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Performance and Spirit:  ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’ at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio Fri-Sat nights only thru Feb 2024

 

Performance and Spirit Stand out with  “Lovers and Other Strangers” at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio.“Lovers and Other Strangers” runs at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio Fri-Sat nights only through February 2024.  The Taylor Acting Studio is an indie theater that hosts actors workshops, classes and shows at 2401 W. Magnolia Blvd in Burbank, CA.  

Cast attends Grand Opening of play “Lovers and Other Strangers” at The Taylor Studio, Los Angeles, CA, February 17th, 2024

 

Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Starring cast of Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

For those unaware of “indie theater”, it’s a typical “black box” theater.  What it lacks in production budget, it makes up for in spirit and talent.  It’s a place where you discover hidden gems.  And tonight, we found several.

Singer Vanessa Bejine attends Grand Opening of play "Lovers and Other Strangers" at The Taylor Studio, Los Angeles, CA, February 17th, 2024

Singer Vanessa Bejine attends Grand Opening of play “Lovers and Other Strangers” at The Taylor Studio, Los Angeles, CA, February 17th, 2024

The concern was how well would a risque 1970s sex comedy play in LA’s woke 2024.

Let’s find out… 

Lovers and Other Strangers at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

I didn’t walk into the show thinking of it as a “Girls Night Out”, but tonight it definitely played in that direction.    The packed theater was 70% women, who laughed, giggled and gasped throughout.

“Lovers and Other Strangers” at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Charly Taylor, Bradley Holzer, “Lovers and Other Strangers” at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Scene 1: Brenda & Jerry

Starring Charly Taylor, Bradley Holzer

What if your best and worst date was the same date?  Holzer’s “Jerry” tries to make his date night a little sexier while Taylor’s Brenda terrorizes him with naive or not-so-much wishy-washy responses.   

Taylor’s Brenda is electric as she walks on stage against Holzer’s kinetic energy.  It’s a high energy, flirty scene that stays fresh thanks to the performer’s chemistry. 

Painfully relatable.  Hilarious.  And it sets the tone for the night.  Laughing. Squirming. Following these characters through a maze of love, romance, disgust, bitterness.  

Phillip Latini, Elizabeth Kyokwijuka

Scene 2: Hal & Cathay

Starring Phillip Latini, Elizabeth Kyokwijuka

Do you love dialogue?  Phillip Latini and Elizabeth Kyokwijuka clearly love their dialogue and are having so much fun.  

Like a tennis match where they volley their bleeding hearts (and heartache) back and forth.  Heartbreak, swing, betrayal, swing, jealousy, embrace. Then repeat.  Latini offers a sneering performance demanding Kyokwijuka’s intensity and delicious she delivers. Great scene!

Art Santoro and Eugenia Kuzmina at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Art Santoro and Eugenia Kuzmina at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Scene 3: Johnny & Wilma

Starring Art Santoro and Eugenia Kuzmina

If you’ve seen Kuzmina’s work on the big screen before you know how easily she holds her stage presence.  

Tonight Kuzmina’s “Wilma” steals the scene in the first few moments with a quiet confidence and a misbehaving perfume bottle. Then like a cat and mouse game, she taunts, teases and plays Santoro’s Johnny until he can’t take it anymore.  He’s a mountain of a guy who’s gentle until he’s not.  When Santoro fires back it becomes a chess match. Physically, emotionally, psychologically.  Tossing and turning – the more they fight, the more their chemistry builds and what does that say about love?

Charly Taylor and Nathaniel Wyatt

Charly Taylor and Nathaniel Wyatt

Scene 4: Susan & Mike

 

Starring Charly Taylor and Nathaniel Wyatt

In tonight’s opening scene, Taylor is electric.  Now she visits us again. In this scene she shows another side  – calmly keeping pace while Wyatt takes the spotlight burning through his dialogue.   He bares his soul with vulnerability, angst, anger, desperation. 

Nathaniel Wyatt has leading man relatability.  Think Tom Hanks in 1984’s massive hit “Splash”.  If he and Charly Taylor aren’t pitching themselves (Hanks and Darryl Hannah, respectively) to the studios for a remake, the movie-loving world is missing out.

 

Sergio Lopez, Jordan Whitney

Sergio Lopez, Jordan Whitney

Scene 5: Bea, Frank, Rickie & Joan

 

Starring Eugenia Kuzmina, Sergio Lanza, Sergio Lopez, Jordan Whitney.

Throughout the night we’ve seen couples wrestling with every quirk and detail of relationships, healthy and not.  Here we see two married couples, one older, one younger – and how both couples are dealing with all of romance’s issues.

Sergio Lopez should win acclaim for his performance in this scene.  In a room full of bombastic characters, your eyes keep going back to him as he makes the subtlest of feelings quake the entire theater.

Sergio Lanza brings heart to the room and a baseline to Lopez’s reactions.  Lopez and Lanza should work together more often.  As Lanza’s internal boiling builds, he fills the room with emotion that all of the actors play off in the second half of the scene. The ensemble harmony is so flavorful and fun.  

Cue Jordan Whitney’s entrance who brings sunshine on a cloudy day.  Moments later, she informs Kuzmina’s performance in one of the highlights of the evening.

Eugenia Kuzmina reveals herself as a character actress

Eugenia Kuzmina reveals herself as a character actress. You know her best from several turns in Hollywood blockbusters, most notably gangsters and spies in big-budget Guy Ritchie movies.

But tonight she’s having a blast playing against type.  She’s moody and vulnerable.  Playing a lowly housewife with a lifetime of regrets. A woman in the audience goes from sobbing to full-on guffawing within seconds thanks to Kuzmina’s heartbreaking monologue in the second half of the scene.

One specific beat is so raw, honest, yet bitterly funny.  Kuzmina captures the mood.

It’s the perfect scene to end the show on.  

Eugenia Kuzmina

Eugenia Kuzmina

 

Indie Theater at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio is a fun date night

Why is indie theater important? Because in a town like LA, you can be sure these guys aren’t doing it for the money or the fame.  They’re performing for you tonight because they love it.

Director Jennifer Taylor Acting Studio

Director Jennifer Taylor from Taylor Acting Studio

Years ago, I was sitting in a black box theater and after the show I noticed an Oscar-winning filmmaker getting up from his seat in the back row.  On the walk out, I nudged him about why he was there.  He replied, “Eh, I had a tough week.  Got me cynical.  These kids helped remind me that I love storytelling.”  

