Fabio Viviani, Chef/restaurateur, author, and TV personality, Moor Park, California
Though a well-respected restaurateur in his hometown of Florence, Italy, chef Fabio Viviani was a relative unknown here until his appearance on season 5 of Bravo’s hit series Top Chef in 2008. The show catapulted him into the limelight and the photogenic “fan favorite” was invited back to compete in Top Chef All Stars and in the spinoff Life after Top Chef. The latter documented his daily travails as chef and owner of Cafe Firenze in Moorpark and the popular eatery, Firenze Osteria, in North Hollywood. Southern fans of his third restaurant, Chicago’s Siena Tavern, will be pleased to hear that he’s extending the Italian comfort food formula to Miami, Florida. Look for its own version of Siena Tavern to open there this fall.
With his gregarious personality Viviani is a recurring guest on television shows, such as Good Morning America, The Talk, Ellen Degeneres, Good Day LA, and the Hallmark Channel’s series Home & Family. But you can find him 24/7 on his own hit show, Chow Ciao! on Yahoo.com.
Offscreen, Viviani is whirlwind of activity. He’s a regular headliner at global food events and festivals. He sells a line of ceramics cookware at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and he proudly sponsors Bialetti Cookwear, Bertolli Olive Oil, and Yahoo.com. Viviani is the author of three successful cookbooks, including the New York Times bestseller Fabio’s Italian Kitchen; his latest effort, due out in late 2014, will showcase his passion for food made simple. Subscribe to the newsletter, Fabio’s Kitchen Academy, for more recipes, and follow his meteoric progress at fabioviviani.com and on facebook.
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Fabio Viviani’s demo recipes
Fresh egg pasta
SERVES 4 ITALIANS OR 8 REGULAR PEOPLE
I grew up with fresh egg pasta. My great-grandma kept me from destroying the house by having me crack eight eggs on a cutting board and hand mix them with flour for hours. It’s very time-consuming! I am all about preserving tradition, but what about achieving traditional pasta flavor in a tenth of the time? All you need is a food processor and a blade attachment. That’s the way I teach people to make pasta.
TIP: Remember, egg sizes vary. If after you put in the egg yolks, your pasta is sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
10 egg yolks
Pinch of table salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper 2 tsp. olive oil
About 2 cups flour
1. Place egg yolks in a food processor with blade attachment. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil, and pulse a few times.
2. Add 1 cup flour and pulse until eggs absorb it and you have a semi-thick paste. Add remaining 1 cup flour and allow blade to rotate continuously. When the dough is ready, you should see a ball-shaped mass bouncing around the canister. If the dough is still too wet to the touch, add an extra tablespoon of flour. If it is a bit dry, add a little water as needed.
3. Remove pasta and roll/shape according to the directions of the recipe you are making. If you’re saving it for later, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 6 days. (But pasta, according to my grandpa, must be consumed right away, or you should just make a risotto instead!)
Lose the pasta and serve these small sausage mouthfuls on their own. Simply pair with crusty bread to soak up the savory tomato sauce.
About 3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 tbsp. fennel seeds
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup beef or chicken stock
2 cups fresh puréed tomato
6 sausage links, cut in to meatball-size pieces
1 wedge parmesan cheese
1 bunch fresh basil
1. Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add oil.
2. Add onions and garlic to pan when oil shimmers and is hot; toss to coat.
3. Add fennel seeds. Season with a large pinch of salt. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until onions just begin to soften
4. Add stock and with a wooden spoon, scrape up bits from bottom of pan.
5. Add puréed tomato to pan and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
7. Add sausage and continue to simmer until fully cooked, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Once tomato sauce has reduced and is thick, adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
8. Top with freshly grated parmesan and a handful of torn basil.
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Susan Feniger, Chef/Author/ Restaurateur
Susan Feniger’s passion for food has propelled her into a three-decade career as a successful chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and media darling; as the Los Angeles Times recently observed, “she deserves an Emmy for energy.” Feniger divides her time between her first solo venture, Susan Feniger’s STREET; the Border Grill restaurants in Santa Monica, downtown Los Angeles, and Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino; and the Border Grill Truck—all of which are co-owned with Chef Mary Sue Milliken.
A veteran of nearly 400 episodes of Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales and Tamales’ World Tour series, Feniger has also appeared on season two of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, The Today Show, Chef vs. City, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, as well as in print for Gourmet, Sunset, Bon Appétit and O, The Oprah Magazine. She has coauthored five cookbooks including City Cuisine, Mesa Mexicana, and Cooking with Too Hot Tamales with Milliken. Her most recent solo effort is Susan Feniger’s Street Food: Irresistibly Crispy, Creamy, Crunchy, Spicy, Sticky, Sweet Recipes.
Feniger shines a light on a number of worthwhile organizations and has been on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation for 17 years and the board of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center for three. In all her endeavors, Susan’s genuine love for the authentic flavors of street and home-cooked food has been her driving force. She shows no signs of slowing down.
When I was in Singapore, I got a hot tip from the hotel concierge about a popular Malaysian diner that was off the beaten path and outside the city. They served lots of traditional Malaysian dishes, including this one, which they made with crab, instead of clams. However, the sweetness of clams with this sauce is a fantastic combination. A big bowl of these clams, the broth, some crusty bread for dipping, and a salad makes the perfect meal with very little clean up afterwards. Whenever we try to take this recipe off the menu at Street, it practically causes a riot.
