Wolfgang Puck Opens all-day Ospero

Located at the former House of Blues site on the Sunset Strip, Wolfgang Puck recently opened his new all-day restaurant Ospero at the new boutique hotel, Pendry West Hollywood. The entrance is at street level, looking out to the Comedy Store, and is within blocks of his first Spago restaurant that he opened in 1982.

It’s been over 10 years since Puck, one of L.A.’s most famous chefs, has opened a restaurant. Puck became a household name for his award-season dinner parties, one-of-a-kind restaurants around the world, popular airport eateries and a line of culinary delights available at grocery stores.

Sit outside in the afternoon and watch the people and cars go by on Sunset Boulevard. In the evening, if you seek a quieter spot, ask to sit at the back of the restaurant on the al fresco dining terrace. The twinkling lights of the residences at the Pendry and views of greater Los Angeles are beautiful.

At Ospero there is a long dark blue bar and an open pizza kitchen. The low, soft leather teal-colored chairs resting on the Saltillo tile floor create an Italian trattoria feel.

Step into the lobby of the Pendry Hotel in West Hollywood and push the elevator to the 3rd floor to dine at Ospero.

We sat at a table for two at one of the coveted green velvet banquette tables and opened the dinner menu on our smartphones. Ospero features some neighborhood-friendly favorites that Puck made so popular during his days at Spago. There are iconic and innovative salads, pastas and wood-burning pizzas. Ospero also offers vegan dishes, proteins, a really good burger, breakfast favorites, grab-and-go items and a full bar.

We started with Puck’s chopped Chino Farm vegetable salad that our server had the kitchen split into two bowls. It was a generous portion of chopped lettuce with a variety of crunchy cube-shaped vegetables dressed lightly with a balsamic vinaigrette and dusting of parmesan cheese shavings. The salad was very fresh, healthy-tasting and offered layers of pleasing flavors.

Other popular salads and share dishes include a grilled tuna niçoise salad with a soft-boiled egg and meatballs al forno, bathed in a tomato, garlic and basil sauce with whipped ricotta.

Puck’s signature smoked salmon pizza with dill cream and salmon pearls is on Ospero’s menu, along with five others, including a wild mushroom pizza that we ordered and enjoyed. It arrived with Puck’s famous crust, thick and perfectly browned by the wood fire. A generous sprinkling of mushrooms topped a basil pesto spread, and chopped roasted garlic, caramelized onions and melted cheese medallions finished off the pizza.

Other pizzas include a house made lamb sausage with Calabrian chiles, mushrooms and onions; a spicy chicken with melted leeks; and a squash blossom and goat cheese pizza.

The Pendry displays one-of-a-kind art

There are four different pastas, including one named My Grandmother’s Cheese Ravioli, and fresh pappardelle with braised oxtail ragout and fava beans topped with pecorino cheese.

Those seeking grilled fish have a choice between Atlantic salmon served with a fresh arugula and fennel salad on top, or a tender wood oven cooked branzino served with a delicious gremolata and Tuscan kale.

The table next to us ordered the prime beef burger topped with melted white cheddar cheese, a slice of grilled red onion and garlic aioli spread on the bun which comes with fries.

Other proteins include a half Jidori chicken served with Tuscan potatoes and broccolini, and a grilled prime skirt steak served with rosemary and garlic fries.

Stay for dessert and order the creamy Basque cheesecake topped with a farmers market strawberry sauce and the pie of the day. Both are ethereal, rich and is sliced large enough for two to share.

Executive chef Mark Andelbrandt oversees the kitchen with Puck and has enjoyed an extensive culinary resume with the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. Besides being the executive chef at Spago at the Bellagio Resort & Casino, he works alongside Puck to create one-of-a-kind globally influenced fare.

Now he is managing the kitchens at both Ospero and the more exclusive Merois, which offers stellar views from the Pendry’s penthouse level, creating a fine dining menu using French techniques with an Asian spin.

The night I dined at Ospero, Merois was just opening to hotel guests and private club members. I’ll have to save that experience for another night. Puck’s son, Byron Lazaroff-Puck, oversees both of these restaurants.

Come in for breakfast at Ospero starting at 7 a.m. Lunch service begins at 11:30 a.m. The grab-and-go and pizza menus are available between lunch and dinner. Dinner is served nightly starting at 5 p.m. $$ 8430 Sunset Blvd., (323)918-3420.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press – https://beverlypress.com/2021/05/wolfgang-puck-opens-all-day-ospero/

CHEF BEN’S CRANBERRY MIM(OHZA) SAUCE

The team at the popular canned cocktail brand, Ohza, got creative during the holidays while introducing their Ohza Cranberry Mimosa. They partnered with celebrity chef Ben Robinson on Bravo’s hit series, Below Deck.

Together they created an easy, one pot recipe for #saferathome chefs. The team shared his live cooking demonstration and Ohza Cranberry Mimosa recipe on their Ohza Instagram @ohzamimosas and @benstogram. It’s perfect timing to make a cranberry sauce to serve during Christmas and NYE meals.

The Ohza team sent me a box filled with their Ohza canned Cranberry Mimosas, two oranges, a fresh ginger root, and a package of Ocean Spray Craisins. Chef Ben also autographed one of his popular aprons to include in the box.

