An Italian Affair in West Hollywood

by Sophie Gayot

The latest accomplishment of Sam Nazarian’s sbe group is Mercato di Vetro restaurant in West Hollywood. The challenge Nazarian faces every time he opens a new place is to actually come up with a “new” place and not duplicate one of the successes he already has. Remember, sbe is at the helm of Katsuya (4 locations), The Bazaar by José Andrés, Cleo, The Abbey, Gladstone’s and Papaya King.

One of the reasons he has managed to continue his winning ways is because of the talented team Nazarian has assembled. It seems that all of them work really hard, so guests can have a great experience, leave happy and want to return. Watch our exclusive interview with one team member, sbe’s executive chef Danny Elmaleh, who created the menu at Mercato.

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Toys for Tots at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Hotel general manager Mehdi Eftekari with Marines & Sophie Gayot
Hotel general manager Mehdi Eftekari with Marines & Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

To celebrate the start of the holiday season, the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills invited some 300 guests last night. The reception was actually a very good excuse to collect toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The foundation then distributes them as Christmas gifts to needy children. The Marines left with more than 500 presents!

Hotel general manager Mehdi Eftekari is behind this good cause. He started getting involved with the Marines’ organization sixteen years ago, when he was at the Newport Beach Four Seasons, and then brought it with him when he moved to the Los Angeles location eight years ago.

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Michael Hung at bushi-tei

Tataki of Hawaiian albacore
Tataki of Hawaiian albacore

by Tiffany Maleshefski

Michael Hung’s transformation of Japantown’s venerable fusion restaurant bushi-tei is for the most part, complete. After about eight months in the kitchen, the 33-year old chef is clearly putting heavy emphasis on the restaurant’s Japanese notes. Not to say he’s abandoning the French and Californian influences that earned the restaurant and its opening chef, Seiji Wakabayashi, so many accolades. There’s still foie gras, brioche, bacon and serrano chiles on the menu. It’s just clear that Hung is doing what it takes to distinguish himself from his amazingly talented and esteemed predecessor.

It’s a smart move since he’s only the second chef to run the restaurant’s kitchen since it opened in 2005. Who wants to just live in Wakabayashi’s shadow, especially when this is your first-ever executive chef role? That leaves too much risk for side-by-side comparisons.

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Thanksgiving on a LA Rooftop

by Sophie Gayot

For your culinary delight, we have compiled a list of restaurants serving a Thanksgiving menu throughout America, and even in Paris & London. If you happen to be in Los Angeles — 1.78 million passengers are expected at LAX this Thanksgivi​ng, a 16 per cent increase over last year — and want to immerse yourself in the LA food scene, may I recommend you spend your holiday at chef Eric Greenspan’s new restaurant The Roof on Wilshire.

Starting at 4 p.m. until 11 p.m., for $29 (yes, only $ 29!), diners will enjoy an appetizer (salad of celery root, pomegranate, carrot or sunchoke soup); turkey, of course (with rosemary mashed potatoes, green beans with mushrooms, crispy onions, cranberry dijon chutney and pumpernickel stuffing); and dessert (pumpkin bread pudding). To discover the restaurant, watch our exclusive video with Iron Chef America-winner Greenspan, who also co-hosts the A&E show “Fix This Kitchen.” For more information, read our just published review of the restaurant.

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The Cook, the Demons, the Angels & the Bankers

Mario Batali had to eat his words - good thing he has plenty of recipes.
Mario Batali had to eat his words - good thing he has plenty of recipes.

by André Gayot

“The ways the bankers have kind of toppled the way money is distributed and taken most of it into their hands is as good as Stalin or Hitler and the evil guys,” star restaurateur Mario Batali declared at a recent panel sponsored by Time Magazine. No surprise Mr. Batali got a lot of flak, especially, of course, from bankers and the like. The restaurateur realized belatedly that quite a number of his clients in his twenty fancy establishments might very well belong to or be associated with the banking industry because, according to his own terms, bankers “… have taken most of the money into their hands,” and thus can easily afford the hefty bills. Some talked vigorously of boycotting Batali’s restaurants. Deterring such a well-heeled clientele is not good business practice in these uncertain times.

Sorry, oops, my mistake, went Mario, who said through a spokesperson, “It was never my intention to equate our banking industry with Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil, brutal dictators in modern history.” So we get the message: these two guys are really bad, but bankers are OK. OK, but not angels?

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Beaujolais Nouveau is Here!

