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Gluten Free Snacks You Need NOW

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As some of you who follow me on Instagram know, I keep my diet gluten-free 95% of the time.  Sometimes I will go out to eat and cave-in and eat gluten, which is okay, I’m not intolerant - I just find that my body feels better when I don’t eat it. Most of the time though, my diet avoids gluten - I never bring gluten into my home anymore!  This does raise some challenges, like when I’m craving something that is usually made with gluten doughs - like pizza or pot stickers! Thankfully, there is a new brand on the market offering delicious gluten free snacks and party foods - Feel Good Foods.  This Brooklyn based company, founded by gluten-free enthusiast, Vanessa Philips and fine dining chef Tryg Siverson, has created several gluten-free products that can be found in your frozen foods aisle - just heat and serve! Items include egg rolls, pot stickers, taquitos, empanadas and snack bites filled with cheese, pepperoni or chicken sausage. This really opens up a whole new area of food options for gluten free dieters! 

In the world of gluten free eating, another important factor is taste - how to make gluten free things taste just as good as their original model? Obviously having a gourmet chef come up with the recipes was a smart move. When you taste a Feel Good Foods product, you can tell the ingredients are fresh and the recipes were perfected until they were just right. Co-founder and CEO, Vanessa Philips says, “The brand offers options for those seeking a natural, yet accessible meal that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor.” After tasting them, I couldn’t agree with her more!  My personal favorites are the veggie egg rolls and the chicken pot stickers. Siverson put serious thought and flavor into the products. 

As of now, Feel Good Foods products can be found nationwide - primarily at Whole Foods grocery stores but also smaller grocery retailers like Sprouts. These items are so great if you need something easy to heat up and eat, either for yourself, or for guests coming over. 

Founders Tryg Siverson and Vanessa Philips, photo courtesy Feel Good Goods.

Founders Tryg Siverson and Vanessa Philips, photo courtesy Feel Good Goods.

To learn more about Vanessa Philips - A total #BossBabe check out the Q & A below!

What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it? 

I’ve never been married or tied to my title. I’m attracted to what I am connected to, which is my company. Executing on my company’s mission and delivering the foods that I love to as many people as possible is what’s important to me.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? 

My partner Tryg and I had a meeting with investors. I was 38 weeks pregnant, low blood sugar and having early contractions. You could say I was feeling quite vulnerable and out of my comfort zone that day but I presented to the group. We stepped outside after the presentation and they spoke for 15 minutes. When we came back in, their only feedback was that Tryg should speak and not me-- because they thought he was more energetic. I was horrified and felt disappointed in myself. Looking back at that story today I can laugh but I also realize that in business sometimes we have to wear many masks. It’s a lot of pressure to represent your business...in that moment many years ago, I was not my business, I was 100% Vanessa. But finding that balance and giving myself permission to be me while also representing Feel Good Foods takes some time. 

Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I never thought of my business as being a job. I never thought of it beyond feeding consumers our food. Today, my job is all encompassing and more. There is so much more that I do besides seeing customers eat our product and be satisfied. Managing our team, dealing with HR, shipping logistics, etc...it’s so incredibly dynamic and I never thought that through. I just thought I’d see happy customers. There’s definitely a transition between executing on a product and building a company.

What advice would you give to other female leaders  to help their team to thrive?

 Everything is going to take 10 times longer than you think it’s going to. Everything takes longer in business than you anticipate. A big thing for me is to surround yourself with people that you trust and that are strong in the areas where you don’t feel is your top expertise. You will be a better leader if you have a really strong team. Lean on your team as if they are your closest confidants. 

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team? 

 Be open to listening and learning from your team. Never go into a room thinking you have all of the answers. Running a business is one of the most collaborative things one will ever do and you all need to work in tandem.

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Naughty Bites: Pret A Manger Now Open at LAX

I am happy to report that the LAX Tom Bradley International Airport food court has a new occupant - Pret A Manger! I became quite familiar with Pret during my time in London in college. It was an easy place to pick up a sandwich while exploring the city! The brand caters to a variety of diets. Meals are pre-packed and ready to go - perfect for picking up before your long international flight! Enjoy fresh coffee, pastries, salads, cold sandwiches, soups and even grilled ham and cheese sandwiches! There's something for everyone.

Not only is this location now open in Los Angeles, but Las Vegas and Charlotte are also going to be the new home of Pret A Manger. “Pret has been at the forefront of offering diners freshly prepared food that is beautifully and conveniently displayed and available in attractive, highly portable packaging. Now, we’re thrilled to debut Pret to world travelers and expand its presence in U.S. airports from coast to coast,” said HMSHost Executive Vice President of Restaurant Development Stephanie Havard. “It is an exciting time for HMSHost and our airport partners as we continue to lead the way in elevating travelers’ dining experiences with the most delicious, on-trend choices to fuel their journeys.”

