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Sofitel Saigon Plaza Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary, commemorating a quarter century of Joie de Vivre in Vietnam

Sofitel Saigon Plaza Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary, commemorating a quarter century of Joie de Vivre in Vietnam.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza is delighted to commemorate a significant milestone this October with the celebration of its 25th anniversary.

Drawing inspiration from local Vietnamese culture and traditions while embracing life with a French zest is what the hotel successfully stands for a quarter century.

Daniël Stork- Consul General of The Netherlands_Mario Mendis-Sofitel Saigon Plaza GM and guests

Daniël Stork, Consul General of The Netherlands, Mario Mendis, Sofitel Saigon Plaza GM and guests

Since its establishment in 1998, Sofitel Saigon Plaza has consistently delivered a 5-star luxury experience marked by heartfelt service and hospitality excellence in the heart of Ho Chi Minh.

Globally acclaimed through the decades, Sofitel Saigon Plaza has welcomed dignitaries and political figures, from the former French President Francois Hollande to the US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ambassador Lesly Benoit of Haiti performing with Jazztown

Ambassador Lesly Benoit of Haiti performing with Jazztown

On October 5th 2023, Sofitel Saigon Plaza hosted an enchanting Anniversary Dinner at its opulent Diamond Hall in presence of Mrs Maud Bailly, CEO of Sofitel.

Maud Bailly, CEO of the Sofitel, M Gallery & Emblems Worldwide

Maud Bailly, CEO of the Sofitel, M Gallery & Emblems Worldwide

At this extraordinary soirée, the hotel had the privilege of hosting esteemed guests, ranging from international diplomats and government officials to renowned celebrities, CEOs of prominent corporations, and dedicated Heartists (Accor team members) who have passionately served Sofitel Saigon Plaza for over two decades.

Chef Kieko Nagae

Chef Kieko Nagae

The honoured guests were thus invited to enjoy a sumptuous six-course dinner crafted by Michelin-star and celebrity chefs from Asia and France. This exquisite evening was topped off with spectacular performances blending these two cultures. To mark the occasion, Heartists whom are within the property since the opening have been highlighted and recognized for their exceptional commitment and remarkable work.

“Founded almost 60 years ago, Sofitel was the first French luxury hotel brand to develop an international network of hotels and resorts…

Maud Bailly

CEO of Sofitel

“…Each of the establishments now artfully blends the French art-de-vivre with the essence of the local destination, offering chic design, the best of culinary arts, and exceptional personalized service. The 25th anniversary was truly an illustration of the cultural link between France and Vietnam, exemplifying the symbolism of the Sofitel logo, which signifies the seamless blending of French and local cultures. Over these two and a half decades, we have not only celebrated the excellence of Sofitel but also the enchanting partnership of Saigon’s vibrant spirit with the elegance of French heritage. At Sofitel, we want to inspire people to celebrate life and its beauties with joy, impertinence, and, most of all, pleasure! This celebration embodies the essence of our vision, where the rich traditions of Saigon meet the sophistication of French savoir-faire, creating a world of endless delight and unforgettable moments”, commented Maud Bailly, CEO of Sofitel.

 “It is a privilege to be part of an establishment that has redefined luxury, elegance, and service in Ho Chi Minh City. Our gratitude goes to our valued guests, passionate team, and partners who have been unwavering supports in this journey. This anniversary not only pay tribute to our past but also reaffirms our dedication to offer unforgettable experiences to our guests in the future”, said Mr. Mario Mendis, General Manager of Sofitel Saigon Plaza.

Michelle Wee- CEO Standard Chartered Vietnam - Madame Trang Le Counsel General Daniël Stork of The Netherlands

Michelle Wee- CEO Standard Chartered Vietnam – Madame Trang Le R- Counsel General Daniël Stork of The Netherlands

The festivities will continue during the 5th Saigon Gourmet Week, taking place from October 6th to 8th at Sofitel Saigon Plaza.

Event Curator and Producer Tracie May-Wagner

Event Curator and Producer Tracie May-Wagner

This event promises a delightful array of culinary experiences, including immersive cooking classes, exclusive lunches and dinners, and an unforgettable brunch featuring renowned chefs.

Phoung Nam Art Theater

Phoung Nam Art Theater

The lineup includes Sébastien Voelker (French Pastry Chef), Truc Dinh (Vietnamese Chef), Shozo Tsuruhara (Japanese Chef), Victor Savall (Spanish Pastry Chef), Sakal Phoeung (French-Cambodian Chef), Keiko Nagae (French-Japanese Pastry Chef), Vuong Vo (Vietnamese Chef), Adrien Guenzi (French Chef), and French Michelin-Star Chef Thierry Renou.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza

Sofitel Saigon Plaza harmonizes the sophistication of French art de vivre with the vibrancy of local Vietnamese culture, delivering a luxury hospitality experience enriched by genuine heartfelt service. Conveniently located in a tranquil enclave on Le Duan Boulevard, Sofitel Saigon Plaza places you in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City’s business, cultural, and shopping district.

The hotel boasts 286 rooms and suites adorned with refined décor and deluxe amenities, a fitness center feauring advanced exercise equipment, and an outdoor swimming pool with breathtaking city views.

Sofitel Saigon Plaza also features five dining establishments serving local and French cuisine, seven polished meeting rooms, and an opulent ballroom equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, making it the ideal destination for business, leisure, meetings, and gatherings.

Sofitel Hotels & Resorts

Sofitel Hotels & Resorts is an ambassador of modern French style, culture and art-de-vivre around the world.

Established in 1964, Sofitel is the first international luxury hotel brand to originate from France, with more than 120 chic and remarkable hotels in many of the world’s most sought-after destinations. Sofitel exudes a refined and understated sense of modern luxury, always blending a touch of French elegance with the very best of the locale.

Sofitel also includes a selection of heritage luxury hotels under the Sofitel Legend banner, renowned for their timeless elegance and storied past.

Some notable hotels in the Sofitel portfolio include Sofitel Paris Le Scribe Opera, Sofitel London St James, Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan, Sofitel Mexico City Reforma, Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and Sofitel Ambassador Seoul.

Sofitel is part of Accor, a world leading hospitality group counting over 5,400 properties throughout more than 110 countries, and a participating brand in ALL – Accor Live Limitless – a lifestyle loyalty program providing access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences.

sofitel.accor.com | all.accor.com | group.accor.com

Worth the train ride: New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, with Wine Expert Alan Tardi

New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, Wine Expert Alan Tardi reveals why you need to Enroll

He’s worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi visits us for a conversation about NYC, restaurants, Italian wine and his new classes starting this fall (October) at New York Wine Studio.

 

 

As a get to know you question for everyone out there who loves food and wine and spirits, but they don’t necessarily know your background so much.

You’ve been in the wine world, the hospitality world, the restaurant world for many years. Tell us about a celebration in your life that inspired you to join these industries?

 

Alan: Sure. First I should say that, when you introduced me, you said I was a chef and a restaurateur and all that’s true. But before I was a chef, I was a cook. And actually before I was a cook, I was a dishwasher.  I took a little bit of a break from college and went to Europe and traveled around and then came back and wanted to come visit my sister in New York City.

And so I did. And I ended up staying. And at a certain point, I thought okay, I’m going to go back and finish my undergraduate degree, but I also want to get a job. So I walked into a place that could have been a shoe store or whatever. A gas station.  But it happened to be a restaurant. 

One of the new, the first restaurants in this area called Tribeca, when it was just starting to take shape and walked in there and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a job.’

The person who was in the back that they sent me back to talk to in the kitchen was washing the dishes. And he said, Yeah, I’m the owner. You want to wash dishes? Yeah, sure. 

So I started washing dishes there in this restaurant. And then after a while I would, I became a bus boy on the floor.  Then when I would come into work, oftentimes the kitchen was a little bit behind. So I would help them out. I ended up going to the kitchen while I was going to school at the same time. 

For me, it was a job and while I was going to college in the village after my classes in the evening, I found this tiny little restaurant on Greenwich Avenue in the village called Chez Brigitte.

It was like a counter basically, they had two little tables on the side, but there was a counter there with maybe eight seats. And there was this French woman named Brigitte who was cooking food back there. I started to go there, so I didn’t go home by myself and have supper.

I started to get half bottles of wine from a nearby wine shop and took it to this place, Chez Brigitte. I spoke French. I was talking to the woman cooking there.That was a celebration for me, and I was there all by myself. I would go there after, after my schooling before I went back home.

So that was like a celebration. I would go there two or three times a week. And that was my own sort of really like dining. But it was very casual. It was an open kitchen.  But that was my celebration factor. And then after I finished my degree I thought I’m actually into cooking.

I was cooking in this restaurant in Tribeca. And so I went and knocked on the door of a little restaurant in Soho, which was called Chanterelle. It was a legendary restaurant for about 25 years. And the woman, the manager, the wife of the chef, Karen Weltuck, and David Weltuck was a chef.

She hired me. I was the third person. Before that, there were two people in the kitchen. I became the third person in the kitchen doing Garde Manger. Then after six or nine months, I was promoted to he sous chef. So I went from a Garde Manger to the sous chef in this really legendary restaurant.

So that was my celebration.

 

The fact that you grew up behind the scenes in the back of the house makes me curious.

For a couple – whether it’s a date night, an anniversary or a business dinner,

do you have any tips for how to take that fine dining experience and make it really truly memorable

Alan: First of all, we talk about fine dining. To me, sometimes you have the best experiences in a very simple, very unpretentious place. When I was working at Chanterelle, I was there for a little over three years. Every August, the restaurant would close for the month and most of the staff would go off on a gastronomic tour. 

I went with some of my colleagues to France two years in a row. We would go through all the three star Michelin restaurants. At that time, you had to write a letter in French asking for a reservation at a certain time.

You had to reserve ahead of time because you had three star Michelin restaurants, highly sought after. Three or four days a week we would be eating in these fancy restaurants, sometimes lunch and dinner. It’s crazy. But there would be the down days too, right?

When you’re just traveling somewhere, you’re going to a different part. Some of these meals were amazing, that it was a whole new world for me. You get the menu, all the service and the cheese and the wines and everything. It was a great experience.

On the off days, you would just find a place to eat. And sometimes we would go to a little aubergine. I remember one in Normandy, walking into this place. It was just a few doors down from where we were staying overnight, waiting for our next kind of big meal. We went to this little aubergine and they had the most banal dish, trout almondine, right?

Trout almondine. It was in Normandy, however.  There were women in the kitchen, not men, and usually in these three star restaurants, it was all male at that point. 

I realized that some of those down meal nights and simple places, they had no stars at all. You had amazing food.

The meals were on the same par as some of the best three Michelin restaurants I had. So that was an important distinction for me to make. When you’re talking about how to really create – whether it’s in a very simple environment or kind of more fancy –  how to really make it special. I think it has genuinity.

Just being what you are and trying to take care of your guests as best as you possibly can. That can really make it very special. You need to have good food, you need to have good wine, you need to have good service. All of those factors play in. But the most important thing is really trying to take care of your customer.

And I think you can do the same thing at home, your customers, whoever’s coming to your home and you’re going to offer them something and you want to try to make it as special as you can, even if it’s just hamburgers, but that can be really great and memorable.

 

We’re going to stick with the restaurant for a second, but move toward the wine list.

What are some tips for someone who wants to have a nice bottle out at dinner and they just don’t even know where to start?

