LACC Honors Actor Morgan Freeman

Recently one of the finest American actors, Morgan Freeman stood inside the Cinema Building at Los Angeles Community College (LACC) and smiled. The last time he was on this campus was 60 years ago, and now his alma mater was rededicating a lecture hall to read The Morgan Freeman Theater.


Walking across campus with Dr. Mary Gallagher, President of Los Angeles City College and Shaena Engle, Public Relations Manager, students stopped and did a double-take as Freeman posed for photos and greeted many along the way.


Inside the Camino Theater, Engle took Freeman aside to see two decorated bulletin boards honoring this esteem actor. He was touched that someone took the time to cut out each one of the movies that he appeared in during his long and successful acting career. He pointed to “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) and said he liked working with Director Clint Eastwood. The movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Freeman. Pointing to “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) he said he had a great time on this movie with actor Tim Robbins. Then he found “Bonfire of the Vanities,” and said “that was one of my least favorite.”


Journalist and Board Member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Anke Hofmann, moderated and read questions by students inquiring about Freeman’s days at LACC. They wanted to know how he became an actor, how he handles rejection in the entertainment industry, and what advice can he give to them.

Here’s what he said:

Education: Actors have a lot of reading, maybe not in the beginning, but you will have a lot to read. Looking for a job when he arrived in Hollywood after four years in the Air Force, he was hired at LACC as a transcript clerk. His plan was to make some money and take acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse. While at LACC a co-worker said, “Why would you do that? We have the best theatre program in LA and its free.” So Freeman enrolled Theatre 101, and then Theatre 102, Speech and Diction and French.  He worked in the transcript office 8 hours, ate dinner, and then went to class. He was dedicated to go to school and get what he wanted. One of the most useful classes was a Speech class, where her learned about the development of the voice. “Most people speak in a voice too high, and in the class, we learned how to speak in a lower voice. Most people speak too fast, so we learned how to slow down.” He learned how his develop his commanding voice in a lower octave and enunciate each word.


Acting Technique: When asked what acting technique he uses, he replied “The Morgan Freeman technique – intuition. It’s what I get when I read a script. Life and the craft became my teachers.”

Persistence: If you want to act, do it! It’s not an easy road at all for anybody, at no time. Getting jobs is like the weather, if you run out of here and get a job and zoom up, you will zoom down. If it takes you a while to get up, it will take you a while to get back down. Don’t give up. If you want to do it, you have to stick to it!

Preparation: Yawn it will relax your vocal cords.


Work With People You Admire: All three movies he did with Clint Eastwood were extraordinary experiences. Eastwood is an efficient director, “Get it, got it, good.” When Freeman received the extraordinary script “Invictus”, and was asked who he thought should direct the film, Freeman immediately said Clint Eastwood. “It was one of the most fun productions I worked on,” Freeman said.

How he got his start: In the fall of 1960, Freeman sold his car and moved to New York. “Anyone can get a job in New York” and after five months, he moved to San Francisco and took dance classes studying ballet, jazz and tap with a goal to get on Broadway. He hoped he could be the one black person. While a member of the small repertory company, he had a life changing experience when someone told him “You aren’t a dancer, you are an actor.”

In September 1963, he went back to New York and worked on a movie. It was a night shot, and slowly actors were being told they weren’t needed anymore, until Freeman was the last man standing. At that moment, he realized that this is where he belonged.


Learn to say NO! The moment he knew he didn’t have to work to be an actor was in 1967. He was auditioning for an off Broadway play and they called him back twice to come in and audition again. The third time they called him, he said “No, I’m not coming back” and they hired him. With this role he was able to get an agent and press. Next he got a role in “Hello, Dolly!” on Broadway with Pearl Bailey at the St. James Theatre. His advice to success in showbiz is to never do a show for more than 11 months. You need to move on. Even though he was making $92 a week at “Hello, Dolly!”, when he was offered a role in Cabaret for less money, $72 a week, he took it and received even more press. “What’s more important, money or publicity? Publicity!”

