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

Wining and dining at the Pacific Wine and Food Classic at Newport Beach 

Orange County is home to “the real housewives”, beautiful beaches, and some amazing restaurants so it should come to no surprise that there’d be a spectacular outdoor festival to wrap up summer in pure California style. Over the weekend I partnered with Trip.com (a travel app) to attend the Pacific Wine and Food Classic at the Newport Dune Waterfront Resort (Newport Dunes, 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, Ca 92660), where more than 100 food and beverages were prepared by some of Orange County’s finest chefs and mixologists.

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Tropical treats at Newport Beach!

If you need a vacation this resort-style tasting basically transports you to a relaxing getaway. With the event held on the sand overlooking the dunes, I enjoyed the warm weather and scenic view. The water glistened and the weather was perfect with the sun shining brightly with a small ocean breeze. Most foodies have to choose environment or food quality, but both were equally desirable here. I loved the variety of food available at the tasting and felt that the samples were light and evoked the essence of California cuisine. Some of the small bites that I enjoyed included fusion tacos, seared sashimi, scallops, gazpacho and sliders just to name a few.

VIP Patron Patio

I spent quite a bit of time at the VIP Patron Patio as the area was equipped with fun photo booth opportunities and unique booze infused creations. I had a patron infused pineapple popsicle, which kept me cool under the hot sun. The area also had several couches and seats for patrons to lounge around while enjoying the beautiful day – something I took full advantage of 🙂

Food samples and Simon Majumda of Food Network

During the event guests could also watch different cooking demonstrations of executive chefs signature dishes on the Fisher & Paykel / DCS Culinary Stage. Food Network Star, Simon Majumdar of Cutthroat Kitchen hosted and provided his own culinary tips and tricks as well.

I had such an amazing time at this tasting and one thing that I loved about this event was that it was well organized and not too crowded. The lines for each vendor were all very manageable and it was such a classy affair. I’d definitely come back next year, but will wear flip flops. I made the mistake to wear wedges not realizing that it was actually on the sand. Nevertheless, a great event and one where I think all adults would enjoy.

 

Whats your favorite food to enjoy on the beach?

 

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

The Great Food Truck Race Season 1 Winner- Grill Em All @Alhambra CA

IMG_0928 I’m a huge Food Network junkie and absolutely love all of the different shows on that channel.  One show that I am particularly fond is a reality show called The Great Food Truck Race,” a competition where food trucks from across the country competed for $50,000.  The rules were simple, make as much money as you can with a given budget in designated cities from LA to New York.

And what’s crazy was the fact that I was in New York while they filmed their last episode.  I remember a girlfriend of mine texting me to come support the Nom Nom Truck (1strunner-up) while I was studying in New York. Unfortunately I choose not to leave the library, asI was nose-deep in textbooks.  *snaps fingers* What a lost opportunity!

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Anyways, this past weekend I attended a networking social in Alhambra and noticed a peculiar sign in the theater plaza.  It looked vaguely like Season 1 Winner Grill Em All (Yelp Review) and as I stepped closer to check out the store it indeed was!  Turns out they actually bought a storefront with the money and publicity earned from the competition.  So obviously I had to check it out the local celebrity!

Upon entering I could not help but notice all the rockin’ artwork plastered over all the walls.  The setting is definitely home to heavy metal enthusiasts and the menu was presented on an enormous black chalkboard.  After carefully examined my options I decided to try the powerslave, a ½ lb burger with brie cheese, bourbon apple compote, balsamic aioli, and field greens. And because the sign said so I ordered it medium rare—good choice!

IMG_0927It was definitely a gourmet burger with the juices goeying all over. I’d never imagine putting an apple as a burger condiment, but combined with the soft brie cheese and field greens it was a tasty treat.  It’s a bit on the pricey side at $9 or $9.50 for a burger, but it had all the elements of a Rockstar. Solid!

What does a Rockstar meal look like to you?

XOXO

Rockstar