Category Archives: Opinion

S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011


Congratulations to Rene Redzepi and team at NOMA in Copenhagen, Denmark which claimed the coveted repeat spot at Number 1 for S. Pellegrino's World's Best Restaurants. If you were surprised to see El Bulli omitted from this year's list, it's due to the scheduled closing of the famed restaurant in future months for a rebirth into a foundation. Even sans a 2011 award, El Bulli will remain a top restaurant in the hearts and appetites of the many who were fortunate enough to have dined there.

Here are S. Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2011: 


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Privy’s L.A. Dining Guide featuring Mika’s Top 5

Privy copy

Trans-pacific focused social network, just launched their local Los Angeles dining guide with food-centric cosmpolitan cities New York, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Beijing, Seoul, Taipei and Tokyo to soon follow. The "top five" guide is a list of must-visit dining spots which helps visitors and locals discover the best L.A. has to offer. It has a particular focus on authentic Asian cuisines such as Korean Barbeque, Shanghainese, Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup, Dim Sum, Japanese Sushi, Hotpot and Vietnamese Pho. The Privy 5 Guide also showcases top-picks from a group of 50 local Los Angeles Asian-American celebrities, entrepreneurs, socialites, community leaders and artists. 

Some familiar faces featured in the member "top five" list include Kelly Hu ("X2", "The Scorpion King"), Lisa Ling ("The View", "Oprah"), John Cho ("Harold and Kumar", "Star Trek"), Justin Chon "Twilight"), Liza Lapira ("Fast and the Furious", "21"), Russell Wong ("Romeo Must Die", "The Mummy 3"), Archie Kao ("CSI"), Aaron Yoo ("21", "Disturbia") and Robin Shou ("Mortal Kombat").

I was also asked to contribute my top five to Privy's guide which was slightly difficult to narrow down for this vast, dynamic city. It would've been much easier to come up with a top fifty list, but despite the title of a "top five", my Privy 5 is best described as a slimmed down, eclectic group of eateries that all differ in price point, ethnicity, and ambiance but will fit a varying mood, taste and budget.

See Food Fashionista / Mika Takeuchi's L.A. Privy Top Five HERE

See Privy's Los Angeles City Guide HERE

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The Art of Food Writing Seminar 11/7 – Amanda Hesser, Celia Sack, Daniel Patterson


7 – 9 P M  A T  T H E  W O M E N ’ S  B U I L D I N G
3543 18th St . San Francisco, CA 94110

Something smells delicious. Join an enlightening conversation
about how to transform your love of food into a love of writing about food,
and gain insight into the complex and surprising process of assembling
a cookbook.

Amanda Hesser is the author of The Cook and the Gardener and Cooking
for Mr. Latte, and editor of The New York Times’ anthology Eat, Memory.

Her latest book, The Essential New York Times Cookbook, will be published
on October 25 and signed copies will be available for purchase at the event.

Amanda Hesser
acclaimed food writer, cookbook author, cofounder
of, and former food
editor for The New York Times Magazine.

Daniel Patterson
executive chef and owner of San Francisco’s
celebrated restaurant Coi. He will prepare a
tasting plate of dishes from Hesser’s cookbook
(included in your ticket purchase), and
join in the conversation.

Celia Sack
owner of Noe Valley’s Omnivore Books, San
Francisco’s culinary bookstore, and will be our
host for the evening.
Daniel Patterson

The cost of the seminar is $100

To sign up, visit the Pirate Supply Store at
826 Valencia Street, or call 415.642.5905 x210

You may also sign up
online at

All proceeds directly
benefit free student programming at 826 Valencia

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FOOD FORWARD – Let’s Eat. Right. Now. Trailer

FOOD FORWARD – A New Kind of Food TV Show

Are You Hungry for Change?

"Food Forward goes beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions envisioned by food heroes across America who are striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to what we eat and how we produce it.


Written by food journalist Stett Holbrook and produced by a veteran documentary film making team led by Greg Roden, Food Forward is a series of thirteen, 30-minute episodes exploring new ideas of food in America as told by the people who are living them. Each episode will focus on a different theme–school lunch reform, urban agriculture, commercial fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science–and spotlight the real people who are creating viable alternatives to how we grow food and feed ourselves."

Food Forward is working hard to raise $125,000 to shoot the pilot episode on urban agriculture in America.

To make a donation to FOOD FORWARD, click HERE

For more information, visit FOOD FORWARD

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Happy National Garlic Day – Food Fashionista


Today is National Garlic Day and I am delighted that this member of the onion family is being celebrated. Yeah, yeah, yeah it does cause unpleasant breath and you can smell it for days in your pores, but who cares…find a partner that also loves garlic. Garlic is easy to grow, and popular around the world since it tastes so excellent in so many various dishes. I love adding it to hummus, antipasto, stir-fries, and the list goes on. The top 10 garlic growers are China, India, South Korea, Egypt, Russia, United States, Spain, Argentina, Myanmar and Ukraine.

Garlic is a Super Food and provides both medicinal and nutritional value. It is claimed to help fight cancer, heart disease, and is also known to regulate blood sugar levels.

We've all heard of garlic warding off vampires, but now that Twilight and True Blood have shown us what Vampires really can look like…hello Vampire Eric Northman, let's hope that's not the case for us Garlic Lovers.

Happy Garlic Day Everyone and if you find your garlicky scent too unbearable, either go sweat it out in a sauna or chew on some parsley. Those two tips have been known to assist in speeding up the removal process of the scent of the stinking rose.

