin flavored cuisine in an epicurean setting at Border Grill. Prior to that – in the long forgotten eighties — the cooking partners had another nationally-recognized establishment named City, changing Los Angeles’ culinary landscape much like Spago’s Wolfgang Puck. Milliken and Feniger still operate Border Grill together in Santa Monica – but Feniger wanted to explore other tasty riches and opened the much-lauded Street in Hollywood – showcasing global cuisine. After a couple of years, Feniger morphed Street into Mud Hen Tavern – a cozy neighborhood eatery and bar. Whether you are eating at Mud Hen Tavern or the legendary Border Grill, the food you are tasting isn’t just by a female chef but by an historical figure in the culinary realm. Delicious food, farm-to-table, nose-to-tail — Susan Feniger has been there, done that, and thankfully is still cooking some yummy eats.

Mud Hen Tavern

  • 742 No. Highland Avenue
  • LA, CA 90038
  • (323) 203 – 0500
  • www.mudhentavern.com
  • Sunday – Tuesday 5:00 – 10:00pm
  • Wednesday – Sunday 5:00 pm – midnight

Santa Monica Border Grill

  • 1445 4th Street
  • Santa Monica, CA  90401
  • http://www.bordergrill.com/
  • Sunday – Thursday 4:00 – 10:00pm
  • Friday – Saturday  4:00 – 11:00pm

The end. Go eat. 

 

 

 

 

 

i8tonite: Los Angeles’ Franco on Melrose, Chef Franco de Dominicis

IMG_1422Along a strip of Melrose Avenue, just past La Brea is Franco on Melrose. It’s location is in the City of Angel’s culinary corridor featuring a few of the most lauded epicurean stops in the city including Providence, Mozza, Mud Hen Tavern and Trois Mec. To the south, one can wander to Republique or Odys + Penelope.  It’s a hidden gem of an Italian eatery although a favorite among the celebrity set. However, the trattoria has been under the radar since its inception over four years ago. Why? Partially, says chef and owner Franco de Dominicis, “I didn’t have a beer and wine license. It was BYOB but now I do and things have changed.”

Originally born in Venezuela to Italian parents, de Dominicis was then raised in Paestum, Italy about a hundred miles south of Naples, renowned for its Greek and Roman archeological sites. The 2600-year-old settlement has also been known as the second largest agricultural center in Italy, the first being in Umbria. De Dominicis had an excellent childhood and gained a love of cookery via his family. He had formal culinary training at a Naples based school which supplied him with European apprenticeships. Now, in the States, the food he makes is indicative of his European and Italian roots, staying true to his youth.
IMG_3359Proudly, de Dominicis makes all of his own pasta, ravioli, and lasagna. Many of the recipes are adapted recipes from his mother and childhood. He also sources as much as he can from the farmers markets throughout Los Angeles. It’s a true Los Angeles-based trattoria serving up Neapolitan fare without having to travel to Italy.

Franco on Melrose is a lovely place with a sidewalk awning extending out to the valet. Its roof is canopied and during the summer is open to the stars. The best thing about the new Italian-centric wine menu which was personally selected by de Dominicis it’s priced so reasonably you can imbibe with that second bottle while looking at the stars.

Chef Questionnaire: 

IMG_1877How long have you been cooking? Since I was 13.

What is your favorite food to cook? Meat and fish and pasta.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Milk, juices, herbs, prosciutto, burrata, eggs.

What do you cook at home? Sometimes I get together with friends and I love to do brunch with roasted beef tenderloin and rack of lamb.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? An open mind to try different things.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Unwilling to expand their palate.

IMG_1242Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Rubbermaid.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Definitely wine. A full body red and champagne.

Your favorite cookbook author? Julia Child.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Hand mixer

Your favorite ingredient? Extra virgin olive oil.

Your least favorite ingredient? Okra.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Stirring for hours.

FullSizeRender (3)Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Italian, French, Caribbean,

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Beef.

Favorite vegetable? Haricot vert and brussels sprouts.

Chef you most admire? Gordon Ramsey.

Food you like the most to eat? Breakfast items.

Food you dislike the most? Russian.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? None.

Franco on Melrose’s Roasted Chicken and Pears

  • 3-4 lbs. chicken, whole roasting
  • 3 Anjou pears (Peeled and cut into quarters)
  • 3 shallots (Cut into quarters)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalk
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • ½ a tablespoon of freshly cut sage. Or thereabouts.
  • Salt and pepper

To Make: Pre heat oven a 400 degree. Take the chicken and stuff it with the whole pears, some thyme, some sage, and 1 shallots cut into quarters. Tie the legs back with twine. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, with all the carrots and celery, cut into  pieces, add the rest of the shallots cut in ¼ as well, disperse the herbs around, poor the wine and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and place in the oven for about 45 minutes. Uncover the chicken and let it finish cooking, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until a nice golden brown and juices run clear.

The End. Go Eat.

i8tonite: Sex on The Table’s Chef Fed Comes to Los Angeles: Recipe for Brie Fondue, Smoked Duck and Apricots

Chef Fed: Photo Courtesy of Chef Fed
Chef Fed: Photo Courtesy of Chef Fed

Chef Fed made a culinary name for himself in New York City. Teaching and pairing wines under the pop-up moniker of Sex On the Table, a showcase of edible aphrodisiacs,  he established a considerable following among the discerning palates of the nation’s Big Apple. He’s even garnered a lot of media attention appearing on Chopped, The Today Show, E! News and profiled in Cosmopolitan, New York Daily News and Maxim to name a select few.

Now, the city  of Los Angeles will have the opportunity to dine on Chef Fed’s noted cuisine. Every Friday and Saturday evening, over the next two months, Chef Fed – whose real name is Juerg Federer – is cooking at his pop-up, Fedish, in the former Scratch|Bar Space on Beverly Hills Restaurant Row. It will be an opportunity for Angelenos to dine on the food of who may be the next rising star on the world’s gastronomic stage.

