Celebrity Gift Bags delivered to their door during award season

Entertainment Strategist Dubois Pelin & Associates personally assembled and delivered over 125 bags to Awards nominees during the week of the Emmys, Sept. 15-19, 2020.

For years, Nathalie Dubois, President and CEO of the firm and owner of gifting suites.com) has hand selected products for her one-of-a-kind gifting suites.

In March, when the country went into lockdown due to COVID-19, Dubois had to pause her gift suite operations, and cancel her popular Cannes gift suite in May, when the Cannes Film Festival in France cancelled its annual event.

She used this time to get creative with her concept, and instead of celebrities and nominees coming to her special gift suite, she brought bags to them to enjoy before the Emmy Awards.

Since ZOOM is so popular as a way to reach out to people, she had a ZOOM call all day on Friday 18, 2020 to discuss these products and interact with the brands represented  in the gift bags.

Dubois selected a few journalists to receive a bag to spread the word about the products.

Here are 10 of my favorite items the television stars received:


Courtesy of Miami Cocktail Company

Miami Cocktail Company makes handcrafted organic cocktails using only the highest quality 100% natural ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, additives, or preservatives. This organic, bottled craft cocktail company ‎focuses on handcrafting authentic wine and spirit-based drinks. Each delivery bag had a Tiffany blue Miami Cocktail Company box filled with Sangria Spritz, Paloma Spritz, Bellini Spritx, Margarita Spritz and a can of Mimosa Spritz.

Photo courtesy of Heavensake

Heavensake Junmai Daiginjo is an award winning Japanese Sake by French Wine-Master Régis Camus, the longtime chef de cave at Piper Heidsieck. Winner of 𝗕𝗘𝗦𝗧 𝗦𝗔𝗞𝗘 𝟮𝟬𝟭𝟵 – 𝗜𝗪𝗖 𝗦𝗙 – leads with aromatics of ripe honeydew melon, pear and a subtle floral component. Offering a sweet and inviting nose and impeccably balanced sake on the palate that is not too light or heavy. It’s also not too acidic or savory. 16% ABV.

Photo courtesy of Pearson Brothers

Pearson Brothers winery is environmentally sustainable honey wine. The winemakers only use one gallon of water per every gallon of grapeless wine made. They blend wildflower honey, Valencia oranges, and Indonesian vanilla to transform into an organic, delicious and smooth, natural white wine.


Photo courtesy of Jaci

Jaci Haircare helps each hair type look its best. Go to their website to receive a FREE BOTTLE with the Purchase of two bottles. Use Code: FREEBOTTLE. Also receive free shipping on orders of $50 – $5.95 Standard Rate.

Blumenes CBD products offered a fanny pack with 3.5 oz bottle of their CBD 1,000mg of Organic Full Spectrum Muscle and Joint Pain Relief Cream. The CBD is grown in the USA, sourced and developed in Los Angeles.

Mantra Mask are the only all natural CBD sheet masks made in the USA. Cleanse your face and apply one of the Mantra Masks for for Collagen, Anti-Aging, Dryness, After Sun care, tackle Blemishes, and reduce Wrinkles.

LUXIE provides makeup l with handmade, professional-quality brushes with soft synthetic bristles. Perfect for all skin types. Vegan and cruelty free. Free standard shipping on all U.S. orders of $20 or more. 30% off sale ends on 10/30/20.


FlyByJing spices up anyones dish with SICHUAN CHILI CRISP providing authentic Chinese flavors to strife, dumplings and more. Fly By Jing founder Jing Gao’s meticulously researched and designed a 30+ page digital guide to Chengdu. It’s a curated look at the best of eating, drinking, and exploring in China’s most leisurely city. For $5 you can receive a digital recipe booklet full of Sichuan favorites like Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles and Twice Cooked Pork.

A San Diego family created Chipz and Salza Happen for the perfect crunchy snack while watching the awards show, to take with you on a picnic at the beach and enjoy with “Salza” or guacamole.

You can find details on DPA or the DPA virtual gift suites on 



PAST ATTENDEES OF DPA GIFTING LOUNGES: Queen Latifah, Susan Sarandon, Charlize Theron, Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, Mireille Enos, Stephen Moyer, Jim Cazeviel, Angela Basset, Rachel ilson, Eva Longoria Parker, Morgan Freeman, Terrance Howard, Catherine Deneuve, Spike Lee, Vanessa Williams, Kate Walsh, Paula Abdul, Eric Roberts, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jennifer Hudson, Scarlet Johansson, Edie Falco, Vanessa Williams, Terry O’Quinn, Simon Baker, Jane Lynch, Jessica Schorz, Felicity Huffman, Adrien Brody, Colin Firth, Carey Mulligan, Viola Davis, …

*This event is not affiliated or official with the EMMY® Awards or ABC

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.







