Five Crowns Has A New Look!

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food


Five Crowns

Five Crowns bold new look

An Orange County landmark for over 50 years, Five Crowns restaurant and bar recently unveiled bold, new interior and exterior renovations.
 Five Crowns is pleased to unveil the completion of the interior, exterior renovations and new Cooper’s Bar.  The renovations began in 2015 as part of the landmark restaurant’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration.  The major revitalization, which includes the addition of the new Cooper’s Bar, honors the Five Crowns legacy while opening a new door to a bright future.
Coopers Bar at Five Crowns

Cooper’s Bar at Five Crowns

“We’ve invigorated the Five Crowns experience,” said Ryan O’Melveny Wilson, Executive Chef and Vice President. “From our updated sign out front, to refreshed dining rooms, the new bar and a menu that honors our classics and highlights seasonality, we’re setting the table for the next 50 years.”

Five Crowns collaborated on the renovation plans with Hatch Design Group, YYES Design Studio, Robertson Hill Architecture and Roger’s Gardens.

The first phase of changes focused on a new landscape design, re-imagined branding and the traditional façade. A second renovation phase included dramatic changes to the interior.

Five Crowns new dining room

Five Crowns new dining room

Lush landscaping by Roger’s Gardens highlights the historic building’s English theme. Topiaries and boxwood hedges surround the property. A large, raised vegetable bed and aromatics including lavender, rosemary and sage embellish the front. Citrus trees enhance the back garden for outdoor dining and special events.

The eye-catching sign on Pacific Coast Highway features a bold new Five Crowns logo. While the iconic red telephone booth remains, the building’s exterior now showcases a multicolor palette, including a distinctive red stripe with metallic gold lettering painted above the windows and doorway.

The relocated entrance, with a larger front door, opens to a redecorated reception area that offers a direct sightline to the restaurant’s most striking addition: its vibrant new showpiece, Cooper’s Bar in the Greenhouse. Named for Chris Cooper, much loved co-worker and Lead Service Bartender for 42 years, this handsome, inviting bar features a stunning copper beer tower with rotating taps. Lively plaid barstools provide comfortable seating around a grand communal table whose surface is covered with thousands of authentic English shillings.

Custom designed, oversized glossy red benches add a touch of whimsy to the Greenhouse dining space enhanced with new chandeliers and side chairs. The sky lit room’s once green metal framework has been painted a deep, rich gray.

Five Crowns new greenhouse

Five Crowns’ Greenhouse

Vivid paint colors, eclectic wallpapers and fabrics as well as new flooring refresh the Main, Nelson and Crown dining rooms. Notably, custom hardwood tabletops replace the traditional white tablecloths. Cozy fireside nooks and antique British artifacts continue to be central to Five Crowns’ unique atmosphere.

Complementing the renovation, Five Crowns’ forward-looking menu balances innovative seasonality with the classic dishes that have made the restaurant a landmark. Guests can now enjoy greater flexibility by pairing seasonal small plates with a shared main dish or a heritage entrée from the Crown Classics section.

“The new menu offers favorites from our 50-year menu archives in addition to a daily selection of fresh fish, hand cut pasta and interesting wines,” commented Wilson. “There is something for every discerning palate, long-time guest or first time Five Crowns diner.”

Five Crowns' duo of salmon

Duo Of Salmon

Since opening more than a half century ago, Five Crowns has welcomed its guests to a world apart, a place of warm hospitality, the finest food and drink, a truly one-of-a-kind Southern California dining experience. Today’s changes — inside and out — signal an exciting future.

About Five Crowns

Five Crowns was established in 1965 and is a member of the Lawry’s family of fine-dining restaurants, which includes Lawry’s The Prime Rib with locations in Beverly Hills, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, Hong Kong, Osaka and Seoul and the Tam O’Shanter in Los Angeles. Lawry’s Carvery, with locations in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa, and at L.A. LIVE, Los Angeles, represents the company’s unique quick-service concept. SideDoor gastropub, recipient of Orange Coast Magazine’s “2010 Restaurant of the Year” Award, is also housed within the historic Five Crowns building; its primary entrance is on Poppy Street.

Five Crowns and SideDoor
3801 East Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA, 92625
Open daily 5pm – 9pm, Fridays and Saturdays until 10pm
Valet parking is available
For reservations or more information, visit

The Ecology Center Welcomes Alice Waters

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

The Ecology Center Welcomes Alice Waters

Tickets Now Available For The Ecology Center’s 8th Annual Green Feast Farm-to-Table Dinner in Orange County

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Ecology Center welcomes Alice Waters

Renowned Chef, Author and Founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project celebrates The Ecology Center’s work and helps to bring edible gardens to every school in Orange County

Tickets are now on sale for the 8th Annual Green Feast farm-to-table fundraiser, hosted by Chef Alice Waters on June 18th at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano (32701 Alipaz Street). Recognized as the “mother of the farm-to-table movement,” Waters has been an avid leader of the sustainable food effort. She pioneered the concept of eating locally and seasonally, launched Chez Panisse, one of the most renowned restaurants in the world, and created the national initiative, The Edible Schoolyard Project.

“I am honored to be a part of The Ecology Center’s Green Feast this year. Edible education is taking root in Orange County thanks to the vision and dedication of Evan, his family, and the community they bring to the table. We must come together to show our children how to care for each other and value the land!”

Alice Waters

Alice Waters (courtesy of

Waters has the been the direct inspiration for numerous well-recognized chefs, local champions, and organizations around the world, including The Ecology Center, Orange County’s premiere eco-educational nonprofit. Waters’s presence at The Ecology Center’s Green Feast signals the beginning of a partnership between two like-minded organizations and a hopeful shift in Orange County’s food culture.