Joe Winger at the premiere weekend

Joe Winger at the premiere weekend

If you love storytelling, give indie theater a try.  Pick a restaurant within walking distance.  Make it as date night.

DTLA’s Boomtown Brewery 9th Anniversary Celebration in the Arts District Feb 17

DTLA’s Boomtown Brewery 9th Anniversary Celebration in the Arts District Feb 17

Boomtown Brewery , L.A.’s iconic craft beer haven located in the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles, is gearing up to commemorate nine years of brewing excellence with a blow-out Boomtown Brewery 9thAnniversary Celebration coming up on Saturday, February 17th, 2024!

Boomtown Brewery  9thAnniversary Celebration on Saturday, February 17th

Boomtown Brewery invites beer enthusiasts, locals, and visitors alike to join the party in the Boomtown Tap Room located just steps away from their state-of-the-art brewery for a full day and evening filled with Craft Beer, Food Trucks, DJ’s, Live Entertainment, and much more.

Owners John Rankin, Alex Kagianaris, and Samuel Chawinga, along with their dedicated team including Head Brewer Amber Sawicki and Production Manager Benjamin Turkel are thrilled to celebrate nearly a decade of crafting exceptional beer byshowcasing over twenty Craft Beer selections such as the Nose Job IPA, Las Palmas Pale Ale, and Mic Czech Pilsner along with fresh IPAs, Stouts, Sours Gluten-Free Seltzers, and more.

But the highlight of the celebration will be Boomtown Brewery’s BAD HOMBRE BAR featuring one-of-a-kind renditions of your favorite Mexican-style Lager.

Foodies will be impressed with a stellar lineup of top-notch Local Food Vendors including AGL Craft Meats, Correa’s Mariscos,Quarantine Pizza and Eastside Cheesecakes all throughout the event.

No anniversary celebration would be complete without a stellar musical lineup of Live Entertainment featuring performances by Pearl and the Oysters, Al Lover DJ Set, Jonny Marfa and the Lights, You Knew Jack, and Ned Casual.

Boomtown Brewery proudly represents Los Angeles, a beacon for creativity and community in the DTLA Arts District. Crafting old-world, unfiltered, full-flavored beers with integrity, become a haven for expression and grit in the Arts District.

The Boomtown Tap Room serves as a community space for artists, makers, crafters, and a diverse community to come together and enjoy exceptional beer in a vibrant atmosphere.

From live music to trivia, open mic nights, food festivals, and more, Boomtown Brewery continues to contribute to the local community in meaningful ways. So, mark your calendars and save-the-date for Boomtown Brewery’s 9th Anniversary Celebration!

Boomtown Brewery’s 9th Anniversary Celebration will take place on Saturday, February 17th, 2024, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 am. This is a 21+ event after 8:00 pm. This event is Free to attend, and no tickets are needed.

For more information on Boomtown Brewery’s 9th Anniversary Celebration, please visit Boomtown Brewery’s 9th Anniversary Celebration!

Hey LA, Why does Wisconsin Already know the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday?

Wisconsin Already knows the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday

When the Big Game rolls around each February, Wisconsin Cheese knows that eyes are on both the TV and what’s on the table.

If you do the cheese math, Wisconsin crafts 600 types, styles, and varieties of cheese, which means there are 600 options for cheese A, 599 options for cheese B, and 598 options for cheese C. The total combinations equal 214 million cheeseboard options, and with 126 million households in the U.S., no two game day spreads need to be the same.

“With friends gathered around the TV and taste buds craving something extraordinary,

Wisconsin Cheese is here to elevate the game day experience

with artisan cheeses for a vast array of cheeseboard combinations,”

Suzanne Fanning

CMO of Wisconsin Cheese.

Wisconsin crafts 50% of the nation’s specialty cheese, which means The State of Cheese has the award-winning cheeses to make every spread score points with fans of any team.”

Play your starting lineup: an award-winning cheeseboard that will win over every guest’s taste buds. Whether you want to keep it classic or try a creative new play with thrilling flavors, these cheese boards will enliven your snacking array:

Whichever team you’re cheering for this season, Wisconsin Cheese is always a winner during the big game. Find inspiration for future game day parties with another one of our cheese board recipes, like this Fiesta Cheese Board, this Wisconsin Cheese and Charcuterie Board, or another spread that suits your style from our selection of over 300 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese.

Be sure to share your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook. For more information about award-winning Wisconsin Cheese and winning recipes, visit www.wisconsincheese.com.

Wisconsin Cheese

The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 180 years ago before Wisconsin was recognized as a state. With 90% of the State’s cow’s milk being turned into cheese, Wisconsin’s 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation, continue to pass on old-world traditions while adopting modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship. Wisconsin has won more awards for its cheese than any other state or country.

For more information, visit WisconsinCheese.com.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products.

Valentine’s Day: 10 Yummy Food and Beverage Gift Ideas

10 Unique Food and Beverage Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we all know the drill — flowers, chocolates, candy, rinse and repeat.

Although a lovely sentiment, it’s not exactly the stuff that legends are made of, right?

So, we dove deep into the web and came up with a list of food and beverage items that say “I love you” in an unconventional and out-of-the-box way.

These gems are not your garden-variety tokens of affection; they’re off-beat, they’re fun, and they scream “Be Mine” in the most deliciously distinctive ways.

From quirky snacks to sippable surprises, here’s our list of

10 unique food & beverage gifts for Valentine’s day

Olive & Cocoa Chocolate Heart Pretzels

Imagine a dozen crunchy pretzels, each smothered in a dreamy mix of milk and white chocolate and then dotted with playful pink hearts.

Both salty and sweet, as most relationships are, these tantalizing treats arrive in a chic, handcrafted wooden crate, tied up with a red ribbon, and just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Trust us, they are the yummiest way to say “I heart you!” 

Visit Olive and Cocoa here 

BareOrganics Ashwagandha Root Powder

Ever heard of Ashwagandha Root?

It’s like nature’s own love boosting superfood – the Ayurvedic secret often dubbed as a ‘natural viagra’ for both ladies and gents. And, it’s not just about cranking up your libido and vitality; it’s also great for knocking down stress and anxiety, which are the usual, and unfortunate romance killers.