Trejo Taco Truck is Roaming Los Angeles

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

I wrote a glowing review of Danny Trejo’s newest endeavor Trejo’s Tacos, when I took my friend Taylor Carbonetti after it opened on La Brea Blvd., in April 2016. (https://dineandtravel.me/2016/04/29/terrific-trejos-tacos/). We noticed it’s revitalizing the area of La Brea Blvd. below Wilshire Blvd and the 10 freeway.

Since Carbonetti is a fan of Danny Trejo’s movies, she excitedly joined me. Unfortunetly, Trejo was filming the day we dined, yet we still had a great time eating tacos and talking to the chef and staff.

More and more brick and mortar restaurants get their start as a pop-up or food truck. The chefs work hard-driving all over Southern California to get their cuisine and name known to foodies and food truck aficionados. Once they raise enough capital, they find a location and open a store front or stand alone restaurant.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Danny Trejo and his partners in the restaurant, Jeff Georgino and Ash Shah do things differently. They opened Trejo’s Tacos on La Brea and within one day, lines of people wrapped around the corner eager to meet Danny Trejo and eat tacos, tostadas and really good gucamole. It became an overnight sensation. Soon they bought a food truck, painted it black with the Trejo’s Taco logo and started roaming the streets of So Cal as of August 30, 2016. Inside the truck is a leopard skin interior and fuzzy dice.

When I received an invitation to attend a preview of the truck at the American Legion Hall in Hollywood Blvd. on Highland Avenue last night (August 29, 2016), plus eat tacos and meet Trejo and his new Executive chef – John Carlos Kuramoto, I immediately text Carbonetti.

We were gitty when we saw Trejo talking to a couple near the truck. Walking up to the truck window, we ordered four different street tacos and found a table. Minutes later, Danny Trejo came over to chat with us. We learned about his family, restaurants and movie career. Here is what I discovered –

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo of Danny Trejo with son Gilbert and wife Taylor. Photo by Jill Weinlein


Danny’s son Gilbert brought his new bride Taylor to the Food Truck Tasting event. They recently were married at this location, the Hollywood American Legion Hall. “When I pulled up to the wedding, I asked Gilbert why they selected this location,” Trejo told me. His son said, “Dad if it wasn’t for the U.S. Armed Forces, I might not be able to be here today and getting married. It’s a great party venue.”

We also learned that when Gilbert fell in love with make-up artist Taylor she said, “If you give me the moon and the stars, then I will marry you.” Gilbert made a moon and stars from paper mache and hung them on the curtains. What a romantic son!


(Photo from JC’s Facebook page)


Trejo Taco has a new Executive Chef and he is a cutie! John Carlos (JC) Kuramoto heads the kitchen of the La Brea restaurant and now the food truck too. Soon he will also be getting the new Cahuenga Blvd. Trejo’s Taco brick and mortar up and running by the end of September.

This talented chef started cooking at the age of 16. He has worked in the kitchens of Campanile on La Brea and Michael’s in Santa Monica. “I’ve always wanted to cook tacos,” said Chef JC. “I’m half Mexican and half Japanese, so I love spicy ‘In your face’ Mexican food with acidity from a squeeze of lime.”

Growing up he enjoyed tamales and sushi, “I like to make the subtle balance of fusion flavors in my dishes,” said the chef. It’s a winning combination!

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Here are four of the non-traditional Mexican tacos I enjoyed while talking to Chef JC –

  1. PULLED BEEF BRISKET – tortilla strips with pico de gallo and cotija cheese.
  2. Vegan RAINBOW CAULIFLOWER – white, yellow and purple cauliflower dressed with cashew cream, pickled onions in clove and allspice), corn and micro cilantro.
  3. GRILLED CHICKEN made with achiote, cabbage slaw, pico de gallo and salsa verde.
  4. CARNITAS – slowly cooked with red onions.

Photo by Jill Weinlein

Chef JC added the tri color vegan cauliflower tacos to the menu, when he started working at Trejo’s Tacos three months ago. “They outsell our vegan tofu tacos now,” said Chef JC. He also added bowls to the menu. There is a Steak Asada, Grilled Chicken and Rainbow Cauliflower bowl. “Danny ate heavy Mexican food growing up. Now he enjoys our lighter and healthier food,” added the chef.

My favorite shrimp tostada with a squeeze of citrus is still at the La Brea location, yet now there is also a vegan quinoa tostada with a squeeze of citrus, lettuce, cherry tomato, Hass avocado and serrano pepper.

On the truck is friendly Jimmy one of the chefs. “I can’t wait to wake up every morning and get on the truck,” said Jimmy. “People drive up to our truck, honk and take photos. I think they hope Danny is inside,” Jimmy told me. “I feel like a celebrity working on this truck.”