Throughout the very entertaining cooking demonstration, we learned more about the chef who is accomplished both on land and at sea. When on land, he worked under Italian master chefs in Florence and gained an apprenticeship at three-Michelin Star restaurant The Fat Duck, based in the United Kingdom. He said working at the #1 restaurant in the world ‘opened his eyes to modern cuisine, plating, and structure.’

Courtesy of Ben Robinson

Ben sailed the seas as head chef on yachts for over ten years, including the largest sailing yacht in the world. 

Born in Oxford, England he attended boarding school when his parents moved to the U.S.  He currently resides in south Florida. One of his fans said he is losing his British accent, and Chef Ben laughed and said he attributes that to living in America and his American girlfriend Kiara.

The partnership with Chef Ben and Ohza’s Cranberry Mimosa flavor makes sense. Both share similar backgrounds and origin stories. Ohza was dreamt up on a small boat off of Cape Cod, the same place where Chef Ben grew up and cultivated his passion for cooking. Both are self-proclaimed experts in the cranberry flavored profile. 

Photo by Jill Weinlein

The receipe calls for the following ingredients for CHEF BEN’S CRANBERRY MIMOSA SAUCE:

10 oz Ocean Spray dried cranberries “Craisin”

2 cups of Ohza Cranberry Mimosa

1/2 to 1 cup of sugar (start with 1/2 a cup and add depending on how sweet you want your sauce to be) 

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger

1 tbsp fresh orange zest

1 tsp cinnamon or cinnamon stick

1 good pinch of salt

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and start with low heat. Mash and stir infrequently. After 10 minutes sauce should have little bubbles all around the sauce and be wet in consistency. Taste to see if you should add more sugar or more Ohza Cranberry Mimosa to the pot. It’s not boozy when boiled down, however if you add a splash or two after the pot is off the heat, it will provide a zing for adults. When you feel it’s perfect, pour into a stainless steel bowl, cover with Saran Wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours prior to serving.

Make a batch and seal them in jars to give as gifts to your friends, family and neighbors.

New Chef at Harlowe in West Hollywood

When Harlowe opened in 2014 as a vintage-inspired cocktail bar, it soon became one of the most sophisticated neighborhood hot spots in West Hollywood. The beautifully decorated interior captures the feel of an invigorating social club from Hollywood’s Golden Era.

The kitchen had been hibernating due to COVID-19, but it was reignited in July when lauded culinary star T. Nicholas Peter, formerly at the Little Door for 25 years, was invited to create a new Harlowe menu.

Dimitri Komarov from 1933 Group, which owns Harlowe, said after the Little Door closed, Peter was pursuing new opportunities.

“We have been huge fans of the Little Door and chef Peter’s food since the beginning and truly can’t think of a better chef who has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ we’ve been envisioning for Harlowe’s return as a serious player in West Hollywood’s dining scene,” Komarov said.

Peter said he also had his eye on what the 1933 Group has been building over the years.

“I’ve been received with open arms to collaborate with people that are genuine, and they’ve invited me to do what I do best,” Peter said. “My food is who I am, and I have been wanting to find a way to keep doing that.”

As with his menu at the Little Door, Peter transports people to another place in time at Harlowe.

They creatively designed an al fresco dining area on the newly refurbished semi-covered patio, plus added a new outdoor seating area that expands into an easement facing Santa Monica Boulevard. There is an eye-catching black and white mural painted on one wall, a vine-lined trellis and festive bistro lights hanging above to illuminate the area in the evening.

The Harlowe team wears masks, and all guests must be masked on arrival. Tables are more than 6 feet away and there are hand-sanitizing stations.

“We’ve seen a very successful uptick in patio reservations. Lots of couples on a much-needed date night, and we’re so glad to be welcoming back locals and regulars in the neighborhood who used to hang out with our team weekly,” Komarov said.

Peter creates an appealing full-service French-Mediterranean dinner menu with so many tempting dishes. They are also providing take-out. Guests can place an order online and pick it up at a table near the valet stand in front of the restaurant.

Harlowe creates an environment of a French countryside bistro. To start, share a Mediterranean plate of romesco, hummus and tzatziki dips with olives, ribbons of red onion, sliced cucumber and grilled chickpea flatbread.

A French-Moroccan marinated octopus salad with al dente green beans, sliced tender fingerling potatoes and whole-roasted sweet cherry tomatoes combines a perfect balance of salty and sweet with the essence of the sea flavors. For an entrée, try the garlic, oregano and lemon roasted chicken breast paired with crispy polenta diamonds and green beans.

Baked almond-crusted whitefish was perfectly cooked and covered with finely chopped almonds. It was tender, flaky and enhanced with a coarse mustard tarragon sauce and smashed fingerling potatoes.

Other entrées include the Harlowe burger with Kennebec home fries. The burger is topped with caramelized onions, roasted porcini mushrooms and melted brie cheese. Peter and his team also grill a marinated skirt steak and make a Moroccan lamb stew and fresh pappardelle pasta.