 

Alan: That’s a great question. When I had my restaurant I decided to take a certain approach to the wine program, which was to find the best regional wines that would really best accompany the food.

Many of them were wines that people were unfamiliar with, they were just not among the top 10 that people would go to automatically. This is some years ago when a lot of the wine lists in the restaurant were the most famous ones you see all over the place because people are comfortable with that. So sometimes it threw people off and they would ask questions. What is that? Don’t you have this other one that’s very popular and all over the place? 

No, but we have this and – we didn’t always say this – but it’s actually much better and it costs less.

So people would try it.  They would take a leap of faith and for the most part they always loved the wines, and they went very well with their food.  Not only was I the chef and the owner but I was also the sommelier as well. 

We tried to train the staff very well about the wines and inform them. We had monthly tastings with them so they could taste the wines.

If people were really interested, I would come out of the kitchen and explain, make a suggestion based on what they said they liked. Sometimes it’s very difficult for people to explain what they want, so you have to read into that a little bit, but it’s something that really worked.

 

I know you love Italian wine, you’re an expert in Italian wine. Are there some Italian wine regions that deserve more attention?

 

Alan: Absolutely. I love wine from all over the place. Initially I spent time in France, delving into the wine regions there and they’re amazing and superb. When I was working at Chanterelle after the two first years going to France and the three Michelin restaurants, the third year I said maybe I’ll go to Italy and just try that out.

When I actually went there, it totally blew my mind. We rented a little house outside of Siena and explored the area. We went to a fantastic restaurant and it’s still in existence, La Chiusa, in a tiny little village called Montefollonico.

That really blew my mind completely. Because it was in an old olive oil mill, outside of this tiny little village up in the hills. The food was both very traditional and also very kind of cutting edge. They were trying to expand a little bit, but there was a really great balance of that. I actually went back there to do a stage, a summer stage working in the kitchen.

What really blew my mind was the fact that everything there was local. It was right, very close to Montepulciano and I would go walk in the vineyards.  A lot of the food they got was made from grapes in the vineyards outside the restaurant. And the cheese was the pecorino.

The cheeses in Tuscany were made locally and everything was from that particular area. This was long before farm to table. 

So it was a tremendous experience and that was just the beginning because Italy has 20 different regions, each one of them very different.

We think of Italy’s being old, the ancient Romans and the Etruscans. That’s true. But Italy is a country just a little bit more than a hundred years old. 150 years old. It was formed in 1861 bringing together the Italy that was once where it was fragmented after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Up until that point, you had all these different city states that had their own language, their own identity, their own cuisine, their own architecture. And while it’s been now collected into one country, each region is very independent and different from one another.

It’s changing a little bit now.  At one point the dialects were very strong. When I moved to Piemonte. In the village where I lived for over 12 years, when I moved there in 2003, most of the people – who are over 50 years old, spoke Piedmontese as their first language. They had gone to school, so they learned Italian, but they spoke Piedmontese whenever they could.

In Italy there’s an incredible diversity of different places within the country. And it goes into the wine. The wines are very different. The grape variety, there are more grape varieties in Italy than most any other place. 

 

I appreciate how you fit all these areas together: the wine, the food, the identity of the people themselves. When people Google you, they can find a lot.  Your videos, your books, your webinars.

What do you think is a  tip to being a great speaker when it comes to food, wine, travel, these types of genres?

 

Alan: I feel like I’m very humble, especially when you’re talking about wine, there’s always something new to learn and it never really stops. So I’m learning too, as I go along..

I approach it as I want to learn about something myself. Then I want to explain it and talk about it to other people and fill them in on it as well, because it’s exciting for me it might be also interesting and exciting for other people. 

The other thing is really trying to share that information in a meaningful way. I’m not trying to be an expert. I just want to share that excitement that I’ve felt myself.

Tell me how your background and the learning we’re talking about informed your  decision to launch the New York Wine studio?

Alan: As you alluded to, I’ve been teaching for quite a while. All these things just happened almost organically. I didn’t say I’m going to become a restaurateur or a chef. I just started. From there, I really got interested in wine because there’s a very strong correlation between wine and food.

I got really interested in wine.  I was doing a lot of panel tasting with Wine and Spirits magazine, whose office was very close to my restaurant. Josh Green, the editor there and a friend of mine for quite a while.  At one point he said, Hey, do you want to write an article? I said, sure. So I started writing for them a lot and it just went into other venues as well. 

Teaching is the same thing. I started giving presentations at wine conferences like Society of Wine Educators annual conference  I started teaching around 2015 for the Wine Scholar Guild. I was teaching for about six years.

I’ve been doing it in many different forms. Italian Wine Scholar. French Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar as well.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea to offer this program, the IWS, Italian Wine Scholar program, in New York City. No one is doing it here. Why? Why is that? So rather than doing it online, I thought it would be really great to do it in person. Where you can actually interact with the students that are there rather than just having them in the background on a computer from many different places in the world.

So I wanted to offer that along with wine because that’s a very important component. Obviously, if you’re talking about wine and explaining different Appalachians and different growing areas and different winemaking traditions, it’s good to be tasting the wines while you’re learning about that.

I came across a place that was willing to host these presentations, a beautiful wine tasting area, right in midtown Manhattan, close to Grand Central.

In addition to the Italian Wine Scholar Program, to start things up, do four individual classes that are theme oriented.

Is it fall and spring, or what’s the schedule?

 

Alan:  Right now we’re going to be starting this fall beginning in October,  I want to ease into it. I’m not loading up an entire schedule of things, but I’m going to be offering part one of the Italian Wine Scholar program, because There are two parts to this certification program.

The first part of the Italian Wine Scholar program will be this fall. Six 3-hour sessions live in-person with wine once a week during October and November.

Then to add something else, in the evenings, we’ll be doing four courses.  One in October, two in November, and one in December.  Two hour courses with wine, as well, and they’re not regionally driven, they’re thematically driven.

The first theme class is going to be: the many faces of Sangiovese because Sangiovese is a grape variety, Italy’s most widely planted grape variety, and of course it’s very closely tied to Tuscany, where there are at least five major appalachians that really focus on that grape variety.So we’ll be showcasing 10 different San Gervasio based wines. Five of them from Tuscany and then other San Gervasio based wines from other regions that, that really featured that like Umbria and Marche and even up in the north, Romagna, which is part of the Emilia Romagna region.  Emilia and Romagna are completely different places.

There will also be individual classes on volcanic wines, Appassimento wines, which are wines that are made from grapes that have undergone this drying process. 

Then also sparkling wines, which I’m a big fan of.  My second book was about champagne and I’m really deeply into champagne.  It’s going to involve sparkling wines from three different countries.

It sounds like this might be the most in-depth Italian class you can find in Manhattan.

 

Alan: To be careful, I would say it is “one of”, the most comprehensive program in Italian wine anywhere.

This program has not, has never been offered in New York City. It’s kind of a first time for that. It’s very comprehensive. It covers all 20 regions, all of the significant Appalachians and there are many of them.

All of the significant diverse grape varieties and I say significant because it might even be a little bit more now in the Italian National Register of Grape Varieties. Many people think that there are more than 2,000 different grape varieties. They just haven’t been genetically defined before.

Because it’s so deep with knowledge, it’s great for trade. New York City is a huge foodie and restaurant dining scene.

Alan: If you want to have all these post nominal certifications, that’s good. Nothing wrong with that. The most important thing, however, of course is knowledge and understanding. that you can use if you’re in the trade.

The understanding, the awareness of wine that you can then transmit to your customers in a restaurant or to your customers in a wine shop where you’re selling to.

It’s a very comprehensive program, but you don’t have to be in the trade to do it.  There are a lot of people who are just really fascinated and interested in wine. This is certainly a great comprehensive program for people who just are really fascinated by Italian wine and they want to learn more about it.

What are the goals for the New York Wine Studio? What’s the future for you? What’s the future for the studio itself?

 

Alan: For me, it’s this and I’m very excited about it. I like this sort of counterpoint between the really focused credential certification course with an exam at the end, and then the other ones that are more mixing it up and comparing /  contrasting these different wine regions.

Next spring I plan to do Italian Wine Scholar Part Two. There’s also an introductory course, used to be called Italian Prep, now I think it’s called Italian Essentials. It is for people who aren’t ready to jump into a whole certification program with all that detail, but it’s an introduction to Italian wine.

I would also love to do the French Wine Scholar, along with some additional classes in the evening.

Tell us where we can find more.  Websites?  Social Media?

 

Alan: Check out the website www.NewYorkWineStudio.com. It talks about the programs, the IWS program with the schedule mapped out and the four individual classes. 

There’s also an email there, info@NewYorkWineStudio.

 

DC Demands Juicier BBQ Chicken: The Secret? Shark Tank’s Turbo Trusser revealed by Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust.

Secret to BBQing a Juicier Chicken? Shark Tank’s Turbo Trusser revealed by Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust.

Want juicier chicken? Yes.  More flavor?  Yes.  Get it all setup in seconds?  Yes.  Two guys who love good food decided to tackle the problem.

Luckily, a Chef and a Builder were on the team.  And luckily the team has business smarts, creativity and can-do spirit.  Lastly, the team got global attention by winning their way onto hit TV show Shark Tank where Kevin O’Leary got excited by the flavors, the team and their product.

Today Turbo Trusser partners Brian Halasinski and Kirk Hyust stopped by for a conversation about delicious food, creating a great team and the secret to cooking.

The below conversation was edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation on our YouTube channel.

 

Can you guys share a memory about how being in the backyard with your family and friends inspired you to create the Turbo Trusser?

Brian Halasinski: Kirk and I have been working together on inventions for the last eight years and oftentimes we’ll have an idea that’ll come up and we’ll text each other and we’ll write it down in a notebook and then we’ll come and visit it later.

It just happened that I was getting ready to make chicken for my family and I was going to do a rotisserie chicken and I was trying to figure out how to tie this bird up with traditional strings. So I got my iPad and I’m watching a video.

I have to pause the video. My hands are covered in chicken juice. And after it was all done, it wasn’t done well. 

I texted Kirk because he’s a trained chef from the culinary Institute. There’s gotta be a better way. We started working on the Turbo Trusser from there. 

After your success on Shark Tank, Turbo Trusser has become a global hit. How have your backgrounds inspired where you are today?

 

Kirk Hyust: I’ve been a building contractor for 25 years.  Before that I was a chef. I got burnt out [being a Chef] and then I started building things and that’s how Brian and I met. I renovated his house for him. 

I was in the middle of inventing a wrench and Brian saw it [and said], ‘I want to start inventing too. You want to be inventing partners.’

We still haven’t quit our day jobs. We work seven days a week. Luckily working for us a lot of the time is cooking. Which is good.

 

You mentioned you are a trained chef. Tell us about your chef side. 

 

Kirk Hyust: I went to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Classical French cuisine. We’re from Ohio, so I like meat and potatoes and hearty casseroles. 

Do you have a favorite dish?

Kirk Hyust: Fettuccine Alfredo and Turbo Trusser chicken.

Brian, can we touch on your background and how how you ended up with TurboTruster?

 

Brian Halasinski: I have been in the pharmaceutical sales industry for the last 20 years.   I have a fairly flexible schedule to where I’m on the road and can be on the phone and be multitasking quite a bit when I’m working. 

I’ve had that entrepreneurial spirit in a way. Then when I met Kirk, he had invented this wrench and he was working on my house and he was there for it was a pretty decent sized project.