Sprinkle some of this 100% USDA Certified Organic magic powder into your daily routine and get ready for a more sumptuous and satisfying sex life.

Visit the Ashwaganha Root

Lou’s Heart Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie & Heart Shaped Pizza

Double the love straight from the Windy City!

We’re talking about Lou Malnati’s heart-shaped deep dish pizza for two, with your pick of cheesy goodness or savory sausage, paired with a giant heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie. And this cookie isn’t just any cookie – it’s the same recipe used in Lou Malnati’s iconic pizzerias.

It’s like a big hug from Chicago, sent straight to your door this Valentine’s Day. Who can resist that?

Click here for Taste of Chicago

Be My Huckleberry Hand Pies

Get ready to fall hard for these delicious hand pies, bursting with juicy Montana huckleberries and blueberries.

Elle’s Belles country kitchen whips up each small-batch bakes with love, making these some of the tastiest treats you’ll ever devour.

And here’s the kicker — each pie is handcrafted, ensuring your gift is as unique as it is delicious. But remember, all good things take time, and these handmade beauties need 24 hours to bake and package before heading your way.

Click here to check out Huckleberry Hand Pies

Dora’s Heart-Shaped Ravioli for 2

 

Whisk your taste buds to Italy on Valentine’s Day with Nonna Dora’s heart-shaped ravioli, a beloved staple for 25 years at New York City’s I Trulli!

Handcrafted with special Italian flour, these beauties get their charming stripes from beet puree and are filled with creamy Italian ricotta. Boil them up, sauté with butter and sage, and voilà—a romantic dinner to remember.

Behind these gems is “Nonna Dora” Marzovilla, a pasta-making legend for over 70 years, now delighting NYC with her own spot, Nonna Dora’s Pasta Bar. It’s like getting a squeeze from an Italian nonna in every bite! 

Click here for Dora’s Heart-Shaped Ravioli

Jerky Heart

Why settle for the same old same old chocolates in a heart shaped box when you can gift BEEF JERKY instead!

The Man Crates Exclusive Heart Box includes: 1 Dave’s Pepperoni Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Wine Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Orange Habanero Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Honey Bourbon Formed Beef Bit, 1 Dave’s Honey Root Beer Formed Beef Bit, 

1 Dave’s Sesame Ginger Formed Beef Bit, 3 Cajun Beef Sticks, 2 Teriyaki Beef Sticks, and 3 Habanero BBQ Beef Sticks to highly satisfy your most beloved carnivore. 

And, for that extra touch of testosterone, you can have the box “gift wrapped” in red colored duct tape.

Visit Man Crates

Tipsy Bubbly Rose

Yup!  That’s right folks… a phallus shaped bottle of pink sparkling rosé wine for that very special someone. We’ll just leave it right there…

Click here to visit Tipsy Brand

Candied Bacon Bouquet

What better way to say “I love you” than with an elegant bouquet of long-stemmed candied bacon shaped roses. Perfect for anyone who can’t resist the sweet and salty combo of maple syrup and bacon, each rose shaped flower is topped with a red sugar coating to keep those roses a brightly blooming red. 

Visit Bacon Bouquets

Meat Card

Why settle for a Hallmark card when you can have your love note laser engraved on a 4″ x 9″ sheet of meat? 

Manly Man Co. offers customized greetings of 100 characters at max on a 100% edible sheet of savory beef jerky. 

Made to order and vacuum sealed for freshness, it’s the yummiest way to share your affection.

Visit Manly Man Co

Heart-Shaped Tea Bags

Heart-Shaped Tea Bags

Seeking a little romantic tea time with your honey?

Jacqueline Aliotti’s heart-shaped tea bags are the perfect choice to heat things up. Inspired by her childhood in Lyon, France, surrounded by the warmth of her parents’ tea shop, each boxed set includes 5 English Breakfast, 5 Earl Grey, and 5 White Berry tea bags, perfect for sharing a romantic afternoon with your Valentine. 

Visit UnCommon Goods

Hollywood entertainer Cat Ce On Staying Physically & Mentally Fit In Hollywood

Hollywood entertainer Cat Ce On Staying Physically & Mentally Fit In Hollywood

“It’s all about balance”

All round entertainer and producer Cat Ce is a familiar face and name in Hollywood circles.

Known for Producing sold out comedy shows every month at The Ice House, The World Famous Comedy Store etc. She also is a fan favorite guest star on leading shows at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club Las Vegas.

When not doing stand up comedy, she is a working actress and just celebrated her 50th popular Podcast, which is on spotify and iheart radio.

Cat Ce is definitely productively packing her days with her creativity and manages to stay fit and radiant. She is also a certified Pilates teacher – which explains the body!

Physical stamina is a must for her busy schedule

Physical stamina is a must for her busy schedule

Her work out regime is very specific to her needs and she swears by swimming to keep her body toned and mind relaxed.

Anyone who has been backstage at a comedy show or eaten at a comedy club will tell you there are specific comfort foods that may not be the healthiest if eaten on a nightly basis. Who doesn’t love pizza or chicken wings and fries at 11pm?

Well, Cat Ce for one stays away from the temptations as much as she can.

“I try to eat healthy & balanced meals.

Smoothies, fruits, veggies, fish or lean meat with great protein are my main nutrients…”

reveals Cat Ce

“…I try to do everything in moderation. I don’t completely cut out bread, I just try to minimize the intake of carbs, get enough protein, and never deprive myself. I have  a balanced lifestyle. Staying active with daily exercise, and swimming is my daily routine. A solid workout  will obviously help you stay in shape, but  also helps me manage stress.

Cat Ce wears many hats and works out regularly to stay fit

Cat Ce wears many hats and works out regularly to stay fit

I keep physically strong, which leads me to feeling mentally strong, this also guarantees a good night sleep — which is also key.

The simple basic fundamentals of taking care of ourselves is my mantra, this will lead to success. I believe.”

Something tells me Cat Ce is right!

To catch Cat Ce performing check out her upcoming shows in Los Angeles Hollywood Improv Jan 15th and 19th, the Comedy Store Jan 15th and Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club in Las Vegas on Jan 20th!

 

Zayn Malik joins Mixoloshe as Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner

Zayn Malik joins Mixoloshe as Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner

The global superstar launches a custom Lychee Martini flavor, with a unique can design inspired by his own tattoos.