For the piece de la resistance, we shared a strawberry rhubarb lattice tart with creme anglaise for dessert. Beautiful micro-flowers on top made this dessert visually appealing. The menu also offers a gingered peaches coconut cheesecake.

Enjoy a drink from Harlowe’s robust selection of classic and original, old-meets-new cocktails, and stay for Peter’s exquisite Mediterranean fare. For those living close by, delivery service is new for Harlowe and it’s been going well with a few platforms up and running. Make a reservation for dining at Harlowe starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday or order online at harlowebar.com for a scheduled pickup or delivery. $$ 7321 Santa Monica Blvd., (323)876-5839.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press .

Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone now at The Grove

The first time I met Executive chef Curtis Stone, was on a Princess Cruise at his SHARE Restaurant onboard the Emerald Princess ( JUSTLUXE review, Nov. 2018, Luxe Beat Magazine review, and NBY News ). 

I reviewed his restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills in 2016, for the Beverly Press, before he earned well-deserved Michelin star. I also excitedly wrote about Gwen, a collaboration with his brother, Luke.

So when I learned that real estate developer Rick Caruso announced a collaboration with the tall and handsome Aussie chef at The Grove in LA, I looked forward to it’s arrival on September 14. Little did I know that Stone’s Picnic Society by Gwen was having a kick-off event on the rooftop Level 8 of The Grove, for a Drive-In movie experience, and I was invited.

Then to make the moment even better, this affable celebrity chef and restaurateur greeted me and personally handed me a picnic basket through my car window with his mask on.

We chatted for a few minutes about how crazy it is right now in the world with the pandemic, and how much fun it was to dine at SHARE on the Princess Cruise ship.

While my husband and I sat in our car to watch Season 2 of FIELD TRIP with CURTIS STONE, we nibbled on cheese, meat, bread, chips, pickles, popcorn, spreads, waters, and sweets, as we followed two episodes of Stone’s global culinary journey.

Curtis and friends travelled to Spain, Italy and Australia, foraging mushrooms, herding cattle and diving for pearls to discover delicacies on land and in the sea. Originally, the show was about how Stone gains inspiration for his menu at Maude. Now due to COVID-19, Maude and Gwen are open as a marketplace, and not as sit down dining experiences, so the Picnic Society’s four-month exclusive residency at The Grove, is exciting for both Stone and Caruso.

“I’m thrilled to welcome one of the finest chefs in the country, Curtis Stone, and his exceptional team to The Grove” remarked Rick Caruso, Founder and CEO of Caruso. “With several of his concepts in Los Angeles garnering Michelin stars, I’m truly inspired by his creativity and ingenuity in the kitchen as well as the innovative concept he plans to introduce through Picnic Society.” 

The Picnic Society takes over the former Dominique Ansel two-story space offering a full-service eatery with al fresco dining on the ground floor patio and upstairs on a bohemian and elegantly campy terrace. Plus there is a gourmet picnic market for fans to pick up food and beverages to take for a picnic on the lawn.

“The world has changed in recent months, and so has the way that we enjoy food and come together. I began thinking back to the stories of early 19th century gatherings of ‘picnic societies’ in Europe,” said Stone. “With good food and the right company, you can really make anywhere in the world your restaurant, and I look forward to elevating this experience for the Los Angeles community.” 

Photo courtesy of Bobby Hammelman and GWEN Restaurant

The menu is influenced by Stone’s critically acclaimed, world-class butcher shop Gwen in Hollywood, with highlights including salad Nicoise, lobster roll, juicy burger, and steak frites and mustard. Pick up includes a curated selection of spreads, cheeses, charcuterie, vegetables, and delicacies. The al fresco-ready menu offers pre-made baskets, miniature tables, blankets, and cutlery for a social distance outdoor picnic experience. Cocktails, beer and wine are available.

THE GROVE Photo courtesy of Bobby Hammelman

189 The Grove Drive, visit thegrovela.com. This article was featured in the Beverly Press on September 10, 2020.

Wolfgang Puck’s SPAGO Beverly Hills Opens

When award winning celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck opened Spago Beverly Hills, it not only became a local favorite fine dining restaurant, but also for visitors and tourists.

When the restaurant closed due to city and state Covid-19 mandates in mid-March, Puck and his team creatively started a takeout and delivery service.

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Since the health of the staff and customers is the top most priority at Spago Beverly Hills, they trained the staff to follow strict health guidelines. Staff prepared for the day when their guests were allowed to return to dine-in.  Recently with city and staff gave approval Spago Beverly Hills opened its dining room and expanded outdoor patio with the following protocols implemented:

Guests must make a reservation for lunch or dinner before arrival. To make the Spago experience during this transitional time safe and healthy for all, the staff has daily wellness and temperature checks, plus weekly COVID testing.

When a diner arrives at Spago Beverly Hills, they will receive an aromatic spritz from Spago’s housemade Manhattan hand sanitizer upon arrival. They also will be handed a Spago ‘Stash Your Mask’ bag, so they have a clean place to store their mask when sipping a cocktail and enjoying a meal.

Next, they will be asked a few simple health questions and have a quick infrared temperature check reading before they sit at their reserved table. Coat and Bag Check has been temporarily suspended.