Writer with Danny Trejo


When I asked Danny Trejo what advice he gives the youth of today? He replied, “I would rather shoot for the moon and miss, than aim for the gutter and make it.”

Don’t expect Danny to be at his restaurant or food truck every day. Next week he is going to be at Comic Con 2016 in Salt Lake City (Labor Day weekend) – http://saltlakecomiccon.com. Then he flies up to Calgary to shoot a new movie – Dead Again in Tombstone. Whenever he is back in LA he loves to hang out at Trejo’s Tacos and chat with his fans.“I am so excited about this food truck,” said Trejo. “I can’t wait to be out on the road with it, serving all our fans on the go.”

To find Trejo’s Truck, which will also be used for catering and special events, follow @trejostruck on Instagram and Twitter, or visit http://www.trejostacos.com


1048 S. La Brea, Los Angeles (323)938-TACO – Open Monday through Sunday 11 a.m to 9 p.m.

OPENING SOON -1556 N Cahuenga, Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Dine Like a Celebrity at BOA Steakhouse on Sunset

(BOA Steakhouse -photo by Jill Weinlein)
(BOA Steakhouse -photo by Jill Weinlein)

Driving into the parking garage of one of the most prestigious pieces of real estate in West Hollywood, I noticed an impressive array of Bentleys, Ferraris and Teslas lined in a row.

The stunning modern high-rise tower on Sunset Blvd. was the headquarters of renowned architect Charles Luckman. In 2009, architect Stephen Kanner re-clad and re-skinned the exterior giving it modern lines, blue-tinted glass and a light-colored facade. The revocation attracted elite entertainment companies and the Innovative Dining Group (IDG) to open BOA Steakhouse on the street level of the building.

With its elegant decor, professional service and indoor and outdoor patio dining space, BOA Steakhouse has become an ideal power lunch and dinner destination for actors and models visiting Ford Models office, Abrams Artists or Atlas Entertainment and Media Talent Group located in the 14-story building.

In 2010, the private, members-only Soho House took over the two-story penthouse on top of the building, which served as Luckman’s personal residence, before he sold it to the Mani Brothers Real Estate Group.

(Celebrity Rob Reiner with writer)
(Celebrity Rob Reiner with writer)

I’ve dined at BOA Steakhouse for lunch twice and both times I have seen a few familiar faces. Recently, I enjoyed seeing actor, comedian, producer and director Rob Reiner. He stopped at our table and shared with me that he has two movies coming out, with one premiering in May, 2016.

What brings people back to BOA Steakhouse is the talented Executive Chef Jose Melendez. The amiable chef was formerly at Patina Restaurant Group before coming over to IDG. He creates the best chicken chilaquiles in LA. Who knew a steakhouse would make a plate of fresh tortilla chips layered with a green tomatillo salsa, cotija cheese and an egg on top. This egg is cooked to 61 degrees. When our server Corey pierced the egg with a fork, the sunny yellow yolk oozed onto the chips and Chef Jose’s secret lemon crema sauce dotted with a pinch of microgreens. It’s a heavenly combination of smooth and crunchy, mellow and slightly vinegary. The perfect balance and this dish is only available on Mondays during the lunch hour.

(Photo Courtesy of BOA Steakhouse)
(Photo Courtesy of BOA Steakhouse)

I enjoyed these chilaquiles with a group of six friends sitting at a circular booth outside on the patio. After this winning dish, we shared a Wagyu Flat Iron steak with Baby Gem salad. The beef is aged for at least 40 days and brushed with a glistening butter and red wine sauce when grilled. It’s sliced perfectly in a row, framing the Baby Gem lettuce leaves that are crowned with pickled mushrooms, breaded and crispy onions and shallots, and then dressed with a zesty Dijon vinaigrette.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

We also tried a variety of Chef Jose’s new sandwiches on the Spring menu starting with an avocado and Burrata toast. He chars the edges of a sliced baguette, before spreading a thick and creamy white burrata cheese on top. Then he adds toasted hazelnuts, sautés king trumpet mushrooms, and adds a few spicy baby greens with a sprinkle of truffle vinaigrette. It’s served with either a salad, french fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings or fresh fruit.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

A favorite at the table was the layered grilled chicken torta. Chef Jose calls this the “East LA meets Hollywood,” sandwich. He grills a chicken breast and chars panela cheese. It’s one of Chef Jose’s favorite cheese, because when he heats it, the cheese softens, but doesn’t melt. It’s a white and smooth cheese that is similar to Indian paneer, and exquisitely absorbs the flavors of the housemade escabeche vegetables of diced cauliflower, carrots and baby tomatoes. This is not a boring chicken sandwich, especially with the black bean chips layered between the two slices of bread.