“From its inception, Green Feast was inspired by Alice Waters, who is one of the most influential and important figures in food in the past 50 years. We are honored not only to have attracted the attention of such a respected culinary leader, but also to have her join our local community leaders, chefs and farmers in this powerful demonstration of the future of food, which is rooted in organics and sustainability,” commented Evan Marks, Founder & Executive Director of The Ecology Center. “With Alice Waters’s blessing at this summer’s Green Feast, we will generate national and international attention for the work being done at The Ecology Center, which will include expanding our program designed to bring edible gardens to every school in Orange County and highlighting our Community Table Accord.”

The Ecology Center

The Ecology Center, photo by Scott Sporleder

Grow Your Own! was created by The Ecology Center as a public education program to instill the knowledge and values we need to build a humane and sustainable future. Similar to the Edible Schoolyard Project, Grow Your Own! helps students become familiar with all aspects of the food cycle and integrates gardening into the core academic curriculum. Over the past four years, Grow Your Own! has engaged thousands of local students at dozens of schools to utilize edible gardens at their campuses. The program, which is grant-subsidized by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, ensures fair and open access for all participants. Green Feast with Alice Waters in June 2016 will serve to promote the program and ignite its expansion through partnering with The Edible Schoolyard Project.

“Our goal has always been to use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower the community,” continued Marks. “Alice Waters’s guidance and attention, along with our partnership with The Edible Schoolyard Project, will enable us to grow to reach thousands of impressionable young people in the coming years.”

Green Feast is a highly acclaimed farm-to-table fundraiser pioneered by the nonprofit organization, The Ecology Center. Since its inception in 2009, Green Feast has consistently sold out every year and is hailed as “one of America’s premiere farm-to-table events” by the Huffington Post. As a culinary expression of The Ecology Center’s mission, Green Feast is strongly committed to community building and sustainable agriculture. At the core of Green Feast is a network of sustainable food advocates composed of award-winning chefs, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, vintners, and food artisans working together with shared values to achieve a common cause. Through Green Feast, The Ecology Center raises vital funds to continue our work transforming the spaces where we learn, live, and work into vibrant, sustainable communities.

This year, The Ecology Center will be hosting two Green Feast dinners, one on June 18, 2016 with Alice Waters, renowned author, chef and founder of Edible Schoolyard Project and Chez Panisse, with a summer dinner prepared by Chez Panisse chefs. The second will be held on September 10, 2016 with the best regional chefs, from San Diego to Los Angeles, coming together to create an inspiring, sustainable feast.

Individual tickets for Green Feast with Alice Waters are available to The Ecology Center members for $500 per guest and can be purchased at Annual membership for The Ecology Center starts at $50 for a full year of benefits. For more information about The Ecology Center, membership and benefits, please visit All proceeds from Green Feast will be directly invested into The Ecology Center’s eco-educational programs and initiatives.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for Green Feast. Those interested may contact Vicki Marks at 949.294.6641 or

Alice Waters is a chef, author, and food activist, and founder and proprietor of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. She has been a champion of local, sustainable agriculture for more than four decades. In 1995, she founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and an edible education curriculum in every public school. She has been a Vice President of Slow Food International since 2002. She conceived and helped create the Yale Sustainable Food Project in 2003, and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome in 2007. Her honors include her election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 2007; the Harvard Medical School’s Global Environmental Citizen Award, which she shared with Kofi Annan, in 2008; and her induction into the French Legion of Honor, in 2010; and in 2015 was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama, proving that the gathering at the table is a powerful means to social justice and positive change. Alice is the author of fifteen books, including New York Times bestsellers The Art of Simple Food I & II, The Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea.

The Ecology Center is a non-profit educational center that engages individuals, families, and students in workshops, events, field trips, interactive exhibits, and training courses that teach practical, environmental solutions at the household, workplace, and community levels. Visit for more information.

American Tea Room Delights Diners

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

American Tea Room Newport Beach Fashion Island

American Tea Room Newport Beach

“Tea Service” – a modern interpretation of high tea without stuffy doilies and fine china.  Launching Saturday, May 28, CEO David Barenholtz collaborated with Culinary Director Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections to design a program with influences from traditional global tea ceremonies, but with a contemporary twist.

American Tea Room

Available in three sizes and served on custom wooden boards from The Wooden Palate, the teas and food pairings are perfect for enjoying on your own, gathering with a friend or two in the oasis tea garden, or celebrating a fun group event, such as a baby or bridal shower.

Options include:

  • “American Tea” with a choice of a pot of classic or signature tea; Crème Fraîche Scone with Tangier tea butter and preserves; Chai Chicken Sandwich with chai and curry spices, red onion, and apple; Watercress Sandwich with radish, butter, and fleur de sel; Smoked Salmon and Chive Cream Pinwheel with mascarpone, wild arugula, and Meyer lemon; Matcha Panna Cotta; choice of Petit Four including matcha, Champagne, rose petal passion fruit, and lavender and tea-infused Truffle including matcha, jasmine pearl, Earl Grey, and Marrakesh mint ($35)

American Tea Room

  • “A Little Less” – the same as the “American Tea” but sans the chai chicken sandwich and smoked salmon and chive cream pinwheel ($25)
  • “A Bit More” – the same as the “American Tea” but with a choice of a pot of tea (including Single Estate and Rare teas), four tea sandwiches, including the Avocado Sandwich with mayonnaise, arugula, and pickled jalapeno, and choice of two petit fours and two truffles ($45)

Items are available à la carte with tea sandwiches offered for $6 each, scones from $4-4.50, and desserts from $2-5.