2½ lbs. Manila clams in shells, scrubbed
¼ cup grated palm sugar* or packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
Juice of 1½ limes
2 tbsp. each canola oil and chopped garlic
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp. cracked black pepper
4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter
10 fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup fresh Thai basil or regular basil leaves
Sourdough bread, sliced 1-inch thick and toasted, for serving (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving
1. Rinse clams in a large bowl under cold running water for 5 to 10 minutes to purge them of all sand and grit; drain.
2. Combine palm sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Heat canola oil on high in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, to release flavors. Do not let garlic brown. Add black pepper and clams. Add 1/3 cup water, cover immediately, and steam clams for 3 to 4 minutes or until they open. Remove any that do not open. Add oyster sauce mixture and stir well. Add butter, stir well, and pour clams into a large bowl.
4. Sprinkle with mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. Serve with sourdough toasts, brushed with olive oil, if desired, and wedges of fresh lime.
*Find palm sugar at well-stocked grocery stores and Asian or Latino markets.
Burmese gin thoke melon salad
½ small seedless watermelon (2½ lbs.)
½ ripe cantaloupe melon (1½ lbs.)
¼ ripe honeydew melon (1 lb.)
2 (3-inch) pieces young or regular fresh ginger, peeled and minced (1/3 cup)
¼ cup each toasted sesame seeds, lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes), and low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1¾ tsp kosher salt
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cups wide-flake unsweetened coconut
1¼ cups raw blanched peanuts
4 fresh kaffir (also called makrut) lime leaves, chopped
1. Trim rind from melons, remove any seeds, and cut into ½-inch dice. Place diced melon in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine ginger, sesame seeds, lime juice, soy sauce, ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. of salt in a separate bowl. Mix well and pour over melon. Toss, and let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.
3. Add lentils and 4 cups cold water to a small saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 tsp. salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until lentils are tender, but not mushy. Drain, rinse with cold water to chill, and then stir into melon mixture.
4. Combine coconut, peanuts, kaffir lime, 1 tsp. sugar, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ tsp. salt in a large sauté pan. Toast over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until coconut and peanuts have toasted, somewhat unevenly, to a golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5. Stir together gently peanut mixture and melon mixture just before serving. Serve in a large bowl at room temperature.
Spiced millet puffs
MAKES 70 MINI PUFFS
These can be stored, airtight, for up to 2 days.
1 oz. (2 tsp.) unsalted butter
5 oz. (a generous ½ cup) marshmallows
1 tbsp. whole cumin seed
1 tsp. each whole fennel seed and black mustard seeds*
¼ tsp. each cayenne chili powder and ground turmeric
½ cup dried currants or raisins
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped curry leaf* (optional)
3 cups puffed millet*
1. Cook butter over medium heat in a large skillet until frothy.
2. Add marshmallows. As they start to melt, push and stir with a rubber spatula so that they don’t burn or stick to pan bottom. Lower heat slightly, if necessary. When marshmallows are halfway melted, add cumin seed, fennel seed, black mustard seed, cayenne, ground turmeric, dried currants or raisins, salt, and curry leaf, and stir well so spices toast and mix with marshmallow.
3. Add millet to pan, turn off heat, and stir until all of the millet is mixed and evenly coated in spiced marshmallow mix.
4. Pour mixture into a bowl and immediately start rolling into very small balls. If mixture sticks to hands too much, dampen them slightly with cold water. Place balls in a bowl and serve immediately.
Canton ginger kick
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. vodka
6 oz. (3/4 cup) Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (1-liter) bottle soda water or seltzer, chilled
1. Stir together ginger syrup, vodka, ginger liqueur, and lemon juice in a pitcher.
2. Divide among 6 (10-oz.) old-fashioned glasses filled with ice. Top off with soda water.
3. Spear a few slices candied ginger onto each of 6 wooden picks and add to drinks, then garnish with lemon wedges.
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Yigit Pura, Chef/Owner, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie
Yigit Pura began his training in the pastry arts at The Meetinghouse in San Francisco, and gained further experience at such other local meccas as Postrio and Gary Danko. He moved to Manhattan in 2003 and worked at Le Cirque 2000 and the Four Seasons Hotel, both under executive pastry chef Luis Robledo-Richards. Under the tutelage of renowned chef/owner Daniel Boulud, Pura served at both Restaurant Daniel as pastry sous chef, and at Daniel Boulud in Las Vegas as executive pastry chef.
Pura joined Taste Catering & Event Planning as Executive Pastry Chef in Spring 2007, and with them recently opened the high-end pastry shop, Tout Sweet Pâtisserie in San Francisco’s Union Square. Plans are in the works to expand nationally as well as into Asia.
Culinary television aficionados might recognize this passionate pastry chef as the winner and fan favorite of the first season of BRAVO’s Top Chef Just Desserts, though he has also been featured in magazines, such as Food & Wine, Sunset, People, Entertainment Weekly, OUT magazine, and GQ Turkey (Pura is Turkish in origin). Pura is proud to use his celebrity to advocate causes close to his heart, among them Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, Meals on Wheels, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Project Open Hand, and the ASPCA. His first cookbook, Sweet Alchemy, is due out this September.