So over time we became friends. I became interested in the whole process of inventing. 

And then with that, you could actually take your invention and license it to somebody, basically renting out your idea and collecting a royalty. Kirk and I always thought that would be great.

We did a couple of products and we licensed them. Didn’t end up working out […].  We learned a little bit about the failures. And then ultimately that day I texted Kirk and said, listen, we got to come up with a better way to trust a chicken or Turkey. And we looked out there and there was nothing available other than butcher’s twine, which has been the way it’s been done for a hundred years.

 

 

A huge majority of people cook chicken and turkeys the wrong way. That’s my assumption. 

 

When we compare your final chicken to a poorly done chicken what’s the difference? 

 

Kirk Hyust: Trusting actually is a technique that brings all the meat together. If you don’t trust a bird, you’re actually cooking five pieces of meat separately. You got two wings, you got two legs and thighs and a breast. What you do, when you truss a bird, you actually bring all the pieces together and it cooks as one piece of meat, so it’s cooked more evenly and it’s juicier.

If you don’t cook it, if you don’t tie it up, if you just throw it in the oven or on the grill, what happens is all the meat cooks separately.  The breast is gonna be done before the legs. The wings probably are going to dry out and they’re going to be inedible. Because when you use the Turbo Trusser the wings are great.

It makes one ball of meat essentially and cooks it as one piece of meat instead of five. 

Is it the ego of the grill master? Or how do we help people realize they can have a better bird?

Kirk Hyust: That’s a really good question because we get that a lot. People have never even heard the term truss. To truss a bird. 

Your bird’s gonna be a lot better, but it’s gonna take you about five minutes to do it when it takes 20 seconds to use our product. Especially a Thanksgiving Turkey because that will dry out a lot faster than a chicken.

Brian Halasinski: With the Turbo Trusser, the way it’s designed it’s going to hold the stuffing in place too. So the stuffing’s not going to dry out the way it closes the cavity.

If you’re going to do a rotisserie, you absolutely have to tie that bird up or your legs and wings are going to be just flopping around the whole time. 

Can we talk a little bit about the process going from zero to where we are today?

Brian Halasinski: It was when we came up with the concept.

First, we started making prototypes. We made them out of cardboard. Then we made them out of wood. Kirk’s got all these tools so we could easily cut things. Then through trial and error with prototypes that we could make cheaply, we ended up with a very similar design to what we have today.

Then from there, we found a local fabricating shop that was able to laser cut out some samples for us so we could actually cook with them. We did all these things, refining the process and refining the product down to where we wanted to make it. Then we had to make a decision: make this here in the U.S. or go overseas.

Kirk and I made a decision based on our beliefs and our values that we wanted to make it here in the U.S. Being in Ohio, we were close to Cleveland, Ohio. This was the rust belt. There’s still a lot of manufacturing here. 

So within one hour of our headquarters, we were able to source everything we needed to mass produce and launch this product to the world from Canton, Ohio.

Kirk Hyust: We had six prototypes by the time we got to our seventh one. That was the one that we stuck with. We just kept refining the prototypes until we landed on the seventh one, which is that what in the stores or online.

Can you tell us a little bit about from prototype one to seven?  How did we get there?

Kirk Hyust: When you’re doing a prototype, obviously you have to solve a problem.  When you build a product, it has to work correctly or you’re going to get bad reviews. 

But we started out with a couple different designs.  We bought a chicken and a turkey; and we put this contour gauge on the leg, so that made the dips that you see now where the legs go into. Then we were in my shop, cutting it out and it looked like [bird] wings so we ended up putting the heads on it because it already had wings that the legs sat into the cradle.

It’s a lot of detail.

Kirk Hyust: Yes, exactly. We just got our patent […] issued for the very first time.  Even if it’s a piece of stamp metal and 2 wires. How intricate it really is.

Kirk, between your chef skills and your contractor skills. A perfect combination of bringing those two skill sets together. 

Kirk Hyust: It is. We have sales and numbers and Brian’s also creative.  […]The technical stuff, the websites, we develop everything together, but we have our strengths, he has a master’s degree in business.  So he’s trained really well for that.

 So it’s lie our strengths and weaknesses definitely fit together with each other.

Can we just talk through in the most simple, basic steps, how to use the Turbo Trusser?

 

Kirk Hyust: It’s really very simple. I usually buy a five pound bird. [With] smaller birds, it still works. It goes up to a 10 pound chicken. 

Then you take the plastic off, pull the packet of giblets and everything out of the inside.  Rinse it off. Pat it dry with a paper towel and if you have time, put it in the refrigerator and let the skin dry out. Put the Turbo Trusser on it, hook the legs in, hook the wings.  

Use duck fat or some kind of a binder to put your spices on it.  Salt and pepper, your favorite rub, something spicy, something sweet. Coat it with some kind of oil, or ghee or olive oil.

Put it in the oven at 375 for an hour and a half until it hits 165 degrees. That’s pretty much in a nutshell how easy it is.

Brian Halasinski: The Turbo Trusser is just three pieces. You got the main piece.  Then you have two hooks.  The hooks are going to go through the holes on the body of the chicken. You’re going to put the sharp end through the hole. It’s going to lock into place with the other end. 

So it’s simply, put the two hooks into the Turbo Trusser body.  You hook them onto the wings. The legs go into the cradle and in 20 seconds, you’re done. 

 

How do we get that strong-willed Backyard Grillmaster to give the Turbo Trusser a try?

 

Brian Halasinski: Just telling them to keep it simple and go back to what people have been doing for 100 years. And that’s using string to tie it up. Only we came up with a simpler solution. So it’s what everybody’s been people don’t do it because they’re intimidated, but now they don’t have to be. The turbo truss are so easy to use.

Anybody can use it. Even if you have dexterity problems, you’re never going to figure out how to, you’re not going to be able to tie up a bird if you have problems with your fingers, right? older people, maybe they have arthritis and it’s hard for them to tie a knot. Now with the turbo trusser, you can do that without fear and you can, it’s simple and effective.

As we wrap up, tell me about the Shark Tank experience.

Kirk Hyust: It was crazy.

Brian Halasinski: I’ll give you a high level view. We launched our product on November 1st of 2021.

Right away we went online and we applied for Shark Tank. It was 100% online.  Before COVID they would do open casting calls like Like American Idol.  

About 50, 000 people apply.  They narrow that down to about 125 people that tape [a TV segment], and maybe 100 or so will end up airing on television for the season that you’re in. 

So we apply, we have no sales, we don’t hear a word from them for a couple months. So we launched the product. We did pretty well. We sold like $50,000 worth of Turbo Trussers in the first two months of being in business with nobody ever heard of us.

We went back and we re-applied again, we got some sales numbers. Eventually they called. I Six months after we initially applied, they called us.

You basically work down through the process every week. They’re giving you something new to turn in, to make a video. 

Our first video, we came up with the idea to wear the chicken and turkey costumes. We said we wanted to stand out. We know that Shark Tank is television.  If it’s not good TV, people aren’t going to watch it. They loved it.

We made it all the way down through. We went all the way out to California and taped [our episode]. We ended up getting a deal with Kevin O’Leary, which was incredible.

Kirk Hyust: Brian’s a salesman. I’m not used to that. So when I was on Shark Tank, I messed my lines up.  I went blank for a couple seconds. I missed my cue to go over to my spot and I was really flustered, but I recovered, but man, that was the worst part.

Tell us the website, social media, where to find you, where to browse your products, where to learn more about you.

Brian Halasinski: The first thing for our product is TurboTrusser.com

You can make your decision if you want to buy from our website, or you can go to Amazon Prime across the country. 

You can find us on all the regular social media at Turbo Trusser on Facebook, Instagram, TikToK

You can find me, Brian Halasinski on LinkedIn, connect with us and be happy to chat or answer any questions with anybody.

Kirk Hyust: I’m on LinkedIn as well.  

You can reach out if you have any questions. I write a lot of the PPAs (provisional patent applications) and stuff. So any kind of questions, how to cook a good bird we’re accessible. We want to help we want to help anybody out there that we can, because we’ve had a lot of people help us along the way.

 

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

How to Design a Zero-Waste Kitchen

By Caleb Leonard

As we witness the impacts of plastics and other waste on our planet, more and more people are looking to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Creating a zero-waste kitchen involves adopting a mindful and sustainable approach to reduce waste at every stage of your buying, cooking, and eating routines, and it is an impactful way to minimize your carbon footprint.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Plan Ahead to Leave Less Behind

Look through your pantry and kitchen to see what you have on hand. Assess areas where waste is generated and rethink your shopping list.

Food waste can be prevented by effectively using your ingredients. Make creative use of leftovers. Freeze excess food for future meals. Don’t over-purchase perishable items. Make a shopping list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases.

Buy in Bulk and Refill

Stock up on staples like grains, pasta, nuts, and spices in bulk. If you are heading to a store with bulk bins, bring your containers to avoid excess packaging.

Another way to reduce plastic packaging waste is by shopping at stores where you can refill cleaning and personal care products.

Choose products with minimal or sustainable packaging. Opt for glass, metal, or cardboard packaging over plastic whenever possible. These items can be repurposed or recycled.

Avoid individually packaged items and single-use packaging.

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Farmers markets facilitate zero-waste kitchens.

Here’s how:

Reduced food packaging: Farmers markets offer fewer packaged and processed foods than grocery stores. Buying fewer single-use plastics keeps packaging waste out of landfills.

Local and seasonal produce: Farmers markets prioritize regionally grown and seasonal produce. By buying from local farmers, you support sustainable agriculture practices while minimizing the environmental impact of long-distance food transportation.

Bulk purchases: Many farmers markets offer the option to buy produce in bulk, allowing you to choose the quantity you need without redundant packaging.

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

BYOB (bring your own bag)

Those flimsy plastic bags from the grocery store are no match for a reusable tote. Reusable bags made from canvas or recycled plastics are larger and more durable than single-use bags. Plus, more states are implementing fees to curb the use of plastic bags.

Go Green with Reusable Kitchenware

Most people know about reusable water bottles, but there are tons more reusable items on the market (many are dishwasher-safe too). From reusable K-cups for your morning cup of joe to stainless steel straws, there are lots of eco-friendly ways to eliminate kitchen waste.

Here are a few examples:

  • Reusable food wraps (plastic wrap alternative)
  • Washable cloths (paper towel/napkin substitute)
  • Fiberglass chopsticks
  • Compostable sponges
  • Silicone storage/freezer bags (Ziplock alternative)
  • Silicone muffin liners

Reusable products not only cut down on the production and consumption of new products, but they also save you money.

Consider Eco-Friendly Upgrades

With all the money you’ll save by going green, consider upgrading your appliances. New technologies use less water and electricity. The money you spend on energy-efficient appliances will be recuperated over time.    

Freeze as You Please

A high-performance freezer is a powerful tool for keeping your food fresh. Food waste often comes from leftovers. Rather than throwing away leftovers, you can freeze them. These frozen meals can be quick and convenient options on busy days, especially when stored as pre-packaged meals.

Freezing foods can significantly extend their shelf life; this way, you can buy in bulk and take advantage of sales without worrying about ingredients spoiling.

If you have produce nearing its expiration date, freeze it before it turns. Freeze fruits, vegetables, and other perishables. Sauces can be frozen too.

Your freezer can also store dry goods. Freeze bulk items like nuts, grains, and flour for later use.