Daily happy hour: 3-6 pm, Half-off tea with the purchase of a pastry
Tea service is available Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5pm

Fashion Island, Newport Beach
549 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 432-6006

Bad To The Bone BBQ

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Bad To The Bone logo

A long line of family recipes, secret blends of dry rubs and BBQ sauce and an award-winning heritage of smoking tri-tip, brisket, baby back ribs and more, that’s what you’ll enjoy when you chow down at Bad To The Bone BBQ in San Juan Capistrano.

proud owner and master smoker of Bad to the Bone

Bad To The Bone owner and BBQ Master, Marty Wells

A step into the down-home cowboy-wrangling style restaurant makes you feel as if you are on the ranch in Oklahoma, where owner, Marty Wells was born and raised. The smell of real pit smoked barbeque wafting through the air, wagon wheel tables, and a side lounge where you can “saddle on up to the bar” take you to the wild west and that’s just the way Marty wanted it. Learning the BBQ and horse wrangling ropes from his father, the iconic Jerry Wells who was an Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association (OQHA) Hall-of-Famer and legendary horse trainer, Marty opened Bad To The Bone BBQ in 2005 aiming to serve real authentic BBQ with a Western rodeo atmosphere and that is just what Bad To The Bone BBQ does.

Bad to the Bone smoked Tri Tip

Wood Burning Smoker

Serving “Real Pit BBQ” that’s been slow cooked in wood burning pits over Hickory wood for 12 to 24 hours, the BBQ at Bad To The Bone BBQ gets that deliciously tender meat and smoky flavor that will have you wrangling for more. Bad to the Bone BBQ proudly serves USDA Choice Beef that is naturally aged and hand cut to our strict specifications for maximum tenderness and flavor.

Slicing the tri tip at Bad to the Bone

Slicing the Tri-Tip

Whether served family-style or individually plated, the menu at Bad To The Bone BBQ has something to please any palette. The extensive menu is enough to knock your cowboy boots off but hold on to the reins and savor dishes like these starters, main courses and sides: Pulled Pork Sliders, Chili Cheese Fries, and Beer Battered Rings; Sliced Brisket, Fire Roasted Tri-Tip, Carolina Pulled Pork, Trip-Pepper House Sausage, and BBQ Half Chicken; or, choose from fish selections such as Catfish, Blackened Seabass, and combination plates of St. Louis Ribs, Baby Back Ribs and more!

Tri Tip, Pork Ribs, Sausage from Bad to the Bone

Would you like some greens with that real pit smoked “Q”? Try the Tri-Tip Salad, Santa Fe Chicken Salad or dive in to the sea with the Seared Ahi Salad. And, pair your favorite dish with Bad To The Bone BBQ signature side dishes. Among customer favorites are the Mac ‘n Cheese, a family recipe tradition, Ranch Beans, Garlic Bashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, Chili, Onion Rings and Fried Okra.

Bad to the Bone Mac n Cheese

Signature Mac n Cheese

What’s one of the things I love most about Bad To The Bone BBQ? It’s CATERING, of course! With football season in full swing, tailgate parties have never been tastier than when fully catered by Bad To The Bone BBQ. But not just for tailgate parties, Bad To the Bone BBQ will bring their tasty, smokey BBQ and all the trimmings to just about any location or call ahead and place your catering order for pick up and serve up Bad To The Bone BBQ throughout the entire year.

Bad to the Bone Baked Beans, YUM

Bad to the Bone Baked Beans, YUM

Whether you are eating at the bar and listening to the often played live music, dining in the rustic dining room or getting BBQ to go, Bad To The Bone BBQ is sure to be one of your favorite BBQ hot spots in Orange County.

The bar at Bad to the Bone

Saddle up to the bar

31728 Rancho Viejo Road (cross street: Ortega Highway)
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Open Sunday-Thursday 11:00AM-9:00PM
Friday-Saturday from 11:00AM-10:00PM

Take Bad To The Bone BBQ home with you! Their signature dry rubs and BBQ sauce:

Bad to the Bone Dry Rub and BBQ Sauce

Follow Bad To The Bone BBQ on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse : Reopened and Reinvented

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Nick and Stefs logo


Nick and Stefs LA

Following a “down to the studs” renovation, Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse, the flagship steakhouse from celebrated Chef and Founder of Patina Restaurant Group, Joachim Splichal, has reopened, been redesigned, and has a new Executive Chef, Andreas Roller, who is presenting a sensational new menu and dining experience.

With a chic new decor incorporating classic steakhouse style with contemporary designs, the 16-year old newly reopened Nick and Stef’s celebrates its long standing tradition of offering cured meat selections with an emphasis on a newly added 28-day onsite aging of premium cuts. Comprehensive raw bar and seafood options, a wine program consisting of over 500 labels including selections from Splichal’s personally selected vintages, a mixology program rooted in mid-century cocktails and unparalleled service for which the brand is  known, are at the core of the new iteration of Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse.

Chef Andrew Roller of Nick and Stefs

Chef Andrew Roller with Susan Irby

The Cuisine –
Adhering to the founding principles of Nick + Stef’s Steakhouse, the menu by Executive Chef  Andreas Roller remains focused on celebrating top tier ingredients through traditional  steakhouse fare with a contemporary flair. As to be expected, meat is the focal point of both the  lunch and dinner menu. USDA prime onsite 28-day dry aged selections in addition to  showstopper options such as a Tomahawk Rib Chop or Prime Fiorentine T-Bone are carefully grilled over oak and mesquite.

Filet TriTip from Nick and Stefs

Filet Mignon and TriTip

Other large scale menu items, available for pre-order, include a  Whole Roasted Suckling Pig, Dry-­‐‑Aged Prime Rib, Whole Roasted Leg of Colorado Lamb and
Loup de Mer. For individual dining, other new meat experiences include Black Angus Beef,  imported and domestic Wagyu, along with a varied selection of grassfed cuts. Burgers and  sandwiches are also showcased during lunch service. The menu also features smaller bites  during lunch or dinner and an extensive list of returning classic sides alongside new innovative vegetable small plates.