Ludo Lefebvre, Chef/Author/ Restaurateur, Ludotruck and Trois Mec
Chameleon chef Ludovic “Ludo” Lefebvre and his fine cuisine have been popping up all over Los Angeles, first at LudoBites and now in his mobile dining “Ludotruck.” “The LudoBites model is the epitome of the 21st-century marketplace,” lauds Time Magazine, “where the chef, not the restaurant, is the name of the game.” Deemed “Chef of the Future” by Time, Lefebvre has found that his fans will flock wherever he goes. Among Lefebvre’s legion of admirers are Ruth Reichl, Sam Sifton of the New York Times, and Pulitzer Prize–winning LA Weekly critic Jonathan Gold, who included LudoBites on his “99 Most Essential Restaurants” list, and gave his work a spot on the “Top Ten Dishes of 2007, 2009 and 2010,” as well.
Originally from Auxerre, France, Lefebvre began his career in a professional French kitchen at age 13. During his lengthy apprenticeship, Lefebvre worked with some of France’s greats: Marc Meneau at Restaurant L’Esperance; Pierre Gagnaire at his eponymous boîte; Alain Passard at Arpège; and Guy Martin at Le Grande Véfour. But America beckoned, and he moved to Los Angeles to work at L’Orangerie. Here, he was promoted to head chef at age 25, and saw the restaurant earn the Mobil Five Star Award. Lefebvre went from there to Bastide, with the same glowing accolades. He was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation “Rising Chef Award” in 2001, and was named by Relais & Chateaux one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Chefs.”
Appearances on two seasons of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, as well as on Hell’s Kitchen; Iron Chef America; Top Chef; and The Today Show, not to mention a feature in GQ magazine and a 2011 gig cooking for the Elton John Aids Foundation Oscar-viewing party have thrust Lefebvre and his mad genius cuisine into the international spotlight. Most recently, the buzzworthy chef has released a cookbook entitled LudoBites, Stories and Recipes from the Pop-up Restaurants of Ludo Lefebvre and is judging a cooking competition series on ABC called “The Taste.” His highly anticipated new restaurant, Trois Mec—a collaboration with chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo—opened in the Hancock Park area in the spring.
Jamie Purviance, Culinary Director for Weber Grills; Author of Weber’s Big Book of Burgers, Sacramento, California
Jamie Purviance is one of America’s top grilling experts and Weber’s master griller. Since graduating from Stanford University and the Culinary Institute of America (with high honors), he has written more than a dozen cookbooks and contributed to many national magazines. He has appeared on countless television shows, including Today, The Early Show, and Good Morning America—as well as on PBS, CNN, and the Food Network.
His recent books include Weber’s Way to Grill (a James Beard Award finalist), Weber’s Smoke, and Weber’s New Real Grilling™—all New York Times best sellers.
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Kevin Kolman, Grill Master, Weber Grills
Kevin Kolman is Weber’s go-to guy for all grilling techniques, products, and questions. As Weber’s Grill Master, Kevin inspires average grillers to become backyard heroes through his how-to videos and blogs.
Kevin earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Science degree in college and student affairs.
Kevin’s grilling knowledge and passion has been heating up for many years now. His unique experiences at Weber have ranged from company tours to testing new products, which have contributed to his thorough understanding of all Weber products and services. One of Kevin’s greatest accomplishments has been his long-term collaboration with Weber’s research and development (R&D) team in gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the tradition and innovation that has made Weber the preeminent leader in the grilling world. To this day, Kevin actively maintains this collaboration with R&D.
Kevin is a highly skilled Grill Master and brand enthusiast, due to his extensive hands-on testing and scrutiny of Weber products, accessories, and cooking. Kevin is seen as the face of Weber with video and blog segments for television, radio, and internet.
Based on his commitment to education and passion for grilling, Kevin was invited to be a lead instructor for a barbecue science class at Ohio State University. He has taught classes and has judged grilling competitions around the world. He most enjoys learning how to grill traditional and ethnic authentic cuisines from around the world on a Weber.
While most people enjoy casual grilling, Kolman has a heightened enthusiasm (and borderline obsession) for grilling on Weber grills. His collection has reached 24, and he proudly uses every single one. His newest love, his baby girl Maddie, is already being prepped to become the next Grill Master.
In a nutshell, if it can be grilled, Kevin has probably grilled it. Kevin wants to inspire and teach people that their grill is an extension of the kitchen—not just a place to cook hot dogs and hamburgers. Helping people discover new ways to grill on their Weber energizes Kevin and fuels his passion for all things Weber. Happy grilling!
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Tanya Holland, Chef/Owner, Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ, Author, New Soul Cooking
This year’s California Chef of the Year award went to a woman well versed in soul food and Southern cooking: chef Tanya Holland. Owner of two beloved Oakland restaurants, Brown Sugar Kitchen and B-Side BBQ, and the unofficial master of “fried chicken and waffles,” Holland has brought much positive recognition to the city, so much so that last year, Oakland named June 5 after her.
Holland is a graduate of La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Burgundy, France, and a veteran of the Boston and New York City restaurant scenes; she worked under Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill and was executive chef of The Delux Café in Boston and The Victory Kitchen in Brooklyn.
The restaurateur shares her love of new-style down-home cooking in a variety of ways. She has hosted the Melting Pot series on the Food Network and is regularly featured on NBC’s The Today Show. Last year, Holland was a celebrity judge on TV One’s My Momma Throws Down. Her recipes have appeared in O Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Savoy, and Travel & Leisure, among others. She has taught at many recreational cooking schools across the country and is currently a member of the Chef’s Council for The Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco as well as Vice President of the San Francisco chapter of the prestigious Les Dames d’Escoffier. Her latest book, The Brown Sugar Kitchen Cookbook, is due out in 2014.