The fast-rising, award winning non alcoholic beverage brand, made with clean ingredients and nothing artificial will make its retail debut at Walmart, launching across the US with the retailer by end of October

Mixoloshe, a female founded and award winning non-alcoholic beverage brand, announces its partnership with celebrated award-winning artist and entrepreneur Zayn Malik, who has joined the company as the Chief Creative Officer (CCO) and Co-Owner. 

The partnership will center around reshaping the narrative of the non-alcoholic beverage industry, as well as deep creative collaboration on marketing initiatives and upcoming flavor launches. 

Additionally, Mixoloshe will launch in 500 Walmart stores across the country, marking the brand’s anticipated retail debut. 

Zayn’s first flavor launch is a non-alcoholic Lychee Martini, a refreshing and exotic drink, that is sweet, floral, and slightly tropical. The can design is also captivating and unique, featuring replica illustrations of his own most beloved tattoos.

Mixoloshe was founded in 2022 to redefine the booming non-alcoholic drink category with a clean, alcohol-free take on cocktails and premium spirits that taste like the real thing. 

Their collection offers a non-alcoholic range of popular cocktails, such as a Mojito, Old Fashioned, Gin & Tonic, and Margarita, as well as non-alcoholic Tequila, Whisky, and Gin, all made with real ingredients, and low in sugar, calories. 

 

Mixoloshe’s soft seltzers and non-alcoholic spirits have been recognized globally as best in class, and in 2023 they were honored with the Bartenders Spirits Gold Award, Ascot Award Gold for Taste, and the SIP Awards in Gold, Silver, and Bronze, to name a few. Their collection includes 8 canned non-alcoholic cocktail varieties, including the newly launched Lychee Martini flavor, and three bottled non alcoholic premium spirits.

 

“The non-alcoholic beverage market is ready for disruption, which can create immense growth potential. We see consumers already shifting preferences towards healthier and alcohol-free alternatives, which provides an opportunity for a brand like MIXOLOSHE to redefine this industry. I could not be more excited about the chance to make some noise in the category of non-alcoholic beverages and build one of the most talked about drinks in the world.” – Zayn Malik

 

“Zayn is a creative visionary both in music and beyond. His passion for innovation and his ability to captivate audiences will undoubtedly help us redefine the narrative around the non alcoholic beverage category, with a fresh perspective on making healthy lifestyle choices and living well, irrespective of your beverage preferences,” said Kristina Roth, MIXOLOSHE Founder and CEO. “I’m looking forward to working alongside him and shaping a future for this category where the glass is always half full of possibilities.”

 

Soft seltzers are available in a 12 pack, and retail for $29.99. Non-alcoholic spirits are available in a 750 ml bottle and retail for $29.99.

 For more information, please visit: mixoloshe.com.

Mixoloshe is a female-founded line of non-alcoholic seltzers and spirits that are formulated to taste and smell boozy without the booze. Whether you’re booze-free forever or just for the night, these drinks are the perfect inclusive answer to an age old question—what are we drinking? High in flavor and low in calories, MIXOLOSHE packs a party into every can of soft seltzer and bottle of non-alcoholic spirits. With a mission and ingredients that are anything but fake, the brand offers booze-free cocktail alternatives that taste like the real thing. Party tonight with no regrets tomorrow.

 

 

Legendary Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Serves Full Menu in Memoir with “On The Rocks”

Legendary Pittsburgh Restauranteur Joseph Costanzo Jr. Reveals all in his Tasty Memoir with “On The Rocks”

On the Rocks chronicles the real-life journey of restaurateur Joseph Costanzo Jr., from his rise to success in the 1990s as a owner of the highly acclaimed Primadonna Restaurant, radio host, columnist, and aspiring politician to his sharp fall in the early 2000s, ending in an investigation and a stint in federal prison.

Costanzo is a complex character, whom readers will admire for his confidence and rebuke for his arrogance, will love for his generosity and despise for his egotism, and will learn from in both his attention to detail and lack thereof.

This driven, not-your-average-Joe is an unforgettable character who achieves the seemingly impossible but can’t help getting in his own way. Come along with Joe for a bumpy ride on the rocks

On the Rocks: The Primadonna Story, co-written by Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins is available now on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Walmart, Target.  Signed copies at the Heinz History Center. Also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Today, we’re having a conversation with all three: Joseph Costanzo Jr., co-writers Maria C. Palmer and Ruthie Robbins.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.  Find the un-edited conversation on our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

Something that I find amazing, this book has been 17 years in the process. Is that an accurate piece of trivia?

Maria C. Palmer: 100%. Yes, that is a very accurate piece of trivia.

So way back 17 years ago, what sparked this for you?

Maria C. Palmer: A couple of things. I think that because the restaurant was such a significant part of our lives, and it was always the highlight of my father’s life. Once it went away, the spark kind of went away, too. And I wanted to bring that back in my Dad. So I started asking him lots of questions about his life. Specifically for a family history. At the time, being a writer myself, in addition to grant writing, I’m also a writer and I can really spot a good story that has commercial value.

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

On The Rocks co-author Maria C. Palmer

There were just so many wonderful elements to his story. So I started recording some vignettes of different things that had happened throughout his life. But not really knowing and or intending at the time that it would be a book. 

But as we went on, I saw that the potential was there and I was lucky enough to still be in contact with my former teacher, Ruthie Dines Robbins and brought the project to her and asked her if she would be willing to work on it with me.

It was really from there that we decided it would become a book and that we would work together diligently for probably 10 years together.

Ruthie Robbins: I’m only 7 years.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: They had it in Maria’s voice originally. Ruthie was in a book club and they said, “Put it in Joe’s voice and they had to go back and change the whole book.”  I watched 11, 000 emails back and forth. 

Ruthie Robbins: We were not primarily emailing. We were mostly talking and texting, and that year was the pandemic year. So I was off teaching that winter and the following fall.

 

Before we get into the restaurant itself, what was the writing process like?

Maria C. Palmer: I can speak to the family history and just the overall process of it. It was really challenging. Because whenever you’re writing a memoir or a biography, You’re not writing a Wikipedia page. So it’s not from the time somebody is born until the time that they pass away.