Advice to student actors: “Acting is a do or die profession,” said Freeman. Acting was all he wanted, and he didn’t want to have a fall back career. “All of us can make a living in the business, maybe not superstars, but you can work.” In dealing with rejection, he said, “You are going to be rejected, you will reasonably get a percentage of rejections, but you will work. When you have an audition, it’s a shot, and that is a big moment.” Work on making your videos and short stories. The movie industry is dynamic and with so much streaming going on, there is a big thrust of material.

Embarrassing moment: Freeman said the most embarrassing moment in his career was when he made a fool of himself in a production of Othello in Dallas, Texas. Wearing harem pants and a blousy shirt with a head band, someone in the audience thought he looked like Jimi Hendrix and shouted out “Play Purple Haze.”

Directing advice: When asked about his directing debut, he shared what the late Mike Nichols once said, “The Director’s job is finished once the casting is done. The most important job of directing is casting and then getting out of the way.”


Freeman always has a welcoming home at LACC, and inside the Cinema Building his name on the wall of a lecture hall gives hopes to students who desire to follow his footsteps.

Impacting Lives through Art

Imagine walking through the halls of your school and seeing brightly colored uplifting words: BE Positive, BE Kind and Thoughtful spotlighted on a wall. On November 13, the fast casual Mediterranean flavorful and healthy restaurant brand CAVA  sponsored renown muralist Ruben Rojas to help them paint and beautify some of the walls at Jackson Elementary School in Altadena, CA.


Cava employees volunteered to paint with Rojas, along with Nicole Landers Head of Business Development for Zola providing healthy coconut and sparkling waters, and Adam Von Rothfelder, the founder & CEO offering cups of his Strong Coffee.


Meeting Mike Schibel Brand Manager of CAVA, he shared with me – Be positive, kind and thoughtful are also the principals at their 75 restaurant nationwide. Schibel introduced me to Rojas wearing a t-shirt with the words “Beautify Walls.”


I discovered this native Californian started his journey studying pre-med, and then going into Real Estate and financial planning.  A friend noticed Rojas doodling on paper in his office and encouraged him to share his creativity and art with the world.

Students at Jackson Elementary helped Rojas paint

Rojas is a co-founder of Beautify Earth and his murals bring messages of love, inspiring social change and transforming communities. Standing next to Rojas, he showed me some of his art on his Instagram @rubenrojas. One was his colorful mural messages: “You belong here” painted on a wall in San Antonio Texas. Another “Imagine A World Without Them: Whale” on a wall in Ventura, CA, “This one represents the mother orca whale who carried her dead calf on her back for more than two weeks, to prevent her baby from sinking to the bottom of the ocean floor,” said Rojas.


Want to sponsor Ruben to help you make that difference in your own workspace? How about enhance a neighborhood you live or help change someone’s world? This artist can help spread your message through art, and make a lasting impact in the world. Contact him by going to his website – Ruben Rojas.


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.







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

Nurturing your Mind, Body & Soul

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Lady Carole Bamford, the founder of England’s forward-thinking Daylesford Organic Farm Shops. She has three shops in London, as well as a Cookery School, the Daylesford Cottages, The Wild Rabbit pub, the Haybarn Spa and the Bamford line of clothing and natural bath, body and home products. IMG_3317

She traveled with her husband Sir Anthony Bamford to Malibu, California to visit their daughter Alice Bamford at her mountain and ocean view One Gun Ranch for a media tour of her book Nurture: Notes and Recipes from Daylesford Farm. Alice describes her biodynamic ranch as “The Wild West Coast surrounded by nature that elevates the spirit,” I thought it was more like the West Coast Downton Abbey. A long wooden table was beautifully decorated and set for twenty guests out on a lush lawn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A staff of seven poured sparkling and rose’ wines from Chateau Leoube an organic vineyard in Provence, France. Others came around with big wooden bowls filled with salads made from fresh organic ingredients. While we sat under the warm sun, Alice introduced her mother.IMG_3345

“I grew up enjoying the fruits of the land on Daylesford Organic Farm in England (a 1500-acre estate near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. “Mum harvested her organic garden while I was in a pram,” said Alice (who is pregnant with her second child). Growing up, Lady Bamford prepared dishes from the fresh produce harvested from her gardens. This fond memory inspired Alice to continue the tradition for her own family. Meeting celebrity realtor Ann Eysenring, the duo purchased Guns & Roses drummer Matt Sorum home with acreage. “Without healthy soil, one can’t grow healthy plants,” said Alice. So she converted the acreage into a biodynamic, sustainable farm that grows nearly 50 different crops. “All living things on the farm are reused and recycled back into the land,” said Alice.