Crispy Cauliflower

Crispy Cauliflower from Nick and Stefs

The new menu includes an expanded look at seafood, inclusive of entrees, a raw bar with $3  oysters, seafood cocktails,

Oyster Sake Shooters

Oyster Sake Shooters at Nick and Stef’s

and shellfish platters. The new seafood program is focused on fresh catch fish selections.

Classic Oatmeal Cookie

Classic Oatmeal Cookie at Nick and Stef’s

Rounding out the menu for lunch and dinner, a dessert course highlights items that evoke a  sense of comfort and contentment. Warm Buttermilk Cinnamon Doughnuts, Rum Raisin  Chocolate Soufflé Cake, Oatmeal Cookie, and a large selection of domestic cheeses are just a few  of the choices.

Cinnamon Doughnuts

Nick and Stef’s Cinnamon Doughnuts

More about Chef Andreas Roller –
Newly appointed Executive Chef is German Master Chef Andreas Roller, an internationally educated and experienced culinary talent who has created a global and diverse menu. Sourcing only the finest cuts of meat and carefully curated specialty items, Chef Roller has a long and dedicated relationship with Patina Restaurant Group,  including stints at the Hollywood Bowl and Disney Concert Hall. Prior to Patina Restaurant Group, Chef Roller’s culinary success includes tenures at three Michelin-starred restaurants, projects in Australia and London, along with the 2004 Olympics and the world’s only seven-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab located in Dubai.

Cocktails, Fine Wines, and Premier Water, Nick + Stef’s Beverage Program –
Whether for after work drinks or to supplement a formal dining experience, Nick + Stef’s  Steakhouse will be a premier destination for wine and mixology lovers. The sleek front bar  captures the overall spirit of the new Nick + Stef’s with a varied menu saluting classic libations  and introducing contemporary signature cocktails. With a focus on carefully curated small  batch labels and top-shelf selections, the cocktail program harkens to the golden age of  steakhouses when a steak was always consumed with a cocktail in hand.

Cocktails at Nick and Stef's

Selection of Nick and Stef’s cocktails

For wine aficionados, this may be the most exciting new wine list in the city. The new menu
presents over 500 labels reaching across the globe while incorporating private vintages selected
personally by Splichal, in partnership with the dedicated Sommelier/Assistant General Manager
Alejandro Marchesini. The wine list features many labels previously only found at auction and
not available at other dining destinations in the city.
Patina Restaurant Group’s popular water menu, crafted by America’s only water sommelier,
featuring 4 flat and 4 sparkling natural spring waters will be offered as well.

Ceviche selection at Nick and Stef's

Albacore with Jalapeno

About Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
Named for Patina Restaurant Group Founder / Chef Joachim Splichal’s two sons, the restaurant
opened its doors in 1999. The sophisticated, contemporary, and eclectic setting includes a
stunning outdoor terrace for al fresco dining and after-work cocktails, as well as the only
display dry-aging room in Los Angeles.

Nick and Stef’s Steakhouse
the premier destination for meat lovers in the heart of downtown LA
RESERVATIONS: 213 680 0330
Open for lunch Monday through Friday
Open for dinner 7 nights a week

Café Pinot Art of Charcuterie Class

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food


Café Pinot Art of Charcuterie Class

Cafe Pinot logo

Chef Viet Pham and Jake Eaton

Chef Viet Pham and Jake Eaton

If you have EVER wanted to learn about cured meats and how they are made, this is the class for you! Join Executive Chef Viet Pham, of sister property Ray’s and Stark Bar, and Chef Jake Eaton as they give a fun, passionate, and educational class and demonstration on the art of curing meats beginning October 2015.

Chef Jake Eaton giving hands on instruction

Chef Jake Eaton giving hands on instruction

Café Pinot invites patrons to learn the “Art of Charcuterie” beginning on October 17th. For the launch of the 2nd iteration of the education series, Executive Chef Viet Pham from sister property Ray’s and Stark Bar, takes the reins with an in-depth look at his favorite charcuterie items through demonstrations and hands-on class participation.

Domestic and imported cheeses

Domestic and imported cheeses

The monthly rotating classes offer hands-on instruction for those who wish to participate so jump in and learn! Classes feature rotating subjects including Mortadella with Sriracha on October 17th, Kaese Krainerwurst with Mustard on November 21st, and Lamb-Chetta with Pickled Fennel on December 19th. Class includes personal instruction from Chef Viet Pham on housemade Sriracha and Chef Jake Eaton shares his self-taught in-depth knowledge of the charcuterie making process.

Lamb Chetta

Lamb Chetta

At the conclusion of the program, which is held in the intimate downstairs kitchen, a celebratory reception is presented with a sampling of the featured charcuterie, domestic and imported cheeses, and wines carefully selected by Café Pinot’s General Manager Steve Meyer. Guests are invited to experience classes on an individual basis, or as a complete series. Each guest takes home a sample of what they made along with class recipes.

Finished housemade mortadella

Finished housemade mortadella

Classes are $85 per person per class. *Credit card needed to reserve; 72 hours prior cancellation required

Class: Mortadella with Sriracha
October 17th
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Kaese Krainerwurst with Mustard

November 21st
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Lamb-Chetta with Pickled Fennel

December 19th
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
RESERVATIONS are required; Please complete the online reservation form found here and return to

Café Pinot
700 W. 5th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90071


Adjacent to downtown LA’s 1920’s landmark public library, Café Pinot’s guests are surrounded by the metropolitan skyline view, a gorgeous garden seating, and floor to ceiling windows. The popular dining destination presents a contemporary California-French menu featuring fresh, sophisticated dishes inspired by the farmers’ market and seasonal produce for lunch and dinner. Located minutes from the Los Angeles Music Center, STAPLES Center and LA Live, Café Pinot offers patrons a relaxing oasis in the midst of a bustling urban community. Winner of Wine Spectator Award and named “Best Outdoor Dining,” “Best French,” and “Most Romantic” by the readers of Los Angeles Downtown News, Café Pinot is an ideal locale for elegant casual dining, social celebrations and weddings.