You’re picking the most poignant time in their lives. Not only cherry picking all the good things that happened during that time period, but you’re picking some of the challenges too, because that’s what makes a good story. 

It was challenging to figure out what the storyline was going to be and sometimes to tell those hard parts of the story.

What was even more challenging, was just the nebulous nature of the publishing industry.  I just thought you wrote a book, it’s on Amazon and then people buy it. And that could not be further from the truth. Query letters.  Polished one page, a 90,000 word manuscript.  A whole book proposal.  An entire business plan of why we’re writing the book and why it’s going to sell into the market. Requiring that much to not even get a thanks,, but just no response whatsoever.

Ruthie Robbins: Totally agree. The writing was not arduous part because Maria and I get along so well.. We’re real partners, but this publishing thing.  We really didn’t understand the process, so it is difficult, and especially in this genre, [competing with] the celebrities and athletes and reality stars who wrote memoirs.  They want a name on the shelf that someone will pick up in a bookstore. 

 

Mr. Costanzo, one of my favorite parts of this book is the wine mentions.  Tell us your “Pin on the wall” story.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Yeah we’re in a tough neighborhood, but we brought in a lot of people outside the area and upscale people,  limos, what have you. 

I had a bus boy and he was a really good worker. He became a server and he came to me after he got the drink order and said, ”what’s a pin on the wall?”

I never heard of a “Pin on the Wall”. So we went to the bartender. He didn’t know either.  We looked it up, nothing. 

So I went out there to ask the customers, so we could make it for them  – and one of the most mortal sins at the Primadonna was making Joe Costanzo look bad – I said, excuse me what’s in a Pin on a Wall and they all started laughing. The guy said, “Pinot Noir.”

They’re laughing at me.  That’s bad. So I went in and I really did a job on this kid.  My wife grabbed me by my tie and pushed me downstairs to my office.

I was in this kid’s face because he really wasn’t real serious about the situation.  If you’re going to be the best at what you’re doing, you can’t be messing up like that.

He ended up being great.  Chris, who was the server, became a maitre’d and a great employee of mine.  He was very loyal. I really went overboard with him and I did feel bad about it. 

 

Reviews are incredibly important.  The amount of work and effort you put in to get your Four Forks Review. Tell us a little bit about what happened.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Because the area was an old steel town which had a reputation of a lot of fighting, a lot of drinking, a lot of drugs, nobody would come into that area to eat.

I knew I needed credibility, and the only way I would get credibility was through the Pittsburgh Post, because the dining critic, Mike Kalina,  who was a syndicated columnist, had tremendous credibility. KDKA TV, Post Gazette, New York Daily News.

For two and a half years, I kept reaching out to him.  This is in a time before cell phones and emails.

But I knew if he comes down and gives us a good review, people from outside the area, from the upscale areas of the city are going to come in.  That’s what happened. 

But he did say to me, “You deserve four, but I’ll only give you three because you’ll never handle the business.” 

That Friday night, June 3rd 1988, he was 100 percent right. People were lined up at the door. I was used to doing 10-15 dinners a night. We did over 200 dinners that night and it was a total joke. People waited two and a half hours. When food came out of the kitchen, people actually applauded. People were begging me to get him a bottle of vodka because they couldn’t get a drink at the bar. 

We were short of service. We were short of bartenders. I made it all work in the next couple of weeks and I hired people.

 

I don’t want to ruin the upcoming movie or TV series, but when you trimmed it down, how much heartbreak was there in cutting out so many stories?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: It was very tough. We had a book signing in August. I kept telling people they were in the book, and they were in the draft I read.  But there were final touches that I didn’t see and we lost a lot of names and alot of stories.  So I really felt bad. I found the actual early draft and sent copies to those people.  This should be in a book, but it will be in the movie, I guarantee you.

Ruthie Robbins:  It was so hard. We did a lot of fact checking when we wrote, because memories are so unreliable. We talked to people who were in the original book [draft] and they expected to be more.  And on top of that, you try to end the chapter on a cliffhanger.  When you take out a story that changes the number of pages in the chapter, it changes the pace of the book.  That was a terrible editing challenge.

Maria, what was that like for you as the author and the daughter?

Maria C. Palmer: Originally the book was written partially in my voice and partially in my Dad’s voice. It started chronologically for me in my twenties and [had] flashbacks because the story starts in 1986 and I was very young at that time.  It was confusing and it didn’t work.  Everything that I wrote and all that I put my heart and soul into  was all cut from the book. So now I have another book project that I’m working on.

But I will echo what my father and Ruthie said. It was hard because everybody did have a significant piece to the Primadonna story.  

 

Mr. Costanza, it would be an easy assumption to say you’ve lived a big life. Are there one or two things you would have done differently in the stories of the book now looking back on them?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: Sure. When you are hitting all home runs, you tend to believe that everything that you do is gonna be a home run.  I had the most popular restaurant in Western Pennsylvania. Maybe I’m going to do something else, maybe I’ll go into politics.

I spent about $300,000 of my own money to put my name out there. Most people loved Joe Costanzo, but now when you get into politics it’s not that way. So that was probably my biggest regret.

My wife begged me not to do it. She said, Joe, we have a miracle here and you’re going to try for another miracle. And she was right. You may or may not like Joe Costanzo when you read the book, but you will love Donna Costanzo.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: And that’s bottom line. Everybody says the same thing. Joe, it was great. What he did is impossible, but his wife was a saint for putting up with all this stuff that a restaurateur has to go through. 

The theme of hospitality comes out in the book, but you so clearly love people.  What has it been like getting all these people’s responses to this story?

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: This has been unbelievable for me. People are very happy that this all happened this way.  I treated people really well and people wanted to reciprocate.  So exhilarating to me. My life has been very boring, but now it’s really gotten to the point where it’s been great thanks to Maria and Ruthie.

Ruthie Robbins: It’s heartwarming. Especially from former students, the outpouring has brought me to tears sometimes.  It’s reconnecting with people over the book. That has really been so wonderful

Maria C. Palmer: This has been such a 17 year journey. I always believed that there was something special about this story.  Seeing that exactly what I felt in my gut for 17 years is actually playing out in real life.

Whenever we’re in Pittsburgh, it is almost surreal because people are talking about “On The Rocks and it’s really cool and crazy to know that something that you created means so much for people.