The UK-based company has shops on the East Coast of the U.S. and Chicago, as well as Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Pret is also arriving to Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the coming weeks, with other locations soon to follow. The openings are in partnership with global restaurateur HMSHost.

Photos courtesy of HMS Host/Pret A Manger




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Naughty Bites: Recycling in the Kitchen

Happy Earth Day and Month everyone! This video is a little different! I’m not reviewing a restaurant, I’m not making a recipe, I’m not traveling somewhere exotic BUT what I’m going to talk about is VERY important, it’s Recycling! In honor of Earth Month, this is a topic that I really wanted dig into with you. I’m going to go over all kinds of things in your kitchen that can and should be recycled. It’s easy to take care of the obvious things right? Egg cartons, plastic soda bottles, milk cartons and empty cans, but really, there is so much more we need to pay attention too. And it’s not just what CAN be recycled, it’s HOW to get those items ready to be recycled. I’m also going to talk about things that CAN’T be recycled, even though you maybe thought they could.


THINGS THAT CAN BE RECYCLED:

  • Empty aerosol containers

  • Newspaper

  • Paper board

  • Cardboard, corrugated boxes

  • Cardboard cereal & cracker boxes, etc.

  • 6-pack cartons

  • Paper grocery bags

  • Magazines

  • Glossy paper

  • Junk mail

  • Stationery & envelopes

  • Any high grade/uncoated paper

  • Binder/notebook paper, any color

  • Telephone books

  • Aluminum cans, foil, trays

  • Tin cans & bi-metal cans

  • Glass bottles, jars (empty & rinsed)

  • Any color glass bottles or jars

  • All plastic food containers #1 & #2

  • Plastic bottles and containers, such as shampoo, detergent, bleach, milk, soda, water and aspirin containers, etc.

  • Microwave food trays

  • Frozen food boil-in-bag pouches

THINGS THAT CANNOT BE RECYCLED:

  • Ovenware

  • Ceramic pottery, cups, dishes

  • Windowpane glass or mirror

  • Plastic wrap

  • Plastic motor oil bottles

  • Frozen food boxes

  • Microwave food boxes

  • Wax cereal/cracker box liners

  • Books

  • Gummed or glued bindings

  • Paper towels, napkins, tissue paper

  • Paper plates, soiled paper

  • Adhesive backed or sticky notes

  • Carbon paper, thermal fax paper

  • Aluminum foil boxes

  • Fast food wrappers

  • Pet food bags

  • Scrap metal

  • Light bulbs

  • Styrofoam

  • Soiled clothing

  • Drinking glasses

  • Food waste

  • Disposable diapers

  • To-Go Coffee Cups

  • Plastic Straws


RESOURCES:

https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/haincelestial#rewards

https://www.epa.gov/recycle

https://www.recyclebycity.com/

https://www.lacitysan.org/

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EAT HERE: Support the Woolsey Fire Victims!

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Like so many of us, I have been very upset this week about the devastation the Woolsey Fire and the other California fires have unleashed. I just sat crying on my couch one night after seeing another headline about homes, communities and lives that have been lost. The Woolsey Fire did not affect anyone I know directly, but it pains me just the same. All of that beautiful California landscape singed to black. Thankfully, the people of Los Angeles and Ventura counties are doing so much to help! When I received an email yesterday sharing a list of LA restaurants that are donating weekend sales to various relief funds and charities to help support the rebuild efforts, animals and people who have been directly affected by the fire, I couldn’t wait to share with you!

If you are going out this weekend, please consider visiting one of these amazing locations!

The Crack Shack, the gourmet fried chicken concept by chef Richard Blais will be donating 100% of profits from the Westfield Century City & Pasadena locations from the Coope Deville sandwich on Saturday & Sunday to the Ventura County Community Foundation.

Prawn, the fast-casual seafood concept by chef Mark Peel, will be donating 100% of profits from the Fish & Chips and Lemonade at both Grand Central Market and Pasadena locations, directly to the  Ventura County Community Foundation on Friday & Saturday.

All Los Angeles Artisanal Brewers Collective brewing locations – The Stalking Horse6th & La BreaBluebird Brasserieand Broxton- will be donating 20% of ABC beer sales on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to The Humane Society of Ventura County.

From Artisanal Brewers Collective’s restaurant and bar division -  The Old Chalet, Mohawk Bend and Tony’s Darts Away will be donating  $1 from each purchase of the below items directly to the Humane Society of Ventura County this weekend (Friday, Saturday & Sunday)

The Old Chalet - Lunazul Blanco Tequila $7 ($5 Happy Hour) well drinks or shots 

Mohawk Bend - Pepperoni pizza v/nv and cheese pizza v/nv - $14/15

Tony’s Darts Away - Darts Away Jr. Burger (v) Impossible Burger Patty, Follow Your Heart American Cheese, Russian spread, mixed greens, tomato and onion on a hamburger bun $13

Thank you to these establishments — let’s chow down and make a difference!