Viet Pham has been with Ray’s and Stark Bar since it opened in 2011. Assuming the executive chef role in spring of 2014, Pham has channeled the artistic energy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by pursuing his vision of culinary expressionism. Pham prioritizes using seasonal ingredients, capitalizes on the restaurants garden located on campus, as well as from distinctive California vendors. “We are blessed to have a forager who travels from farm to farm, picking out the best products at their peak of the season” Pham describes “Dragon,” the restaurant’s elite forager. Having the access to these ingredients, Pham is inspired to explore their capabilities.

Los Angeles Chocolate Salon

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Los Angeles Chocolate Salon is HERE!

LA Chocolate Salon

Chocolate Lovers… The 9th Annual Los Angeles Chocolate Salon takes place Saturday, September 26 in Pasadena. Immerse yourself in everything chocolate at this one-day event featuring world-class Chocolatiers, celebrity guest speakers, tastings of artisan and premiere chocolates, chocolate liqueurs, and enjoy chocolate demonstrations by noted Los Angeles Chefs and Pastry Chefs.

Participating Chocolatiers will be judged in this prestigious event based on flavor, artistic style, design, overall quality and more judging categories.

chocolates at the LA Chocolate Salon

No stranger to the prestigious Chocolate Salon is Amy Jo (Valenza) Pedone, founder of Valenza Chocolatier, who shares that luxury chocolates are a true art form that takes a lot of patience. Recently, Amy Jo stopped by Bikini Lifestyles for a chat about all things chocolate and her recent success at the International Chocolate Awards.

Amy Jo Valenza Pedone

Amy Jo Valenza Pedone

BL: Why chocolate, Amy Jo?

AVP: Passion. It comes from passion. In 2008, I was working in a corporate job that wasn’t “me”, I lost my cousin to ovarian cancer and my world just caved in. I remembered the times I cherished most were making chocolate truffles and holiday cookies with my mom. Chocolate comes from my soul.

BL: That’s a good soul to have. What did you do?

AVP: I had no kitchen or culinary experience so I studied with an accredited chocolate program for one year and then journeyed back to my roots to Italy for my apprenticeship. From Milan to Torino, I worked with master Chocolatiers in the Piedmont region of Italy which is known as the capital of chocolate. I also learned to make traditional Italian chocolate pieces from the areas largest Italian chocolate maker ICAM Choco Scuola. [For Amy’s full story, read ABOUT at]

BL: Your chocolates are amazing. What is your favorite part about it?

AVP: Seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they taste my chocolate… that is the ultimate satisfaction. Each of my chocolates has a story behind it. They are hand-rolled, made to order with no preservatives, no additives, no machines… just quality ingredients including the finest Italian ingredients and a lot of love.

Valenza signature chocolates

Valenza signature chocolates

BL: What tips do you have for the home-chef?

AVP: There is a science and skill behind chocolate. The easiest to make at home is to make a Dark Ganache because there is no tempering required. Use a 2 : 1 ratio; 2 dark chocolate, 1 heavy cream. You can steep the heavy cream in fresh herbs, citrus to get different flavor profiles.

BL: A lot of home-chefs get frustrated when they do everything the same but their chocolates come out differently. Any tips?

AVP: Many factors are involved in getting chocolate tempered just right. Room temperature, humidity, quality of the chocolate are just a few of the elements that can vary and must be on target to get consistently good results. And, patience. If there is anything chocolate has taught me, it’s patience.

Amy Jo’s Valenza Chocolatier chocolates took “Best of Salon” at the 2014 Los Angeles Chocolate Salon. This year she will be showcasing some of her Italian specialties. Stop by, taste some of her incredible chocolates and say hi to Amy Jo at the 2015 LA Chocolate Salon on Saturday. And, visit for more on where to buy Valenza Chocolatier chocolates.

Valenza chocolates logo

Valenza Bon Bons of Gold are the signature artisan chocolates for the Golden Foodie Awards and recently advanced to the World Finals of the esteemed International Chocolate Awards. Her one-woman chocolate business will compete as the only United States company in a nut-based category next month, taking place October 17 in London on the main stage at The Chocolate Show at Olympia National Hall. With the submission of only this product from their collection, Valenza Chocolatier® was awarded SILVER for their Gianduiotti Maximo in the Nut/Gianduiotto category in the 2015 Americas Competition of the International Chocolate Awards. Made with 100% imported Piedmontese hazelnuts and 61% dark single bean Venezuelan chocolate, their Gianduiotti are truly authentic, based on the traditional Italian rules dating back to 1865 in Torino, Italy from the shape, percentage of Piedmontese hazelnuts, method of forming and foil wrapping by hand. With this win, a formal invitation was granted for these handmade chocolates to journey across the world to compete at the World Final, against the Italians who are known for award-winning Gianduiotti (Gianduia).

“To have the opportunity to compete against the Italians in this category is truly an unbelievable honor. This brings a high-level of authenticity and validation for my business mission, which is to create Italian inspired artisan chocolates and confections in the United States” said Amy Jo.

