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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