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Naughty Bites: Tocaya Organica

Join me as I explore some of the menu items at LA's hot new Organic Mexican chain, Tocaya Organica! I love this restaurant and order from it frequently on the Uber Eats app! They have just opened their new Hollywood Location and it is gorgeous and of course I got to check it out for you guys! The menu has a great selection of healthy, organic options like bowsl, tacos, burritos and salads! They also serve tasty salsas, guac, sides and margaritas! For this month only, they are featuring the "Pretty in Pink" Margarita with Prickly Pear juice -- all proceeds benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, so you should definitely round up your friends and order some! Watch the video for some of the yummy highlights and let me know in the comments what you want to try! And special thanks to Kimlai Yingling of EatinAsian for helping to shoot this episode! She rocks, follow her too!

For more info visit www.tocayaorganica.com


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DTLA's Greenbar Distillery is serving Cocktails for a Cause!

September isn’t over yet, which means you have plenty of time to join Greenbar Distillery’s #LoveOurCITY Campaign! This amazing local distillery has created signature cocktails using their very own CITY Bright Gin to be sold at over 100 participating California restaurants and bars in exchange for burritos to feed the homeless — so basically, buy a cocktail, feed the hungry - pretty awesome right?

The burritos will be provided by The Burrito Project, a group of volunteers who meet monthly to share healthy, quality food with the disenfranchised people of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena & surrounding areas. So for every Gin cocktail you purchase, you will be donating a burrito to a person in need. As we all have noticed, homelessness is a growing epidemic in Los Angeles and beyond, and we can all do our part to help the situation one contribution at a time.

I recently got to try one of the specialty cocktails, The Turmeric Collins and it was delicious! You can help spread the word by finding a participating bar (list here), ordering the beautiful cocktail, then posting a picture to your social media with the tag #LoveourCITY! If you are interested in learning more or becoming a volunteer please visit the links above. Cheers!

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Flash Bites: Granville West Hollywood

Did you know that Granville Restaurants have several LA locations?  I was not aware of this until recently when I dined at the West Hollywood location.  I knew about this location as well as the Burbank restaurant, but did not know that they are also open in Glendale, Studio City and soon, Pasadena!  So pretty much no matter where you live in LA you can get to one -- and I say do it! 

The dining concept for Granville is "affordable luxury" which is executed very well under Executive Chef Glenda Galvan-Garcia and Food & Beverage Manager Marc Dix.  Based on the tasting I had, the menu is full of variety - but not a detail is missed.  Flavors are fresh and inspired -- even on the classics like "Uptown Mac and Cheese" which combines aged cheddar, gruyere, chicken, asparagus and peas. Menu favorites of mine included the Westside Pastrami, Grilled Cheese Dippers, Thick Cut Pork Chop and the Chicken and Blue Flatbread.  

In additional to the food, were of course clever cocktails! The Gran Fashioned with bourbon, housemade cherry-vanilla bitters, angostura, orange bitters, molasses and pot cherry and the Ginny Hendrick's with Hendrick’s gin, strawberries, cucumber, mint, jalepeño and chipotle-pineapple.

I also have to elaborate on Granville WeHo's beautiful back patio, bar included.  It is a gem of a space if you are looking to book any private parties or dinners.  I'm even thinking about holding my birthday there this December!  What I loved about it was the layout, the light design and overall style.  It has an open-air roof, large windows, gold-geometric hanging lamps, mirrors and a central table supported by an enchanting tree trunk -- and yes a full bar that quietly borders the back wall.

To see more of the menu watch below and to learn more about Granville Restaurants click the link!

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Anthony Bourdain: A Voice Like No Other

Courtesy of CNN

Courtesy of CNN

Where to even begin — I know thousands upon thousands of us are still grappling with the cold- to-the-touch truth that we have lost a person whose worth was immeasurable. Anthony. Tony.  Bourdain.  The man with the greatest job in the world who in turn gave us the greatest gift in the world — humanity at its purest and kindest state. He was able to connect us all through his passion to learn, understand and relate to each other — through food, but also through his genuine compassion and curiosity.  What I am going to miss the most, is his voice.  No one could imitate his narration if they tried. His poetic words and calm and inviting cadence wrapped around me like a hug from an old friend who knew me inside and out. When an episode began, it began with his voice — letting us know we were about to be transported to somewhere amazing and would be in the best hands. He led us to the places we had always wanted to go and sometimes to the places we never thought about going to.  He showed us the places we had already been, but with completely different eyes. He gave us the world — the tastes, the sounds, the people.  With judge-less ease and interest.  To think that we will never hear his voice telling us as new story, that is the sting. 