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Reimagine Your Food Scraps

Almost all organic material has multiple uses. For example, banana peels make great hair and skin masks, banana tea is a powerful sleep aid, and plants love the potassium-enriched water of peels soaked overnight.

Orange peels can be boiled as a room deodorizer or baked and ground into a vitamin-packed powder.

Bones can be made into bone broth, and new plants can be grown from viable produce seeds, while herbs can be propagated for an endless supply of seasonings.

Before you toss it in the compost bin, perform a quick search and scope out any additional uses.

Compost is King

Composting is the backbone of the zero-waste kitchen. Once you have re-used your food in every imaginable way, it’s time to give it back to the earth. Create a compost pile in your yard; use a tumbling bin or a countertop composter.

Benefits of composting:

Reduced landfill waste: Food scraps account for a large chunk of landfill waste. When these materials decompose in landfills; they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting diverts these materials away from landfills, reducing their environmental impact.

Enriched soil: Compost improves soil structure, water retention, and nutrient availability. By composting, you’ll foster healthy plant growth, reducing the need for excessive watering and fertilizers.

Minimized odor and pests: Properly composting food scraps and yard waste reduces the likelihood of attracting pests and generating foul odors in trash bins.

A zero-waste kitchen is one way to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle. Once you hit your stride in the kitchen, you’ll likely find other areas to cut waste. Small changes add up, and you’ll make a big difference.

Caleb Leonard is a freelance writer and marketing professional. A graduate of the University of North Texas, his interests include gardening, podcasts, and studying Spanish.

DC Discovers Bordeaux wines, leading the way with Julien Bonneau from Chateau Haut Grelot

Incredible Bordeaux wines from Chateau Haut Grelot leads the way with Julien Bonneau

Today Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau visited to talk Bordeaux winemaking, their legendary wine region, his family’s pioneering legacy, his favorite food and wine pairings.

Chateau Haut Grelot's Julien Bonneau

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau

 

Can you tell us a little bit about what inspires you about the wine business? Maybe a memory or wine celebration.

 

Julien: As you imagine in Bordeaux, or even in France, most of the wine business is a family business. It’s very father and a son or daughter. There’s always this kind of takeover. 

Chateau Haut Grelot's Bonneau Family

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Bonneau Family

I grew up with my father and he was always into wine, tasting wine. ’Oh, you should smell the wine and making me discover the wine from when I was a very young child. And so I didn’t want to take over the company. 

I didn’t wanna take over the story about the wine, but I had one weakness:  I love wine actually. I like wine very much, so it was very hard to say no. 

Chateau Haut Grelot

Chateau Haut Grelot

I don’t want to take over. But I like wine anyway. I went to business school. I went to New Zealand and England to learn the wine trade.  It was a very nice experience. 

Then I came back to the wine business and started again to make wine, to discover the wine business through the company. That was probably my first step. When you start taking a foot in the wine business, then you never go back.

Obviously, it’s a passion to grow and grow because making wine is like growing a child. You start from the vineyard and then you go to making wine and then to age the wine in barrels. Then you put it in a bottle just to show your wine to your customers.

Chateau Haut Grelot's Julien Bonneau

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau

Looking at your winery’s history.  1920, 1927 was a big year for your vineyard. 1975 was a big year for your father. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the vineyard?  Up to the more modern technology your vineyard has pioneered.

 

I’m the fourth generation in my family’s wine business. So my grandfather used to have cows for breeding. Vineyards, asparagus, as well. So it was just a culture after the war. 

My father started in 1978 and he focused on the wine business.

He wanted to make and grow quality wine. Very tasty wine.  [His goal] changed a lot of things about the process of winemaking to develop very aromatic, long aging. So we started to make a range of wine:  white wine, rosé, a bit sparkling as well.

 

He went to see the customer directly in the north of France, in Europe. He tried to sell directly and not through negociants. That’s the main story because in AOC Blaye which is north of Bordeaux on the right bank of the river, negociants were necessary through the distribution to sell the wine.

The big challenge was, ‘No. You don’t want to pay more for my wine, I’m going directly to the customer. I don’t want to go and to carry on sitting through a negotiation because you don’t trust me on quality wine and you don’t pay more for the wine. So we’ll stop sending to negociants. And go directly to the customer, private customers, wine shop, restaurant, wine importers.’

That was 1984 and 1985. It was a very different direction. It changed a lot compared to what happened in Bordeaux at that time. We started to control our distribution. From that time, he developed a lot of quality wine, he invested in new vineyards, bigger and bigger, and also buying some barrels and new equipment to make very good quality wine. 

He loves saying ‘I was the first in 1990 to make green harvesting.’ Green harvesting is cutting some grapes in August. So one month earlier than the harvest to remove a bit of quantity and to make better quality. So he removed grapes in the vineyard to produce better concentration on the grapes left on the field.

That was his focus, it was an improvement in quality wine. From that time, we carried on. What I changed is, I make more wines, different wines, different quality wines. But still focusing on quality wine. I do more than 30 wines –  different quality, colors, and winemaking process. 

 

Let’s talk about your region, and how those elements inform the wines that you’re making?

 

Julien: We are located in AOC Blaye, north of Bordeaux, one hour driving up.

On the right bank of the river. So opposite to Saint-Estèphe, you have AOC Saint-Estèphe, you cross the river, the main river, and you are in AOC Blaye. 

Where we are located we are mostly very gravelly. We have two types of terroir.  For the red grapes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec. 

Gravelly soil to help have early harvesting and early maturation for nice harvesting. The second is more on clay soil, for the Sauvignon Blanc for the Semillon and Muscadet to make more powerful wine. Two very distinguished terroirs.

The climate is very moderate, oceanic influence but also very warm during the summer. We are very hot right now. It’s a very hot summer so that’s helped a lot to have very ripe grapes.

North of Bordeaux is quite hilly so it helps to have very nice exposure to the sun. For us, it’s very important to have ripe grapes. So we need to look for the sun and remove the leaves in front of the grapes.  It helps to keep the freshness in the wine and still have very ripe grapes.

 

Let’s talk about your winemaking process.

AOC Bordeaux or AOC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, we have very strict rules. We need to have the vineyard on a hill.  You need to respect 6,000 bottles per hectare of production. 

Then we have nine months of winemaking before bottling it. So for us we make one year, even sometimes two years after, focusing more on quality wine.

AOC rules are just a basis. We try to make higher quality by aging and also to decrease the quantity of grapes per hectare to focus on sun contact for the grapes to have very ripe and very juicy grapes before harvesting. So we are very much challenging and controlling this aspect. 

For example, in September, I walk every day, all my vineyards, just to check on the quality.

We try to get the aroma window. According to the evolution of the aroma on a grape, on a palate, we say ‘the window is there’, so we need to get it. It’s not only analysis from a laboratory, but it’s mostly from the palette.  ‘How’s it taste?’

It’s the same as when you cook, you taste your sauce all the time. 

 

Let’s talk about your wines.  Can you talk us through some of the wines that you have? 

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Ruby red in the glass.  Lovely nose with red berries, vanilla and spicy flavors.  Very drinkable.  Fruit forward with medium body. Well-balanced with long and aromatic finish

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022

Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022

Classic Bordeaux blend: 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon & 5% Muscadelle. Floral, crisp, elegant.  Exotic fruit on the nose with grapefruit and wild herbs.  Generous  citrus on the palate. Full body, almost velvety with a decadent finish.

Perfect to pair with seafood, chicken, fresh salads and cheese boards.

 

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Big gush of red fruit, red currant, raspberry, blueberry on the nose.   Big body, well-balance.  Very muscular with silky and structured tannins.  A long finish.

Enjoy as an aperitif or pair with game, pigeon, lamb, turkey, or as a dessert with chocolate.

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

 

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Powerful, bold, muscular. 100% cabernet sauvignon. A v ery special bottle, aged for 16 months in small oak barrels. A lush, velvety mouthfeel with medium tannin and a long, vanilla finish. 

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, Orange Wine

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, Orange Wine

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

100% Sauvignon Gris

On the nose, citrus and orange zest aromas.  Light body, light tannin.  A tart bitterness on the palette with medium finish. Enjoy as an aperitif, or pairs with hard cheeses and desserts.

 

Julien: We have a wide range of wine. But I’m going to start with…

[Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine]

Which is very fruity wine. This one is more classic Bordeaux style. 

For the white is [Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022].

For 90% and very fruity, juicy, very aromatic fruit, grapefruit, and also passion fruit and it’s very easy drinking very easy drinking, very crisp.

The red is 70% of Merlot, 30% of Cabernet sauvignon. Wine aging on the lees a bit just to bring a bit of fatness.  Strawberry character. 

Both wines are very drinkable. Don’t need to age too much. Lovely with sushi, seafood, tuna, all fish.  It works pretty well with meat. So that’s my two first classic range of Bordeaux style. 

Then I have Parfum, which is 100% Malbec.  [Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux]. Fruity, easy drinking, not too heavy as Argentina wines or Malbec wine.  It’s more of a freshness and very licorice character. 

The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in barrels for one year, very select grapes.

We make a very good balance between the fruit from the Cabernet and the barrels. From aging typical from wine. That’s two different wines which is this one a bit more on the liquorized fruit freshness side, and this one is very elegant. 

Lastly is orange wine. Bois Pauvoir, which is a sauvignon grape. [Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux]

The story of this wine was Bois Pauvoir. It’s orange wine. I never made it before, but I wanted to make a wine which says let’s try to see how it’s going. And that means in French, “let’s try, you will see.”

 

Going back to cooking, what are some of your favorite things to eat with these bottles?

Julien: I’ll say for Sauvignon Blanc,  this one is lovely with tuna. Rare tuna. Even tataki tuna. It has a very fresh character, very nice acidity and it’s very well matched with tuna. 

This is one who can match pretty much with many things, but if you like pasta with tomato.  Easy drinking freshness. Very drinkable. Not too heavy and you have acidity in a tomato with pasta and that keeps your freshness. 

It pairs well with game. I like pigeon with a side of onions.  Even lamb is very nice. It works pretty well with white meat. You can say beef as well. Roasted beef on a barbecue with carrots and peppers. 

That’s very long, which is very a bit unusual, but it’s lovely with cheese.  Even with fish in tomato sauce.  Sea bass or grilled octopus. Yeah, it could be a very nice match. 

How can we find more about you and your wines?

It would be fantastic to go on Instagram and follow us and follow our story about how we try to develop in the U.S.  You can also visit our website to learn more.

Foodie Destination Dining: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Redefines Global Gastronomy

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Redefines Global Gastronomy as a Destination Dining

In recent years, Vietnam has become recognized as one of the must visit, premiere dining destinations on the planet. 

From bustling street food markets, where the aroma of sizzling meats, zesty herbs and fragrant spices fills the air, to the abundance of premiere fine dining restaurants showcasing local Vietnamese flavors infused into classic European recipes, Vietnam promises its international visitors an unparalleled East meets West culinary adventure. 

In 2016, Anthony Bourdain taught former President Barack Obama the art of the noodle slurp, while throwing back some local Vietnamese beers, and feasting on piping hot bowls of Bún Chả at a local Hanoian restaurant.

In a recent interview, Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey named Vietnam his top food destination in the world.  The Michelin Guide recently awarded three of Vietnam’s leading restaurants their coveted stars for the 2023 season. 

To say the country is achieving sensational, and well earned, praise on the global culinary stage is an understatement, and with post-Covid international tourism sharply on the rise, we thought we’d to share our top 5 picks for some of the best dining destinations within Vietnam’s bustling southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City.