To promote a rigorous sparkling clean sanitation regime, staff are required to wear face masks, gloves and face shields. Spago Beverly Hills asks all guests to wear face before being seated at their table, and when they use the restroom or leave the restaurant.

Diners will find improved service steps that include paper sleeves to protect flatware and napkins, tableside wine pours, virtual menus viewed via smartphone, and contactless payment coming soon.

The restaurant offers additional handwashing and sanitation stations, and distancing floor markings to promote servers and guests to maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet.

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Health guidelines require Spago Beverly Hills to temporarily discontinue outside wine, food, décor or other items to be brought into the restaurant.

The current hours for dine-in include lunch on Friday and Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Dinner service is offered from 5:30 to 9 p.m., on Wednesday through Sunday. Take-out and delivery is also still available from Wednesday through Sunday.

This review was also featured in JustLuxe.

Lavish Brunch at The Grove Los Angeles

Recently I attended a lavish brunch at The Grove in Los Angeles featuring a multitude of dishes prepared by James Beard award winning Pastry Chef Dominique Ansel. A long communal table was elegantly set up near the dancing water fountain near Dominique Ansel Bakery and restaurant 189 by Dominique Ansel.

This talented chef has other bakeries in New York and London, however The Grove LA is his first restaurant.

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Even though Chef Ansel makes an exquisite flakey and buttery croissant, he is known for his Cronut? It isn’t a fried croissant, it’s made with dough similar to make a croissant that is proofed, fried in grapeseed oil at a specific temperature, rolled in sugar, filled with cream and topped with glaze. The entire process takes three days to complete. This special treat is only available at Dominique Ansel Bakery locations in New York, London, and Los Angeles, with the flavor changing every month at each bakery, never repeating.

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Partner Lillet delivered morning bubbly Lillet spritzers made with aromatized French wine. Lavazza espresso by Luigi Lavazza, an Italian manufacturer of coffee products were enjoyed with an array of Chef Ansel’s dishes.

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On the tables were loaves of brioche infused with orange blossom and sprinkling of white pearl sugar, served with beurre de barrette, raspberry fruit compote and fresh honeycomb bricks. Platters of colorful Harry’s Berries strawberries, Pudwil Farms blueberries, raspberries and blackberries were on full display.

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Each place setting had a large classic flakey croissant. There were plates of sliced banana bread enhanced with dark chocolate chips.

Large clay pots were filled with crushed ice cubes filled with baby turnips, carrots, radishes, Coraline endive, peas, and beans. It was served with a beurre blanc sauce.

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Chef Ansel makes the best scrambled eggs!

Our favorite dish was Chef Anselilky soft scrambled eggs with roasted shallots, chives and creme fraiche. Large bowls of shiny marble size potatoes dazzled with espelette peppers, chives, and roasted shallots. 

We were wow’d when thick-cut bacon glazed with smoked honey and black pepper hanging on a two level rack by miniature clothes pins.

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When the tower of butter-roasted lobster tails arrived we all agreed this was by far the most spectacular al fresco brunch served in one of the most popular destinations in Los Angeles.

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Before leaving, we all received a bright yellow pastry box with a Dominique Ansel blueberry and lemon grenache Cronut to enjoy later in the day.

You too can enjoy brunch on Saturdays and SundaysWeekend Table at 189 by Dominique Ansel is an interactive communal feast of seasonal dishes served family-style. There are no menus. Instead, each table features cutting boards at the center, and as an array of savory and sweet dishes come out of the kitchen, guests can add items onto their boards for their meals. Each table receives a brunch card that’s stamped with each item ordered, as dishes are passed throughout the room by our servers.

Meeting Curtis Stone at SHARE

Australian Chef Curtis Stone’s is one of the most charismatic chefs I’ve ever met. His mega-watt smile, culinary talents and charm has landed him appearances on a number of top rated programs including Take Home Chef (TLC), Top Chef Masters (Bravo), and Food Network’s All-Star Academy.

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Chef Stone began his cooking career in his homeland of Australia and later honed his skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in London under renowned chef Marco Pierre White. Southern California foodies embraced Stone with open arms when he opened his first solo restaurant, Maude in Beverly Hills in February 2014. The restaurant is named after his beloved paternal grandmother and first culinary mentor. Stone’s unique approach at Maude is to give a fine dining culinary experience by serving an array of multi-course dishes, showcasing the finest ingredients available each month of the year.

With its success, Stone opened his second restaurant, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant in Hollywood in July 2016. He did all this while also becoming a New York Times bestselling author with six cookbooks – his most recent titled – Good Food, Good Life.

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I learned that one night while dining at Maude, Gordon Ho the Chief Marketing Director and Head of Sales for Princess Cruises had an idea. Since Stone is in Southern California and Princess Cruises’ headquarters is in Southern California (Santa Clarita), Ho approached Stone to see if he would collaborate with Princess Cruises and have a similar restaurant concept at sea onboard the Princess fleet.

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Stone embraced the idea and soon he was working in the kitchen with the Princess Cruises culinary team to create and open SHARE by Curtis Stone. It’s his third restaurant and first at sea, giving cruise passengers an exclusive opportunity to enjoy an exclusive and exquisite dining experience.