I first became aware of Anthony Bourdain when my dad told me I had to watch this show called, No Reservations.  My dad could not say enough about how great it was — we shared a fascination with food and culture and he knew I would love the show too.  During the first episode I watched I was entranced.  My dad was right, this was great! The travel, the food, the conversations — but most importantly this guy.  He was so genuinely happy to be our guide and had an instinct to show us the most valuable aspects of wherever he was in that moment. There was no one else doing what he did — no one else who could DO what he did.  I was hooked.  Almost every time a new episode aired, my dad and I would talk on the phone during commercial breaks or right after the episode to discuss the food and moments of greatness. 

From that first viewing of No Reservations, I wanted to learn everything about Bourdain. I read Kitchen Confidential and fell even deeper in awe.  His writing was incredible for one, but also his life story to that point.  What he endured and survived.  Yes, he was a “bad boy” and thrived on the grit of kitchen life — but he was also a deeply sensitive and kind-hearted person.  He was an all or nothing.  I continued to read his work and follow his journey, while at the same time I was on my own journey as a food lover.  I cannot say Bourdain is the reason I started my blog, but I can say he was one of the reasons I continued it.  He kept me excited and re-affirmed my love for food writing and sharing with others time and time again. I am not alone in this — his other gift was that he inspired so many to keep going — keep seeking — keep sharing — keep moving. 

Two weeks ago my dad and I were gearing up for the Parts Unknown episode on Armenia. I called him to remind him it was going to be airing, but of course he was aware.  My great-great grandfather on my dad’s side, was Armenian, so we were especially intrigued and looking forward to this episode.  And that was what Bourdain did — brought people and families together to learn about a land they had never been but had a connection to.  All kinds of Americans — whose families immigrated from all over the world were able to see their roots, their past in the most beautiful ways, thanks to Bourdain. I cannot think of a better treasure to give someone.  I did not know that would be the last time I would call my dad to talk about a new Bourdain adventure.  

It was always a dream to meet him, but like so many others, even though I didn’t, it felt like I did.  No other famed personality that I can think of invited you into their world, their heart or their mind the way he did.  He was able to make a connection to every viewer, every reader.  He was loved all over the world.  It was taken as a grand honor by so many countries when he would visit because they knew he wanted to know them, not just observe them.  They knew he would show their day-to-day life in the best possible way.  He loved the underbellies of the world and shown a light on them — as if to say, “See?  It’s not so bad.  Everything is going to be alright.” 

As his fans we feel the deepest of losses, his friends feel something even worse and for his family I cannot imagine.  My heart aches for whatever pain he was suffering to such a degree that it ended this way.  We must continue his legacy — travel, eat, learn, love and be curious about the unknown.   From the bottom of my gut, thank you. 

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Santa Monica's Air Food Delivers on Avocado Toast and More!

Air Food, the French-Meets-Californian dining concept created by owners Marc & Theirry, not only has incredible Avocado Toast (which is really saying something when everyone in LA is doing a version of it), but they also have a pretty impressive water bar! Yes, they serve over 50 bottles of still and sparkling water from all over the world.  Perched at Broadway and Ocean Avenue the petite eatery is worth making a stop at -- Morning, Noon, or Night.  I happened to stop in the morning and was so glad that I did!

I started with a frothy, rich latte then enjoyed several of the breakfast menu classics -- a freshly baked croissant, Parisian omelette and of course, had to try the avocado toast.  What I loved about the avocado toast so much was the texture and flavor of the bread.  I could tell it had been grilled -- making it crisp on the outside but soft in the middle.  It tasted like bread just out of the oven.  The arugula, avocado and two poached eggs kissed with a tart vinaigrette made for the perfect flavor complexity. It just makes me so happy to find a food trend that is done exceptionally well -- this is one of them!

What about the water?!  Yes, even though it was a bit overwhelming with all of the choices I selected the Numen water from Spain -- as it came highly recommended from the staff!  I don't know what is going on with the water in Spain, but it was magical!  I almost didn't want to finish it because I wanted it to last forever!  Maybe the cleanest tasting water I ever sipped down.  

To really get the full experience of my time at Air Food, Watch my newest Youtube episode of Naughty Bites below!

