Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




Chocolate Only

on October 11th, 2009
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  • pinitbutton Chocolate Only
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Pair the chocolate from Republica del Cacao with Pinot

by Sophie Gayot

It was obvious this afternoon at the 3rd Annual Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon held at the Pasadena Convention Center that chocolate is not a standard foodstuff. It provokes a passion and love that not too many products can claim.

Each of the 35-plus exhibitors had a different story. Bernard Duclos from República del Cacao likes to tell you to pair his organic chocolate with Pinot. Chocolatier Christopher Michael makes its chocolate bacon bar sizzle (fun). Travel with the round metal tins of The Chocolate Traveler, which you can have customized with your own design. We also tried the chocolate-dipped pretzels hand-rolled in English toffee (not bad); and the leopard-printed chocolates from Susie Norris of Happy Chocolates. Helen Grace’s old-fashioned chocolates include truffles, specialty confections, assortments, and even dessert toppings. There were even chocolate body products from Sweet Beauty Organic Chocolate Spa Treatments.

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  • pinitbutton An Exceptional Evening at Spago Beverly Hills
sophiegayotthomaskellernobu 300x260 An Exceptional Evening at Spago Beverly Hills

Chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Thomas Keller with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot



Fresh off the plane from Paris, I had only a few minutes to change before heading to Spago Beverly Hills for the 10th Annual Chefs Grand Tasting Dinner, held last night. Benefiting Meals-on-Wheels Programs of Los Angeles, it is one of the most prestigious charity dinners in the country.


Wolfgang Puck, Lee Hefter & Barbara Lazaroff, along with chef de cuisine Thomas Boyce and executive pastry chef Sherry Yard, welcomed six very fine chefs into their kitchen to prepare an elegant six-course dinner.




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  • pinitbutton GAYOT Partners with Perfect Pairings (SM)
perfectpairings 150x150 GAYOT Partners with Perfect Pairings (SM)
Perfect Pairings (SM) Menu Campaign to benefit Meals-on-Wheels programs

By Sophie Gayot


We are happy to announce a partnership with the Perfect Pairings (SM) Menu Campaign, a new, pairing-based fundraiser taking place this October benefiting Citymeals on Wheels, Meals-on-Wheels of San Francisco and The Cooperative Feeding Program.

Restaurants in New York City, San Francisco and South Florida, almost 100 in total, will feature special food-and-beverage pairings on their menus, flagged by the Perfect Pairings logo. Each time one of these pairings is ordered, a donation ($1) is automatically made to local Meals-on-Wheels programs that deliver food and other vital services to thousands of people in need every day.

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Dine Out For Less

on September 25th, 2009
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  • pinitbutton Dine Out For Less
sophiegayotmayorantoniovillaraigosa 300x267 Dine Out For Less

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who loves food and good wines, changed his packed schedule so he could announce the launch of the third dineLA/Restaurant Week at this morning’s press conference at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at L.A. Live.


The last two editions of the program have been so successful that it is now being conducted twice a year instead of just once in January. The participating number of restaurants has also grown from 175 to 260.


Mayor Villaraigosa pointed out that the diversity of Los Angeles’ palates is due to the diversity of the many cultures found in the City of Angels. He also added that he will try to eat at as many restaurants as he can during the two-week period, October 4-9 and October 11-16, 2009.


dineLA is a good way to discover or rediscover restaurants in the Los Angeles area through specially priced three-course meals, ranging from $16 to $28 for lunch, and $26 to $44 for dinner. For a complete list of participating restaurants go to


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  • pinitbutton Susan Feniger, Star of the Emmys
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Jeff Probst, best reality host Emmy winner, with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot




If you were looking for Susan Feniger last night, she was nowhere near her restaurants (STREET, Border Grill, Ciudad). She was too busy cooking for 1,000 guests at CBS Television Entertainment Tonight’s Emmy Awards Party downtown at Vibiana—a former church now transformed into an elegant event venue.


Her worldwide cuisine was offered at four different buffets, each with a geographical theme, with more selections passed on trays such as Japanese shizo shrimp, Moldavian meatballs, and Indian semolina cakes.


Feniger’s food was so different from what caterers usually present, that it made the evening that much more stellar.