As soon as Alice’s gardens were thriving, she wrote a book with Eysenring  – “One Gun Ranch, Malibu: Biodynamic Recipes for Vibrant Living.”  Alice inspired her mother to share her own beautiful story titled Nurture. Published by Penguin Random House, this beautiful 300-page guide to living and eating mindfully is filled with exquisite photos, seasonal recipes and an inspiring story of Bamford’s ideas and principles to a conscious, mindful way of life.IMG_3294

Forty years ago, Lady Bamford noticed her crops were thriving, but her roses were dying. When she asked one of her gardeners why? He told her he was spraying a new product named Roundup. Carole thought it might be protecting her crops, by killing weeds, yet what is it doing to our environment?”

Desiring to feed her family healthy food, Lady Bamford’s farm became one of the most sustainable farms in the UK; a model of traditional, responsible farming by following organic principles. Her willingness to take such a risk has resulted in an unexpected, yet enormously fulfilling career for Lady Bamford, with the farm leading to the growth of a brand of sustainable food. “I was looked upon as a slightly strange woman,” said Lady Bamford. “With organic, how can we afford not to do this” She explained how pesticides damage the soil, plants, animals and people. We can all make a difference. “One way is to buy organic. It may be more expensive, however, the cost of illness costs a lot more.” Another way is to eat less meat. “I have four restaurants in London, and have a No Meat Monday policy because as we know, cattle are bad for the environment,” said Lady Bamford.

Determined to change the way we think about our food and our environment, Lady Bamford reminds the readers of her book that mindfulness is the key to a happy, well-lived existence. “We all need nurturing because we all live a crazy life.” Nurture is filled with delicious seasonal tried-and-trusted recipes that were created at Daylesford. There are a spring green minestrone soup and a pannacotta with poached rhubarb, blood orange, and ginger. Try the roast salmon, peas, bacon and braised Little Gem from her summer selection. There are pickled blackberries and red cabbage with chicken liver in autumn, and the bone marrow and barley risotto created for winter. IMG_3336

Before leaving Lady Bamford said, “I hope my book helps empower readers to reinvent the way they eat and exercise, as well as rejuvenate their minds and bodies.”

For further information on Nurture: Notes and Recipes from Daylesford Farm by Lady Carole Bamford, visit Available also on Amazon Books.

This article was featured on JustLuxe on May 15, 2018 Lady Carole Bamford

Gloria Steinem Roars at LACC

I was invited to interview Gloria Steinem while she was a featured speaker at “A Conversation on DACA” at Los Angeles City College with Samantha Ramirez-Herrera. Hours before she arrived in California, this elegant 80+ year old was campaigning for Marie Newman, Congressional candidate in the city of Chicago, against Dan Lipinski who inherited his seat. Steinem tweeted out “Lipinski pretends to be a Democrat, but votes with Trump against healthcare, minimum wage, reproduction rights, and LGBTQ rights,” She urged everyone to get our and support Newman. “It’s crucial,” said Steinem.

Inside the Herb Alpert Music Center, the lecture hall was filled with students, facility and community members eager to hear the wisdom of Steinem. She started out by saying – ‘Trump is not my president. We have all the powers we had [before Trump was elected] of lobbying and pressuring and making clear that the political consequences are great. We may look up and feel powerless and think there’s nothing we can do, but it’s not true. There are things we can do at each level.”

As a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer, this media spokesperson now in her 80s, travels around the world discussing issues about equality, sex and race, gender roles and child abuse. Through non-violent conflict resolution, she aims to teach peace and motivate others to rise up for justice.IMG_7827

Here’s 10 Fun Facts I learned while interviewing and listening to Ms. Steinem talk to students and faculty members at LACC:

  1. Gloria graduated from Smith College in 1956.
  2. As a brilliant writer, she was a political columnist and wrote feature articles for New York Magazine in the 1960s. Also during this time period, she wrote a two-part series titled A Bunny Tale, about going undercover as a bunny at the Playboy Club for Show magazine. The articles proved the injustice women receive in these Men Only Clubs.
  3. She co-founded Ms. magazine in 1972, and remained one of its editors for fifteen years. She continues to serve as a consulting editor for Ms., and was instrumental in the magazine’s move to join and be published by the Feminist Majority Foundation.
  4. As Steinem discussed the repercussions from the recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, initiated under President Barack Obama in 2012, she told the audience “People should not be bargaining chips.”
  5. She earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree in 2013.
  6. Steinem told her audience, she is more comfortable speaking at Los Angeles City College than Harvard or Yale. “It’s far more interesting, because we all look like the people in our country and can instruct one another.”
  7. After marching in the second Women’s March, she voiced how there is more unification right now, than last year at the first National Women’s March. Many of these empowered women found a sense of unity and purpose in the #MeToo movement.
  8. In the 70s, Steinem educated women by saying, “Remember I’m not crazy, the system is crazy,” reflecting how women in the 70s were made to feel crazy if they worked outside their home. They were made to feel like second class citizens. “In the 70s, if you were a feminist, you were labeled a lesbian,” said Steinem. “There were all kinds of myths that are gone now. We are the majority.”
  9. She strongly believes black women were a huge part of the civil rights, and the heart of feminist activism. She gave examples of how black women voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election, while white women voted more for Trump. “Black women are more feminists than white women. Look at what they did for Doug Jones in Alabama,” Steinem said.
  10. Now that Dreamers are rising up with allies and pushing forward, Steinem believes “We need Dreamers in this country. They are more motivated, hard working and have lower arrests,” Steinem said. “Don’t say what should I do today, say what can I do today. There are people all around who will listen to you and ask what can they do,” Steinem said. “I’ve been around a long time and have never seen such social activism to have a voice and make a change. The Dream Act bill shouldn’t be included with border wall funding or increasing border security. It’s not about politics, it’s about people.”

Meeting Filmmaker Eleanor Coppola

When the movie Paris Can Wait opened in theaters on May 12, I took a girlfriend to see the delightful romantic comedy about a Hollywood producer’s wife who takes an unexpected romp through France. The trip reawakens her sense of self and joie de vivre.


We both agreed the movie was cast beautifully with the lead actress Anne, played by Academy Award nominee Diane Lane (Best Actress, Unfaithful, 2002), and her leading men Alec Baldwin (SNL, Blue Jasmine and It’s Complicated) and French actor and filmmaker Arnaud Viard (Clara et moi, Arnaud fait son 2e film).

Last week I received a lunch invitation at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Beverly Hills to meet the filmmaker of the movie, Eleanor Coppola. If her last name sounds familiar to you, it should. Eleanor is the wife of Academy Award winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. She is also the mother to filmmakers Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola and Gian-Carlo Coppola.


Sitting next to Hollywood’s newest screenwriter and movie maker Eleanor Coppola, I asked her why she waited so long to make her first feature film. “Call me a late bloomer. My role in our family is wife and mother. That’s how they see me,” Eleanor said. ” I’ve worked on behind-the-scenes documentaries for my husband, and daughter Sofia. I never had making a feature film on my bucket list, because I am more an observer.” Eleanor told me she enjoys making documentaries, “because the action goes right by, and you don’t have to retake a scene five times.” She said she finally caught the family virus while in her 70s. “I thought if it fails, who cares!”


When I asked her how she met her husband, she told me that they met while studying at UCLA. “I was studying applied design, and worked on a set where Francis was wildly typing a script for one of his first films. He was in his pajamas and without a shirt,” Eleanor said. “My mother wanted me to marry an accountant, not a filmmaker,” she said with a laugh. “I told my mother, I can’t spend my life being bored.” Eleanor said that being married to Francis has been anything but boring. They have been married 54 years. “We’ve been through great highs and lows.” I know one of their lows was the death of their first son Gian-Carlo. Sadly he died in a boating accident in 1986.

I quietly asked her how coped with his loss. “A friend gave me advice. She told me that my son wouldn’t want me to become an alcoholic old lady,” she said with a chuckle. “While everyone was looking at me during this experience, my friend told me to go to the deep bottom of this profound experience and then strongly climb out.” She now appreciates life more after his tragedy. “My advice to others suffering from a loss is to find your passion or path in life. There are going to be lots of twists and turns. Be the best you can be,” Eleanor said.