Maria Hines, Chef/Owner, Tilth, Golden Beetle, and Agrodolce
Winner of the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef, Northwest, Maria Hines has been turning heads since she took the helm at Seattle’s Earth & Ocean in 2003. In 2005, she was named one of Food & Wine’s 10 Best New Chefs, and she went on to open Tilth, in September, 2006. It was named one of the top 10 best new restaurants in the country in 2008 by New York Times critic Frank Bruni.
Hines competed in Top Chef Masters in 2010 and later that year appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, where she won the “Battle of Pacific Cod.” In early 2011, she opened Golden Beetle restaurant and bar, which offers Eastern Mediterranean cuisine and craft cocktails. She followed that up in 2012, with Agrodolce, a casual trattoria in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood with a focus on Southern Italian and Sicilian food. All three of Hines’ restaurants have earned the highly esteemed organic certification from Oregon Tilth.
She has been a board member of PCC Farmland Trust since 2008 and is a founding member of Seattle Restaurant Week. Hines was a semifinalist for a James Beard award for Outstanding Chef in 2013. Most recently, she was inducted into the first American Chef Corps by the U.S. Department of State.
Chef Jeff Anderson is excited to be back at Celebration Weekend for his fifth year in a row. “It’s an absolute pleasure to be at Sunset. They do things right and with a huge degree of ‘Wow!’ It’s great to be around such enthusiasm.”
Growing up as he did in a family of chefs, food retailers, and cooks, it was natural for Anderson to pursue a professional career in cooking by attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation, he focused on the newly emerging American cuisine, working at Campton Place Hotel, The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Postrio, and The Cypress Club. In his role as corporate executive chef for Gordon Biersch Brewing Co., Anderson developed several signature items and opened many new properties. As owner of the widely recognized Black Crow Grill and Taproom and The Rawbar Restaurant and Sushi, in Chico, California, he garnered further accolades. He also took an active role in the food community there, teaching and training students, interns, and novice home cooks.
In his current role as Executive Chef for Safeway, Anderson educates consumers about the company’s Ingredients for Life campaign, as well as how best to use its Private Label items. He is always eager to share his extensive culinary knowledge in order to help consumers create better home-cooked meals and is proud to showcase products at special events, such as this one.
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Sean Eastwood, Chef de Cuisine for Navio Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay
San Francisco Bay Area Chef, Sean Eastwood is the Chef de Cuisine for Navio restaurant located inside The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay. Chef Sean Eastwood’s brings his own philosophy to the menu at Navio, centered around Ocean Cuisine though influenced by both his classic French training and Mediterranean techniques. Navio is located in Half Moon Bay and is uniquely positioned to hyper-locally source produce from the farms in Half Moon Bay. Chef Eastwood personally goes to the farms and picks the freshest produce and herbs. It makes such a difference in the quality of flavors on the menu he creates.
Chef Sean Eastwood has a 20-year culinary career stretching across both Europe and the United States. Trained in classical French culinary techniques, he worked in France with renowned three-star Michelin chef Paul Bocuse and in Britain with two-star Michelin chef Raymond Blanc. Arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area over fifteen years ago, he joined the kitchen at La Folie with legendary San Francisco Chef Roland Passot. He was then tapped as opening Chef de Cuisine of Kokkari, where he explored and enhanced his love of Mediterranean influences and ingredients. Since then he has served as owner and Executive Chef for several restaurant ventures throughout California and across the United States.
Chef Sean Eastwood shares his time with his wife, son and daughter when not in the kitchen. He is also a tri-athlete and travels extensively exploring cultural cuisine around the world.
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Ryan Scott, Host of Cooking with Ryan Scott on KGO 810 AM, San Francisco, California
Growing up in Modesto, Ryan Scott, always knew he wanted to be a chef. At the top of Christmas list when he was nine? Kitchen utensils, a wok, and a food dehydrator. After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in 2001, he interned at the acclaimed Bistro Roxy in Reno, Nevada. Scott has gone on to learn and cook in the kitchens of the country’s best chefs. He was a line-cook at Restaurant Gary Danko, and staged (interned) with Daniel Boulud at Daniel in New York, Charlie Trotter at Trotter’s Chicago; Suzanne Goin at Lucques and A.O.C. in Los Angeles; and with Peter Merriman and Alan Wong in Hawaii.
In 2005, he joined Myth restaurant group and launched its successor, Myth Café, two months later. A hot spot for foodies, Myth Café was named one of the top dining destinations for California cuisine by San Francisco magazine within three months of opening. Mission Beach Café was next, and then Scott started several successful solo ventures, including Ryan Scott 2 Go; a food truck named 3-Sum Eats, and Market & Rye restaurants.
In late 2007, Scott was cast on Bravo’s Top Chef. Since then, he has become a popular guest on daytime television programs such as The Rachel Ray Show, Fox & Friends, and the Today Show. In addition, he stars in his own show, Food Rush, which airs on Live Well Network; he hosts his own weekly radio show, “Cooking with Ryan Scott,” on KGO Radio, and he is the brand ambassador for Bon Appétit cookware on HSN. Ryan’s generosity extends to his charity, Harvest from the Heart, formed in 2009, which prepares meals for the less fortunate on Thanksgiving Day.