*Photos of me taken by Barbara Lopes

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LA Times Food Bowl Brings Women Together with Forces in Food Event

Noelle Carter, Briana Valdez, Emily Fiffer, Sarah Hymanson, Sara Kramer

Noelle Carter, Briana Valdez, Emily Fiffer, Sarah Hymanson, Sara Kramer

Women have always played a significant role in the food and dining industry — but finally you are noticing them.  On Saturday, May 12th, Hedley & Bennett Headquarters (owned and operated by business woman extraordinaire Ellen Bennett) hosted the LA Time Food Bowl event, Forces in Food.  Guests enjoyed two panels discussing the community of women chefs/restaurateurs in LA and female empowerment through media. Fierce female talent in Los Angeles and Southern California were present.  Panelists included Nyesha Arrington, Tiffani Thiessen, Sarah Hymanson, Sara Kramer, Emily Fiffer, Briana Valdez and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins. Snacks were provided by local female run businesses and by Chefs Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network and Dakota Weiss of Sweetfin.  The panels were moderated by LA Times Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter and Ellen Bennett. 

The first panel began and I was riveted — hearing the stories of how these women made the tough decisions to go for their dreams of opening restaurants no matter the price, no matter the obstacles and no matter the “Nos”, was inspiring.  Seeing the success they are now enjoying warmed me, but what thrilled me even more was learning about the community of supportive women in the LA food scene.  These women explained how they always had someone to call if they were in a bind or they needed to talk about something happening with their business. How refreshing.  The world should be paying attention to the women of LA — they are building an army of kitchens and they are prepared to win you over, not just because they are women, but because they are talented.

The second panel shifted to conversations around social media and how women can launch their businesses with these easily accessible tools. The main point being - you have to be comfortable with who you are and define your brand! For women, especially those in the public eye, social media is a way to show all sides of your personality, not just what people read about you online.  Tiffani Thiessen, yes Kelly Kapowski of Saved by the Bell, wanted her fans to know that she was more than an actress, she was truly passionate about food and cooking.  She has been able to express that side of herself easily through social media. 

Ellen Bennett, Tiffani Thiessen, Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, Nyesha Arrington

Ellen Bennett, Tiffani Thiessen, Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, Nyesha Arrington

To hear women in food speaking on these topics from their point of view was reassuring.  It was like, hey - we are powerful, we can accomplish great things, especially when we support each other.  No offense to men at all, there are some truly great male chefs and restaurateurs here in LA, but hearing an all female chorus of voices was pretty freaking cool!  

After the panels I got to catch up with Tiffani about her new cookbook coming out this Fall — Pull up a Chair! Watch the interview below!

The LA Times Food Bowl is still in full swing until May 31st, so be sure to check out their site for more great food events.

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Food Pervert Exclusive: Ruby Chocolate Tasting

I was recently invited to a very special event here in Los Angeles -- a private tasting of Callebaut Chocolate's newest family member -- Ruby Chocolate!  Technically known as "RB1" Ruby Chocolate is made from a dark reddish pink cocoa bean -- giving the chocolate that fabulous blushing pink hue, no dyes are used at all!  It was this food pervert's dream come true to be one of the first to try this new chocolate!  Ruby is now available for purchase in Belgium, but won't be available in the U.S. until late 2018 or early 2019.  So until then, you'll just have to watch my episode of "Naughty Bites" and live vicariously through my tasting experience!  Enjoy! 

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February Donut Report: The Red Carpet Doughnut

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Your mind is not playing tricks on you.  That really is a stack of gold, glittering doughnuts.  Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken in Downtown LA has unveiled "The Red Carpet Doughnut" just in time for the 90th Annual Academy Awards airing on March 4th.  These red velvet cake doughnuts are drenched with sweet icing and edible golden sprinkles and truly are show-stopping.

I had a great time taste-testing them for you!  You'll have to see my reactions in the video below!

These beauties are available for order only with 24 hours notice and they are so perfect for any awards show parties you plan on having or if you just want to be fancy and eat gold donuts!

Order Here

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In it's 15th Year -- ChefDance Heats up Sundance

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When we hear “Sundance” we all think about the movie screenings, the skiing and the after parties, but did you know there are also incredible dinner parties going on?  The most renowned being the ChefDance series, now an official partner and in it’s 15th year! January 18th - 22nd, creators Mimi Kim (pictured above) and Kenny Griswold have lined up incredible chefs for world class, multi-course dinners in Park City, Utah and you’re lucky to get a seat! 

Kim, who first attended the Sundance Film Festival in 2002, loved her experience, but noticed something was missing -- an incredible dinner party!  Being the food lover that she is, Kim wanted to create an event that would combine her passions for food and film.  Thus, ChefDance was born.  For 15 years now, film lovers and entertainment industry insiders have been snagging seats at the incredible ChefDance dinners -- which have now become a 4-night series! This year, four incredible chefs: Luigi Fineo, Brian Malarkey, Beau MacMillan and Shawn McClain, will be cooking up meals to fuel discussions, create bonds and of course please the palate. 

