Monday, October 15, 2007

Los Angeles Magazine Food Event: Home Grown

With an opportunity to see several LA based chefs and taste food from a dozen restaurants, my wife and I paid to attend the Los Angeles Magazine Food Event: Home Grown - A Celebration of Ingredients Grown, Baked, and Raised Close to Home. Plus, the LA Mission would benefit from the event which was held at The Kitchen Academy in Hollywood and along the walkway to the ArcLight Theater complex...

With the popularity of Bravo's hit TV reality series, Top Chef, one saw a cook-off between contestants "CJ" Chris Jacobson of Season 3 and Betty Fraser of Season 2. Judging the competition with tomato as the secret ingredient were four from the audience plus the Master of Ceremony, Jake Hanover, who cast the deciding vote to Betty. During this 3 hour event, one also saw cooking demonstrations inside the Kitchen Academy from Kerry Simon (Simon L.A.), Michael Cimarusti (Providence), and Suzanne Tracht (Jar and Tracht's). One received souvenir cards of their respective recipes for their cooking demonstrations. Pictures of the event can be found on my Flickr account.

The offical wine was La Crema featuring their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while LA Mill Coffee, the soon to open coffee house in Silver Lake, was the official coffee and Gail Silverton, Nancy's sister, brought her Gelato Bar in from Studio City. There were also craft beers from Sang Yoon of Father's Office. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these, while tasting each of the craft beers, and making my way through samples of almost all of the gelatos by the end of the event.

My wife, Karen, who is an accomplished cook and watched each episode of Top Chef many times from season one to three provides the following commentary on the CJ - Betty cook-off.

The challenge was to combine ingredients and cooking styles from 2 different countries to make one dish. They could use any of the ingredients that were provided in the pantry. Betty's countries/cultures were American and Latin, CJ's were Asian and Italian.

Betty pureed scallops with cilantro and jalapeno. She put the puree on an egg roll wrapper, topped with a "tomato ring", which was filled with a raw egg and topped with provolone. She folded the turnovers into triangles and deep-fried them. She served them over a salad of mixed greens and topped them with a chunky guacamole.

CJ sauteed batons of eggplant and apples, and then topped them with sauteed chicken breasts that were rubbed in Asian spices. There was a brunoise of tomatoes and celery root with cilantro, basil and lemon zest. Then he made a sauce of pureed tomatoes, sriracha, and herbs and drizzled that on the plate. And my apologies if I got anything wrong in CJ's dish. It looked and sounded delicious.

The challenge was 30 minutes long. Betty's plating was very rustic and homey looking, CJ's was much more refined (different styles, different looks).

Thursday, October 11, 2007

High School Musical's Corbin Bleu in SoCal!

Corbin Bleu - Sara Lee ContestMy High School Musical on Ice post must have turned a few heads, at least someone at Sara Lee. I'm all for educating kids on nutrition and meeting a favorite celebrity in the process, so at their request - here's a great contest for kids to have a chance to win a visit from High School Musical star Corbin Bleu to their school!

Sara Lee is out to once again spread the word about the benefits of whole grain, this time via the wildly popular High School Musical star Corbin Bleu. The company has just announced a contest asking Southern California kids to write about ways they can better their lunches and win a chance to bring Corbin to their school. You can find the Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Bread Ultimate Lunch Switcheroo Contest at

Good luck to all who enter!

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

LA Sports Arena: High School Musical: The Ice Tour

My Tuesday night at the LA Sports Arena featured bright lights, the loud roar of a crowd, and the intoxicating smell of popcorn lingering in the air. What team was playing? "The Wildcats!" "What time [was] it?" "Summerti -" I mean, High School Musical: The Ice Tour...

I suppose my friends Jay and Jessie (who will probably cringe at their names being displayed in this entry) and I looked a bit out of place at the LA Sports Arena last night. At ages twenty-four, we had a few years on the shorter members of the audience and at least the parents could say their kid dragged them along. But we had gotten some tickets and we figured it would be a fun outing.

I actually came with a mission: I wanted to see basketballs on the ice. The thought of basketballs that close to skate blades intrigued me.

You might be asking: How did she know there would be basketballs? How did she know these HSM lines she opened the entry with? How is she using 'HSM' with ease?

At this point, I should make a confession. I actually know most of the songs...and in addition to the basketballs, I wanted to see the pairs routine for "Breaking Free". What better medium to use the lines "I'm soaring...flying..." than the ice!

This blog has featured a fair share of the musicals I've seen (Avenue Q; Curtains), but High School Musical: The Ice Tour is in a lovely canon all of its own.

Acting as a highlights reel of both Disney television movies, the show uses the ice as a stage for the story. The world of High School Musical is brought to life with narration from 'musical playmaker' Kelsi. The story unfolds with the help of skaters who bear remarkable likeness to the movie actors, lights, flexible set design, and a large flat screen that acts as a transition or background for the show. The performers displayed skills as both actors and professional skaters and great choreography was put into the show to re-interpret the show's songs for ice.

As a highlights reel, it might be difficult to keep track of everything that happened in the films if you are unfamiliar with the storylines. While all the major songs were in the show, there were many parts glossed over to fill in the two hour time slot. (I, for one, was a bit disappointed not to hear Lucas Grabeel's "You Got It" as Ryan and Sharpay drove into the country club.) But the show will likely not disappoint any HSM fan. Even if you don't know the songs, you can find yourself 'gettin' your head in the game' and trying to sing along anyway.

The show definitely reaches out to the kid in you and is filled with the kind of story reminiscent of Disney magic. What I like the most about Disney stories is that everything always seems to work out in the end. And while you grow up and know that's not always the case, it's nice to remember that it could be true.

Maybe an opinion on this show is better from someone 2+4 rather than twenty-four, but even surrounded by two people my age, I can't say that I saw anyone in that audience not having a good time (or doing a little karaoke!).

Like the song goes, "we're all in this together..."

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ne-Yo at the Wiltern

Sunday night was spent being serenaded by Ne-Yo at the Wiltern. On a whim, my friend and I decided to buy tickets the day of the concert. The venue itself was pretty nice, its neon sign and lit up marquee making it stand out on the corner of Wilshire and Western. Small enough to feel cozy, but big enough to house a lot of people, including fans who joyfully danced away in the aisles. The concert culminated with Ne-Yo singing "Happy Birthday" acapella style to one of the fans while the rest of us sighed in awe from afar.

The Wiltern is easily accessible via the Wilshire/Western stop on the Metro Purple Line.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Culture Marketing Assistant

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Transit in All Forms

Brought to you by I Can Has Cheezburger?

Sometimes we have some down time on this blog. For those days, there are pictures like this to keep us going. Happy mid week everyone!

-ExperienceLA Staff