When I asked why she waited so long to make her first feature film, and what inspired her to write this film, she said “There is a need for a movie that appeals to women 50+.” After returning from a similar experience while in Europe with Francis, she told a friend about her experience. “My friend said she would love to see a movie like that.” Unfortunately it took over six years to get financing for the movie. “No one wanted to give a first-time, female filmmaker, in her 70s money. Especially for a movie without sex and violence,” she said. “What I learned from Francis while watching him make Apocalypse Now is to never give up! Women tend to give up more easily, because making movies has always been a man’s world.”

Since the movie is a food, wine and travel journey, I asked her if she hired a chef to stage all of her culinary scenes. Living up in Napa Valley, Eleanor has a friend who is an Executive chef. She shared how she brainstormed with chef Maria Helm Sinskey to create all of the meals in the movie. “The menu needed to go with the dialogue in the script.”  They all had a fun time eating after filming the scenes.


Before leaving, Eleanor presented me a bottle of wine from Francis Ford Coppola Winery. On the art textile design label was her name Eleanor. “I developed a wine based on two of my favorite grapes – a Syrah and a Cabernet Sauvignon.” We both agreed that a  great wine is a blend. “The Syrah is from the Napa property and the Cab is from Sonoma.”

Looking for a fun romantic film filled with beautiful French countryside shots, delicious food experiences and a quirky leading man? Eleanor Coppola’s movie Paris Can Wait is now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Rockin’ food, music, fun and craft beers at Rock & Brews

Last week, we took family visiting from out of town to Rock & Brews in El Segundo for lunch before enjoying a day at the beach.


The concept behind Rock & Brews started in the summer of 2010 at a KISS concert. Dave Furano, a well-known rock ‘n roll concert promoter (Rolling Stones; Bob Dylan; Grateful Dead; The Doors; the Allman Brothers; George Harrison; and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), along with his brother Dell Furano (who at the time was serving as CEO of Live Nation Merchandising) brought their friend restaurateur/hotelier Michael Zislis backstage to meet their longtime friends KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. While sipping beers, Dave asked, “What’s better than rock and brews?” Before the beers were finished, the five of them collaborated on the Rock & Brews restaurant concept.

Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons are the restaurant’s brand global “Rock ‘n’ Roll ambassadors.” They also contribute to key decisions about the Rock & Brews experience and expansion plans.

Zislis, a brewmaster, knows a thing or two about craft beer. In fact after graduating from USC, Zislis opened the Manhattan Beach Brewing Company. It was one of the first brewpubs in the South Bay. With its success, he helped in the urban revitalization in Manhattan Beach and built the area’s first and only luxury boutique hotel, Shade, in 2004. His second Shade Hotel in Redondo Beach opened in 2016.


The El Segundo location is their first restaurant. It opened in 2012 with an indoor bar and dining room, along with an outside beer garden featuring wooden picnic style tables, and a 360-degree entertainment “Great Wall of Rock” displaying legendary rock icons on oversized canvases, along with album art hung on the walls. The lively restaurant has concert lighting, and multiple flat screens showing some of the greatest rock concerts of all time.

We sat at a table under an umbrella and studied the beer menu, which has a selection of lagers, pilsners, pale ales, fruit, malty, hoppy, Belgian and dark beers. Our knowledgeable server helped us with our beverage selection and food pairings. Under “Opening Acts,” we selected Sgt. Pepper’s jalapeño poppers, guacamole toast and barbecue chicken sliders.


The menu offers eight different salads, and I ordered the Hotel California Cobb with chopped grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, artisan blue cheese, avocado, sweet grape tomatoes and a hard boiled egg dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. Another appealing salad is the Strawberry Fields made with baby greens, fresh strawberries, sliced avocado, cucumbers and red onions with a sprinkling of candied walnuts and feta cheese, before dressed with a pleasing lemon pepper vinaigrette.

Under the Classic Hits section are beer battered Alaskan cod & chips; five cheese mac n’ cheese; tacos and Red Hot chipotle chili.

Big City Red’s are half pound, all beef hot dogs served on a sesame brioche bun with either natural fries or coleslaw.