Joseph Costanzo Jr.: The big thing which is amazing to me is that the book came out August 8th, 2023. For two weeks, the book was the number one bestselling ebook on Amazon for culinary memoirs. Ahead of Anthony Bourdain’s, Kitchen Confidential and Stanley Tucci’s Taste “On the Rocks” for over two weeks was the number one overall best-selling ebook. Now that’s hard to believe because this was just a Western Pennsylvania thing and Bourdain and Tucci are worldwide known authors and entertainers.

Tell us where we can find the book and all the ways we can keep in touch with this story.

Maria C. Palmer: So the book is really wherever books are sold.  We’re on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, Walmart, Target. We’re also at most bookstores.   Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Ruthie Robbins: There’s also signed copies at the Heinz History Center

Los Angeles Celebrates Sparkling: French Bloom Delivers Flavor and Elegance without the Boozy Battle – Wine review

French Bloom delivers flavor, elegance and subtlety without the boozy battle. 

You want to celebrate.  You want to “pop the cork”, enjoy the flavor, but you don’t want the after-effects.  The drunkenness.  Certainly not the hangover.  And women?  Of course there needs to be ways to elegantly celebrate even (and especially) during pregnancy.  Imagine a pregnant-friendly wine?

It’s a situation that should have been solved already.  But now it has and with style.  It’s a  subtle, elegant, flavorful answer.

French Bloom Re-Invents the Game 

Now everyone can share “moments of pleasure” as their website mentions.  French Bloom’s organic de-alcoholized chardonnay and pinot noir, alcohol-free French sparkling cuvées combine French tradition with innovation.

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean - Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

The Team Behind French Bloom

 

Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski bring different and complementary skill sets.  Equally important, they bring the desire for the vision and the motivation for innovation. 

Through their innovative and female-founded brand, French Bloom gives an alternative and inviting drink to those wanting to celebrate elegantly and differently, making the most of the precious moments shared with friends and family.

If the names sound familiar, Constance is a globally-working fashion model you’ve seen representing Estée Lauder and countless luxury brands.  

Maggie is director of the Michelin Guide and married to Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, chief executive of Champagne Frerejean Freres. 

Carl Héline, the former head of Champagne Krug, joined French Bloom. 

Let’s Taste French Bloom

Le Rosé 

Pale pink in the glass.  Rose petals, freshly picked red currant, raspberry aromas on the nose.  Indulgent white peach notes on the palate. Elegant. The organic French grapes give a nice acidity.  Well-balanced complexity of minerality and freshness.  Tartness and a rounded balance on the finish.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal
0.0% Alcohol
Pregnant-friendly
Low Calorie
Sulfite-Free
No preservatives
No sugar added, 4,2g/ 100ml

A blend of de-alcoholized organic French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, organic grape juice, Gensac spring water and natural organic flavors such as lemon. 

 

French Bloom sparkling Discovery Kit

 

Le Blanc 

Organic French Bubbly, 0.0% Alcohol

Medium golden amber in the glass. Minerality and pear aromas on the nose, that just keep opening and opening.  Pear, banana, melon, white flowers.  An explosion of complexity on the palate.  As the flavors open, Granny Smith apple, spicy citrus.  A full-bodied mouth with a luxurious, zesty finish that keeps going.

De-alcoholized organic wine, organic grape juice, French sparkling Gensac spring water, organic lemon juice, organic natural flavors.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal

0.0% Alcohol

Pregnant-friendly

Low Calorie

Sulfite-Free

No preservatives

No sugar added, 5,9g/ 100ml

Learn more: FrenchBloom.com

https://www.facebook.com/frenchbloomsparkling

https://www.instagram.com/french.bloom

 

Los Angeles Scariest, Thrilling, Tastiest, Most Fun Halloween Event List 2023 (Updated)

Los Angeles’ Scariest, Thrilling, Tastiest, Most Fun Halloween Event 2023 (Updated)

Our guide to Halloween 2023 in Los Angeles has you covered with the best treats, the most inspiring costumes and the best neighborhoods for fun, frights and memorable nights.

Los Angeles' Freakiest, Scariest, Tastiest, Halloween Event List 2023 (Updated)

Haunted houses a big part of the season here — with theme parks and Hollywood professional effects artists. 

Let the countdown begin!

 

Universal Studios’  Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios’  Halloween Horror Nights

Legend has it you should never go alone to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, Southern California’s scariest Halloween event. Summon your scream squad and you might survive.

You’ll be able to navigate multiple scare zones and mazes, including ones based on The Last of Us, Stranger Things, Evil Dead Rise, The Exorcist: Believer, Chucky, the classic Universal Monsters.

8 Terrifying Haunted Houses and the Terror Tram

Enter haunted houses inspired by the biggest names in horror, plus the Terror Tram is back and scarier than ever. You’re never quite sure if your spine is tingling with dread or sheer excitement.

Info and tickets here: https://www.halloweenhorrornights.com

Delusion

Delusion

Delusion

Since 2011, guests have played their part in the most visceral, captivating and unique live experience in the world. A living, breathing world of fantastical horror where stories come to vivid life

Devoted fans will be swallowed into various stories and connect with characters both dire and beloved as they track down the mysterious author behind the Delusion series and learn of a disturbing agenda.

Info and tix: https://enterdelusion.com

West Hollywood Halloween Carnival

West Hollywood Halloween Carnival

West Hollywood loves Halloween, and the City of West Hollywood is thrilled that Halloween is back with Halloween Carnaval 2023!

The City’s incomparable Halloween Carnaval is one of the most unique Halloween gatherings in the world.

Halloween Carnaval is free to attend and will take place on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on a one-mile stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between N. Doheny Drive and N. La Cienega Boulevard.

Staged on Santa Monica Boulevard/Historic Route 66, Halloween Carnaval will feature a stage at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and N. San Vicente Boulevard with a live DJ set, food trucks and thousands of wildly dressed Halloween revelers for a one-of-a-kind experience.

There will also be Halloween celebrations at businesses, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues throughout the City!

The City invites Halloween Carnaval-goers to get into the spirit and show off costumes by uploading photos to social media sites with the hashtag #wehohalloween.