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  • pinitbutton So Important for All of Us
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Concern Foundation 35th Annual Block Party at Paramount Studios

By Sophie Gayot


For its 35th annual block party, held Saturday, July 11, at the Paramount Studios backlot, the Concern Foundation for Cancer Research chose to add the number 2 to its logo to stress the fact that cancer is now a concern for the children and grandchildren of the founders of the foundation, which has been active for 41 years.


President Derek Alpert announced that $1.3 million dollars had been raised during the sold-out event, where over 3,000 participants were able to taste the food and desserts of over 40 local restaurants; to name just a few: Charlie’s, Chaya Brasserie, Il Cielo, La Cachette Bistro, Huckleberry Café & Bakery, La Provence Pâtisserie, Vibrato Grill.


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  • pinitbutton Coming Together for a Nationwide Cause
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Chef de cuisine Jorge Chicas from The Bazaar with Sophie Gayot stirring a liquid nitrogen margarita

By Sophie Gayot


More than fifty Los Angeles chefs and restaurants combined their culinary talents last Sunday at Share Our Strength’s annual Taste of the Nation, a benefit to support organizations that feed hungry children.


Guests were able to meet the chefs and taste their dishes, as well as enjoy live entertainment and a special auction. The event, held in Culver City’s Media Park, was supposed to end at 4 p.m., but the ambience was so enjoyable that the crowd stayed much longer.

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  • pinitbutton A Night Show with Jay Leno for a Cause
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Jay Leno & Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

More than three hundred guests attended Vintage Hollywood 2009, a charity event, held at a private estate in Bel-Air, California, last Saturday. Thanks to the hard work of Linda Daly and other members of the organization, many Los Angeles restaurants and wineries from across California as well as from Oregon, New Zealand and Argentina came together in a gorgeous garden. In addition, a silent auction took place.


But the highlight of the evening was the appearance of Jay Leno, who was in charge of the live auction. And trust me, it was an auction like no other. Leno’s celebrated humor was behind each of his words. I just wish there would have been more items to keep the show running. A private tour of the comedian’s “Garage,” guided by Leno himself, went for $29,500 for four lucky bidders. More than $200,000 was raised at this year’s event. Jay’s generosity brought even more support than expected.


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Premiere with Rosé

on June 11th, 2009
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  • pinitbutton Premiere with Rosé
sophiegayotmarkpeel 300x176 Premiere with Rosé

Chefs Mark Peel of Campanile, Suzanne Tracht of Jar and Rick Moonen of RM Seafood with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

Martini & Rossi Rosé was being poured with no limit (if you met the age limit, of course) last night at Campanile restaurant in Los Angeles, during the premiere of Bravo’s new television show “Top Chef Masters.”


For the occasion, Campanile chef/owner Mark Peel created a bite-sized dish to be paired with the sparkling wine: a roasted walnut and taleggio stuffed date. Peel also prepared six of his famous grilled cheese sandwiches, handed out to me by general manager Jay Perrin. Thanks to him I was able to try each of them. Due to the crowd I could not approach the gazpacho, the roasted beet salad, or the charcuterie and cheese station.

Some of the 24 chefs competing in the show were there, as well as host Kelly Choi. They all refused to give me any details, beside the fact that it was shot in the Los Angeles Warehouse District. I guess the best way to find out more is to simply watch the show, which takes competitive cooking to the next level. 




  • pinitbutton The Artist and his Painting
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Artist Alexey Steele with Sophie Gayot

By Sophie Gayot

What better way to spend Memorial Day weekend in the Golden State than by attending the California Art Club exhibition: on location in Malibu 2009 at Pepperdine University. The showing featured paintings of landscapes that capture the community of Malibu from the Pacific Coast Highway to the beaches and mountains. The fall 2007 wildfires ravaged much of the city and the artists wanted to record the positive changes of rebirth and renewal since then.


The highlight of the exhibit was Alexey Steele‘s Water and Fire, which depicts a graceful woman walking on the beach at sunset. Steele’s vision of the landscape was moving and the lighting he used added a dramatic effect. From his style, look, behavior, and the way he dresses and talks, Steele, who was born in the Ukraine in 1967, is an artist in the full sense of the word. His magnificent studio, located in Carson, is filled with books and the sounds of classical music which inspire him to create wonderful figurative paintings. His area of expertise includes multi-figure compositions, portraits, nudes and plein-air landscapes.


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