Each night is going to be memorable, but perhaps the most intriguing dinner will be Chef Shawn McClain & Refinery 29’s “49 Remarkable Women and One Really Cool Dude!” on January 20th, which is invite-only.  Given the current "me too" movement taking place, this dinner seems more than timely and appropriate. 

Local LA food enthusiasts — myself included — got a little tease of what these dinner parties are like recently at Kim’s home.  We enjoyed a sampling of bites from a menu prepared by Michelin Starred Chef Luigi Fineo, which included salmon, roasted beef tenderloin, Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms and Black Truffles and other dishes. It was a very special experience and made me wish I would be attending the actual dinners in Park City this week! 

Myself with Chef Luigi Fineo

Myself with Chef Luigi Fineo

This is very obvious, but yes, the Risotto was the highlight of the meal in my opinion.  I had a wonderful time watching as it was prepared — so, so, so much butter (the secret ingredient).  Risotto is one of those classic dishes that you really can’t go wrong with and adding truffles just makes it even more magical.  It’s a classic pairing for a reason, it just works and works well! 

If you’re cooler than me and will be at Sundance this week, please make the attempt to get a seat at one of these dinners! 

Tickets available here: https://www.chefdance.com/tickets/

 

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Naughty Bites: Prince of Venice Food Truck

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We all remember the "food truck craze" that popped up around 2007, food trucks were everywhere!  There were, and I think still are, entire cooking competition shows dedicated just to finding out who had the best food truck in America!  I definitely spent time eating from many, many food trucks when I first moved to LA.  Even though we don't hear as much buzz about them as we used to, it's good to know unique ones are still emerging!  Recently, I visited the Prince of Venice Food Truck, dedicated to making fresh handmade pasta dishes.  When I learned that this truck had been started by Emanuelle Filiberto di Savoia, the Prince of Piedmont and Venice, Italy, I was immediately intrigued! How many Italian Princes do you know that have started pasta trucks?! Exactly. It behooved me to do some taste testing!

As Filiberto explains, "The concept is to make a variety of fresh pasta in front of the clients and to serve it with incredible handmade sauces."  To accomplish this, he starts with only the best ingredients such as flour, olive oil and truffles imported from Italy.  What he doesn't get from the homeland, he finds from local businesses and farms here in Los Angeles. "I wanted to create a gourmet, fresh-pasta, Italian food truck with authentic recipes matched by equally high-quality ingredients." He definitely accomplishes this, but because of it, be prepared to spend some extra dough (Get it? I'm so funny!) -- but don't worry, it's worth it and you'll probably have leftovers to last you a day or two, the portions are huge! 

I was a real hog and tried three different pastas: The Cresto de Gallo with butternut squash, sage and cream sauce, the Tartufo with freshly grated black truffle, truffle butter and cream sauce and the Bucatini with garlic butter, chili flakes, lemon zest and cream sauce.  They were all delicious and I could tell how fresh that pasta was! To find out my favorite you're going to have to watch the video below!

The Prince of Venice Food Truck can be found at locations all over LA!  To find out where they will be next visit: www.PrinceofVeniceFoodTruck.com

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October Donut Report: Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

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Okay, okay! Fine! I tried all of the new doughnut flavors at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken in Downtown LA! Are you happy now?! It was very difficult work, but I know that you were counting on me to do the job and to do the job well.  I only hope my taste testing does not disappoint you! I know October is almost over, but that doesn't mean you can't make time to get downtown to try the four seasonal doughnut flavors and the four new hot, made-to-order doughnuts...you know you want to!  All I can say is that I did not regret eating the Pumpkin Pie, Coconut Dream, Candy Bar, Candied Apple, Vanilla Glaze, Nutella, Cinnamon-Sugar or Maple Bacon doughnuts. 

These babies are so, so good.  You can enjoy them now through October 31st.  You can also order minis! How fun is that?!  I guarantee if you gave out mini doughnuts to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, you would be the coolest person ever and all the kids would be talking about you at school the next day.  You'd probably be tagged all over Instagram too! 

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They look pretty tasty in these photos, but, if you want all of the sweet details and to find out my favorites you're going to have to watch the newest "Donut Report" episode below!  Let me know which one you want to try the most in the comments section! 

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

516 South 6th Street

Los Angeles, CA 90014

213-622-7876

www.astrodoughnuts.com                                                                                               

 

 

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Naughty Bites: Jennifer Pennifer Bakes

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Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the "niche" bakery business -- cupcakes, cake-pops, donuts, cookies and macarons have taken over neighborhoods and street corners -- but now, get ready for mini-cheesecakes! Jennifer Pennifer Bakes in Culver City is cultivating a very unique brand of bakery and I must say, it's pretty fantastic.  That is, if you are a cheesecake lover.  With over 15 different varieties to choose from daily, the bakery is dedicated to making this dessert the next big thing one mini cake at a time.  