More info West Hollywood Halloween Carnival

 

All Hallow's Weed in the Heart of West Hollywood at The Artist Tree 

Cake Moss Hosts Spook-tacular All Hallow’s Weed in the Heart of West Hollywood at The Artist Tree

It’s time to get spooky at West Hollywood’s favorite cannabis lounge! Cake Moss hosts this year’s Hallo-weedparty at The Artist Tree, which includes tricks and treats of all sorts  in the form of spooky themed cannabis cocktails, entertainment, and some ghostly surprises.

Costumes are highly encouraged, as The Artist Tree is hosting a contest that starts at 8pm. Enter if you dare to be fabulous and leave with some goodies and perhaps even a chance to be entered into the West Hollywood Community Costume Contest on Halloween night that will feature celebrity judges.

For info and tix to: All Hallow’s Weed at The Artist Tree 

West Hollywood Halloween Harvest Haunt

West Hollywood Halloween Harvest Haunt

Rosemary’s Baby at the Orpheum.

Rosemary’s Baby at the Orpheum.

Cinespia

 

This Halloween see spooky films screened in a cemetery. This October, Cinespia will be showing Halloween and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, The Ring at L.A. State Historic Park and Rosemary’s Baby at the Orpheum.

Info and tix for Cinespia

"Hocus Pocus" at Rooftop Cinema Club

“Hocus Pocus” at Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club

“Come, we fly!” Over the years, watching Hocus Pocus during the Halloween season has become a tradition for everyone, including us here at RCC. And now we have an even better reason to play this classic because it turns 30 this year! Come out to celebrate its anniversary at one of our many screenings throughout October!

Info and tix for Rooftop Cinema Club

Walt Disney Concert Hall's The Phantom of the Opera.

Walt Disney Concert Hall’s The Phantom of the Opera.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Each year the Walt Disney Concert Hall adds a little bit of Frank Gehry architecture to Halloween with a silent film screening accompanied by organist Clark Wilson for an extra eerie feel. This year, take a seat for the silent 1925 masterpiece The Phantom of the Opera.

Info and tix for Walt Disney Concert Hall’s The Phantom of the Opera.

The Bride of Frankenstein with Live Orchestra

Break out the hairspray and spend Halloween with Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff!

This year, our hugely popular annual celebration of horror and live music at the breathtaking Theatre at Ace Hotel presents film director James Whale’s chilling The Bride of Frankenstein, with one of the most iconic “wedding” scenes in cinematic history.

As this 1935 horror classic plays out larger than life on the silver screen, the magnificent musicians of the LA Opera Orchestra, conducted by Jenny Wong, perform Franz Waxman’s groundbreaking original soundtrack score live. It’s the ultimate cinematic experience!

Info and tix: The Bride of Frankenstein with Live Orchestra

Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman

Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman steps back into the role of Jack Skellington for a live performance and screening of The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl.

Featuring Elfman, Catherine O’Hara (Sunday), Halsey (Fri/Sat), Fred Armisen, Riki Lindhome (Fri/Sat) and Ken Page with a live orchestra!

Come early for Halloween Fun featuring a costume contest hosted by Greg Proops (“Who’s Line is it Anyway?”) and explore the Hollywood Bowl transformed into Halloween Town for in an incredible trick-or-treat adventure, fun for kids of all ages!

Info and tix: Tim Burton’s the Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman

Chilli No 5 ‘Sauce of Life’ Brings Flavor and Health to your Next Meal

Chilli No 5 ‘Sauce of Life’ Brings Flavor and Health to your Next Meal with an unmistakable spicy hit, combined with superfoods & health supplements.

Providing the flavorful gourmet vegan chilli sauces & gift sets using the most natural & healthy ingredients.

Chilli No 5 Brings 'Superfood Sorcery' and Big Flavor

Chilli No 5 Brings ‘Superfood Sorcery’ and Big Flavor

Delivering the best range of your favorite international flavors of chilli, marinades and BBQ hot sauces.

Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli joined me for a conversation about food, family, making chilli healthier and bringing their award-winning chilli sauce to the masses.

Chilli No. 5 Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli

Chilli No. 5 Co-founder Rumble Romagnoli

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, un-edited conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

When you think about hot sauce, can you tell us about a celebration or a memory, something in life that inspired you to get so excited about hot sauce?

Rumble Romagnoli: Yeah when we’re smaller and we’re in the kitchen, it’s such a magical experience, isn’t it?

I had a real Italian Nonna so an Italian grandmother who always had bubbling pots and pastas and, Mules and fish and meat.  My mother and my sister; so great moments as a child cooking in the kitchen and then out on the dining table with all the family.

It was great and now I love cooking and it makes me really relaxed. Just zoning out, cooking for the family, growing my own vegetables, chilies and then gathering around tables with friends and family just to enjoy. And that’s really where this all started.

 

What does day to day life look like for you.  How did you decide to split up some of that time with a hot sauce endeavor?

Rumble Romagnoli: You remember COVID wasn’t really a nice time for anyone. We were there in a small apartment with lots of small children. It was chaos.

We couldn’t see our friends. We couldn’t see our family. They were all over the world and it was desperate times. So I suppose setting up Chili No. 5 was all about this kind of wanting to get back together with people enjoying moments and being together, sharing and getting fresh, healthy food and not lining up in the supermarket.

Chilli No 5 Brings 'Superfood Sorcery' and Big Flavor

Chilli No 5 Brings ‘Superfood Sorcery’ and Big Flavor

A lot of chefs who I was very friendly with all had lost their jobs. I was like, Hey, can you make sauce? They’re like, yeah, of course I can. So that’s how it all started. 

And we started trying out new flavors and we love world cooking. So that’s how Chilli No 5 started.

From your Chilli expert point of view, what should someone look for on a label that lets us know this is a quality chilli sauce?

Rumble Romagnoli: I think you guys are better at it than us to be fair. You’re fanatics; incredible.

I’m not a real expert. I just love creating great food for my family and friends. And we’ve tried to make… The best world hot sauces but they’re not going to blow your head off. It’s not really a hot sauce. They are chilli sauces. 

Chilli No 5 variety of flavors

Chilli No 5 variety of flavors

What I think you should be looking for on the bottle is: great ingredients, as many as you can get. No numbers, no coloring, no baddies.

I’m looking for just superfoods and anything that’s gonna make me glow.

In my world, when I think of chili sauce and hot sauces, I don’t always think of superfoods.

Tell me a little bit about where the idea came from to so strongly cross over superfoods with chili.