Valenza Chocolatier® was awarded the 2015 Six Star Grand Master Award for Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America by The International Chocolate Salon and TasteTV based on cumulative awards during the 2014 year, included Gold Award for Best Salon at LA Chocolate Salon plus twenty-two other awards.

tastings at the LA Chocolate Salon

The Los Angeles Chocolate Salon this weekend… Celebrating chocolate lovers in Southern California, meet Amy Jo Valenza Pedone and other participants including chocolatiers, confectioners, and culinary artisans, among these:

Get your tastebuds salivating with a look at participants here, (go to PARTICIPANTS)

•Marco Paolo Chocolates
•Valenza Chocolatier
•Amara Chocolate & Coffee
•Mignon Chocolate Boutique
•Taza Chocolate
•Sweet Milalani
•Droga Chocolates
•Copper Cauldron Candy Co
•Chocxo Bean to Bar Chocolatier
•Marti Chocolatt
•Tequila Alquimia
•Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
•Chocolate Television
•Chocolate-themed art creations from Eye Heart Art
•and more…
•Amano Artisan Chocolate
•Amella Caramels
•The Tea Room Chocolate Company
•David Bacco Chocolatier
•Truffles N Toffee
•Fera’wyn’s Artisan Chocolates
•Pacari Chocolate
•Chocolatier Eve
•Les Beaux Chocolats
•Dove Chocolate Discoveries
•Gourmet Blends
•Monterey Chocolate Company
•The Gourmandise School
•New Orleans Bill

Guest Speakers, Authors, and Presentations:
• Demonstrations from Le Cordon Bleu instructors
• Award-winning KABC Radio Host and creator of The Bikini Chef® Susan Irby on healthy eating and chocolate
• The Gourmandise School from Santa Monica.
• Lee Scott Theisen Ph.D.
•Amy Reiley, Author Fork Me, Spoon Me & Romancing the Stove
•Dave Shelton, Actor/Screenwriter
• Jessica Ferraro, Bar Cacao
and more!

Just what is a salon? SALON:
1.An assembly of guests in such a room, esp. an assembly, consisting of the leaders in society, art, politics, food, etc.
2.A hall or place used for the exhibition of works of art.
3.A shop, business, or department of a store offering a specific product or service, esp. one catering to a fashionable clientele
4. Or, a fabulous place to taste gourmet, luxury, award-winning chocolates!!!!

Chocolatiers at the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon

Chocolatiers at the Los Angeles Chocolate Salon

Saturday, September 26, 2015
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m
Full details at:

The Pasadena Center, Conference Building
300 Green Street

*All Tasting & Events Included with Entry*
Adults: $20 Advance Purchase
Adults: $25 Door
Children under 6: Free*
Children, 6 to 12: $10
*Applies to 2 children per adult. Each additional child under 6: $10

Follow us on Twitter @ChocolateSalon

Sessions Sandwiches Arrives in Huntington Beach

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Sessions Sandwiches Arrives in Huntington Beach


Orange County’s Critically Acclaimed Sessions West Coast Deli Expands Menu of Chef-Inspired, Gourmet Sandwiches with Opening of 2nd Beach City Location

After a spectacular Orange County debut in Newport Beach in 2014, Sessions West Coast Deli has opened its second location on the waterfront in Huntington Beach (414 Pacific Coast Highway). Designed as a neighborhood-casual concept, this new restaurant serves its immediate community with a menu of gourmet, culinary-focused sandwiches in a relaxed, beach-inspired environment.

The Huntington Beach restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu mirroring that of its Newport Beach counterpart. Guests are presented with nearly two dozen hot and cold sandwiches, a selection of salads, and gourmet sides on Sessions’ lunch and dinner menu, as well ten signature sandwiches on its breakfast menu.

Sessions features a scratch kitchen with housemade sauces, sides, salads, and soups prepared in-house daily. All sandwiches are made to order with fresh, locally grown produce, humanely and naturally raised meats, and locally baked breads delivered daily from local artisan, OC Baking Company. In addition, the restaurant proudly serves a selection of locally roasted coffee beverages from Kean Coffee.

With the opening of the Huntington Beach location, Sessions sees the addition of nine new sandwiches to its already celebrated menu. Guests will still be able to enjoy their favorites, including the Summer Zephyr, with marinated vine-ripened tomato, wild baby arugula, fresh mozzarella, basil aioli, pickled red onion, and a balsamic reduction on french roll; and the Sloppy Barney, featuring spicy bbq pulled pork, jalapeño jack, house pickle, shaved red onion, and purple SoCal slaw on ciabatta.

Summer Zepher from Sessions

Summer Zepher

All new sandwiches are featured at both locations, including the Geno, inspired by local surfer Gene “Sliding Machine” Petersen, who was voted on by the public to be honored in conjunction with the opening of the new Huntington Beach location.

New sandwich creations include:

SESSIONS Meddock Melee

SESSIONS Meddock Melee

* MOLLY – vegan chickpea curry salad, cucumber, shaved red onion, cherry pepper, and wild baby arugula, on fresh-baked squaw

* MANIFESTO – sliced white meat chicken breast, sun-dried tomato & artichoke spread, marinated vine-ripened tomato, wild baby arugula, cherry pepper, and balsamic reduction, on fresh-baked squaw

SESSIONS Greatfella

SESSIONS Greatfella

* TURBEN – hormone-free roast turkey, muenster, million island dressing, cherry pepper, and SoCal slaw, pressed on fresh-baked marble rye

* GENO (GENE “SLIDING MACHINE” PETERSEN) – hormone-free roast turkey, bacon jam, habanero puree, jalapeño jack, homemade guacamole, cherry pepper, shredded iceberg, and sriracha aioli, on a fresh-baked french roll

* BOMBER – genoa salami, smoked provolone, italian bruschetta, wild baby arugula, shaved red onion, fresh basil pesto, and balsamic reduction, on fresh-baked ciabatta

* GANGNAM STYLE – pork & beef meatball, korean “marinara”, pickled vegetable, cucumber, and soy-sesame slaw, on a fresh-baked french roll

Sessions meatball sandwich

* MYHAMI VICE – smoked ham, humboldt swiss, whole-berry cranberry sauce, wine-grained mustard, and house pickle, pressed on a fresh-baked french roll

* SESSIONS GRILLED CHEESE – muenster, shaved parmesan, and spinach & marinated artichoke heart spread, pressed on fresh-baked ciabatta

* YAO MANGO – smoked ham, muenster, shaved red onion, cucumber, jalapeño mango slaw, and sriracha aioli, on a fresh-baked french roll