My husband ordered from the Headliner section a fresh ahi and avocado sandwich. It was served on a soft, sesame brioche bun that had a spread of wasabi aioli. All burgers and sandwiches are served with choice of natural fries, potato salad, pasta salad or coleslaw. Diners can substitute grilled vegetables, a cup of soup, sweet potato fries, onion rings, fresh fruit, or side of Rockin’ or Caesar salad for a minimal additional charge.

The Rockin’ Fit section featuressix dishes under 600 calories including tri tip taco lettuce wraps filled with avocado, roasted corn and tomatillo salsas, cotija cheese, marinated red onions, cilantro and black beans. My sister-in-law ordered the lighter-in-calories dish and loved it.

The others at our table ordered burgers and crispy, thick fries. The gastropub burger was layered with a sunny-side up egg, bacon, caramelized onions, baby greens, sliced tomato and a garlic aioli spread. It was juicy and filled with savory flavors.

Rock & Brews connects with the community through philanthropic effort supporting schools, veterans and active military organizations.

Recently Zislis and Dave and Dell Furano celebrated with KISS’s Simmons and Stanley the “Bar of the Year” award at the 2017 Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Conference in Toronto. The FAB awards recognize the best and most innovative concepts in travel-related food and beverage.

Rock & Brews is located at 143 Main St., El Segundo, (310)615-9890; 1 World Way (424)702-4596; Terminal 5 – 500 World Way, (424)702-1619.

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

Old Hollywood Walking Tour


In the early 1900s people starting arriving in Hollywood, CA to find fame, fortune and success in silent films. It was similar to the 1840s Gold Rush when people from all over streamed into San Francisco to get rich while panning for gold.

Unfortunately, there were too many people coming into Hollywood and not enough housing or movies being made to help all these people achieve their dreams. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce posted notices stating – “Don’t Try To Break Into The Movies in Hollywood…..It May Save Disappointments,” said April Brooks Clemmer our knowledgable tour guide on the Old Hollywood Walking Tour.


The once a month tour strolls along Hollywood Blvd. from the Raymond Chandler Square to Musso and Franks. “This street was originally called Prospect Avenue when it was unpaved and dusty. “Signs posted on the windows of limited housing stated, No Dogs, No Actors allowed,” said Clemmer. Pointing towards the Hillview Apartments, we discovered that in 1917, movie moguls Jesse L. Lasky, co-founder of Paramount Pictures, and his brother-in-law Samuel Goldwyn, co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, built their first apartment building just for their actors, since housing was scarce. Rudolph Valentino, Stan Laurel, and Clara Bow lived here. Today the beautifully restored Hillview’s neon sign is still on the corner of the building, however it’s now known as The Hudson, and is still housing for creative types.


Some of the first founders of Hollywood were H. J. Whitley and H. H. and Daeida Wilcox. They bought land and built a beautiful estate near Hollywood Blvd. Daeida Wilcox was eager to bring culture, glamour and tourists to Hollywood. When she met French artist Paul de Longpre’ she gave him three lots in exchange for three of his floral paintings. The artist built a Mission Revival style mansion featuring an art gallery to sell prints of his paintings and he planted 4,000 flowering rose bushes to create an inspirational garden. “It became one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles,” said our tour guide We learned people paid admission for a ticket to enter the garden, except on Paul de Longpre’s birthday. “On his birthday, his garden was open to everyone for free to help him celebrate,” said Clemmer.

Actress and Tour Guide April Clemmer

Nearby is Janes House, located towards the back of Jane Square. It’s a two-story Queen Anne home built in 1903 with shingled gables and turrets. Beginning in 1911, Janes House was a family-run school, attracting the children of early Hollywood celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille, and Jesse Lasky. Mary Ruth Janes and her three daughters ran the well-respected school and lived in the home until 1982. “This is the oldest remaining home on Hollywood Blvd.,” said Clemmer. “Now it’s a secret nightclub named – No Vacancy.” To see the original perspective of Janes House, we visited Albert next door at Secret Restaurant. He has a framed illustration on the wall near the bar.

IMG_4360We walked to several movie theaters that included the Fox Theatre built in 1918 as the first movie theatre. Along the way we admired the Walk of Fame stars. Clemmer shared with us that Alfred Hitchcock’s star was installed in front of the Fox Theatre in 1960 at the premiere of his movie Psycho.