 

SUBLIME SUSHI

Noriboi

Noriboi has reimagined traditional Japanese cuisine with their artistic, and highly inspired, modernist approach to their fine dining menus. 

Evoking a one-of-a-kind, and simply astonishing, multi-sensory gastronomic experience, their expert team of Japanese trained Master Sushi Chefs, each a Vietnamese native, apply molecular gastronomy to craft and underscore each dish, producing sublime artistic presentations, unsurpassed by even the best restaurants in Tokyo. 

Utilizing only the very finest seafood, Wagyu Beef and even rice, imported daily from Japan, and paired with regional Vietnamese and specialty ingredients, each plate is an utter triumph of taste, texture and artistic presentation. 

In addition to their daily Omakase and a la carte menu offerings, Noriboi is also known for their exclusive dining events, which upon announcement on their social media outlets becomes the hottest reservation in town, sold-out within hours of their postings. 

10-course Summer Truffle Omakase

They recently presented a 10-course Summer Truffle Omakase, where each dish was highlighted by the earthy and distinctive flavor of freshly shaved imported European truffles, and a Kegani Omakase, with the highly coveted Kegani Hairy Crabs, a seasonal Japanese delicacy, as the focus ingredient. 

If you wish to experience truly outstanding Japanese food during your trip to Saigon, Noriboi cannot be missed.

35 Ngo Quang Huy Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City

 

All-Day Dining Divine

LUCA

LUCA – Eatery & Bar Lounge is a fantastic all-day dining eatery, offering its guests a bountiful array of local Vietnamese and Western dishes to choose from, satisfying even the most discerning and astute culinary palate. 

It’s a favorite restaurant destination for neighborhood locals and visiting tourists alike, craving an inventive and sophisticated array of dishes, served at any time of the day.  With menus designed by their talented Executive Chef An, for breakfast or Brunch, the fluffy Soufflé Pancakes, decadent Luxe Lobster Benedict and their Phở Bò Luca, an elevated spin on the Vietnamese classic, are spectacular. And for the coffee lover, try their Vietnamese Salted Egg Coffee, a staple beverage from Hanoi- rich, creamy, salty and sweet. 

For lunch, the Summer Peaches and Kale Salad is crisp, refreshing, and the perfect choice for a hot Saigon summer’s day, as is the Scallop Carpaccio with raw sweet Hokkaido Scallops, gently kissed with a drizzle of Yuzu sauce for a touch of acid.  

For Happy Hour, indulge in a platter of the freshest Miyagi Oysters, perfect to pair with a late afternoon glass or two of Rosé.  And for dinner, a hardy Australian Rib Eye Steak should do the trick, served with Chef’s signature Steak Sauce.  At any time of the day when visiting Saigon, Luca is a great choice to experience a chic dining atmosphere and truly wonderful food.

49 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City

 

American Comfort Food Infused with Vietnamese Flavors

OKRA Foodbar

Chicago, Illinois born Chef-Owner Jamie Celaya developed his menu to showcase the incredible bounty of regional produce, products, and seasonings available in Vietnam. 

Described as

“International Izakaya, third culture cuisine”

which to the laymen doesn’t make sense until you experience it, Okra offers “Subtle” small plates of vegetable forward comfort food, meant for sharing, and a selection of larger portioned “Sufficient” mains for a healthy appetite. 

Located in Thao Dien, in District two, this intimate and contemporary eatery with a laid back and unpretentious vibe serves up simply delicious food and craft cocktails, with warm and friendly service. 

Must try dishes at Okra include their spin on Street Corn, with Cilantro, Parmesan, Chili, Brown Bourbon Butter and Pork Floss, Grilled Broccolini with Truffle Crème Fraiche & Sa Tế Chili Oil, Land & Sea-Viche, a Sea Bass Crudo with Braised Pigs Ear, Chili, Lime and Bánh Tráng, and their signature Charred Okra with Preserved Lemon-Tomato Jam, Curry Yogurt, Burnt Pomelo and Sarsaparilla-za Atar. 

And to wash it all down, a chilled glass of Mùa Craft Sake on draft, also proudly brewed in Vietnam.

10 Thao Dien Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City  

 

Contemporary Vietnamese Cuisine & Cocktails 

The Triệu Institute

 

The concept of pairing craft cocktails with food is a gastronomic trend which has gained tremendous popularity in recent years in Vietnam, and no dining destination has perfected this principle better than The Triệu Institute.

They serve inventive contemporary Vietnamese dishes containing all the aromatics found within the gins of their namesake craft gin brand Lady Triệu, and their food and bespoke beverages blend in perfect harmony, allowing each patron to eat and drink simultaneously the bold, and singular flavors which Vietnam has become so famous for.  

A popular pairing include the Cured Kingfish, pickled with a housemade Hibiscus Vinegar which takes eight to ten weeks to complete, infusing sweet, sour, and floral notes deep within the fish, and a Flower General cocktail, containing Dalat Flowerbomb Gin, Wasabi, Jasmine Syrup and Seaweed Foam;  it’s a perfected combination.

10 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

 

Vietnamese Cuisine Portraying a Story

Nén Light Restaurant

Deeply committed to producing preeminent modern Vietnamese cuisine which pays homage to their country’s rich and vibrant heritage, Nén Light’s team of outstanding culinary artists developed their restaurant’s concept of Conscious Vietnamese Cuisine (Ẩm Thực Nhìn) to showcase their knowledge, appreciation and deep respect for their native roots and beloved culture. 

Serving wildly creative, 6-9 course storytelling tasting menus, they showcase hyper-local Vietnamese ingredients discovered on foraging trips throughout Central Vietnam, and guide each guest though a unique and unparalleled culinary journey which engages all five senses. 

Along with a Sake pairing, expertly curated by their in-house Sake Sommelier, and a “Conversation Pairing”, allowing servers to share the story behind the evolution of each plate,  a visit to Nén Light Restaurant will guarantee a singular and unrivaled immersive Vietnamese dining experience.

122/2 Tran Dinh Xu, Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, Ho Chi Minh City

 

For DC, it’s a Rose’ Summer! NBA Hall of Famer Tony Parker shares his Dinner Party Secrets and future of Rose’

NBA Hall of Famer Tony Parker shares his dinner party secrets, favorite french summer escapes and the future of the Rose’ Revolution.

In his incredible basketball career, Tony Parker earned four NBA Championships with the San Antonio Spurs, was selected for six All-Star teams and named MVP of the 2007 Finals.

But these days, his passion for food and wine is keeping him even more inspired.

Starting as a boy growing up in France, the memorable dinner parties he hosted during his NBA days, his summer escapes to French Vineyards during the off-season. 

It’s no surprise that now he diving into the French wine world, buying Château La Mascaronne in Provence with legendary business partner Michel Reybier.

A magnificent adventure for the next vintage of his life’s journey.

Château La Mascaronne Rose' COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Château La Mascaronne Rose’ COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Today I sat down with Tony Parker (over audio-only speakerphone) for a conversation about dinner parties, french vacation, getting busy in vineyards, and the future of Rose’ wine. 

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  The full conversation can be found on our YouTube channel.

Also, the podcast version is here:

 

 

You’ve been diving into the world of winemaking with Michel Reybier and his team. Can you talk a little bit about the adventure, any surprises or lessons?

 

It’s been amazing. I always wanted to invest in a project like that. The first time I tried wine was when I was 17 years old. I wanted to keep learning about it and get my knowledge better around the wine world. And so when I was 19, I finally made enough money to afford all those great wines.

I was lucky enough to play for a coach who loved wine, had a huge collection, was reading wine magazines every trip. And so that’s how we bonded. As I got better, in my knowledge of wine, I started to invite all the best [people] in San Antonio to come to do a nice dinner at my house with Coach Popovich, and then the next day I would invite them to a Spurs game.

Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Then during the summer I started making trips to the vineyard. I started to know them better. Because in the wine world, obviously, you have great families. They’re super passionate. And that’s how I started; working on my allocation and the good bottles, the Reserves. 

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier - SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier – SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

When I retired I wanted to be more involved. But it’s very hard to invest in the wine business because it’s either in the family for generations and generations.  Those big companies buy everything. And so I was very lucky, through mutual friends I met Mr. Reybier and after talking for six or eight months, we decided to become partners. Now I’m a proud Owner / Ambassador / Everything.

 

You mentioned the wine dinners you had in San Antonio. Just for us massive foodies, can you help us fantasize for a moment?

What kind of food was served? What kind of wines were poured? Can you take us back to those nights?

 

I had a private chef. My private chef would work with the vineyard. We tell them who’s coming, how many people, which bottles and what year they will send us. 

Then they will work with my staff to make sure we make a menu accordingly, to make sure that everything is matched with what we are drinking.

So when the [dinner party] came to my house, we tried [the vintages] 1969, 1982, 2000 and 2009. It was unbelievable. Great bottles, great vintages. 

And for me, I’m very lucky too because I’m born in 1982 and it’s one of the best years for wine, especially in Bordeaux. So every time I visit a castle in Bordeaux, the employees are always super happy because it’s a good opportunity for them, as the owner, to open an ‘82 [vintage]. 

Most of the time, they’ll come and say thank you to me, saying it’s [their] first time trying an ‘82 [vintage]. Because nowadays, they don’t open those 82’s a lot.

 

 

You’ve hinted at your sports background, obviously you have become a master. Is there any lesson that you mastered in sports that you’ve brought into the wine world with you?

 

The passion and the work ethic. Obviously in the wine world I will never try to be and talk like a Sommelier, they studied for that. Even if I have good knowledge and I’ve been working with vineyards.  And I’m learning all the time, especially since I’ve been owning vineyards. I did Harvest. I did the assemblage.  Which is when you try all the possible [options], and you decide what the wine is going to be.

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier - SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

Tony Parker and Michel Reybier – SEBASTIEN CLAVEL

I’ve been working with great directors.  Our director is unbelievable. The director at La Mascaronne, she’s great too. And so for me, it’s been great knowledge, and a great learning process to learn even more about wine.

What inspired you to choose the partner with Chateau La Mascaronne?

 

When I met him, I knew he was huge in the wine business and obviously it brings a lot of credibility when you work with somebody like Michel Reybier because he’s been at this for so long and he’s the owner of one of the best wines in the world with Château Cos d’Estournel.

That’s how I knew him and that was big time. When he talked about La Mascaronne, he bought it from Tom Bove.

Back in 2006, when I started going on vacation every summer, I started drinking Rose’ with my brothers and my friends. We love rose’ in the summer. 

That’s when Miraval took off.  Brad Pitt bought it with Angelina [Jolie]. He bought Miraval from Tom Bove.

Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

Tony Parker at Château La Mascaronne COURTESY OF CHÂTEAU LA MASCARONNE

So [I thought] if Tom Bove hit that property perfectly with Miraval, for sure [it can happen] with La Mascaronne, it’s just a matter of time before we can do something amazing.

What’s next for you as far as the wine world goes?

 

Our premium rosé just came out from La Mascaronne.  Only 3,000 bottles.

We’re working on more premium one’s now.  I think that’s where things are going with rose’s.  All these big companies and all the knowledge that they get from the red wines is coming into the Rosé world, where the Rosé is going to get better and better.