An interactive sandwich is the smoked Wagyu Tri-tip that arrived to our table under a glass dome. The General Manager Brad Stewart removed the glass slowly, so we all could see and smell the smoke swirl out and dissipate upwards. That smoky essence continues between two pieces of bread with sliced Brie, roasted red peppers, thinly sliced Wagyu beef and a flavorful black pepper aioli.

(Photo by Jill Weinlein)
(Photo by Jill Weinlein)

The roasted turkey sandwich isn’t dull either, with its sliced turkey enhanced with smoked mozzarella, oven dried tomatoes and pickled chow-chow made with a variety of vegetables in a mustard slaw.

We all enjoyed the BLT with slightly sweet applewood smoked bacon, crisp lettuce, avocado and a pleasing creamy bacon dressing.

Lunch entrée salads include a blackened salmon quinoa salad with smoked artichokes, roasted peppers and lemon vinaigrette. Many of the starter salads on the menu are vegetarian and can have grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp added for protein.

Another popular lunch option is the three course Executive lunch with a starter of a Caesar salad, mixed salad or soup of the day. Entrees include a brick chicken with lemon roasted Weiser farms pee-wee potatoes, charred Spring onions and a dark green, fringed mizuna leaf that is a mild peppery flavor and less spicy than arugula.

(Photo of writer taken at BOA Steakhouse)
(Photo of writer taken at BOA Steakhouse)

For dessert with the Executive lunch, diners receive a generous scoop of ice cream with a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. If it’s your birthday, they will insert a sparkler into the ice cream to make it a festive event.

When the sun sets on Sunset Blvd., BOA Steakhouse offers Happy Hour specials from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday in the sophisticated lounge with comfortable, oversized furniture and in the bar area.

(BOA Steakhouse -photo by Jill Weinlein)

During the dinner hour the restaurant transforms into a romantic setting serving prime Omaha 40 day dry aged New York Strip and the bone in Rib Eye. They also grill up seafood, chops, and premium American Wagyu with a choice of rubs and house made sauces, including BOA’s own J-1 sauce.

A rolling salad cart is pushed throughout the restaurant for an interactive, custom-made Caesar salad presentation.

Sit back, relax, and scan the room, you never know who will be dining next to at this elegant steakhouse.

Valet parking is available or park in the building. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner service begins daily at 5:30 p.m. $$$ 9200 W Sunset Blvd. (310) 278-2050.

This article was featured in the April 7, 2016 Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News.  – This article is available on the GPSmyCity app –  https://www.gpsmycity.com/gps-tour-guides/los-angeles-631.html

Interview with Mrs. Patmore of Downton Abbey

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Actress Lesley Nicol – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Yesterday when I entered the Shrine Exposition Theatre for a preview of the Screen Actors Guild gala awards ceremony, I noticed the talented actress Lesley Nicol. She plays the adorable, no-nonsense cook whipping up elegant dishes for the aristocratic Crawley family. Mrs. Patmore rules the kitchen staff and has a motherly relationship with her kitchen helper, Daisy.

Usually in a frumpy servant outfit on the show, Lesley was a striking “lady in red” with her coiffed strawberry blonde hair. She offered me a friendly and beautiful smile as we were introduced before our interview.

Here are 10 tidbits I learned about one of my favorite characters in the #1 PBS Drama Series – Downton Abbey:

  1. She wanted to be a nurse or flight attendant as a little girl, because she liked the uniforms.
  2. She was very shy as a little girl. After appearing on stage in a show, she said the experience gave her power and she was hooked.
  3. Her first play was a 12-year-old boy in ‘Androcles and the Lion.’
  4. She graduated from the London’s Guildhall School of Drama in the 1970s.
  5. While filming the last episode of Downton Abbey, Lesley told me, “The cast and crew were giddy like school children can get on the last day of school.” She shared with me that when Jim Carter who plays the butler Mr. Carson started getting choked up during his last scene, she did too. She said “Two big crew members went into the corner and sobbed when ‘It’s a Wrap’ was announced. It was a very emotional day.”
  6. She is the voice of a fairy godmother in a Disney Television animation – Goldie and Bear

    Writer with one of her favorite Downton Abbey characters
    Writer with one of her favorite Downton Abbey characters
  7. Lesley now lives in Los Angeles.
  8. She also appeared as Rosie in the West End production of Mamma Mia!
  9. Years ago, she was the face of Tetley tea in the United Kingdom.
  10. Lesley is a celebrity ambassador for her charity AnimalsAsia. This organization has rescued 500 bears and cares for them in sanctuaries in China and Vietnam. They also educate and work to end the trade in dogs and cats for food in China and Vietnam. AnimalsAsia lobbies to improve the welfare of companion animals, promote humane population management, and prevent the cross-border export of “meat dogs” in Asia.

Watch Lesley Nicol in the final Season of Downton Abbey on Sunday evenings on PBS at 9 p.m.