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While the ship was in the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro for the day, before taking a 39 day voyage to the South Pacific (Hawaii, Tahiti and Fiji), I had the opportunity to meet Executive Chef Curtis Stone and many members of Princess Cruises’ culinary and marketing team. It was a special celebration lunch to debut his new menu onboard the Emerald Princess. SHARE by Curtis Stone is also a fine dining experience on the Ruby Princess and the Sun Princess.

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Sitting at a table for four, I admired the elegant dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows allowing passengers oceanview dining. Inside SHARE is a private dining room with Stone’s family pictures, memorabilia and cookbooks strategically placed in bookshelves. A highlight in this room is a copy of Stone’s first recipe of Orange Cake written in crayon.

While enjoying the six-course menu, we all agreed Chef Stone has made an art out of connecting strangers and loved ones by presenting beautiful executed dishes, while using the finest ingredients, premium meats, and seafood. With each course Chef Stone came out to the dining room to tell us a little story about each dish.

Here’s a preview of the menu at SHARE by Curtis Stone on the Emerald Princess:

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For a Starter we enjoyed a artistic plate with a swirl of Nduja (spicy, spreadable pork salumi from Italy) with a couple of slices of Duck Speck, green olives and two types of freshly baked breads. First I spread the Nduja on the bread and topped it with the savor thinly sliced duck.

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Next we received the salad course of Kanpachi Crudo with sliced mango, a dollop of avocado puree and shredded almonds on top for a little texture to balance the smooth and fresh fish and fruit.

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For the pasta dishes made fresh daily, Chef Stone and his team made a heavenly Ricotta Cavatelli with Brussels sprouts leaves, beets and sunchokes.

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The fourth course was soup of the day – a rich lobster bisque with pieces of lobster and minced shallots.

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The main course was tender Duroc Pork served with broccoli puree and carrots.

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We finished with a decadent Toffee Cheesecake decorated with with dried apple chips to give it a nod to autumn, and grapes soaked in a red wine reduction.

Cruise passengers can experience this exact experience for a supplemental $29 per person fee when cruising onboard the Emerald Princess. Wine and cocktails are extra. To book a cruise onboard Princess Cruises, call your cruise specialist or click on this link  Princess Cruises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Border Grill’s Day of the Dead menu

My favorite Two Hot Tamales executive chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger are honoring culinarians who have passed away with a special culinary menu until Nov. 6, 2018.

Staying true to the restaurant’s Mexican heritage Border Grill’s Day of the Dead dishes include ceviche negro made with shrimp, scallops, squid ink, jicama, chipotle and citrus marinade; blood sausage tacos with pineapple-jicama salsa and queso fresco; and pan de muerto and café de olla with crème fraîche and hibiscus sauce.

The lively bar is making four special cocktail tributes to those who recently departed and they will have an ofrenda (Day of the Dead altar).

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  • The cocktail tributes include Anthony Bourdain with the El Mexicano, made with Aperol, El Silencio Mezcal, agave and soda.
  • Robin Leach with the El Royale, made with Chambord liqueur, Champagne and pomegranate seeds.
  •  Jonathan Gold with the MariGOLD margarita, made with Viva XXXII reposado tequila, Araceli marigold liqueur, Combier, margarita mix, Tajín and marigold garnish.
  • Joël Robuchon with the Robuchon 57, made with Tres Generaciones Silver, lime juice and Champagne.  445 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (213)486-5171.

Alessandro Del Piero Scores a winning goal at No. 10 Restaurant

Last Saturday was the second time I’ve dined at No. 10 Restaurant in Beverly Grove. The first time was right before it opened. While contractors were standing on ladders adjusting lights, the chefs Nick Parker and Italian-born Fabio Ugoletti prepared a variety of seasonal Italian delights.

The name of the restaurant No. 10, as in, the number ten, is named after former Juventus soccer star Alessandro Del Piero. He is involved with this sexy, Spacecraft-designed club-like dining venue. It’s lively in the evening, with a weekend DJ spinning music out on the open-air dining patio and lounge. On Wednesday, they offer live jazz to enhance one’s dining experience. IMG_2406

Walking inside the front lounge area we admired the huge copper dome lights and wide marble bar with a peek-through to the kitchen. The dimly-lit dining room has a few deep circular booths, and tables with rich and comfortable leather chairs. 

Arriving at 7 p.m., we noticed there were a few tables available inside, however by 8:30 p.m. the restaurant was running at full capacity. This restaurant tends to attract a later dining crowd. General Manager Maurizio La Rose runs the restaurant smoothly as he chats with guests, pours flutes of Prosecco, and helps whenever needed. 

Sitting at an outdoor table facing W. Third Street, we looked over the cocktail and wine menu. Nearby, the flickering fireplace lounge area offers two comfy gray couches decorated with pumpkin colored pillows. It’s an ideal spot for a cocktail and charcuterie board. 

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Our personable server Eddie recommended we start with the Polpo, a charred thick and long Mediterranean octopus tentacle cut into three large pieces. It rested on top of perfectly cooked broccoli, white grapefruit sections, a swirl of yogurt, and delightful crispy chickpeas giving this dish a touch of crunchiness. We enjoyed this with a glass Forchir Pinot Grigio and Clementine Cotes de Provence Rose’.