For more information on Tony Parker and La Mascaronne:

La Mascaronne’s website

La Mascaronne’s Instagram

Tony Parker’s Instagram

Moscato d’Asti Winemakers Launch #AstiVibe Summer at NYC Lunch

Moscato d’Asti Brings Perfect Summer Flavors to Midtown Manhattan Lunch

A perfect welcome to the season as Summer truly begins. 

On June 19, Consorzio Asti DOCG and Marina Nedic from I.E.E.M. hosted a masterclass and Moscato d’Asti DOCG tasting at Midtown Manhattan’s Il Gattopardo Ristorante

Cha McCoy Giacomo Pondini, Director of the Consorzio Asti DOCG and representatives from the wineries: Luigi Coppa of Coppa, Stefano Chiarlo of Michele Chiarlo, Marco Dogliotti of La Caudrina, Gianpiero Scavino of Vignaioli Santo, Stefano Ceretto of Ceretto and Andrea Costa of Marenco.

Cha McCoy led the discussion with: Giacomo Pondini, Director of the Consorzio Asti DOCG and representatives from the wineries: Luigi Coppa of Coppa, Stefano Chiarlo of Michele Chiarlo, Marco Dogliotti of La Caudrina, Gianpiero Scavino of Vignaioli Santo, Stefano Ceretto of Ceretto and Andrea Costa of Marenco.

Sommelier, Public Speaker, and Beverage Programmer Cha McCoy led the discussion with a panel of experts, including: Giacomo Pondini, Director of the Consorzio Asti DOCG and representatives from the wineries: Luigi Coppa of Coppa, Stefano Chiarlo of Michele Chiarlo, Marco Dogliotti of La Caudrina, Gianpiero Scavino of Vignaioli Santo, Stefano Ceretto of Ceretto and Andrea Costa of Marenco.

Consorzio Asti DOCG History and Importance

 

The Consorzio Asti DOCG was founded in 1932 for the protection, enhancement and promotion of their wines. Based on their efforts, Asti received the DOC in 1967 and the DOCG in 1993.   

There are 6,800 producers with over 9,900 hectares of vineyards.  Production reached 60 million bottles of Asti Spumante and 42 million of Moscato d’Asti, under the leadership of the Consorzio. Over 90% of the production is exported. Moscato D’Asti and Asti Spumante share the same DOCG.

 

Moscato d’Asti DOCG comes from Moscato Bianco (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains) strain of grapes.  One of the oldest known varieties of wine grapes and grows in the Piedmont regions of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, a zone located between Italy’d Ligurian Coast and the Alps.

 

Moscato d’Asti is only slightly sparkling (called frizzante) and low in alcohol (5% ABV).  It is vintage dated and suggested to  be drank by the vintage date.

How Moscato d’Asti is produced

 

The technique for Moscato d’Asti has become known as the “Asti Method”.  The fermentation of the grape juice is stopped earlier so that sweet wines do not lose their character and retain high sugar content. The method does not include secondary fermentation.

Moscato d’Asti is a wine that is can be enjoyed on its own or paired with desserts and appetizers from seafood to nuts and cheeses. 

Tasting Incredible Moscato D’Asti 

 

Today we were fortunate to taste through several examples of incredible Moscato D’Asti.  With each on, aroma, tastes, and food pairing inspire your palette.

Moscato D’Asti “Moncalvina”  2022 Coppo

Moscato D’Asti “Moncalvina”  2022 Coppo

Moscato D’Asti “Moncalvina”  2022 Coppo

 

Moscato D’Asti “Moncalvina”  2022 Coppo. The vineyards are in Canelli.  The wine is made from 100% Moscato Bianco di Canelli. The soil is calcareous marl and the vineyard is at 250 meters above sea level. 

 

Straw colored with subtle green reflections. On the nose, floral notes along with peach and pear. Fresh, elegant and aromatic on the palate with a light fizziness. A great pairing for cakes, cookies, fruit based desserts.

Moscato D’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2022 Michele Chiarlo

Moscato D’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2022 Michele Chiarlo

 

Moscato D’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2022 Michele Chiarlo

 

Moscato D’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2022 Michele Chiarlo The vineyards are in the historical area most suited for Moscato Bianco. The soil is of sedimentary marine origin, white and sandy. 

 

Brilliant straw yellow in the glass. Elegant, tropical fruit aromas with peach and apricot.  Fine bubbles and a crisp finish.  Excellent pairing with fresh pastries, add some strawberries and peaches.

 

Moscato D’Asti “La Caudrina” 2022 

Moscato D’Asti “La Caudrina” 2022

Moscato D’Asti “La Caudrina” 2022 

 

Moscato D’Asti “La Caudrina” 2022 Azienda Agricola Caudrina The vineyards are located in Castiglione Tinella at 280 meters. The soil is marl-limestone and the exposure is south/southwest. Harvest is by hand.  

 

The nose reveals notes of lemon, candied mandarin and subtle white fruit. The palate has a supple almost velvety mouthfeel.  But a slight acidity provides balance with minerality. Candied white peach, white flower, orange blossom.  Pair it with flaky desserts like tarts and strudels.

Moscato d”Asti “Vignaioli” Di Santo Stefano” 2022 

Moscato d”Asti “Vignaioli” Di Santo Stefano” 2022

Moscato d”Asti “Vignaioli” Di Santo Stefano” 2022 

 

Moscato d”Asti “Vignaioli” Di Santo Stefano” 2022 Ceretto The vineyards are in Santo Stefano, Belbo, and Calosso at 300 – 350 meters above sea level. The soil is whitish loose marl composed of clay, sand and silt. 

 

Straw-yellow.  Vibrantly fruity nose which is aromatic and persistent as though it’s playfully tapping you on your chest to pay attention to it..  Beautifully balanced mouth with jasmine and honeysuckle, low alcohol, acidity, crisp freshness.  Pair it with a flaky crusted pie or tart.

Moscato D’Asti  “Scrapona”  2022 

Moscato D’Asti  “Scrapona”  2022

Moscato D’Asti  “Scrapona”  2022 

 

Moscato D’Asti  “Scrapona”  2022 Marenco Vini.   The vineyards are in Bagnari Valley and Strevi at 320 meters above sea level and the soil is calcareous marl. Grapes are manually selected and harvested at the beginning of September.

 

Intense straw yellow color. Delicate stone fruit nose with subtle balsamic hints on your second approach. The sweet, slightly viscous. Touches of almond on the finish. Pair it with nuts and soft cheeses like brie.

 

An incredibly afternoon of discovery and tastes thanks to: Consorzio Asti DOCG, Marina Nedic from I.E.E.M., Cha McCoy, Giacomo Pondini, Il Gattopardo.

Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker are ‘Woke Boomers’ on Media Path Podcast taking a Deep Dive into Pop Culture

Take a Deep Dive into Pop Culture with Woke Boomers Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker on Media Path Podcast

Fritz Coleman and Louise Palanker are hosting a virtual dinner party.  It’s a fun time, a good time, with lots of laughs, smiles, and a deep dive into pop culture past and present.

Have you ever become obsessed with a topic and taken a deep dive into consuming all you could uncover about it?

Media Path Podcast is here to indulge your creative obsessions. Co-hosted by Los Angeles weatherman/humorist Fritz Coleman and filmmaker/columnist and co-founder of Premiere Radio Louise Palanker.

Take a Deep Diver into Pop Culture with Woke Boomers Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker on Media Path Podcast

Today we had a conversation (via zoom) with Fritz Coleman and Louise Palanker.  This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

For the full conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

 

 

What’s the best way to introduce this fun, flavorful conversation?

 

Louise: We tell folks, this is what you would be talking about if you got together with a group of friends anyway. What have you been watching? What should I stream? What’s good? So this is where every conversation eventually devolves. We just get there very rapidly

Fritz: Wheezy and I grew this podcast out of a friendship we’ve had for about 35 years, where we found out surprisingly and wonderfully, that we see eye to eye on lots of entertainment, movies, books, TV shows, and we thought, why not make this a podcast? It is a continuation of our common interests in our conversation.

So that’s what we do. We start each show with some suggestions on what people can watch, listen to, read, and that takes eight minutes. And then we always have a guest on; guests from all walks of life. We found that one of our sweet spots is television personalities from the Los Angeles area particularly ones from our growing up period, the 1960’s and 1970s boomer material and older.

But we do everything. We do politicians, we do singing stars. We’ve had very interesting books and topics that aren’t generally known to the public. I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago. We had a show about a man who wrote a book about a woman by the name of Connie Converse, who I suppose you could describe as one of the great undiscovered musical talents in America.

She was a great songwriter and a great singer. She was never discovered, which was sad and then she just magically and mysteriously disappeared. So the book this guy wrote was about somebody that not everybody was familiar with, but it was fascinating because it was like a, ‘whodonnit’ and also the heartache of an undiscovered musical talent, that lady that started in Greens Village and all those things.

All that to say it’s Weezy and I discussing stuff we find fascinating and we hope you come along.

 

From the episodes I’ve watched, it feels like the most interesting dinner party you’ve been to in a long time.

 

Fritz: We appreciate that.

We’re gonna use that as a sales tool from now on. The most interesting dinner party you’ve ever been to. Yeah,

Louise: the food is awful. 

Fritz: My dinner with Weezy. 

Louise: Yeah, there’s some hard candies and it’s bring whatever you can in your purse because we, I’ve got some granola bars on the coffee table, but that’s it.

Fritz: We want the intimacy of a conversation among friends and so you, you analyzed it well. Beautiful.

 

Because everyone watching and listening loves food. Do you have a favorite food you’d recommend either you per personally and enjoy or something that we should be eating or cooking while we listen and watch your show?

 

Louise: I’m gonna recommend some water. This comes out of a filtration system near my sink. It’s just lovely.

Fritz: I happen to be a fan of Northern Italian cuisine. I won’t name specific dishes, but in general, I love risotto with a great protein like shrimp or chicken.

I love penne with a bolognese sauce. I love capellini alla checca, which is a great when you add shrimp to it and then you add a checca sauce, which is the red sauce with garlic. And so I like Northern Italian Cuisine. I don’t cook, but I can buy the best food in America. Just walking out my front door here.

Louise: Have you ever put salmon on a pizza?

Fritz: I’ve had that actually. That’s actually very good.

Louise: Very good. Goat cheese. Wonderful. I love let’s see, chicken parmesan, I think that’s what I would order.Maybe that sounds very pedestrian. But comfort foods are delicious.

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chicken parm. That’s the kind of stuff – any potato really, you can’t do anything to a potato that would offend me.

Fritz: I’ll tell you, LA is wonderful for that lately cuz there’s all sorts of interesting fusions going on. You have Vietnamese food and Italian food and a fusion menu.

And if you like to experiment with different palettes, this is a great city to do it in. It really is, thanks to Wolfgang Puck and some of the gourmet chefs in the town. Completely

 

I think what we’re all, what we’re all noticing immediately is the two of you have phenomenal chemistry. What’s the origin story?

 

Louise: Yes, absolutely. We know each other quite well. It’s very natural, and I’ve been podcasting since you could, you go back to 2005 whenever you got that new iPhone that said, would you like to listen to a podcast? And then you said, what’s a podcast? And then the adventure begins. 

So I’ve been doing it from jump and Fritz was contractually obligated to not speak outside of his news job about anything that did not concern a weather pattern. Your newsman cannot have an opinion. That’s very distracting, especially now in our divided sensibility.

Fritz: You just can’t say anything smart, that would embarrass the station. That’s all.