All of the mini-cheesecakes are hand-made from scratch, so I can only imagine the kitchen is a constant whirlwind of cream cheese and sugar!  The variety of flavors really is impressive.  Let me name a few just to get your imagination going: Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Tiramisu, Caramel Apple, Coconut, Coffee Cake and Cookie Butter... and there are so many more! You can pick them up to go, enjoy them in the bakery or even serve them at your next party or event.  Trust me, you will be a big hit when you show up with adorable and delicious mini-cheesecakes that fit in the palm of your guests hands!  

Yes Jennifer Pennifer Bakes' signature item is cheesecake, but they also serve espresso, sandwiches, salads and other classic pastries -- so even if you don't like cheesecake, you have no excuse not to check it out.

I know you are wondering how many I ate and which ones were my favorite -- and if you want to find out, you're going to have to watch my newest episode of Naughty Bites! Warning there are a lot of mmmmm's and ooooooh's.  But you wouldn't expect anything less from the Food Pervert, right? Tune in below and don't forget to subscribe to my channel on YouTube so you never miss a delicious adventure! 

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How To FEAST in Portland, Oregon

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It was not my first time in Portland, but it was my first time at FEAST.  I am thrilled to report that my expectations were well exceeded! My first night at the Sandwich Invitational set the tone for an incredible weekend of shoving my little face with all kinds of deliciousness!  It's safe to say this is an event I definitely plan on attending again next year... although I plan on going much harder! Now that I got my freshmen year out of the way, I know how to better prepare for next year.  

As I said, my first stop was the Sandwich Invitational presented by the Portland Trail Blazers, which took place at the Rose Quarter Commons — and even though I was exhausted from flight delays, I went straight there from the airport and was so glad I did!  There were SO MANY SANDWICHES! Also, to make things more fun, the commons was set up with an Eastside and Westside — dueling sandwiches! What?! Then attendees got to vote on their favorites at the end of the night! I was beyond lucky to snag one of the very last of the Eastside winning “Zombae” pastrami sandwich from Pastrami Zombie.  My favorite on the Westside, although it didn’t win and was not a local Portland joint — was the Smoked Lamb Gyro from Souvla San Francisco.  The lamb was so tender and delicious, and I just LOVE gyros! 

The next two days I spent at the Grand Tasting presented by New Seasons Market at Pioneer Courthouse Square in the heart of Downtown Portland.  This is a place I know like the back of my hand, a location that I have so many memories of visiting with my parents so many times.  Going back to school shopping at Nordstrom’s and petting the giant copper animal statues that decorate the sidewalk.  To be in that same location - as a 33 year old woman doing what I love the most - eating food and learning new things about it - was slightly surreal, but utterly special. 

The Grand Tasting hosted numerous vendors, wineries and even top notch chef’s like LA’s Ray Garcia who cooked incredible food live in the gut of the square in the Williams Sonoma kitchen. I think my favorite part about FEAST was the energy! Everyone was just happy and attitudes of any kind didn’t exist.  Portland truly is a city full of incredible hearts, minds and souls — especially when it comes to food & beverage. The vendors were beyond generous and had immense passion about their product - everyone I met, drew me in, not just with their tasty samplings but with their bright smiles too.

 

I could go into so much detail about my discoveries, but then you wouldn’t need to watch the videos I made!   Check them out below and don’t forget to subscribe to The Food Pervert on YouTube for more naughty bites to come! 

 

For more info on this year’s FEAST check out an article featuring me on Sip Northwest and Blank Glass!

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The Food Pervert gets Ready to FEAST in Portland!

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Get ready, because the 6th Annual Feast Portland is about to launch and I will be there getting the lowdown on the best bites!  This incredible food event presented by Bon Appétit Magazine and founded by Mike Thelin and Carrie Welch has been referred to as "The Best Food Festival in the country" by Thrillist  -- I have been aware of it's existence for a few years now and finally get to go! I could not be more excited to taste the creations of over 80 vendors including amazing chefs, vintners, brewers, bakers, cheesemakers and food artisans -- not only from the Northwest, but all across the country! 

The four-day food wonderland will take place from September 14th - 17th at venues all across Portland.  Did I mention I'm an Oregonian and super stoked to be eating all weekend in a city I grew up visiting?  The Portland food scene itself is on fire, so it makes sense that a huge event gathering talent from this city and beyond would become an early autumn tradition.

Not to get you too excited, but here are just a few of the names you might recognize who will be charming us with their sexy cooking skills -- Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue), Naomi Pomeroy (Beast), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), Christina Tosi (Milk Bar) and much more talent from Portland and other great cities! 