Fabio Ugoletti is from the Chianti region of Tuscany and is a pioneer in the development of “new wave” Italian dishes. Working as an Executive Chef at a prestigious 1-star Michelin restaurant is one of his many accolades. As a gastronomic consultant, he helps  in the success of organized culinary events all over the world.

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Looking at the pizza section, Eddie recommended Chef Fabio along with Chef Parker’s Tartufata white sauce pie. It arrived piping hot with melted spheres of burrata, shavings of black truffles and decorative squash blossoms. The thin crust had crispy edges that were cut into 8 pieces. Chef Parker likes to create seasonal dishes that feature hand-picked, organically-grown vegetables and herbs. This pizza is the quintessential autumn flavored pie.

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Studying the pasta section, Eddie told us his top three favorites – the Paccheri with Maine lobster; Ravioli with butternut squash; and Pappardelle with lamb ragu and shavings of white truffles. We decided on the Paccheri that was served in a bowl with large and smooth pasta tubes. They were mixed with chunks of lobster, tomatoes and onions, sautéed in olive oil and garlic, before olives and a sprinkle of oregano and basil topped this dish. It was dazzled with a splash of crustacean broth offering the essence of the sea.

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Other popular entrees include Diver scallops in a caviar sauce; roasted duck breast and thigh with polenta; grilled Australian lamb chop served with eggplant caponata; and Mediterranean sea bass. We decided to order the lightest dish – the Spigola al Cartoccio Mediterranean Sea Bass that arrived in a vacuum-sealed steamed bag with sliced zucchini, potatoes, fennel, olives and herbs. Eddie cut open the bag to allow the delicate and perfectly cooked fish to cool down. The sous vide vegetables provide a healthy side dish to this protein.

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We finished with two of the seven desserts, including a Mele in Gabbia that arrived on a plate with layers of sliced apples stacked with golden raisins and a pleasing scoop of cinnamon gelato on top. Chocolate lovers will enjoy the rich N10 Sphere made with three different types of chocolate and meringue into a semifreddo. When delivered to us, it looked like a chocolate and gold snowball. While Eddie held a small white pouring cup, he tipped it slowly so the luscious chocolate sauce could stream down on top of this classic semi-frozen treat that has the texture of frozen mousse.

No. 10 offers a contemporary Italian seasonal menu prepared by American and Italian chefs blending their gastronomic cultures into a creative new wave of Italian delights. 

$$-$$$ Open at 6 p.m. nightly. On Saturday the restaurant opens at 5:30 p.m. Come in on Sunday at 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. 8436 W 3rd St. (310)924-2011.

This review was published in the Beverly Press

Celebrating Julia Child at Border Grill

In honor of chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger being the first women to receive the Julia Award from the distinguished Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, their downtown Los Angeles restaurant Border Grill is offering a menu inspired by the famed cooking icon until Nov. 1. I recently tried the prix-fixe menu for lunch with a friend, and the dishes, infused with a Latin twist, are something you won’t want to miss.

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To start the meal, the Julia Child special menu offers a bicicleta cocktail made with crisp white wine, Campari and agua de jamaica. Proceeds from the sale of this drink help Milliken’s charity Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry. It goes well with the triangular corn tortilla chips lightly dusted with salt and served with three different salsas.

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The first appetizer from the prix-fixe menu, the salade niçoise, arrived featuring a handful of greens mixed with beautifully sliced seared tuna. Crispy green beans and Peruvian purple potatoes topped off this colorful salad, which also had chopped tomatoes, pickled onions, briny olives and halved eggs. Sprinkles of quinoa added a delightful crunch.

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For the entrée, we ordered the tender duck leg confit sope, made with thick corn masa. Shaped in a shallow bowl, it’s fried and topped with duck confit, nutritious green purslane leaves and a sprinkling of crumbled queso fresco. A colorful succotash of sautéed summer squash, red peppers and corn complemented this succulent duck dish.

At the Julia Child prix-fixe dinner, Border Grill serves a duck duo including a seared duck breast with a flavorful jus and the duck confit sope.

The luncheon dessert is a flaming crêpes à la Julia. It’s similar to Child’s famous crêpes Suzette, yet with buttered citrus dulce de leche and whipped vanilla crema to offer a bit of Latin essence. Served very warm, it was very satisfying.

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While enjoying our food, Milliken strolled over to our table to chat with us. She shared when Child visited her and Feniger’s first restaurant, City Café on Melrose, in the early 1980s and then filmed a show at Milliken’s house.

“She was an extremely hard worker, yet humble and down to earth,” Milliken said.

The  same qualities can certainly be found in Feniger and Milliken as well.

In the 1990s, the pair hosted Child at City Restaurant on La Brea for a book signing of her “Cooking with Master Chefs,” which featured the “too hot tamale” chefs.

The prix-fixe, Child-inspired lunch at Border Grill is $28 and the dinner is $38. Guests may add a cocktail for $10 or enjoy a three-course wine tasting experience for an additional $15. Each dish on the menu can also be ordered à la carte. $$ 445 S. Figueroa St., (213)486-5171.

