Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Justin Timberlake Good for Tequila?-Catch me This Sunday at the Patchwork Festival in Costa Mesa with Chef Marcela Valladolid of Hacienda de la Flor Tequila, Raul Yrastorza of Las Perlas, and Cecilia Rios Murrieta of La Niña del Mezcal

(Pictured L-R)Raul Yrastoza of Las Perlas; Cecilia Rios Murrieta of mezcal La Niña del Mezcal; and Chef Marcela Valladolid of tequila Hacienda de la Flor, CBS's American Baking Competition, and Food Network's Mexican Made Easy.

This Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 2PM, I will be moderating a panel on Mexican Spirits called Is Justin Timberlake Good for Tequila? The Gentrification of Agave, at the Patchwork Festival in Costa Mesa, the edible edition.

I'm honored to have dear friend, Chef Marcela Valladolid of CBS's American Baking Competition, and the Food Network's Mexican Made Easy representing her family tequila brand, Hacienda de la Flor; one of the best agave experts in the United States, bartender Raul Yrastorza of Las Perlas; and Cecilia Rios Murrieta and her Oaxacan mezcal label, La Niña del Mezcal.

Our discussion will discuss the future of agave based spirits as a rising global demand is putting pressures on the regions of tequila, mezcal, bacanora, sotol, and more. Will agave survive? Learn more about agave based spirits while sipping on the excellent tequila and mezcal from Valladolid and Murrieta, respectively.

Patchwork Show-Modern Handmade Festival
Soco Collention
3303 Hyland Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Panel Discussion moderated by me!
Is Justin Timberlake good for tequila? The Gentrification of Agave
Sunday, 10/6
2PM-3PM @ Chuck Jones Gallery Stage
Patchwork Show in Costa Mesa

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ilan Hall's Knife Fight Brings a Rowdy, Edgy, Old-School Head Cutting Contest to the New Esquire Network, Debuts Tonight

Ilan Hall--Let's Get Ready to Crumble!!!

Chef Ilan Hall has been in the trenches--he won Season 2 of Bravo's Top Chef, and is the man behind the Gorbals's restaurant in DTLA, where his new show, Esquire's Knife Fight was shot some months ago.

The new show debuts tonight as part of the Esquire's launch, and will air Tuesdays with back to back episodes at 9p.m. and 9:30p.m EST/PST.

The battling chefs on Knife Fight have one hour in real time to plate, and wow the boozed-up, screaming crowds--and judges--to win bragging rights, and a crappy $3 knife as a trophy. The judges include celebs like Drew Barrymore, and Elijah Wood, and top L.A chefs like Michael Voltaggio, and Michael Cimarusti, as well as other local food personalities like yours truly--I will be a judge on one of the episodes on October, 8, 2013.

Chef Ilan Hall is bringing a party vibe to the stale cooking competition genre with a loose, clubby environment, where the cast, judges, and audience are well lubricated, and encouraged to get up close to the action. Hall started his career with Tom Colicchio, and has worked for Mario Batali's and Bastianich's Casa Mono, and you can catch his at such exclusive festivals in Scottsdale, Aspen, and South Beach, but tonight, he's taking a raw, stripped down approach to Knife Fight, in the bowels of his DTLA kitchen.

Hall isn't afraid of a good, clean fight--here's what he had to say about Esquire's Knife Fight.

SGLA: Who is the most dangerous chef in a knife fight, and why?

IH: I'd say it's a close tie between Octavio Beccera and James Trees. They're both powerful, polarizing chefs who are also big and scary.

SGLA:  Can you name a chef you'd like cut down to size in a cooking competition?

IH: Bobby Flay. I'll slice the freckles right off his face (jk, LOL).

SGLA:  Is there an ingredient out there that you wouldn't want to have to face in a competition?

IH: Definitely whole blowfish. I'm not precise enough with a knife and scared I'd kill everyone.

SGLA:  What was the one thing that all winning chefs brought to Knife Fight?

IH: Incredible skill and fearlessness and superb combinations of flavors.      

 Esquire's Knife Fight, Tuesday's at 9p.m and 9:30p.m. EST/PST, starting tonight, 9/24/2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2nd Annual Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival Today from 4-7 p.m at DTLA's Lot 613

Will Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen make an appearance? Chicken Dance!

Fried chicken is one of the greatest dishes ever created; it's a challenge to both the home cook as well as the professional chef. Every culture more or less follows the basic recipe with some different spices and side dishes, but in the end we all have high expectations of golden, well-seasoned skin clinging to tender, juicy meat dripping dripping all over our fingers.

The Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival is one of the best food events in L.A., and the chefs will all be in Tony Robbins mode, because on one wants to make mediocre fried chicken. Take a look at who will be plating today.        

A list of the esteemed fryers:

Susan Feniger, STREET – “Top Chef: Masters” Season 2, Champion’s Round
David LeFevre, Fishing With Dynamite + M.B. Post – 2012 James Beard Awards, Best New Restaurant Semifinalist
Daniel Mattern & Roxana Jullapat, Cooks County - #1 Best New Restaurant, Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2012
Jason Neroni, Superba Snack Bar – Los Angeles Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants of 2012
Bryant Ng, The Spice Table – 2012 FOOD & WINE Best New Chef
Chris Oh, Seoul Sausage - Winner of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” Season 3
Matt Poley, Heirloom LA - Best of LA, Los Angeles Magazine 2011
Eduardo Ruiz, Corazon y Miel – Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants
Ernesto Uchimura, Plan Check Bar - “Chef of the Year” Los Angeles Magazine 2012
Ricardo Zarate, Mo-chica, Paiche + Picca - 2011 FOOD & WINE Best New Chef

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams and Sugarbloom Bakery are providing dessert, and DJ Bryan Davidson is playing a set throughout the event.