Yao Mango from Sessions

Yao Mango

In addition to the new sandwich offerings, Sessions now offers the following salads, created with the same thoughtfulness and culinary focus as its between-the-bread counterparts:

* CAPRESE – fresh mozzarella, marinated vine-ripened cherry tomato, shaved red onion, wild baby arugula, and crouton, with balsamic vinaigrette

* CHINA CHOP – mandarin orange, shredded chicken breast, crispy wonton, shredded brussel sprout, wild baby kale, broccoli, radicchio, rainbow carrot, and crushed almond, with soy-sesame vinaigrette

* UMAMI – arcadian mixed green, blackberry, smoked bacon, goat cheese, dried cherry, and crushed almond, with strawberry vinaigrette

* THE WEDGE LEGEND – arcadian mixed green, shaved red onion, marinated vine-ripened cherry tomato, smoked bacon, shredded chicken breast, crouton, and bleu cheese, with atomic vinaigrette and balsamic reduction

Sessions Deli Wake and Bake

Sessions Wake and Bake

* SPICY MANGO COCONUT – arcadian mixed green, shredded coconut, rainbow carrot, jalapeño, crushed cashew, and shaved red onion, with jalapeño -mango vinaigrette

* BUFFALO CHOP – arcadian mixed green, buffalo shredded chicken breast, bleu cheese, rainbow carrot, shaved red onion, and marinated vine-ripened cherry tomato, with adobo buttermilk dressing

* CRUNCH THYME – shredded brussel sprouts, wild baby kale, broccoli, radicchio, arcadian mixed green, dried cherry, and crushed walnut, with balsamic-thyme vinaigrette

Full menu can be found online at

Sessions has worked hard to create a culture that focuses on the people in the community it serves. The experience is dictated by the environment, which pays careful attention to detail, customer service, and a quality dining experience, while projecting an air of effortlessness that one would expect from a beachside location.

Sessions West Coast Deli is now open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Huntington Beach at 414 Pacific Coast Highway. For hours of operation, full menu, and other information, please visit

In Spring 2014, when Sessions West Coast Deli opened its first location in Newport Beach, its owners had one mission: to serve the best sandwiches to ever hit the lip. As a neighborhood-casual concept designed to serve its immediate community, Sessions embraces the area’s surf culture as it presents a menu of gourmet, culinary-focused sandwiches in a relaxed environment. The term “West Coast Deli” perfectly describes the marriage of a high-quality deli menu with a chill vibe that appeals to area locals and tourists, alike.

In Summer 2015, Sessions opened its second Orange County location on the waterfront in Huntington Beach. The opening of this location reinforced Sessions’ dedication and commitment to its community by becoming a local hub for surfers, skaters and area beachgoers looking for great sandwiches.

Shaka Spuds from Sessions Deli

Shaka Spuds

Unlike most sandwich shops in the region, Sessions proudly boasts a scratch kitchen with housemade sauces, sides, salads, and soups prepared daily. All sandwiches are made to order with fresh, locally grown produce; humanely and naturally raised meats; and locally baked bread delivered daily from local artisan, OC Baking Company. In addition, the restaurant proudly serves a selection of locally roasted coffee beverages from Kean Coffee.

Sessions West Coast Deli – Newport Beach Peninsula
2823 Newport Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Open Daily
7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Sessions West Coast Deli – Downtown Huntington Beach
414 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Sunday – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

For more information, including menus, catering inquiries, and Sessions Club mailing list access, visit

Sessions West Coast Deli Website

Facebook – Sessions West Coast Deli

Instagram – @SessionsWestCoastDeli

Twitter – @SessionsNB

YELP – Sessions Newport Beach

YELP – Sessions Huntington Beach

Bruxie Annual Celebration of Tomatoes

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food

Bruxie Welcomes Tomato Season with Annual Celebration of Tomatoes 

Bruxie logo

Chefs Dean Simon & Kelly Mullarney have some summer fun with locally grown Heirloom Tomatoes!

Welcoming the return of Tomato Season, Bruxie hosts its annual Celebration of Tomatoes now through September 30. Chefs and Co-Founders Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney are offering their highly popular Caprese Bruxie, along with a Caprese Side Salad, featuring the season’s most flavorful Heirloom Tomatoes.


Bruxie Caprese celebration

Bruxie Caprese

Thick-sliced California grown Heirloom Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Organic Arugula, Herb Pesto, and Balsamic Reduction in our Bold Fold, seasoned with Sea Salt Crystals

Caprese Side Salad – Or, on the lighter side, try the Caprese as a side salad – same quality ingredients yet without the waffle!

Heirloom tomatoes with pesto from Bruxie

Caprese Side Salad

“This is the time of year when tomatoes are in season and taste their best! We get our hands on the most flavorful California-grown Heirloom Tomatoes to bring you three incredible specials,” explained Dean Simon, who also revealed that Bruxie will be opening two new Southern California locations this year – in Horton Park in San Diego and 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. “One of our favorite times of the year when we get to partner with local farmers to create some tasty specials with delicious heirloom tomatoes.”

The Tomato Specials will be available at all Bruxie locations (excluding San Diego).

For more information on Bruxie, including full menus, addresses, directions, and hours for each restaurant, please visit

ABOUT BRUXIE Chefs and Co-Founders Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney first opened Bruxie in Orange County in November 2010 to present a new take on The Sandwich, using a proprietary version of an authentic Belgian Waffle to offer a light, airy, crispy alternative to the traditional sandwich bread. They hand-selected each ingredient to ensure the most premium quality possible and crafted each sandwich to deliver bold flavors with seasonal produce to complement the texture and flavors of the waffles. Bruxie offers savory options such as Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Prosciutto & Gruyere, and Hot Pastrami, as well as a variety of sweet choices such as the Seasonal Crème Brulee, Nutella & Banana, and S’Mores.