This review was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on Sept. 13, 2018 https://beverlypress.com/2018/09/celebrating-julia-child-at-border-grill/

Julia Child Award Winning Chef Mary Sue Milliken

Recently chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger earned the distinguished 2018 Julia Child award from the Julia Child Foundation. Not only are they the first women to win this prestigious award, but also the first team. Throughout their 35-year partnership, Milliken and Feniger have been restaurant industry leaders and innovators, as well as television personalities, celebrity chefs and cookbook authors. Together their restaurants include Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles, LAX, The Huntington Library and Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Recently they opened a new grab-and-go fast-casual restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. They also have gourmet food trucks and a catering division.img_0284

This is the fourth year that the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts has acknowledged chefs who have made a difference in American cuisine. Previous award winners include Rick Bayless, Danny Meyer and Jacques Pepin.

The purpose of the Julia Child Award is to publicly recognize chefs that follow Julia’s footsteps. The award shines a spotlight on chefs who display an impact for food-related non-profit causes that make a difference in the world.

Sitting down with chef Mary Sue Milliken at her Los Angeles Border Grill restaurant, I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions, while enjoying her three-course, prix-fixe Julia Child inspired with a Latin twist lunch. This special lunch and dinner menu is available until Nov. 1, 2018. Guests who order the Bicicleta Cocktail made with crisp white wine, Campari, and Jamaica help Mary Sue’s Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry charity. img_0290

While enjoying a delicious Salade Niçoise made with seared tuna, green beans, Peruvian purple potatoes, olives, tomato, egg and anchovies, I asked Mary Sue a few questions. Here’s what I learned:

JW: Did you know as a young girl that you would become a chef?

MSM: Yes. My mother was a great cook. When I was in high school I would get up early and ride my bike to a local donut shop. I would fill and frost donuts before school started. Afterward, I would leave school and then ride my bike to a pizza place and work there. When I was 16, I decided I wanted to be a chef. I met a professional chef who was a friend of my older sister. He inspired me to move to Chicago and attend Washburne Culinary School. Soon after, I met Susan and we have been together since.

JW: Congratulations on your Julia Child award. What do you attribute to your long-standing partnership with Susan Feniger?

MSM: We are both born collaborators, which breeds a good work environment. We get a lot of pleasure working with our team. When we opened our first restaurant City Cafe in the early 80s, Julia Child came into our restaurant. We were applying French techniques to dishes from around the world.

JW: How often did you see Julia Child?

MSM: Numerous times. One of my fondest memories is when Julia came to my house in the 1990s for a three-day filming. She was an extremely hard worker.  Every detail was perfect, yet she made sure she took care of herself too. She would go outside during filming breaks and throw a ball for my dog to retrieve. She was very humble and down to earth.

JW: Any other qualities that you admired about Julia?

MSM: Even though I was a classically trained chef, no one at the time was preparing French food better than Julia Child. She made French cuisine friendly. Julia was curious about everything and everyone around her. When Susan and I would do a book signing that Julia was attending to sign her own cookbooks, I noticed that Julia would be kind to each fan and ask them a question about themselves. She cared about each person she met. I try to apply that same principle when I meet a person.

JW: What is your favorite Julia Child recipe?

MSM: To this day, I always make Julia’s biscuit recipe for my husband’s birthday strawberry shortcake.

JW: How have things changed in the restaurant industry over the years?

MSM: I’m a firm believer in picking up a phone or talking face to face with a person, instead of email. When we have our daily staff “family” meals, it’s changed. Years ago we would all sit around and break bread, chatting with each other. Now I walk into a staff meal and half of our staff are on their phones reading emails and texting.

After our chat, Mary Sue needed to go back into the kitchen. My two other dishes arrived, a duck duo that included a duck leg confit sope and a seared duck breast with summer succotash along with flaming crepes Julia, which is similar to crepes Suzette with buttered citrus dulce de leche and whipped vanilla crema.img_0293

The 4th annual Food History Gala will be at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on Thursday, November 1, 2018. It kicks off Food History Weekend with Chef Bobby Flay as the MC. Chefs Kajsa Alger and Traci Des Jardins will be there, as well as Barbara Fairchild, food and travel writer and former editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit magazine to honor Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.

Also featured in Just Luxe on Sept. 4, 2018

New Team of Chefs & a New Way To Dine at The Fields LA

Not too long ago, dining options near Exposition Park, USC and the California Science Center were a few fast food chains and mom and pop places. Then with the announcement of the 22,000 seat Los Angeles Football Club built by Gensler at L.A.’s Exposition Park, an exciting new food hall and full service restaurant was designed. Attached to the anchoring Figueroa corridor, The Fields LA offers dining opportunities to stadium-goers, locals, tourists, families, museum attendees, USC students and faculty. 

Home to the LA Galaxy and others, the Banc of California Stadium’s dining hall is open daily for lunch, a snack and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

While attending a preview earlier this month, I met with Victoria Frazier, Vice President of Event Sales for a tour of The Fields LA. Standing by the large bar area, she told me the exciting cocktail program is designed by Nick Meyer. There is also a beer garden outside of the stadium offering beer, wine, mixed drinks and boozy shakes. 