Carol Burnett’s star is in front of the old Warner Bros. Hollywood Theatre, now a closed Hollywood Pacific Theatre. The 2753 seat theatre was built in 1926 as the first theatre wired for sound to premiere the first “talkie” Jazz Singer. In the late 40’s, Burnett was an usher at this theatre while attending Hollywood High School. “Burnett was fired for miscommunication with a guest,” Clemmer said. “When she was honored with a star, and asked where she would like her star to be placed, Burnett wanted it right in front of this theatre for the owners to see daily.”

Hollywood offered the most glamorous shopping district in the 1920s with J.P. Newberry and the Kress Building, on the corner of Whitley and Hollywood Blvd. Gloria Swanson bought perfume at the Kress Building.

The tour ends at one of the most famous restaurant’s in Hollywood, Musso and Frank Grill. Built in 1919, it became the go-to dining spot for Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin. Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper dined here, while Humphrey Bogart sipped martinis at the bar with Dashielle Hammett or Lauren Bacall.

In the ‘50s, Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe while married to Joe DiMaggio had her own booth, while Elizabeth Taylor and Steve McQueen enjoyed sitting in Musso’s famous Back Room. “Ernest Hemingway mixed his own mint julep at Musso and Frank,” said Clemmer. “It was a big writers hangout. Fitzgerald proofed his works here.”

Clemmer shared that the waiters will only tell stories about actors who have died, but will never talk about those who are alive to protect their privacy.

Come take a tour with April and learn how Hollywood is a vibrant walkable community that strives to return to it’s glamorous glory days. The two hour detailed tour starts on the last Friday of every month at 10 a.m. The next tour starts Friday, July 28 at 10:00 a.m. (tickets available now) and Friday, September 29 at 10:00 a.m. at the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance office 6562 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood. (323)463-6767.

This article was featured in the July issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY

Beverly Hills #WELLTH Ambassador – Christie Brinkley

Supermodel, actress, best-selling author, and entrepreneur Christie Brinkley is the ideal ambassador for the new Beverly Hills Wellth (Wellness + Health) campaign, encouraging residents and visitors to Move, Eat well, Restore and practice Gratitude daily. Brinkley recently shared her secrets with a group of health experts and journalists at Alo Yoga on the prestigious Canon Drive. As one of the most famous Sports Illustrated Swimsuit icons, Brinkley just returned to the pages at the age of 63 in a bikini with her daughters Alexa Ray Joel and Sailor Brinkley Cook, proving that age is just a number.

To continue reading my interview with Christie Brinkley, click on this link Christie Brinkley’s #Wellth

2016 Most Facinating People

This year I had the opportunity to interview celebrities, chefs, volunteers and who touched my heart with a quote they shared. Here are 10 of the most fascinating people I met this year –

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Frances Ford Coppola – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. Frances Ford Coppola – The night I met Coppola, he was receiving a special honor and award at the 25th annual UCLA TFT Film Festival Directors Spotlight along with a talented group of film students. Sitting in a large theater at the Director’s Guild of America on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, I watched UCLA Dean Teri Scwartz honor Francis Ford Coppola with the Distinguished Vanguard Director Award Presentation. She enlightened guests with the history of Coppola’s career and had her team put together a short compilation of Coppola’s films that included Apocalypse Now, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, The Cotton Club, Finian’s Rainbow, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, The Outsiders, Peggy Sue Got Married and You’re a Big Boy Now. While a graduate student at UCLA, Coppola won a Samuel Goldwyn Award for the best screenplay. After this honor he was hired to write scripts for Seven Arts. Read more –

    Wayne Brady - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Wayne Brady – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  2. Wayne Brady – Growing up in Florida, Wayne Brady knew he wanted to be an actor, He acted in high school and enjoyed improvisation (which he is brilliant at). I interviewed Brady at The Wallis Theatre in Beverly Hills.  Here’s the full interview

