Me, Myself and Irene – 2017 in Review

When I was first thinking about this post I thought to myself – man… I totally bombed the “will write a blog post every-week” goal, I “should” be making more money, I “should” be blah blah blah..  but as I looked through my rolo-dex of photos I realized that I had so many cool moments and while I didn’t meet all the goals I set out – I did achieve quite a bit and “should” remember those! This was definitely the year of “Me, Myself, and Irene” from my “Diary of a Beauty Queen’s Food and Travel Adventures (Instagram)” to opening up to my readers with my alias as @TheGeekyGuide (Instagram) to launching my College Consulting By Yu Youtube channel (website), I’m three people in one!

@yurockstar 2017 highlights

As @yurockstar I finished my term as Miss Taiwanese World Queen and passed the torch (blog entry), and visited so many cool restaurants – the Exchange Restaurant being my favorite this year! (blog entry) – and festivals as media including the LA Food and Wine Festival (blog entry 1; blog entry 2; blog entry 3) where I got to meet Tyler Florence and Brian Malarky. I also got to be a guest on Gordon Ramsay’s “The F Word” and critiqued the competitors dishes.  2017 was also the year when I got to visit San Diego Comic Con (blog entry) for the first time and hear Disney Legend Alan Menkin perform his classic hits at D23 (blog entry)! I also bought an annual pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain (blog entry) and convinced four of my friends to go on roller coasters with me. On a totally random note – I also won a mattress from an Instagram contest through yelp, woot!

@thegeekyguide 2017 highlights

To be honest, I was kind of a closet cosplayer and nervous about cosplaying one of my childhood idols. The live action Wonder Woman movie debuted earlier this year and I felt very conscientious about wearing a corset, let alone portray such an iconic character. I was selected as one of Game Spot’s Best DC Cosplay at SDCC  and WonderCon, and featured on the LA Time’s “Why Cosplay as Wonder Woman” video. But more importantly, I loved when kids came up to me to ask for a photo opt – just to see them smile made me feel that that 2 hours it took to do my hair and make-up all the worthwhile.

I also debuted Chun Li this year and was invited to join a Street Fighter group! Everyone does such a great job in portraying their character, and they inspired me to revisit and brush-up on my martial arts and dance techniques. I also upgraded some of my Sailor Mars uniform and had a blast with various photoshoots with the Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask! I’ve made so many awesome friends through cosplay and it’s always awesome to see familiar faces portraying different heros and villians.

@Yucollege/ College Consulting By Yu Video Thumbnails

And yes, if you can believe it this was also the year that I decided to share my counseling knowledge through youtube. It’s been on my heart for a while so I finally bit the bullet and launched the channel:  College Consulting Youtube Channel (Instagram). I created 10 videos ranging from Survive a School Shooting to the Common App Tutorial, and boy you can definitely see improvements from video 1-10. There’s still much work to be done, and my goal next year is to do 40 more! Won’t you come and watch? (youtube link) 😉

I’ve learned that no matter what goal you’ve set yourself up for that if you didn’t meet it today, tomorrow is always a new day. My Resolution is to make each day count. What’s yours?

XOXO,
Rockstar

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Getting the latest scoop at the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at the Beverly Hilton

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual Sino-US Cultural Industry Summit at the historic Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. This non-profit organization and industry event brought restaurateurs and media alike to gain insight on the future of the culinary industry. Topics such as “Culinary Industry Trends,” “Cooking in LA’s Melting Pot” and the “Culture of Sharing” were shared in three collaborative panel discussions.

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Panel Members: Lulu Powers, Alexis Readinger, and Theresa Lin

Guests checked-in bright and early on Sunday and were greeted with a spread of finger food and drinks. We then migrated to the main ballroom and listened to different members of the restaurant community on their perspective of how the cultural landscape evolved. Powerhouse Theresa Lin (Julia Child of Taiwan), Alexis Readinger (Hospitality designer), and Celebrity Chef to the stars Lulu Powers (Will Smith, Madonna, and POTUS Bill Clinton) spoke about their experiences and gave advices to other aspiring women on how to build an empire.

Panel Members: Amir Vahdani, Adam Fleishman, and Hannah An; Chef Nguyen Tran of Starry Kitchen and me

In another panel CEO of Umami, Hannah An of The District by Hannah An, and Director of Food/Beverage of Four Seasons explained how they utilize this new wave of marketing techniques and as well as the latest food trend to see for 2018. Both plant-based menus as well as a resurgence comfort food (such as fried chicken, milk shakes, home-made pho etc.) but with a twist, were heavily emphasized in this panel discussion as were a growth in fast fine dinning establishments – restaurants that give you a gourmet meal without the formal dinning experience.

What home-made type of comfort food would you be most excited to try when dining out? I’d love to see how restaurants will replicated BBQ shortribs!