Chef Fed
Chef Fed

Chef Fed’s background and cooking credentials are so appetizingly delicious that without tasting his food but viewing the planned menu, there should be no hesitation in paying for your dinner in advance. Born in Switzerland, Chef Fed attended European culinary school. He then went to work with two Michelin-starred chefs (see below), one who helmed the kitchen at the greatest restaurant in the world – heads to New York City to ply his trade; then, needs change. Warmer weather and close proximity to California’s famed agriculture brought the trained European cook to California. Of course, the story also conjures other notable immigrant chefs who traveled to the West Coast such as Christophe Eme, Wolfgang Puck, Joachim Splichal, Piero Selvaggio, and Ludo Lefebvre. There is no question the five-course tasting menu will be worth the $75 price of admission (an extra $49 for wine pairings) . Where else are you going to have a New York dining experience cooked by a famed European chef in the balmy weather of Los Angeles?

Angelenos will have the opportunity to partake of his cooking class, Sex on The Table. It’s a new year so do something new, fun and exciting. Besides, Chef Fed is very smart, funny, talented and resembles a cooking Gabriel Aubry when in the kitchen.  What more do you want?

Chef Questionnaire with Chef Fed:

Brie Fondue: Courtesy of Chef Fed
Brie Fondue: Courtesy of Chef Fed

How long have you been cooking? By the time that I was tall enough to overlook my mom’s kitchen counter, she wasn’t safe anymore. I graduated from culinary school 15 years later. And that was exactly 20 years ago.

What is your favorite food to cook? It changes with the seasons. But I certainly have a thing for dishes that develop over a long cooking time. What never changes is my childish excitement for super fresh, sustainable and organic ingredients.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Besides a light bulb and a box of baking soda, there are always some fresh limes, ginger and unsalted butter (the real one).

What do you cook at home? For my next cookbook, I’m actually developing all the recipes at my house because I want to create the recipes in the same environment as my readers will cook them. When I cook for myself, I focus on greens, grains, and beans. And the occasional Swiss Cheese Fondue with my girlfriend…

Chef FedWhat marked characteristic do you love in a customer? I love it when they’re adventurous eaters. The most exciting customer for me is the person that knocks on my kitchen door and says: “Hey Fed, me and my friends are hungry. We eat everything. Here’s my credit card, we’ve got to be somewhere in 2 hours…”

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?It can be tough when the customer thinks in boxes. When you’re basing your expectations on your experiences, you stop creating. That’s true for chefs and customers alike.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? You’ve got to love it when a brand a becomes so dominant that even their competitor’s  product takes on their name: Tupperware.  My company’s called Sex on the Table, so a rubber has different uses in my vocabulary. And Pyrex, I mean I love German engineering, but that applies more to my car than to my kitchen utensils. I’m going with Tupperware on this one. It reminds me of home.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Yes please, exactly in that order.

Chef Fed 2Your favorite cookbook author? My mother is pretty cool. Her last cookbook was on vegan cuisine, though. That’s a tough sell with me. But she autographed it for me.

Your favorite kitchen tool? My Bob Kramer knife. Don’t even think I would ever let you touch it.

Your favorite ingredient? Agave Nectar, Fresh Lime Juice, and homemade chicken stock share the win for this one.

Your least favorite ingredient?  Everything genetically modified, especially canola oil.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Cleaning the freezer tops my most hated list.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? I was born and raised in Zurich, which comes with a weird mix of Mediterranean style and Bohemian precision. I believe that, even though I traveled far and I explored a lot, when you get to the bottom of it you will always find that little boy in me that was surrounded by French and Italian chefs growing up.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? What the hell is tofu? It makes your manhood go away, did you know that? It’s a testosterone killer. A Rib Eye from Flaca Vaca farm in upstate New York would be my last meal on earth.

Favorite vegetable? My favorite vegetable is a flower: The artichoke, where the heart’s the best.

Yes-ChefChef you most admire? My first executive chef has no fame, and he’s still cooking the same menu from 20 years ago. His name is Meinolf Zarnitz, and he had a huge impact on me. But you probably want to hear some celebrity names. I have a lot of respect for Marcus Samuelsson. His book “Yes Chef” made me cry twice.

Food you like the most to eat? I’m on a lifelong quest for the perfect burger. They’re so relaxing to me that I never put them on any of my menus.

Food you dislike the most? Ever been to McDonalds?

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? I don’t know, can you eat a lion?

Recipe from Chef Fed: Brie Fondue with Grilled Apricots & Smoked Duck (Serves 2). 

  • Grilled Apricots
  • 1 apricot (can be frozen and may be substituted with Peaches or Red Pears)
  • 1 tsp champagne Vinegar (or any other white acidity that you may have handy)
  • 1/8 tsp chili Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Nutmeg
  • Cut the fruits in wedges, marinate in the seasoning, then dry roast them in a skillet or on the grill. Set aside.

Brie Fondue

  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 lbs. Brie
  • 3 oz. Mascarpone
  • Black Pepper, coarsely ground
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 sprig of mint cut to Chiffonade
  • 1/2 Breast of smoked Duck (hey, if you have leftover chicken breast or a little bit of chorizo, feel free to substitute the duck. What you’re looking for is smokiness… Did I mention thick cut bacon?)

Bring the wine and the spices to a boil. Melt the brie and mascarpone without boiling them. Keep warm. Before serving, slice the duck breast and pour the fondue in a soup bowl. Plate the fruits. Arrange the duck in a fan shape on top. Garnish with mint chiffonade.

The End. Go Eat.