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




A Sweet Angel out of Hell

on February 18th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton A Sweet Angel out of Hell

by Sophie Gayot

Two days ago, I finally got to spend quality time Nona Sivley, the winner of season 8 of Hell’s Kitchen, in person. The funny thing is that when I was on the show judging a challenge on episode 8, I had to compare her to another chef. And she won!

Sivley is as sweet as a person can be. She has such positive energy, you just want to be around her; her husband Curtis and son Jackson are very lucky. She has now arrived at Kerry Simon’s LA Market at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. Live to work as the chef de cuisine. She’s always pleasant, even though she gets in at 6 a.m. and leaves around 10 p.m. If you thought being a chef was an easy job, you are mistaken.

Continue reading “A Sweet Angel out of Hell” »

  • pinitbutton A Sneak Peek at the 2011 SAG Awards Dinner
suzanne goin 300x232 A Sneak Peek at the 2011 SAG Awards Dinner
Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques restaurant in front of the CNN camera, discussing the dinner she will be serving at the 2011 SAG Awards

by: Sophie Gayot

Chef Suzanne Goin was the star yesterday at her restaurant Lucques in West Hollywood. More than fifteen television stations fought to get her to describe the menu that she will be serving at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, January 30th, at the Shrine Exposition Center for the A-list guests.

Ingredients for her antipasto plates include a whopping 150 pounds of Parmesan, 175 lemons, 1,900 dates, 8 pounds of Feta, 400 shallots, 4 gallons of yogurt, 120 pounds of salmon, and 140 pounds of lamb. I got to try four of her creations (see photos below), which was great because I unfortunately will not be attending the event. They were quite refreshing. There’s no movie magic needed to liven up Goin’s cooking!

Harry & David & You

on November 08th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Harry & David & You

by: Sophie Gayot


There are many ways to buy products from Harry & David, the 75-year-old gourmet gift company. They have a website, a 24/7 call center (1-877-322-1200), catalogues and 126 retail stores throughout the country, making it one of the largest in the US. But this is a big country, so to make our lives even easier, they have decided to open 16 pop-up stores for the holidays to get closer to you.

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  • pinitbutton Judging (Again) on Hell’s Kitchen

by Sophie Gayot

For the third time, I was called by Gordon Ramsay to be a judge on his highly watched television show Hell’s Kitchen. Thank you, Gordon! When telling the story, I always get the question, “Is it fun?” Indeed, it is. And Ramsay can behave charmingly as much as he can talk very loud (or scream as some would say).

The challenge I had to judge (along with chef/owner Mark Peel of Campanile, Nobu West Hollywood‘s general manager Justin Wyborn, and food blogger Libby Rego) was part of the 100th milestone episode of the show; episode 8.8, which aired on October 13th. The red team (four women and one guy) was pitted against the blue team (four men), fighting for what I had to determine would be the most expensive dish. Continue reading “Judging (Again) on Hell’s Kitchen” »

No Ghost Vodka

on October 08th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton No Ghost Vodka

by Sophie Gayot

Although he’s best known for comedy, from Saturday Night Live to The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters (to name just a few), making vodka is no joke to Dan Aykroyd. I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the Canadian comic actor last week at The Blvd restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills. Watch my exclusive video interview with him, and you will see the passion he puts into his Crystal Head Vodka.

Ladies Who Lunch

on August 02nd, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Ladies Who Lunch
sophiegayotmireilleguilano 266x300 Ladies Who Lunch

Author Mireille Guiliano with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

What happens when ladies go to lunch together, especially if some of them are French? Chances are they will be talking about food, and how to stay thin.


This is what happened to me when Mireille Guiliano, the author of “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” was in Los Angeles to present her new book, “The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook.” The book is, of course, a logical sequel to the first one. Guiliano tested all the recipes: 150 new ones and eight classics from the first book.

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Bikini Summer

on July 01st, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Bikini Summer
sophiegayotbikinichef 300x180 Bikini Summer

Bikini Chef Susan Irby and Denice Fladeboe with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot 


If you missed my appearance last week on The Bikini Chef Susan Irby’s radio show on KFWB News Talk 980 in Los Angeles, here is another chance to hear us discuss the L.A. area restaurants that are perfect for outdoor dining during these summer days. (Click on The Bikini Chef Susan Irby link above.)



Readers can also consult our lists of the best outdoor dining in other parts of the country. Enjoy!

  • pinitbutton Hiding Celebrities In Plain Sight
shaunwhitesophiegayot 300x201 Hiding Celebrities In Plain Sight

Olympic-gold-medal snowboarder Shaun White with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot
We know we cannot see Olympic-gold-medal snowboarder Shaun White when he practices his routines. I can watch him while he competes, but with my job, the easiest way to see him live is to run into him at a restaurant. This happened at the famous steakhouse Mastro’s in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago. I am happy to report that he is as charming and nice as he comes across on camera.

But the next day, when I called the restaurant to ask what the champion had chosen from their menu, they refused to give me any information. Of course, the restaurant protects its celebrity clientele.

Continue reading “Hiding Celebrities In Plain Sight” »

Good Luck, Amanda

on June 18th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Good Luck, Amanda
sophiegayotamandabaumgarten 300x197 Good Luck, Amanda

Water Grill chef David LeFevre & Top Chef, Season 7, contestant Amanda Baumgarten with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot

Some restaurants install large screen televisions for special sporting events, like the World Cup or the Super Bowl. But last Wednesday at Los Angeles’ Water Grill, the TVs were tuned to the premiere of season 7 of Top Chef in Washington D.C. Among the contestants was Amanda Baumgarten, who had been working at the downtown seafood restaurant as sous-chef under executive chef David LeFevre for just ten days.

As we dined on Thai snapper, soft-shell crab and Columbia River king salmon, we cheered Amanda on as she followed Tom Colicchio’s orders, and winced when she cut herself deeply while peeling potatoes.

Continue reading “Good Luck, Amanda” »

A Punchy Evening

on June 15th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton A Punchy Evening
sophiegayotsugarrayleonard 213x300 A Punchy Evening
World champion Sugar Ray Leonard with Sophie Gayot

by Sophie Gayot


Saturday night I attended the 2010 edition of Vintage Hollywood, an organization formed in 2002 to raise funds to support charitable organizations that work to promote the health and well-being of Southern California’s diverse community. This year the proceeds will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.


The king of the evening was definitely world boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard, whose Pacific Palisades house hosted the event. Food-wise, Christophe Happillon was the most popular with his Luna oysters from Carlsbad. The line to sample the dish was very long, as he was opening them “à la demande.” Don’t be fooled by the photo below; I was not really helping him. Readers can find him at Joe’s restaurant in Venice every Friday and at Church & State downtown Los Angeles every Tuesday.

Continue reading “A Punchy Evening” »

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