The events begin Thursday night at 6pm where attendees will be cruising the Sandwich Invitational or dining at one of the delicious dinners.  Then Friday and Saturday during daylight guests can enjoy the all-day Grand Tastings and/or attend specialized tastings and classes and even more dining events spill into the evenings.  On Sunday, for those who haven't busted their jeans yet -- there is Brunch Village starting at 11 am and more events going until 6pm. Overall, this weekend will be a food lovers fantasy of fantasies.  

Many of these Portland Feast events have sold-out but some tickets do remain!  If you are anywhere in the vicinity and love great food -- you cannot miss this!  

For all event information please visit www.feastportland.com

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End of Summer Must: Malibu's Sunset Restaurant

California’s Zuma Beach is arguably one of the most beautiful in the state, making it a popular destination in the Summer months.  As you drive along the beach access road, you will eventually meet a landmark, The Sunset Restaurant. Appropriately titled for it’s breathtaking view of the Zuma sunset.  This bungalow-style building with large glass windows offers diners a memorable experience — they can savor California-meets-Mediterranean inspired dishes throughout the bar and dining room while gazing out to the crash and hum of the ocean and the painted sky and cliffs framing it.  The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends, but, I will warn you, if you go other than the sunset hour, you are cheating yourself.  

Executive Chef, Enrico Glaudo, has returned to the Sunset kitchen after a 3-year stint in Houston, Texas.  Clearly you can leave Malibu, but it will never leave you.  He takes a two-hour motorcycle ride along the coast almost daily from Redondo beach to work in this kitchen — something that he says keeps him grateful.

Chef Glaudo’s ultimate goal for all of his diners, is that they leave satisfied with a warm, happy feeling.  Good thing there is something for everyone on the menu — especially the seafood connoisseur.  The restaurant has a beautiful raw bar for fresh oysters and clams in addition to lobster, jumbo shrimp, ahi tuna tartare, hamachi crudo, clam chowder, fish tacos, grilled octopus and more.  For those who prefer the turf over surf — there are Korean style ribs, meatballs, new york steak, Mary’s rotisserie chicken and of course a burger.  In addition to all of this there are salads, pastas and sides.  

The most popular item is the Mediterranean Grilled Octopus; served with cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans, Tuscan style potatoes and herb oil. It is absolutely the most important thing you must taste. It is lightly boiled in water with carrots and onions to soften but not enough to lose it’s purple radiance, then gently placed on the grill with a coat of olive oil to crisp.  This truly delicious octopus could win over the most timid of diners — you know, the one who thinks that all seafood is slimy and fishy.  They’s probably say it was the best chicken they ever had and order seconds. Personally, my very favorite bite is the crispy pointed end of the tentacle. 

Also worth trying for taste and the beautiful presentation is the Ahi Tuna Tartare.  It is so light and refreshing on a hot summer day.  The cool tuna layered with citrus hinted avocado sings classic California Cuisine at it’s best.

The burger is made with grass-fed beef and served with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and roasted garlic aioli.  Cheese and/or bacon can be added for an extra fee. Oh and it comes with fries!

Surprisingly enough, the chef’s very own Carrot Cake on the dessert menu is just as mind-blowing as the octopus.  His unique recipe will leave your plate utterly crumb-less.  The secret is that he mixes lemon zest into the cream cheese frosting and it adds an incredible brightness through the usually heavy cream cheese.  Not something you often get in a carrot cake bite, but maybe you should.

Although Chef Glaudo hasn’t made any menu makeovers yet — he says that perhaps with the changing of the seasons and cooler weather to come, we can expect some specials paying homage to his Torino roots such as Ossobuco. A classic Northern Italian dish on a chilly Malibu evening with red wine and a sunset? I’m sold. 

The Sunset Restaurant

6800 Westward Beach Rd, Malibu, CA 90265

 310-589-1007

www.thesunsetrestaurant.com

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Donut Report July: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

Are you ready to find out how amazing the July doughnut flavors are at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken in Downtown Los Angeles? You've come to the right place! I have personally sampled all four new flavors for you -- so you can get an idea of which ones you want to go in and try! There is the Blackberry Lime Tart, which I awesomely on accident referred to as the Blueberry Lime Tart, the Peach Melba, the Chocolate Caramel Machiatto and the Passion Fruit Boston Cream.  As you can tell, these flavors have taken Summer into account! I love that every month Astro Doughnuts creates four specialty flavors in addition to their classic line-up.  Way to keep things interesting! Oh and don't forget they also have delicious fried chicken -- I even tried one of their savory doughnut and fried chicken sandwiches! You'll have to watch below for the details...

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

516 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

213-622-7876

www.astrodoughnuts.com

 

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