Sponsors: Firestone Walker Brewing Co. will be pouring three craft beers throughout the event: Union Jack, Pale 31, and Solace. Uber is offering festival guests a free ride valued at up to $20 for first time users.

Charity: A portion of proceeds from the Food GPS Fried Chicken Festival will directly benefit My Friend’s Place; a Hollywood-based charity dedicated to assisting and inspiring homeless youth to build self-sufficient lives.

Ticket Information:  General Admission tickets are $55 per person in advance, and $65 per person at the door, if still available.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Festival Chileno Today in Woodland Hills--Empanadas, Completos, and Me!

I was sitting in Chilenazo the other night after a rehearsal in the same neighborhood--Canoga Park (the West Valley is a hotbed of Chilean restaurants and culture) waiting for my order to go when I saw an add for the annual Chilean Independence Day celebration.  While checking out the menu and patriotic decor, a poster advertising several bands caught my eye; I realized that I had just finished rehearsing with the same guy I saw on the flyer. Here I was thinking I wouldn't be able to make the festival--I'm playing saxophone at the celebration--excellent--paid empanada tasting!

One of the best Chilean restaurants L.A. ever had was there in Canoga Park--El Chileno, and now Chilenazo is picking up the slack.

Come out for Chilean empanadas, anticuchos, asado, pastel de choclo, humitas and a sweet glass of mote con huesillo--or pisco sours and chicha--to enjoy while you listen to the Chilean cumbia sounds of Noche de America with Daniel Avila--I'm in the horn section playing saxophone, and we go on at 6:30p.m.

September is when most Latin American countries celebrate their independence from Spain and Portugal--in the case of Brazil. The Colombians had their bash a few weeks ago, last weekend was Brazil Day L.A; now it's the Chilean community's turn.

Come out for a taste of Chile, and say hello!

Chilean Independence Day 2013
Sat., September 14th
11a.m. to 11p.m.    
6543 Corbin Ave.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Friday, September 6, 2013

Latin America Triumphs at the Cusqueña Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants on LA Magazine's Digest

Latin America's Big 3: Gaston Acurio(Lima, Peru-Astrid y Gaston); Alex Atala(São Paulo, Brasil-D.O.M.); and Enrique Olvera(Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico-Pujol)

Yes, I watched this historical event on streaming video here in L.A. from my laptop as many friends, acquaintances, and chefs whose restaurants I've dined at in my many travels throughout Latin America took their bows at the 1st annual Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants.

The top 3 were predictable, and it was no surprise that Peruvian and Mexican cuisine had a strong presence on this coveted list. Sadly, many of the restaurants featured international cuisine--also predictable when such lists are made--and, there were some rather lame entries that had many of us Latin America regulars puzzled.

Overall, this was a validation of Latin America as a world class dining destination for fine dining. Here are some thoughts on the awards on my latest for the Los Angeles Magazine Digest.

 The List
1. Astrid y Gastón, Lima, Perú
2. D.O.M., São Paulo, Brasil
3. Pujol, México City, México
4. Central, Lima, Perú
5. Mani, São Paulo, Brasil
6. Biko, México City, México
7. Malabar, Lima, Perú
8. Boragó, Santiago, Chile
9. Tegui, Buenos Aires, Argentina
10. Roberta Sudbrack, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
11. Maido, Lima, Perú
12. Pangea, Monterrey, México
13.Rafael, Lima, Perú
14. Fiesta, Lima, Perú 
15. La Mar, Lima, Perú
16. Mocotó, São Paulo, Brasil
17. La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina
18. Tomo 1, Buenos Aires, Argentina
19. Criterión Bogotá, Colombia
20. Parador La Huella, José Ignacio, Uruguay
21. Quintonil, México City, México
22. Harry Sasson, Bogotá, Colombia
23. Fasano, São Paulo, Brasil
24. Andrés Carne de Res, Chia, Colombia
25. Alto Caracas, Venezuela
26. Merotoro, México City, México
27. Oviedo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
28. Chila, Buenos Aires, Argentina
29. Sucre, Buenos Aires, Argentina
30. Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe, México
31. Aramburu, Buenos Aires, Argentina
32. Attimo, São Paulo, Brasil
33. PuraTierra Buenos Aires, Argentina
34. Casa Oaxaca Hotel, Oaxaca, México
35. Olympe, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
36. Sud 777, México City, México
37. Francis Mallmann 1884, Mendoza, Argentina
38. Remanso do Bosque, Belém, Brasil
39. El Baqueano, Buenos Aires, Argentina
40. Unik, Buenos Aires, Argentina
41. Epice, São Paulo, Brasil
42. La Bourgogne, Punta del Este, Uruguay
43. Pitiona, Oaxaca, México
44. Paraje Arévalo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
45. Casa Umare, Buenos Aires, Argentina
46. Laja Valle de Guadalupe, México
47. El Cielo Bogotá, Colombia
48. Osaka, Santiago, Chile
49. Hernán Gipponi Restaurante, Buenos Aires, Argentina
50. Elena, Buenos Aires, Argentina