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Steve Samson & Zach Pollack, Chefs/Owners, Sotto Restaurant
Although they both initially pursued other careers, immersive experiences in Italy set the course of Chefs Samson and Pollack inevitably toward the kitchen. Steve Samson grew up spending summers in Italy with his Bolognese relatives, cooking alongside his grandmother and mother. He had planned to be a doctor, but eventually left Columbia University’s premed program to enroll in New York’s Institute of Culinary Education. He emerged a Blue Ribbon graduate and started his professional cooking career in New York and Maine. Samson then worked his way through Italy with a series of stages at Michelin-starred restaurants, including Dal Pescatore, Il Duomo, Torre del Saraceno, Quattro Passi, and Il Cascinale Nuovo. When he returned to the States, he began working with Chef Piero Selvaggio, whom he helped to open the Las Vegas outpost of Valentino, and for whom he headed up the original in Santa Monica.
Zach Pollack, on the other hand, had his first taste of Italy on a semester abroad in Florence. The Brown architecture graduate’s first stint in the kitchen was as an intern at Neal Fraser’s Grace, where he met Samson. There they bonded over their love of Italian food. Pollack returned to Italy and trained at two-Michelin–starred Ristorante Ambasicata and Verona’s tiny Ristorante Michelangelo. Like Samson, he also staged at Sicily’s Il Duomo.
The two reunited at David Myers’ Sona before launching Pizzeria Ortica, an award-winning restaurant in Orange County. Their latest venture, Sotto, which is focused is on the cuisine of Southern Italy, has garnered much critical acclaim, including Best New Restaurant and Chefs of the Year nods from Los Angeles Magazine in 2011; Best Pizza (2012) and Best Meatball (2011) in Los Angeles, LA Weekly; recognition as one of Esquire’s ‘Best New Restaurants in America 2011’; Angeleno’s ‘Best New Dish’ (Porcetto), also in 2011; and Star Chef’s ‘Southern California Rising Stars’ chef award. In 2012, Pollack was named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in the Food & Wine category.
Margo True, Food Editor, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, California
Margo True has been the food editor at Sunset since 2006. Before coming to Sunset, she was the executive editor at Saveur magazine, and before that, a senior editor and writer at Gourmet. True has won several honors for her writing, including four James Beard journalism awards, and her pieces have been anthologized in the Best Food Writing series. She edited The Sunset Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2010) and The Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook (Oxmoor, 2012), and with several colleagues wrote The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011), a backyard-farming book based on the magazine’s James Beard Award-winning blog, oneblockdiet.com. Her newest project, co-edited with Elaine Johnson and published last month is called Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook.
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Elaine Johnson, Associate Food Editor, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, California
Elaine Johnson first went camping at the tender age of 4 months and her grandparents met while they were hiking, so it’s no surprise that this food editor loves grilling, camp cooking, and all things related to adventurous dining in the open air. As Associate Food Editor and co-editor of Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook, she has delved into everything from grilling great carne asada and making the ultimate s’mores to building a pizza oven.
Johnson also enjoys cooking adventures in the kitchen and garden, and edits the magazine’s Peak Season and Sunset Kitchen columns. She has contributed to The Sunset Cookbook and The One-Block Feast. In between time at the magazine, she has worked as a freelance writer, editor, and recipe developer for magazines and cookbooks such as Safeway’s Every Season, Weber’s Charcoal Grilling, and Weber’s Way to Grill.
At home in Palo Alto she enjoys growing her own food and cooking with her husband and twin teenage boys.
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Amy Machnak, Recipe Editor, Sunset Magazine
Amy Machnak grew up in the suburbs of Detroit in a family of avid hunters and gardeners who instilled the foraging and farm-to-table philosophy in her long before it was trendy. Drawn to the restaurant business at the age of 12, she worked numerous positions in both the front and back of the house before finishing high school. After graduating from Schoolcraft Culinary College, Machnak worked as a pastry chef for almost a decade at some of the best restaurants in the country including Tribute, just outside Detroit; Mako in Beverly Hills; and Boulevard in San Francisco. She left professional kitchens to earn a degree in journalism at San Francisco State University. She currently works as recipe editor at Sunset magazine, where she develops original recipes, writes food-related stories, and contributes to Sunset’s cookbooks. Machnak won a James Beard award in 2009 for her work on Sunset’s One-Block Diet blog, and a Telly award in 2012 for the cooking video, “The Fastest Way to Peel a Peach.”
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Debi Lilly, Entertaining and design expert, Safeway
Nationally renowned entertaining and design expert Debi Lilly has partnered with Safeway to provide customers with an exclusive collection of inspired solutions for entertaining, gifting, and home décor. Lily has been featured often in leading design and lifestyle media, such as In Style Magazine and the Style Me Pretty blog. Her numerous celebrity clients include Oprah Winfrey.
Lilly truly believes that anyone should be able to entertain and decorate affordably and with style. You can find the debi lilly design™ collection, featuring beautiful floral arrangements, home décor, and elegant scented candles, exclusively in Safeway’s floral department.
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Gina Wicker, Design and Creative Director, Sunbrella®, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Glen Raven, North Carolina
Gina Wicker is the Design and Creative Director for Sunbrella® fabrics with oversight of fabric design for the casual, residential, contract, and catalog markets. With more than 20 years’ experience in the textile industry, Wicker manages the creative elements related to the Sunbrella brand, including photography, advertising, collateral, website design, and sampling. She earned a BS in textiles with a concentration in design from NC State University and an MBA from Duke University.
A self-described home décor and garden enthusiast, Wicker is happiest when surrounded by beautiful fabrics and furnishings, abundant plants and flowers, and friends and family.