Louise: So you couldn’t do commercials. It makes sense if you’re talking about the weather, you don’t wanna be thinking, oh, this guy sells batteries. You just, you wanna just get your weather cast.

So as soon as he retired we jumped on board together because I had done four podcasts before this one, and I was prepared in terms of what a podcast requires, how difficult it is. And so for Fritz, I just need his mind, his preparation, his wit and his fascination with all things interesting.

And he’s more than ready to take on the podcasting world. He’s the best. 

Fritz: And this is not a brag but it’s true. You cannot manufacture chemistry. You can see two people on television. You hear them on the radio or hear them in a conversation, and you know that these two people should not be in the same room together, let alone host their own presentation.

But we just have a natural thing that was born out of our friendship really, and our common interest in stuff. One of our sweet spots is baby boomer and older music, old rhythm and blues. Weezy’s interest in music goes back to the old harmony groups like the Mills Brothers, cuz she was personal friends.

So all those things we find fun and so when we get in there we I think that the fun we’re having resonates to the audience. I hope it does. 

Louise: We geek out together. It’s like watching Jimmy Fallon. You’re just so giddy that he’s that giddy. So hopefully we bring that kind of enthusiasm and just to get to meet the people that we grew up watching.

And also the excitement of when you have an author reading the book and then getting to talk to the author and, rather than having to scour YouTube for interviews that the author did, because now you’re fascinated. We actually get to talk to the person. And so we find that exciting. It’s like going to grad school for free.

Fritz: One of the great joys is having a topic that you don’t know anything about. For instance, this Connie Converse topic and the one we’re having this week we’re preparing for now, this is a guy that wrote a book about the friendship between Henry Ford, John Burrows, and Thomas Edison.

These three geniuses in a different venue, each one, but they all had this spectacular friendship and they all took a road trip in a model T Ford.  I knew a little bit about Henry Ford, you know it from the Industrial Revolution and extreme antisemitism. But I didn’t realize that he had interests outside there. Louise and I are just gonna be blank slates and come into this interview with just being inquisitive, and that’s always fun.  You discover something you had no idea about.

Let’s talk about both of your backgrounds.

We’re gonna go to Fritz second. Louise,  bring everyone up to speed about what you’ve accomplished and those other podcasts you’ve worked on so people know the background that you bring to this show.

 

Louise: Yes, I began my career as a studio page, and it was one of those things where you get your foot in the door and one thing leads to the other thing.

So I became a studio page at a place called Metro Media Tape. We were doing all of the Norman Lear sitcoms. We had the John Davidson talk show. Which was where a person like me gets to meet Van Johnson. It was just crazy. Look, I’m from suburban Buffalo and here I am with Van Johnson.

It was crazy. So I’ve always just been so grateful to work in entertainment. I just consider it to be an honor. But that led to a job at a show called PM Magazine, which led to me meeting Rick Dees who was a local radio personality. I went to write his syndicated countdown show, which is called the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, which led to me meeting other personalities at KISS FM and forming a company with them called Premier Radio Networks.

And that was a 15 year rocket ship that led to that company being sold to Clear Channel, which is now iHeart Media. At one point I went to one of my partners and I said, Hey, Craig, what are what’s the chance of me having my own show? And he said, none. And I said, I have two words for you, podcast.

Because he didn’t know that they were just the one word at that time. And I, that’s how new it was. I was doing standup comedy at the time, so I went to do standup comedy that night and I said to my friend, Laura Swisher, have you heard of a podcast? And she said, I just heard about it today.

It was just like, it was hot off the press, right? So we were like, let’s make one. That led to 100 episodes of Weezy In The Swish, which was my first podcast. And then I did one with K with teenagers where I was like giving teenagers advice cuz like I love to mentor young people.

And that one was called Journals Out Loud. And then I did one with some of my comedy friends called things I Found Online, which was people our age discovering the interne. Then Fritz retired and now I’m working with Fritz.

I never was a radio personality at Premier. I was a creator. I was in charge of all of the creative output, but Premier had shows that did not involve or include me other than behind the scenes. 

And now Fritz obviously. My words, you’re an LA icon. For more than 40 years…

 

Fritz: Contactually, you have to say that about me.  Every time you introduce me. I’m an LA icon.

 

Not only do you own LA TV, but you own LA stages because for those who don’t know, seeing you live is a phenomenally fun, entertaining evening.  Was it a very conscious segue to get into podcasting?

 

Fritz: My involvement with her podcast is totally her both blame and her gift that she gave to me after I retired.

People find this hard to believe. Real meteorologists hate this story, but I’ll tell it to you anyway. I was working at the Comedy Store in 1982 and because I talked on stage about having done the weather earlier in my broadcasting career, the news director from Channel Four and his wife were in the audience that night and he came up to me after the show and he said, I really enjoyed your show, particularly the thing about doing the weather in the Navy, but not knowing anything about it.

He said, would you have any desire to come to Channel Four and do some vacation relief, weather forecasting? I was making $25 a night at the Comedy Store, and so I almost passed out. I said, of course, when do you want me to start? He said you have to audition. So I auditioned and got the job, and I did two years as a vacation relief guy on the weekends.

Filling in on the weekends and filling in for people on vacation. And then two years later, I was bumped up to the weekday weather cast position and I retired two weeks shy of my 40th anniversary. And it’s just unbelievable. I didn’t set out to have a career in weather. This opportunity presented itself.

I could continue to do standup. I came out here from Buffalo, New York where we Weezy’s from to do standup. Even as the weather job I was able to continue to do standup. And so I had two careers. One paid for my children’s education. The other exercised my ego, and as they, it both worked out.

 

How do you two decide on the topics and when you bring up your guests, how do you decide on your guests?

 

Louise: We get a lot of offers coming our way now.  There’s definitely people that we go after. But we have so many folks that are pitching, when someone has something new that comes out, they make the rounds. And so we just know what our sweet spots are and we email each other with our producer Dina, and we say, does this sound good? 

So for example we did not know anything about that Elvis story that you’re talking about. And when it was pitched to us, we just said Absolutely. Exactly. This is what we wanna delve into. So that is what you’re referring to, is a book about a woman who researched Elvis’s health history and discovered that he wasn’t a drug addict because he enjoyed drugs. He was a drug addict because he was trying to feel normal. He was born with disease in 9 out of the 11 systems of the body, and this is why everyone on his mother’s side dies in their forties, including Elvis.

Fritz: That was a great example of what I was talking about.

Weezy and I were just flabbergasted. I mean we’ve all known a lot about Elvis, especially Weezy and I, because we’re students of music, but there was so much in there that we didn’t realize. And that’s a great example of discovering things that you weren’t aware of that made the podcast so much fun.

Louise: And the book is by Sally Hodel and it’s called Elvis: Destined to Die Young.

I think so many people are looking for that level of knowledge and a deeper dive. I think both YouTube and podcasts allows for those deeper dives.

 

What do the two of you look for when it comes to interviews? Is there different angles you’re both looking to achieve or how does that happen?

 

Louise: If we find it interesting, we just believe that other folks will find it interesting. So we just gauge it on what fascinates us.

We’re a pretty good barometer.

Louise: We’re always looking for politics. We both call ourselves “woke boomers”.

We’ll take it. And we love history. We love biographies, we love documentaries. We’re both news junkies. We love TV, especially the TV that is close to people because they grew up with it. We believe firmly that what you loved at 10 you love forever. We talked to Marty Croft and we talked to former child stars and we talk to folks like that.

This week we talked to Nellie Oleson,  Alison Arngrim from Little House on the Prairie as well. We love talking to those folks and learning what life was like as a child growing up making the television that other kids were so in intrigued by, and of course the music of our era, sixties, seventies, eighties,

Fritz: We had two documentary filmmakers on a couple of about a month or so ago.  They made a documentary about Blood, Sweat and Tears, which was one of the iconic groups of the late sixties and early seventies. They and Chicago were the first bands to use horns in mainstream rock and roll. But there’s a great backstory about how Blood, Sweat and Tears were bamboozled into making a tour behind the Iron Curtain.  They were the first American rock band that had ever been allowed to tour behind the Iron Curtain.

And there’s hundreds of hours of video of these guys experiencing Romania and all these less than welcoming countries. And that was fantastic because, again, we’d always been fans of Blood, Sweat and Tears.  But this was an aspect of their career we didn’t know anything about. That was fantastic.

And we had Bobby Columby, who was the drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears in the studio with us. It was really fun. 

 

You both brought up in your own ways, “happy accidents” with guests.  Can either of you suggest guests we should go back through your archives and find?

 

Louise: My favorite episode features Joyce Bouffant. She wrote a book called My Four Hollywood Husbands. It’s absolutely a tremendously entertaining read. She was married to James MacArthur, The son of Helen Hayes. So this kid who has a impoverished childhood and suddenly she’s hanging out with Helen Hayes. Launches a career of taking care of alcoholic husbands and finally winding up with the man of her dreams.

And it’s just, it’s quite a ride and remarkably entertaining. 

Fritz: And we have guests that will always be our favorites. One of our only repeat guests, Henry Winkler, who happens to be a close friend to Weezy’s.  We had him on, but not because he’s a close friend. Because when you just have a very casual conversation with him, you realize his appeal to the world.

He’s one of the most down to earth, non-condescending, brilliant guys who never talks down to you. He’s just the loveliest man in the world and who has had an astonishing career. And we’ve had him on, and we’re gonna try to get him on again because he has an autobiography coming out soon. So we hope we can coerce him into coming back on.

But yeah, we love those too. We haven’t had anybody else on twice? I don’t think so. Adam Schiff. The politician. Now his life has changed because he’s running for senator from California.

Louise: He’s Fritz’s Congressman, so he’s congressionally obligated to attend our podcast.

He’s wonderful and very funny guy as well. We’re always just really honored to speak to him. Another favorite show of mine is: The Steve’s. Steve Young and Steve O’Donnell, both wrote for David Letterman. Steve Young has created this documentary called Bathtubs Over Broadway, where Steve Young becomes obsessed with industrial musicals.

It’s on Amazon Prime right now and it still gets a lot of views.

It’s fun to talk to Pat Boone and Vicky Lawrence and Johnny Whitaker and Christopher Knight. All of our comedian friends, but those are the stories that you love. Uncovering is things that you didn’t know were there and that delight you.

 

Let’s tell the audience where to find your show – Where do we find you?

 

Louise: Anywhere you type Media Path Podcast  it’s gonna come up.  Website, podcast, youtube, iphone.

Fritz: I have a new comedy special, which is streaming on Tubi. It’s called Unassisted Living. It’s just describing life for people of our demographic: that is old people and their parents.

 

That’s gonna be fun.  Can we find you live on stage soon?

 

Fritz: I think I’m gonna be having a residency at the El Porto Theater in North Hollywood, California. It’s a fairly legendary theater, called the Maryland Monroe Forum.

And I’m gonna be doing a show there once a month for a while as I work out new material. And I’ll be advertising that on social media and elsewhere. 

 

Find the Media Path Podcast: https://www.mediapathpodcast.com/

DC is celebrating this summer, Give Champagne Jeepers a Taste

DC is celebrating this summer, Give Champagne Jeepers a Taste.

It’s easy to fall in love with champagne.  Life celebrations.  Work success.  Life’s best memories (hello weddings, anniversaries, babies, birthdays).  If you’re ready to try a new champagne, this is for you.

 

 

Today we had the amazing opportunity to talk (via zoom) with Jeeper Champagne’s Camille Cox.  This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full conversation, visit our YouTube channel.