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The Bazaar by Jose Andres’ Receives 4 Stars


The Bazaar by Jose Andres received a 4 star review from the L.A. times yesterday. Whether you agree with it or not, the video above is a definite must see. Chef Andres is a culinary sorcerer of sorts and creates food that is magical molecular gastronomy. Check out the video above, read the entire four star review at, and feel free to share your thoughts…

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Olive Oil’s beautiful benefits


Today I am sharing my love for olives and olive oil. I can't think of anything better than something that is:

1) absolutely delicious

2) attributes to good health

3) enhances natural beauty

We also love mixing it in with our favorite recipes at home. We love dipping our bread in to it at Italian restaurants such as Il Pastaio, Fiamma and Valentino. Olive oil also has religious uses and has been used as fuel for oil lamps. Soaps containing olive oil can be found in many local shops and high-end boutiques. Additionally, olive oil is a popular ingredient in many beauty products and medicinal products.

According to New Beauty Magazine, "Olive Oil has been lauded for it's medicinal properties since ancient times. Perfect for dry skin and hair, studies are beginning to reveal that antioxidant- rich olive oil may be able to protect skin from cancer".  Well this sounds like excellent news to us and knowing already that olive oil is a natural fruit juice high in monounsaturated fats, we will continue to enjoy our olive oil in the kitchen along with visits at the local day spa.

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Eat Your Daily Super Foods RX


The Book Super Foods RX

Although I am one to indulge in the finer and often decadent things in life, I also indulge daily in the healthier and "good for you" things in life. I live a well-balanced life and enjoy a well-balanced diet. That is why today I am going to recommend that in addition to the occasional creme brulee, foie gras, and chocolate souffle you may enjoy… that you also include in your daily diet some of the 14 super foods listed below. 

According to Super Foods RX, " these nutritional powerhouse foods are loaded with nutrients crucial to a healthy, long life. " It is even mentioned how "dark chocolate is the most potent pharmacalogic substance for controlling high blood pressure." Keep in mind though, each of these foods above relates to each individual uniquely, so if you are lactose intolerant, or sensitive to soy, don't choose those two options. Also, don't eat salmon five days a week for high mercury, and don't eat the whole case of dark chocolate if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight… you get the drift. I've personally found that including super foods in my daily diet has been a win win. Not only do I have added healthy options to my daily diet – i.e., my pomegranate, blueberry, apple soy smoothie, but I also feel full of energy and fit right in to my Dior gowns and Missoni dresses from a decade ago. Wow…what more can a food fashionista want or need!

For more information on Super Foods RX, visit Super Foods

To purchase the book Super Foods RX, visit Super Foods Book

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Chef Rocco DiSpirito on Dancing with the Stars – DWTS


Chef Rocco DiSpirito

So it was recently announced who the 13 "Celebrity Contestants" will be on the upcoming seventh season of the wildly popular show, Dancing with the Stars and one is a very familiar name in the cooking world, Rocco DiSpirito. I have never tasted his cooking, but it seems the camera loves him. DiSpirito is a recipient of a James Beard Award and his name and face became familiar with television viewers back in 2003-2004 with a reality show detailing the highs and extreme lows of opening a restaurant on the show, "The Restaurant". Rocco DiSpirito has also made appearances as a guest judge on Top Chef and will soon be featured on the show,"Rocco Gets Real" in which he helps local New Yorkers plan an upcoming meal for an event.


w/ DWTS Cheryl Burke at a Fashion Show

Chef DiSpirito's dancing partner will be Karina Smirnoff. No relation to Smirnoff Vodka. I've seen the show several times, and at one point, DWTS was going to possibly use my home kitchen for some video they were shooting or going to shoot, but this season looks like an exciting one. I'll route for Rocco and Karina, but I still have a bit of Olympic fever, so will also be routing for Cheryl Burke (pictured above) and Olympic Gold Medalist Maurice Green. Let's just hope for Rocco's sake that his stint on Dancing with the Stars ends up much happier than on the show, The Restaurant. Maybe he can slip the judges some of Mama's Famous Meatballs before judging time.

Dancing with the Stars Season 7 Premiers Monday, September 22nd on ABC

For more information on Chef Rocco DiSpirito visit:  Rocco DiSpirito

For more information on Dancing with the Stars visit:  DWTS

For Rocco's Mama's Meatball Recipe visit:  Mama's Meatball Recipe

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Pizzeria Mozza – Los Angeles


If you are in the Los Angeles area, and are craving a pizza like the appetizing thin crust you would find in Italy, head over to Pizzeria Mozza, the creation of Joseph Bastianich, Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery who co-founded Campanile, and superstar New York chef Mario Batali.

Mozza is a fabulous spot to have a family style dinner with friends, or even drop in solo and dine at the wine bar. On a recent visit, we started off with a selection of mouth watering antipasti including the oven roasted olives,the crispy goat cheese & Umbrian lentils, and the addictive fried squash blossoms with ricotta. We followed with the Tricolore with Parmigiano Reggiano & anchovy dressing salad which was absolutely delicious. Still the best was yet to come with the savory pizzas we shared including the bianca with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere & sage pizza, and the classic Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil pizza.

Pizzeria Mozza has been a definite gift to the Los Angeles dining scene since it’s early 2007 debut. Nancy Silverton, along with Executive Chef Matt Molina have done wonders mastering the art of the wood burning oven in delivering their delectable pizzas. I am a huge Mozza fan, as are many of my friends including top chefs who don’t admit their love for other’s restaurants so easliy. Mozza’s well edited Italian focused wine list includes a fantastic selection of wines from Sangiovese grapes. And they are all under $50! How fabulous is that. Pizzeria Mozza is not a well kept secret, so either arrive early, or make sure you have reservations before hand. Once you enter Mozza, you will feel the mouth watering energy surrounding you and will know why it was nominated for two James Beard Awards in 2008, including one for Best New Restaurant and the other for Rising Star Chef for Matt Molina.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90036
1-323-297-0101 Reservations: Noon – Midnight Daily

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