Jason Hayes from W.J. Deustch & Sons, imported of Georges Duboeuf wines, Kora  Kroep (West Coast Event Productions), Sophie Gayot
Jason Hayes from W.J. Deustch & Sons, importer of Georges Duboeuf wines; Kora Kroep (West Coast Event Productions); Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

There were some one hundred parties around the USA celebrating the arrival of the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau. It is probably the wine that gets the most attention when it is released. Most the 300,000 Georges Duboeuf bottles imported in the America will be sold between now and December. The good news is that the price has not changed since last year due to the Euro exchange rate: $11.00. We have tried the wine yesterday. It is a very pleasant, and a very good value. Read our tasting notes in Wine section.

I am just back from one of the celebrations held in Los Angeles. The Gamay wine was appropriately paired with Michel Cordon Bleu smoked salmon topped by Kendall Farms crème fraîche, pâtés and saucissons from Fabrique Délices, duck breast with fingerling potatoes by Maple Leaf Farms, a truly decadent Republica del Cacao chocolate fondue and macarons by Blue Blanc Rouge.


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Cooking with Citrin

by Sophie Gayot

After twelve years of being the chef in his own restaurant, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse in Santa Monica has just published his first cookbook: In Pursuit of Excellence. Watch our exclusive video interview with Citrin to learn more about the book from the chef himself.

Mélisse restaurant has been named to’s Top 40 US Restaurants continuously since 2006. The restaurant is also featured on our lists of the Top 10 LA Food Rating Restaurants, Top 10 LA Business Restaurants, Top 10 LA French Restaurants, Top 10 LA Romantic Restaurants, Top 10 LA California Cuisine Restaurants, Top 10 LA Wine List Restaurants, Top 10 LA Special Occasion Restaurants, Top 10 LA Thanksgiving Restaurants, and Top 10 LA New Year’s Eve Restaurants.

For more cookbooks on, visit the Cookbook Reviews section.

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Hunting for a Chef on Food Network

by Sophie Gayot

The Food Network needs no introduction, of course, but have you heard about their new show “Chef Hunter”? Hosted by culinary recruiter Carrie McCully, “Chef Hunter” is a docu-reality series that takes you behind the scenes of running a restaurant, beyond just cooking the food. In the six episodes, chefs compete head-to-head for coveted executive chef positions at restaurants all over the country.

Watch our exclusive video interview with McCully to learn more about the show, and tune in to the next episodes. For information about the airing dates, click here.

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Restaurant News on the Airwaves

Seared foie gras at L'Abeille restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Paris
Seared foie gras at L’Abeille restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Paris

by Sophie Gayot

As you know, we go around the globe to bring the freshest news about the restaurant scene. If you missed me on the radio a few weeks ago, here is your chance to catch up on the conversation I had with chef Jamie Gwen. Her weekly radio show airs on Sundays in Los Angeles on KFWB News Talk 980.

Click on the restaurant names below to listen to what we had to say:

 L’Abeille, Shangri-La Hotel Paris, Paris
(More about the restaurant at with an exclusive video of executive chef Philippe Labbé);

Le Bernardin, New York
(More about chef Eric Ripert at’s blog);

Mercato di Vetro, West Hollywood;

Stella Rossa Pizza Bar, Santa Monica
(More about the restaurant at with an exclusive video with executive chef Jeff Mahin. The restaurant has just been named one of’s Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in the US);

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Project by Project, Plate by Plate

Chefs from The French Culinary Institute
Chefs from The French Culinary Institute

by Michelle Kwan

The thirteenth annual Project by Project-sponsored Plate by Plate event benefiting the Chinatown Youth Initiatives showcased the culinary talents of a group of distinguished chefs, among them Chris Jaeckle of Ai Fiori. Guests at the October 14 happening in New York City sampled specialties from participating restaurants, including a traditional Korean spicy welk salad with buckwheat noodles from Danji, Iberico ham from Bar Basque, and braised beef cheek from Macao Trading Co. Wineries like Southern California-based Monte De Oro and Bedell of North Fork, Long Island, served up tastings of their finest reds and whites, while Hakkaisan, Joto and Tengumai acquainted visitors with the subtleties of saké. Spirits distributors Zyr Vodka, Speyburn Scotch and Caorunn Gin, and designer water purveyor Voss, were also on hand. One of the highlights of the evening was the Quickfire Challenge with last year’s winner Jaeckle and former Top Chef contestant Lee Anne Wong as competitors, with each chef preparing dishes centered around one main ingredient: salmon. Kudos went to Jaeckle’s various salmon-inspired crudos, but ultimately, the title went to Wong’s salmon prepared three ways.

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