Can you share a favorite memory where you celebrated with champagne?

 

Oh, there’s, God, there’s so many. I can’t even begin to tell you. But the one thing I can say is that you always should carry champagne because in victory you deserve champagne and in defeat you need it. That was Napoleon Bonaparte, if I’m not mistaken? 

I think my most memorable toast with champagne are personal victories  And, of course, business victories as you can imagine. I’ve been selling champagne for a very long time, and I can name a couple that come to mind. One of them a few years back was getting business at the Delta Airlines lounges. Putting another maison there.   At the time, the house that I was working for at the time that was a big victory in itself. And just little victories in life each and every day. Every day is a celebration. 

It’s all relative in how you look at it and how you live your life, but I think every day calls for champagne, to be completely honest with you.

 

I love that,  ‘Everyday calls for champagne’. Jeeper has an interesting story behind it based on the end of World War II.

Can you give us just a very brief history lesson of Jeeper that brings us up to present day?

 

So, as you know, many champagne houses have great stories, and that’s the great thing about Champagne. Every Maison has their story and the fact that you get to go back and find out how it became is super fascinating to me.

When I had the chance to join Jeeper, I went back to look at the story.  A family started  making champagne in the 1800s.  It had its heyday and then it floundered. It changed hands for quite some time. Then a gentleman by the name of Armand Goutorbe, who was working his family vineyards, had to be called to war and ended up in a house in an undisclosed location because everybody was fighting against the resistance at that time.

He happened to be holed up in a place with some American soldiers and they were being bombed and consequently they were all trying to help save each other’s lives. History tells us that Armand was a gentleman who took it upon himself to risk his own life, to pull some American GIs away from the building that was going to be bombed, possibly losing their lives.

In doing so, he impeded his leg and went back to looking over his vineyards in Champagne. The hills aren’t high, but they’re steep. His leg impeded his day-to-day operations. The US army got ahold of the story and some of the soldiers that he saved wanted to pay tribute to him and in all humbleness to thank him for saving their lives. So the US military gave him a Willie’s Jeep, and he rode around in the villages and he became known as “Mr. Jeeper Man”. Two years later, he said, I think I’m just gonna name my vineyards Jeeper. So there it was born Jeeper in 1949 because of a wonderful gift that the US Army bequeathed to him.

We still have the Jeep today on property.

 

 

 

Can we talk about the terroir of the region?

 

We are located in Faverolles et Coëmy, a commune near Reims in the north-west of the Champagne region.  In the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley.

We are mostly a chardonnay house and we use Chardonnay as our primary grape.

We make eight different wines under the Jeeper label. We  have two great certifications for being biodynamic and organic.  Our flagship for the winery is our Blanc de Blanc. Our bottles are color coded in terms of the labels so that they stand out significantly to consumers.

That area has cool nights. A little bit of frost, but beautiful, pristine, crisp grapes from those regions, from the sub regions in Champagne. We own about 80 hectares. We don’t buy any grapes. We use our own grapes. We have the capacity to make 3.5 million bottles, but we hope to make more with some partnerships that we’ve kind of acquired.

Having Michel Reybier as a new partner with Nicholas, the current owner of and partner, who makes the wines too. Nicholas Dubois makes us stand apart from that we’re not right in the middle of Reims. We’re out there, believe it or not.

So when you come to Reims, you’re not gonna see us. You’re gonna have to get on the train or take a little cab and make it to Jeeper. 

I love talking about process.  Our audience is a mix of very basic drinkers up to connoisseurs.

So can you share a little bit of the process and how, how, what, what makes your champagne so unique?

 

What makes us a little bit more unique is a lot of champagne houses only use steel vats. We’re still kind of old school. We do use some Burgundy barrels.  We have one of the biggest barrel rooms behind Krug and Bollinger. We have about 1200 barrels that we use. So for instance, our Grande Assemblage, which happens to be our brut non vintage, we age 20% of the chardonnay that we use in that blend for two years in used burgundy oak barrels and then we do the aging of the lees. We lay it down for about four years. So that’s two years for the 20% Chardonnay laying down for two years. Then the four years makes it a total of six years. So you get a totally different taste. There’s a little bit of maturity there with the oak barrels. 

It’s something completely different. I’ve worked for houses that were stainless steel, so this is something new for me as well too. The aging process, there is some lactic, it just depends on which cuvee we’re speaking about.

Withholding our wines a little bit longer. We’re not big production, we’re not a grower champagne house by any means. We’re just over the hump as a boutique champagne house. We’re just getting started here in the United States. Our biggest production and where we sell the most champagne is in France.

But opening up the United States, it’s tough to build a champagne brand in the US, believe it or not. It’s super tough.

You have to find a way to differentiate yourself, what makes you stand out. I think that’s Jeeper having the name and the story and the total difference of not having stainless steel aging, and that we’re malolactic and that we do use oak barrels in some of our cuvee’s.

 

One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is a few weeks ago when I had the chance to actually taste through the bottles, they did have such a unique taste.

 

So let’s talk about the actual bottles.

 

I’ve mentioned the Grande Assemblage, which is our brut non-vintage. It’s a green label, and I just told you a little bit about that. But the one that is our flagship is our Blanc De Blanc.

I think our bottles are beautiful. We have a patent on the bottle.  People notice how easy it was to take off the foil.

So there’s still a little label underneath the foil that says Jeeper, which is kind of neat for us and it speaks volumes because it doesn’t leave you a mess or end up getting paper cuts from the foil cuts. 

The Blanc de Blanc is big, full-bodied, rich.  Also super elegant. It’s clean. It’s crisp, even though it has a big mouthful. 

Our champagnes are the categories in the last 7 to 10 years that have really ended up getting some traction. I think people are walking away from the norm. They’re walking away from big commercial houses because they wanna see what else is out there. 

Their curious is curiosity’s sake and I think it’s really helped the champagne business. I think the champagne business has always been cyclical, but in the last 7 to 10 years, it’s really gotten a hold and people are really embracing champagne to great success 

Because there’s so many beautiful wines out there, so many different styles and so many cool things that you can learn. I think the more the people, because of the terroir, I always say that champagne is a reflection of the mood of the terroir.

Champagne, the terroir from where we are, its chalky soil limestone. It lends itself to so many different characteristics in the wine. We’re not a big vintage champagne house. 2008 was probably one of the best vintages of the century.  It was gone in a flash. With our 2008, we age it for 12 years on the lees. It’s 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir. So there’s that wonderful characteristic and it has a little maturity on it, a little oxidation. 

I’m a vintage champagne girl and a no dousage champagne girl so this one fits the bill for me, but it may not be for everyone’s taste profile. 

I can always tell at the beginning when I’m doing a tasting with the two lead wines that you start off with in Champagne, what someone is gonna like in the rest of the range.  It never fails me. It’s always about 95% full proof. 

It’s so subjective. The 2008 for me is interesting. We’re getting ready to release a new release of Blanc de Blanc coming in May, which I’m super excited about. It’ll be no dousage.

We also now have a partnership, as I mentioned, one of our owners, Michel Repier. There’s a gentleman by the name of Tony Parker, who’s a former four-time NBA champion. A hall of famer. I was just with him a couple weeks ago. Super, super person. He told us his story about where he came from and how much he loves gastronomy.  He’s French.  A lot of people don’t realize that.  He’s from Lyon, and I’m sure the Parisians would beg to differ, but Lyon is supposedly now the gastronomy capital of Paris. So we have him as an ambassador; a gentleman who really loves wine and is very enamored with it, wants to roll his sleeves up.

He’s helped us with our Rose project that we have in Provence, but helping me with Jeeper as well. It’s a great collaboration. It’s been great for me, for the brand, for helping us build the brand here in the US because we’re building our distribution network.

Which is not an easy thing to do, as I can tell you having done it for many years. So we’re looking for new partners that want to build a brand with us who we want to be on the ground floor with.  I feel like the people that bring you to the party are the people you need to stick to.

It’s easy to be a fair weather friend, but I am all about loyalty and building a brand with someone. And making it happen. The wine business is exploding, so there’s a lot of opportunities out there. It’s just finding our niche and letting people know the story and taste the wines.

 

I don’t know that champagne gets enough love when it comes to food. Let’s talk about food pairings.

 

A previous maison I worked for didn’t want us to suggest pairing champagne with chocolate or strawberries.  I think that fallacy of Pretty Woman when she’s having her “floor picnic” as she called it in the movie.  She’s drinking champagne and having strawberries – they are very acidic. But I think it’s really what you want to do.

Do I think it’s the best pairing? Absolutely not. 

I’ve gone through this with many chefs in the past where I’ve asked them not to use chocolate or strawberries, and [while they weren’t happy with that] luckily they did talk to me at the very end of it, but they weren’t very happy. But there’s so many great things out there that you can pair champagne with and the new thing is, Champagne and chicken fried chicken.

As a southerner, I’m a fried chicken lover. It’s an incredible pairing. 

I also think sea salt potato chips with a non-dosage champagne are absolutely fabulous. But let’s look at the classics. What about ratatouille from France? You know, something that you don’t really ever think about. It’s always the ones that are there that you can think about.

Gratin potatoes are an amazing pairing if you’re a big potato lover as I am.  It’s just great. So I think the sky’s the limit depending on what it is you’re drinking. Of course, no dosage champagnes aren’t gonna be great with everything. I also love Dim Sum and champagne, to be completely honest with you.

So all the pairings that are non-traditional, if you will, kind of thinking outside the box. Really making it an opportunity to see: where you can take it? Are you gonna push the limit? I’m all about pushing the limits on a lot of things.  Nobody should be chastised for that on any level.

So if somebody likes what they like, they like what they like. I think the traditional [concept] many years ago: Are you having chicken for dinner? You can only have white [wine]. I love the fact that that’s out the door now.

People learn more and more about wine every day. They’re so enamored with it.  I think the pandemic gave us all an opportunity to stop, take a minute, take a breath, slow down, maybe enjoy things or get into things that we didn’t have the time to do. I think gastronomy is one of them.

People now love to make food at home. People love to drink wine at home. We saw that with the pandemic. There’s a lot of opportunity, everywhere you look. I like the classics.  I’m a foodie.

But I love food and I think drinking it the way you want to drink it and the way you want to enjoy is paramount. Paramount. I don’t think there should be any rules put around that on any level. 

As everyone’s hearing the Jeeper story and getting to know your bottles, what can our audience do for Jeeper Champagne?

 

Helping Jeeper is to buy some [bottles] where we’re distributed. Give something new a chance. Wherever you buy wine, take an opportunity to just treat yourself to something completely different because you never know what’s gonna happen.

It could end up being your favorite wine and you just don’t realize it. Expand your opportunity and your horizons, and that’s what life is all about. 

Think outside the box. Live a little, okay. You, you bought a bottle, but there’s some great champagnes out there that are really economical. We know we’ve taken a little bit of a price increase, but treat yourself, you’ll be glad that you did. I think it, it expands your horizons and makes you see so many other things you didn’t see

 

Where can we find Jeeper Champagne on social media to follow?

 

Jeeper is on most major social media channels.  Please give us a follow and visit our website at: https://www.champagne-jeeper.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ChampagneJeeper/

https://www.instagram.com/champagnejeeper/

https://twitter.com/ChampagneJeeper

Camille, thank you so much for your time. I loved hearing the stories.

 

Thank you so much!

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