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Walking over to the elevated first floor food court, I discovered some of my favorite Los Angeles chefs in front of their counters at the spacious dining area. The first chef I recognized was Timothy Hollingsworth (Otium) at C.J. Boyd’s Fried Chicken. He offers sandwiches with names that include Malibu, East LA, K-Town, Buffalo and Otium. For children he offers Lil Biddie chicken strips, waffle fries and his signature banana pudding with a Nilla wafer.

Next door at Akko Port, the affable Executive chef Roy Ner offered a warm smile while handing me one of his Laffah rolls. He is a star chef in Sydney, Australia with two successful Middle eastern restaurants including ARIA. Taking a bit of his chicken laffah roll, I enjoyed the playfulness of the wrap filled with charcoal eggplant, golden beets, slaw and cultivated yogurt. Other items on his Middle eastern menu include falafel wraps, a smoked hummus bowl with a protein, old school pickles, organic grain and raw root vegetable salads. Staying near downtown Los Angeles, Chef Roy will be making the 14 hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles every 10 weeks to introduce new seasonal delights to his menu. 

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Next to these two esteem chefs were two other favorites Jason Fullilove (Barbara Jean) and Shirley Chung (Ms. Chi). Fullilove prepares exciting American soul food that includes Jambalaya, slow cooked BBQ ribs, oyster Po Boy, crawfish mac n’ cheese, and a soul food bowl filled with braised greens, black-eyed peas, a sweet potato latke and bacon on steamed rice.

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Next door Shirley Chung excitedly told me that she will be opening her first restaurant in Culver City before the end of September. Known for her delicious dumplings, she fills them with chicken, shrimp, and pork. She also makes beef with sweet carrot potstickers, and a vegan potsticker filled with spicy tofu. Her noodles include vegetable chow mein, and a chilled glass noodle bowl. Chung offers three different rice plates and specialty tea beverages that include a Milk Tea, Jasmine green tea with fresh chopped peaches, and a signature cheese foam oolong tea.

Taking an elevator with Frazier to the second floor, she gave me a tour of the sit down restaurant and bar called Free Play. It’s Timothy Hollingsworth’s stand alone with a huge bar scheduled to open by October 2018.

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Above this restaurant on the third floor is a large and open rooftop for events. At sunset, the views of USC, Exposition Park, and Downtown were spectacular.

Taking me back down to the ground floor, I enjoyed small plates of shrimp ceviche and fresh shrimp and octopus tostaditas, chips with guacamole and salsa from Coni’Seafood. Connie Cossio of Coni’Seafood imports shrimp, whole fish and other fresh products from Sinaloa and Nayarit to prepare Nayarit-style seafood. She has one brick and mortar traditional Mexican restaurant on Imperial Highway in Inglewood and another on Centinela Ave.

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I met up with Alberto and Lauren Bañuelos at Burritos La Palma. Lauren told me they have a restaurant in El Monte and Santa Ana. Their house specialty Birria burrito with shredded beef was one of the late Jonathan Gold’s favorites. As they handed me one, it looked like a toasted tortilla tube. Taking one bite, I enjoyed the beef stew flavors and understood why Gold loved this beef burrito. They also handed me one of their griddled whole milk cheese quesadillas. “We were saddened to hear about Gold passing away,” said Lauren. “When he came into our restaurant and wrote his review, it brought so many people from all over the world.” She also told me that Alberto was so honored when he received a phone call from Jonathan Gold’s family inviting him to help cater Gold’s funeral. “We made a bean and cheese burrito, Jonathan’s favorite birria de res, and Gold’s son’s favorite burrito chicharrón prensado,” Lauren said.

Nearby another Gold favorite, Al Pastor by the Aqui es Texcoco team had street tacos and mesquite street corn made with cotija cheese, shaved off the cob grilled corn and mayonnaise.

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For sweets, I met Katie Hagan-Whelchel a finalist in the PBS Cooking Under Fire show. She and pastry chef Leah Chin-Katz have Sweet and Savory inside The Fields LA. They sell salads and snacks to go, along with baked item including cupcakes, teacakes, cookies, bars, and eclairs. “Go try our soft serve outside at the beer garden. We have vanilla and salted caramel,” Katie said. Kids can enjoy this cool treat in a cup, while adults can order this soft serve as the key ingredients for the boozy milkshakes for adults.

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Next to Katie’s space was chef Chad Colby offering a casual Piccolo Antico Pizzeria Focacceria. His team was making light, yet thick focaccia crust pizzas and sandwiches reminiscent of the style in Rome, Italy. There was a margarita, pepperoni, tomato pie, white sausage with sage and three meat pie topped with bacon, sausage and salami. His sandwiches on the menu include mortadella, salami, porchetta, sweet poppa and vegetarian ricotta. 

img_93312Before leaving I asked Frazier how these wonderful chefs and owners of restaurants were selected for The Fields LA. She told me “These are the restaurants a lot of chefs dine in when they finish the night in their own kitchen.” She also told me they wanted to provide game day fans, University students, and the broader community with new dining options from a newer generation of popular local chefs. Executive chef Michael Teich will supervise the operation of The Fields LA daily.  $-$$ 3939 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles.

This review is featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News –

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