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Brian Paquette, Interior Designer, BP Interiors
Since he started his eponymous design firm a little more than four years ago, Brian Paquette has been challenging the normal aesthetic associated with an interiors firm—what they do; who their clients are; and where they get their ideas. He has worked on a range of client homes, from very traditional settings that echo his East coast upbringing to more minimalist spaces that bring to mind a modern, sparse, or time-worn aesthetic.
For Paquette, inspiration can strike at any time. Sometimes he will walk into a home and feel a connection beyond simple surface comfort or visual pleasure. There will be a shade of blue that reminds him of the beach in Newport in early spring. Perhaps a fabric on a sofa will have the feel of his prep school blazer, or the lighting in a home will evoke the memory of waking up in a yurt on the Oregon coast. It is this sense of possibility and this connection to the past that moves him as a designer; this is what gets him out of bed in the morning.
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Daniel Nolan, Flora Grubb Gardens
Growing up, Daniel Nolan drew landscapes constantly. Deserts, jungles, and gardens often blended into each other. “I was restlessly creative. My favorite toys were a box of markers and a pad of paper.” That love of art lead him to Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, but after five years he moved to South Carolina and began his own landscape design business, mixing the Mediterranean plant palette he fell in love with in California with the formal garden aesthetic he grew up with amongst the historic gardens of Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley.
Since joining Flora Grubb Gardens in 2009, Daniel has become known for his use of botanically sophisticated combinations of the familiar and the foreign. He has worked on projects ranging from living walls for homes and restaurants, to transformations of residential gardens, to the planting design for the Powell Street Parklet, which garnered praise from the San Francisco Chronicle and The American Society of Landscape Architects. His work has also appeared in Martha Stewart Living, Sunset, and San Francisco Magazine.
Erin Hiemstra is the founder of Apartment 34.com, a leading lifestyle site that serves as a field guide for classically chic style with a modern spin. Since 2007, readers around the world have been enjoying home décor how-to’s, shopping tips, personal style advice, and tidbits from Hiemstra’s adventures as a 30-somethin’ woman making her way in the world.
She has shared both her style and business savvy with others as a speaker at the Alt Design Summit and IFB Bloggers Conference. A true social butterfly, Hiemstra also enjoys a loyal following of nearly 12,000 Twitter and more than 33,000 Pinterest followers, among whom are the world’s top 10 “pinners” and other influential tastemakers. When not at her new San Francisco-based home office, Hiemstra can be found running around the City, searching out the latest boutiques, hot restaurants, and best cup of coffee to keep her blogger motor running!
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Morgan Satterfield, Interior Designer/Stylist/ Founder, CAMP
Morgan Satterfield is an interior designer and stylist, as well as founder of CAMP, a retail line of hand-fabricated minimal home goods and everyday personal accessories. She chronicles the ongoing renovation of her mid-century desert home on The Brick House, a blog that features DIY projects, vintage tutorials, and thrifty resources. Satterfield’s desert modern design and vintage-influenced styling has been featured in publications such as Dwell, Glamour, Readymade, Chloe, Style at Home and many others. She loves taking photos and spending time with her small herd of tiny dogs.
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Vanessa De Vargas, Principal Interior Designer, Turquoise
Vanessa De Vargas is the principal interior designer for the design label Turquoise, located in Los Angeles. Turquoise—named for her favorite color and a nod to her roots in New Mexico—is the overarching umbrella for all of De Vargas’ design ventures (interior design, vintage one-of-a-kind furniture, charity design, and E-decorating.) De Vargas decorates residential and commercial properties all around Los Angeles for a select clientele. Her goal for any project she works on is that the space reflects the owner and what they love and cherish.
De Vargas has an uncanny ability to balance the modern and the vintage in her interior designs, and she is always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind pieces. Many of her finds are for sale at One Kings Lane.com, where she is a regular seller in the Vintage and Market finds. De Vargas has been published in more than 100 design-related magazines such as Sunset, InStyle, Cottages and Bungalows, HGTV, Redbook, the New York Times, as well as on blogs such as Angeleno, LA Confidential, Decor 8, and Design Sponge. She has appeared on HGTV’s Design Wars, TBS’ Movie and a Makeover, and, most recently, Yahoo!’s “Ultimate Surprise,” where she designed a music classroom for a deserving teacher. Readers can also view her design spots on HGTV.com
De Vargas is passionate about pro bono design work as well. She has done 5 charity-related projects in Los Angeles already and her latest venture is for “Freehab,” a charity rehab facility spearheaded by Russell Brand and Lauri Burns of the Teen Project.
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Aaron Dillon, Citrus Nurseryman, Four Winds Growers
As a fourth-generation citrus nurseryman, Aaron Dillon is proud to carry on his family’s tradition of providing customers with high-quality, disease-free citrus trees for use in any landscape setting. Since 2002, he has helped expand Four Winds Growers’ offerings to include a wider range of edible fruit trees, bushes, and vines for sustainable and productive landscapes, big or small. During the last three years, he has managed the development of Four Winds Growers’ newest nursery in Watsonville, which features a 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art citrus-propagation facility.
Dillon is passionate about teaching people to create productive and sustainable edible landscapes in any size home garden: “I am constantly inspired and motivated by the power of gardening and its ability to create positive change. I believe that simply by gardening it is possible for all of us to change the world.” He currently lives in Watsonville, with his wife Carrie and their daughters, Olivia (5) and Amelie (2).