 

Rumble Romagnoli:  I love spice and tingling on my tongue and that kind of rush you get from that spice and hot.  The hot sauce or the flakes or the chili oil. My wife loves to be healthy. Happy wife, happy life they say, so I just combined.

I was doing something more spicy and she says, why don’t you put some good stuff in there? And I’d been reading a lot about Guana ginseng, maca; and all of these are in our sources. These are natural supplements that you buy in the shop.  You have some of that and it really picks you up, increases your concentration, which I need for long days. I need more energy. I’m getting older. So I was like, hey let’s just put them in the hot sauce and then you got the best of both worlds. So that’s the superfood sauce or superfood sorcery we like to say.

That was all my wife’s doing to be honest.

 

I feel like a lot of chilli sauces are just gunk. When I think superfoods, I think health. Is your Chilli No 9 a health food?

Rumble Romagnoli: Absolutely. I’ll pick out one of these bottles.I wouldn’t say a healthy hot sauce. I would say a hot sauce full of healthy ingredients because you never know there are some sugars in here and you never know what people will find healthy or not healthy.

But we’ve got in this Jamaican jerk, which is great on a barbecue chicken as a marinade as a condiment as a barbecue sauce. We’ve got fresh red onions, fresh spring onions. Chilli No 9 chili. Fresh chilies, which are all really healthy for you. There’s ginger. There’s garlic. There’s lemon. There’s lime. There’s agave syrup. 

We tried to tone down the sugar but keep it a little bit sweet, apple cider vinegar, we’ve got, extra virgin olive oil. It goes on black garlic, thyme, nutmeg, allspice, black pepper, guarana, maca, Ginseng, l arginine.  It doesn’t stop.  That is packed to the rims, full of healthy ingredients.

We’ve tried to put the healthiest ingredients we could find and make it as tasty as possible using these ingredients and authentic to Jamaica and their jerk sauce.

It’s a sauce packed full of healthy superfood antioxidant ingredients and that’s maybe why it’s winning all these awards for taste. 

Because bottom line is it has to taste nice before being healthy.

 

Nobody wants a science flavored chili. So I agree with that.   Let’s talk about some of your favorite flavors.

Rumble Romagnoli:  It’s hard because we have over 15 sources. But one of my favorites which you’d probably love as well is the Mexican Fury. My sister lives in Guadalajara in Mexico. She left the UK and went all around South America and ended up finding a lovely guy and settled down there. 

Mexican food is fantastic. It’s just really great.  Full of flavors and all sorts of different ingredients that we can’t grow in the UK or in Europe.  You guys have got such great weather down there in the South, Miami, Florida. Texas, Mexico between the South of the U. S. and the North of Mexico.

So you’ve got the jalapenos which are just incredible. We’ve got all of these beautiful chilies, the habanero come up with an automatically smoky flavor when mixed with the red peppers, the tomatoes, the red onions.  They fuse this on the palate to really pair very well with chicken, prawns, tacos, burritos or even egg for breakfast or pancakes.

The Mexican Fury is a really good one. We won 16 awards for different sauces. I love chipotle, anything smoky in our Louisiana barbecue. We’ve tried to tone down the sugar, add a bit of cognac whiskey, bourbon whiskey.  We’ve added the classic American ingredients in there to make a kind of healthy style Louisiana barbecue. 

Then the harissa is a great one. It’s really popular. it’s North African full of caraway seeds, cumin seeds, olive oil, lots of of incredible deep ingredients that really sit on the back of the tongue. There’s lots of ingredients there that kind of bring your food to life. 

We want to bring life and energy into a barbecue situation, dinner with granny, breakfast before work, sandwich on the bench in Manhattan.

 

Tell us a little bit about the competitions you’ve entered.

Rumble Romagnoli: We were only a year old and we’d come up with these sauces and we’d thought they were good.  The founder Chef Colin and then we had a team of chefs working in our London kitchen and our South of France kitchen and we entered the Great Taste Awards.

These are quite big awards in the UK but it’s international awards where all kind of fine foods, gourmet foods are tested by panels of hundreds of judges. It’s quite a strict competition. 

So first year we came in and we won seven stars for 11 products. We’re very happy. It was incredible. The Jamaican jerk really got a good one. The heavenly Harissa came in very well. Our chilli oil called Pizza Pizzazz.

Our chili flakes are all fresh and lovely coming from all sides of the world. Carolina Reaper, the Scorpion, the Habanero, the Ghost, the Number 5 chili from India. 

We watched and read all of the judges’ comments and we’re so thankful that they really detailed about acidity, balance, flavor structures.

Then we reworked it.  We played around with ingredient quality, we changed vinegars slightly, the cooking process.  We started baking the vegetables, the peppers, the onions, the red onions.  The tomatoes really started getting more flavor.  We put in a bit of olive oil at the start to get the flavors moving around.

Then we came in this year with 13 awards out of 16.  With our 7, that makes 16 of our total products have won awards by the Great Taste Awards.

We want to create the best chilli sauces on the planet. That’s my mission.

 

How is Chilli No 5 going to grow and evolve?

Rumble Romagnoli: It’s happening quite quickly and we have a B2C strategy and service strategy.

We want to have the most delicious sauces in every category.  We’re just working on each recipe and we think  if we make the best sauce, people are going to love the best sauce, and then they’re going to buy the best sauce.

A bit like Apple, just make the best products and people just keep buying them  We’re getting into big stores in the UK, placements in Monaco.

We are in lots of great high end butchers, delicatessens and it’s going really well. 

So we’ve got this B2B strategy. We need to impress the professionals.   We’ve impressed the people who love healthy lifestyle, love delicious sauce, gourmet. But now we have to impress the industry.

Obviously coming to America is the big move. 

Tell us all the ways we can learn more about Chili No. Tell us your website, social media. 

Rumble Romagnoli: The website is the big one, Chili No.5. Shop us on Etsy.  Follow us on instagram, Facebook, YouTube. 

We’re also quite present for hot sauce gift sets. We do five or six incredible hot sauce gift sets which are collections of the sauces. And we’ve got mini little minis and you can make your own you can personalize because we’ve got 15 sauces.

We’re very big at Christmas. Very big at Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and we will send the sauces over to you guys in the states. No problem. If anything breaks, if anything’s damaged, we will refund you and resend you the sauce you ordered because that’s the least we can do.

 

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