    Director and Actors Rob Reiner
    Director and Actors Rob Reiner
  3. Rob Reiner – While dining at the elegant BOA Steakhouse for lunch I always spot an actor and model visiting Ford Models office, Abrams Artists or Atlas Entertainment and Media Talent Group located in the 14-story building. It’s also on the bottom level of the private, members-only Soho House that resides at the top of the two-story penthouse. One day, I saw actor, comedian, producer and director Rob Reiner. He stopped at our table and shared with me that he has two movies coming out in 2016 -2017. Read my review of BOA Steakhouse –

    Author Simone Leslie with writer.
    Author Simone Leslie with writer.
  4. Author Simone Leslie – I was fortunate to lunch with this beautiful writer Simone Leslie and our mutual friend and public relations wizard Cherry Hepburn at The Front Yard in North Hollywood. Leslie is an Australian author who wrote the book – It’s OK To Be Beautiful: Heavenly Whispers To A Broken Heart. This beauty started modeling at 15 years old, yet was shy and insecure. She constantly heard negative voices, that left her almost suicidal. “If you don’t believe you are worthy, you will self sabotage yourself,” Leslie shared. After years of studying psychology, she wrote a book to help people create a shift in the core programming levels of their brain that will bring healing and wholeness. Her short stories are a revelation from heartache to love life and oneself. Her book can be viewed and purchases at or go to

    William and Elizabeth Shatner
    William and Elizabeth Shatner
  5. William and Elizabeth Shatner – It’s a beautiful love story of Hollywood movie and television star William Shatner meeting a beautiful woman named Elizabeth. Quickly the two realized they had a lot in common with their mutual admiration for horses and helping those in need. They married in 2001 and got to work helping others. Every year the Shatners host the Hollywood Charity Horse Show in Burbank, raising money for children’s and veterans’ charities. (Will’s been a spokesperson for the since 1997) and the generous people at Wells Fargo help host this fundraising party by bringing together horses, riders, a great dinner, one-of-a-kind auction items and superstar entertainment, which has included in past years Brad Paisley, Ben Folds, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Joe Walsh and Vince Gill. Read more –

    Actress Saycon Sengbloh
    Actress Saycon Sengbloh
  6. Actress Saycon Sengbloh – I had the opportunity to meet and interview Broadway veteran Saycon Sengbloh at a rehearsal of Merrily We Roll Along. Sengbloh was nominated for a Tony Award last year for her role in Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed. Recently she starred in Michael Arden’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s masterwork Merrily We Roll Along at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Here’s my interview –

    Chef Mario Batali
    Chef Mario Batali
  7. Chef Mario Batali – Mario Battle the chef and  restauranteur has over 25 different restaurants located in Boston, New York, Boston, Connecticut, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Singapore. They are all operated by Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group which co-develops the restaurants with chefs, GMs and wine directors. “It’s like a franchise, where the people involved have part equity,” Batali said. “Their ownership is crucial to the map of the program. It gives everyone accountability to help the restaurant succeed.” Here’s more of my review –

    The Academy presented a screening of "Heat" on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Pictured (left to right): Director/Producer/Writer Michael Mann, Actor Robert De Niro, Actor Al Pacino and Moderator Christopher Nolan.
    Director/Producer/Writer Michael Mann, Actor Robert De Niro, Actor Al Pacino and Moderator Christopher Nolan.
  8. Meeting the Director and Cast of HEAT – I pinched myself sitting in front of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Michael Mann as they discussed how they made the classic movie – HEAT. Oscar nominee Christopher Nolan led the discussion. Actors Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore and Amy Brenneman were also present. I learned that Pacino and De Niro previously worked together in 1974 on Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part II” before being reunited in “Heat,” which is set in Los Angeles. – Here’s my article

    Artist Gage John Lazare - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Artist Gage John Lazare – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  9. Gage John Lazare –  I attended a special painting session at The London West Hollywood near Beverly Hills, and was warmly welcomed by the creative artist Gage John Lazare. Raised in Kahnawake, near Montreal, Canada, he now he lives in New York City and travels around the world, creating his own pieces and collaborating with other artists and designers. I took a seat in front of a small easel holding a blank white canvas. A package of paint brushes in various sizes and package of paints and a palette were nearby. Here’s what I learned –

    Actor and Restauranteur Danny Trejo with writer.
    Actor and Restauranteur Danny Trejo with writer.
  10. 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.” Read more –

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. ( 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) – 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


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.

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