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Janet Sluis, Horticulturalist/ Curator, Sunset Western Garden Collection
As a sixth generation member of a Dutch seed family, Janet Sluis suspects that plants are in her DNA. By the age of six she was hybridizing ranunculus and growing kale in her garden. After studying marketing, horticulture, and agricultural business, Sluis spent twenty years in production and product development for wholesale plant nurseries in California. When she is not traveling in search of new plants, you can find her battling slugs in her Berkeley test garden.
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Robin Stockwell, Owner, Succulent Gardens, The Growing Grounds, Castroville, California
Robin Stockwell has been lauding the virtues of succulent plants since he started growing them in 1972. A veteran green thumb and past president of the Monterey chapter of the California Nurseryman’s Association, Stockwell talks regularly to gardening groups large and small. He has been featured in the Monterey Herald, the San Jose Mercury News, Sunset, and Garden Design magazine, and on radio and television.
Gardeners interested in water conservation and green gardening should heed Stockwell’s passion for succulents. These plants are ideal for landscapes in many ways: they boast beautiful foliage, which comes in almost every color of the rainbow; they bloom almost constantly; and they are hardy and require very little in the way of water, nutrition, and care. Even so, people are timid in using them and Stockwell wants to encourage gardeners to just get out there and plant them.
For ideas and tips, readers are welcome to visit the three-acre growing grounds of his Castroville nursery, Succulent Gardens. “The candy shop,” as it is known to landscape architects and designers, is open to the public Monday through Saturday. Its demonstration gardens and emphasis on education will empower anyone to get started using these wonders of the plant world.
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David Perkins, Organic Land Care Practitioner, Lyngso Garden Materials
Originally from England, David Perkins is a life-long organic gardener and Northern California resident for more than 20 years. He is an accredited Organic Land Care Practitioner who honors biodiversity by working with the life in the soil to create healthy landscapes. Perkins is knowledgeable on a wealth of diverse topics, including biodynamics and permaculture design. In association with Our Water, Our World, he also serves as an IPM advocate to promote integrated pest management and less-toxic solutions for protecting local watersheds. Perkins works for Lyngso Garden Materials in Redwood City; he is available to consult on the unique needs of your project.
Renee Shepherd is a pioneer in introducing international specialty vegetables and herbs to home gardeners and gourmet restaurants. After receiving her PhD from UC Santa Cruz and teaching in the Environmental Studies department there, she founded Shepherd’s Garden Seed, which she ran until 1996. In 1997, she founded her current company, Renee’s Garden. It offers her choice of seeds for exciting new and time-tested heirloom gourmet vegetables, culinary herbs, and fragrant and cutting flowers, sourced worldwide from seed growers large and small. Renee’s Garden seed packets are available directly from www.reneesgarden.com and are offered through independent garden centers thoroughout the U.S. and Canada.
Shepherd chooses the seed varieties, writes the product descriptions and growing information for the seed packets, and manages the company’s marketing activities. She also directs and enjoys the large trial gardens in California and Vermont. She has authored two cookbooks, Recipes from a Kitchen Garden and More Recipes From a Kitchen Garden, and is putting the finishing touches on a third book combining both gardening advice and great recipes.
Shepherd lectures widely at national and regional garden shows and is a featured speaker at numerous gardening conferences. She has many community interests and serves on the Planning Commission for Santa Cruz County, California. She has served on the board of the National Garden Association and is currently president of the Home Garden Seed Association.
“Renee’s Garden is my practical way of spreading the joy of gardening as a meaningful, productive and satisfying activity that connects us to each other and the earth.”
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Samanntha Rodriguez, Founder, EZ Farms and Fish
Samanntha Rodriguez is an avid promoter of aquaponic gardening and farming methods (aquaponics is the co-cultivation of plants and fish in a recirculating environment). Rodriguez began EZ Farms and Fish in 2007 to educate those interested in a more sustainable lifestyle, and she speaks about the need to make better nutrition and a fresh, steady food supply available to everyone at public gatherings throughout the Western United States.
Her background in art and design and many years in the construction trade help Rodriguez create custom aquaponic systems that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. She is particularly adept at making gardening accessible for those with limited physical ability. Rodriguez is the founding director of World Aquaponics Trade Educational Resource and is also a member of the Aquaponics Association. She is constantly seeking to expand her knowledge as the industry grows; tours and classes at EZ Farms and Fish are an ongoing source of inspiration. Rodriguez currently resides in the East Bay with her husband, chickens, and a variety of former strays.
Kathleen Brenzel is garden editor of Sunset. Born in Santa Monica, she spent summers in the Pacific Northwest and learned early on to love the differences between the cool forests around Puget Sound and balmy, palm-lined canyons of home. While overseeing the magazine’s garden content, she edited Sunset’s Gardening in the Northwest, California Top 10 Garden Guide, Gardening in the Southwest, and the Western Garden Book of Edibles. Sunset’s Western Landscaping Book, which she pitched, developed, and edited, led to a nationwide franchise.
Along the way, Brenzel appeared regularly on TV gardening programs, including the Grow-It series for HGTV, House Doctor for ABC-7 in San Francisco, and The Victory Garden for public television (for which she served one season as West Coast hostess). She has lectured on gardening topics in Alaska (aboard the cruise ship Crystal Symphony), Hawaii, and at garden shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Boston. In 2000, Brenzel’s passion for Hawaii’s native and endemic plants, which she wrote about in the magazine, earned her an Environmental Journalism Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kaua’i. In 2007, she received The American Horticultural Society’s Horticultural Communication Award. This ninth edition of the New Western Garden Book is her fourth as the book’s editor.