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

 

Letting loose at LIVE on Grand hosted by Tyler Florence (LA Food and Wine Festival) 

I’ve been to a number of tastings, but never have I gone to them back-to-back let alone for multiple days! So when @foodiejudge (of Instagram) and I were invited to cover the LA Food and Wine festival I was beyond excited.  This epic FOUR-DAY tasting featured culinary legends and new dishes at each venue (yes there are multiple), and I had the opportunity to check out Thursday’s Ultimate Bites of LA event and Saturday afternoon’s Lexus Grand Tasting. Both events were fabulous in their own rights; however, Saturday evening’s LIVE on Grand had a live hip hop performance by Wyclef Jean- you probably know him from Shakira’s hit song “Hips Don’t Lie.” Ah yeah…

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Tantalizing treats and satisfying sips 😀

While the entertainment headline was certainly a star-studded one, the restaurant line-up was certainly no joke. Celebrated chefs from across the nation including chefs from  Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hill (Los Angeles), Hudson Valley Foie Gras (New York), Joe’s Stone Crab (Miami Beach), and Sydney Street Cafe ( St. Louis) plated the evening affair and I loved all the vibrant and tasty dishes.  One of my favorite dishes was Tyler Florence’s “Bacon and Egg” concept where the breakfast duo was artistically presented inside the egg-shell – brilliant!

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Live on Grand Venue

Yet excellent food paired with a bomb venue heightens the experience 10 folds. With the downtown cityscape and Walt Disney Concert Hall serving as the backdrop it doesn’t’ get more glamorous that this!

Some shots from the event including a selfie with Chef Tyler Florence

I thought the night couldn’t get any better until I saw and took a selfie with Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star Tyler Florence, as seen on Tyler’s Ultimate and The Great Food Truck Race. *Gush* but in all seriousness if you’re a foodie/wineo this is definitely an event you should add on your bucket list! I mean who wouldn’t want to wine and dine with the country’s best culinary personalities?

 

If you could have a meal with any celebrity chef who would it be?

 

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentis Book Signing at Williams Sonoma in Costa Mesa, CA

photo 2I’ve always loved to eat, but I didn’t always love Food Network- now before you come and strangle me on how I could make such an outrageous statement, hear me out! I didn’t grow up with cable television, and I certainly did not know about a station dedicated solely to food. I was young and naive, what can I say?!

It wasn’t until I moved out to New York City for graduate school that I really got exposed to this culture and was drawn into it. On the hours when I couldn’t cram any more book knowledge, I plopped right in front of the TV in our community room and flipped through the channels. I started watching various programs on the Food Network and got hooked. Giada was one of my favorite tv chefs and I especially loved her radiant smile. Her exaggerated enunciation of words is extremely characteristic of her and she just seemed so down-to-earth. I loved her along with her chef buddies Robert Irvine, Bobby Flay, and Alton Brown on “The Next Food Network Star” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

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While these shows were entertaining, I will admit that these chefs helped me momentarily escapes some really difficult moments during graduate school and refocus my energy towards good food and great times. A few years later I relocated back to sunny Southern California and while it’s a far cry from the mecca of eclectic food options in New York, my adventurous spirit still drives me to find some of So Cal’s best finds.

Recently, one of my yelp buddies informed me that Giada was going to be make an appearance at South Coast Plaza to promote her new book. I was ecstatic. This was not my first celebrity chef book signing (I have an autograph of Alton Brown’s Good Eats book!!), but I had no idea what this event was going to be like. I dropped by Williams Sonoma to pre-order my book (approx. $35) and inquired about their past book signings. I was told that though the event started at 1pm, fans start lining up at 8am! Now I wasn’t going duke it out with Giada’s #1 fan, but I’d heard horror stories of fans who came in late and not get to see their idol because the authors were shuffled off to the next book signing gig. Scary thought. Anyways, for my readers interested in participating in a future book tour (William Sonoma does a ton of them!) I decided to compile a short list of tips to help maximize your book signing experience, but minimize your spending. Enjoy!

1) Wear comfortable shoes because you will be standing the entire time.  This can help with bunion prevention and future doctor visits. I’d also advise wearing pants because you may be squatting a lot and doing that in a skirt or dress, just isn’t very lady-like 😛

2) Eat breakfast. Not only will your tummy thank you, but you will be much less inclined to make impulse purchases. While promoting consumerism is a noble cause, we want to minimize impulse purchases when prices are high. Yes, the food at the deli next door may look mouth-watering, but your wallet and stomach will be happy if you go to the event full and fully energized!

3) Bring water. You will want to keep hydrated

4) Bring something that can entertain you for several hours. I was able to write up a few yelp reviews for Portos Bakery (Yelp Review) in Glendale, CA, and Bonerts Slice of Pie (Yelp Review) in Santa Ana, CA. Feel free to check it out 🙂 I saw a few other patrons browse around the mall and came back with bags of goodies. Remember, when you’re bored, you’re more susceptible to impulse buying. Don’t do it!

5) Come early. Not only will you essentially be guaranteed a spot, but many businesses are not open yet and you’d be less likely to engage in impulse shopping.

What other tips would you find helpful to save money in an event like a book signing?

XOXO,

Rockstar

Celebrity Chef Giada De Laurentis Book Signing at Williams Sonoma in Costa Mesa