In addition to its impressive waffle sandwich menu, Bruxie offers a selection of inspired, fresh, flavorful salads, locally produced old-fashioned cane sugar sodas, real Wisconsin frozen custard, shakes, sundaes, and floats. Bruxie proudly serves The Bold Blend, its own custom crafted coffee made from a proprietary blend of 100% fair-trade imported beans.

There are currently seven Bruxie locations. For more information on Bruxie, including full menus, addresses, directions, and hours for each restaurant, please visit

Esters Wine Shop Santa Monica

Posted on by Bikini Lifestyles in Food


Co-Owner and Wine Director Kathryn Coker curates a 200-plus bottle selection, with small plates from Executive Chef Jeremy Fox, grab-and-go artisanal food items, and more  

ESTERS Wine Shop

Let co-owner and wine director Kathryn Coker help you pick out that perfect bottle for a picnic or dinner. There are over 200 selections of wine to choose from. And any bottle you purchase on-site can be enjoyed at the bar for a corkage fee of only $15, so go all in with that magnum! Executive Chef Jeremy Fox has now added sandwiches to-go in the marketplace section like a vegetarian number with burrata, roasted red peppers, Moroccan olives, parsley, and olive oil or one with Olympia Provisions ham, butter, cornichons, and radishes—both on freshly baked Milo & Olive ciabatta.

Kathryn Coker, Esters Wine Shop SM

Kathryn Coker, Esters Wine Shop

How ESTERS came to be… Restaurateurs Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan continue to grow their restaurant family from within, partnering with Kathryn and Tug Coker and existing Rustic Canyon team members to open Esters, an integrated wine shop, bar, and market experience in downtown Santa Monica, CA.

ESTERS Santa Monica

Housed in the historic Telephone Building, a 1937 Art Deco landmark, Esters is across the hall from the restaurant group’s newly opened Cassia, where Kathryn also curates the wine program. The shop, whose name is derived from the chemical compound that contributes to a wine’s bouquet, offers a classic and diverse selection of more than 200 wines from small producers and boutique wineries, whose stories Co-owner and Wine Director Kathryn knows and loves. Esters appeals to shoppers on-the-go, with a marketplace offering a wide variety of artisanal items, as well as to guests lingering over glasses of wine, with paired dishes from Rustic Canyon Executive Chef Jeremy Fox and Pastry Chef Jun Tan, here in the chef de cuisine role.

“With Esters, we’re creating a cozy, approachable, neighborhood atmosphere where people can pop in for a glass of Champagne and a bite to eat with friends and family, stock up on specialty items for a dinner party or picnic, as well as learn more about wine by exploring our fun and unique selection,” says Kathryn, whose passion for wine led to her overseeing the wine program for Rustic Canyon and creating the initial list for Milo & Olive.

The broad and eclectic wine list offers something for everyone—from connoisseurs to novices—and accommodates a wide range of budgets. In the $40-75 range, guests can expect great Burgundies (Kathryn’s personal soft spot), Grower Champagnes, and funky biodynamic wines produced by little-known winemakers from Santa Barbara to Sicily. A high-end wine room showcases bottles priced above $75, and the “Tug’s Picks” section, which honors Tug’s keen eye for value, features affordable weeknight bottles, mostly priced under $25. At least 15 wines are poured by the glass at any given time, with opening highlights including 2012 Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligote, NV Domaine Robert Sérol Cote Roannaise “Turbullent” sparkling rosé from the Loire Valley, and 2013 Soliste Narcisse Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast.

A thoughtfully curated selection of craft beers, specialty imports, and premium spirits from small production distilleries around the world is also available. Rustic Canyon Bar Manager Aaron Ranf pours a selection of sipping mezcals and stirs up classic cocktails including Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs.

In addition to an array of cheeses and cured meats from boutique salumerias across the country, Jeremy and Jun continue their commitment to local, seasonal products, incorporating them into light dishes that complement Kathryn’s wine selections, such as Smoked California Fish in a jar with pickled ramps, Cook Pigs Ranch Pork Terrine with grape mustard, and Cucumber Panzanella with dill and house-cultured yogurt.


The marketplace component features grab-and-go artisanal items and rare, limited-edition products from friends and suppliers whose work inspires the team. Highlights include housemade sandwiches, loaves of Zoe’s renowned breads from Milo & Olive, gourmet chocolates from Compartés, raw honey from Massey Honey Co., Solstice Canyon almond butter, and Bottle Stock wine accessories.

L.A.-based Oonagh Ryan Architects designed Esters, which seats 50 indoors, to seamlessly flow between the wine bar and retail aspects, combining raw, modern elements with an eclectic mix of new and vintage furnishings. Salvaged steel-frame windows have been gracefully repurposed into an enclosure for the high-end wine cellar, and a large, beaded chandelier hangs over a custom wood and steel communal table. A 20-seat, U-shaped bar anchors the 1,600 square-foot space and features a hand-plastered front with decorative molding and a fluted terrazzo and brass counter. White marble coffee tables, a rich green velvet loveseat, and linen-clad chairs add an elegant and whimsical vibe, reminiscent of a Parisian flea market. A fruit-tree enclosed patio comfortably seats 40 and features colorful, tile-topped tables and a weathered zinc communal table—ideal for enjoying wine and small plates al fresco. Coming this fall, guests can look forward to winemaker visits, classes, and tasting flights.

Esters Wine Shop
1314 7th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Esters, the new wine shop, bar, and marketplace in Santa Monica has extended their opening hours, so if you’re craving a cooling glass of Rosé or some Beaujolais during the day, problem solved. They are open at 11 a.m. every day until 11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday (closed on Mondays until after Labor Day) and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information, please visit or call 310.899.6900.

Become a fan of Esters on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

(Photo Credits: Emily Hart Roth)