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Johanna Silver, Associate Garden Editor, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, California
Sunset associate garden editor Johanna Silver is always seeking out the latest movers and shakers in garden design, outdoor living, and sustainable agriculture. But anytime her eyes get too strained from staring at the computer, she heads out to Sunset’s test garden, where she designs, builds, and maintains small-scale gardens to be featured in the magazine. Silver’s two favorite parts of gardening are seed germination and compost making, and she loves spreading the gospel of each. At home, she can be found digging the dirt out from underneath her nails and enjoying city life in San Francisco.
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Chris Burkard, Staff photographer, Surfer Magazine, Author, California Surf Project
Chris Burkard is a visionary whose photography has the ability to catapult the viewer into the moment. At 26 years old, his style and composition are so unique that many instantly recognize his work. Through his photography, Burkard strives to capture the moments in between, and to document the lifestyle of the sport, not just the action.
He is currently a staff photographer for Surfer magazine. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including Surfline.com and Water magazine.
Burkard has been recognized as the first annual Follow the Light award winner, and named 2010 Red Bull Illume Image quest overall, and Illumination winner. He and friend/coauthor Eric Soderquist, created the book The California Surf Project (Chronicle Books, 2009). He continues to travel the world seeking the most remote, rugged, and untouched destinations out there.
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Eric Soderquist, Professional Surfer/Artist, Author, The California Surf Project
Eric Soderquist is a professional surfer, artist, and world traveler who takes his inspiration from nature. He and his friend, photographer Chris Burkard, documented their 50-day road trip from one end of the Golden State to the other in their book, The California Surf Project. Soderquist lives and surfs in Shell Beach, California.
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Kelsey Sheofsky, Co-Founder, Shelter Co.
After spending more than five years as Creative Director of a leading event-planning firm, Kelsey Sheofsky realized that she could get more people “into the wild” while still being able to plan lavish events if she started her own company. This led her to launch San Francisco-based Shelter Co., a luxury camping outfitter with her husband in April 2012. Shelter Co. plans high-end outdoor excursions that range from couples’ getaways to 200-person corporate retreats, and everything in between.
When not setting up camp, Sheofsky spends a lot of time traveling the California coast with her husband, daughter, and dog looking for new locations for future clients and exploring all that her home state has to offer. She is a Mexican-food junkie and flea market lover and is always looking for new treasures to add to the Shelter Co. inventory or to the shelves of her own home in the Mission.
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Mike Sinor, Director of Winemaking, Ancient Peaks Winery
Wine fanatic Mike Sinor started his career on the Central Coast more than 20 years ago in a harvest position for Robert Mondavi–owned Byron Winery in the Santa Maria Valley. Since then, this self-made winemaker with no formal winemaking education has worked his way up from “cellar rat” through grit, determination, and a sheer love of wine. Sinor went on to become assistant winemaker at Byron and took two winery-sponsored trips to France, further expanding his winemaking horizons.
Sinor left Byron Winery after the 2000 harvest to become the winemaker at Domaine Alfred in the Edna Valley, where he made some of the most acclaimed wines on the Central Coast. Now at Ancient Peaks Winery, Sinor directs the quality and style of the wines, as well as overseeing the viticultural practices at the winery’s estate Margarita Vineyard.
Prior to working at the Sports Basement, Danielle Gellis spent five years as a backpacking guide and outdoor educator for children and adults. Among her favorite trips were a 14-day backpacking trip through the Sierras; a 7-day canoe trip down the Colorado River; and a thorough exploration of the Joshua Tree Wilderness. Gellis is the queen of “glamping” at Sports Basement, a title she attributes to the 3 years she spent camping at the Burning Man festival. She can whip up some delicious backcountry meals and, when not working, enjoys costume parties, reading, and hiking.
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Megan Hankins, Animal Keeper, CuriOdyssey
Megan Hankins has cared for animals at CuriOdyssey for six years. She has been fortunate enough to interact with some of California’s most interesting wildlife, including, but not limited to river otters, bobcats, foxes, a coyote, a ringtail cacomistle, a porcupine, a variety of raptors, and tons of reptiles and amphibians. Hankins has a bachelor’s in marine science, but wound up gravitating toward land animals in her professional career. She enjoys working with and learning about many of California’s native animals as both a professional and a volunteer.
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Jen Gale, Animal Keeper, CuriOdyssey
After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, Jen Gale realized that she wanted to work with animals. She worked toward that goal by volunteering at a local SPCA, the Oakland Zoo, a veterinary hospital, and at S.L.E.W.T.H.S., a sea lion training facility in Moss Landing. It wasn’t long before she was chosen for a coveted Animal Keeper position at CuriOdyssey, formerly Coyote Point Museum. Over the last 6 years, Gale has enjoyed working with all sorts of animals, from lizards to raccoons to owls. In 2011, she also began volunteering with the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO), helping to band raptors as they migrate through the San Francisco Bay Area. Gale enjoys working hands-on with animals, as well as helping to educate the public about animal welfare and environmental preservation.
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Thomas J. Story, Staff Photographer, Sunset Magazine, Menlo Park, California
Thomas J. Story is a staff photographer at Sunset Magazine. He has spent the past decade traveling around the West, documenting all the wonders that make living out here so special. Some of his favorite shoots have meant being in a WWI biplane; boating in the San Juans; and hiking 13 miles through the snow in Yosemite. When he is not travelling on a boat, train, or plane, or haunting one of the many thrift stores he comes across in his travels, he can be found spending time with his ceramicist wife and their two children in Emeryville, California.
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