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Weekend Wine Trip to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals wine, food and nature in Palisade CO

Weekend Wine Trip to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals wine, food and nature

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

Just to touch on background a little bit, you were the winemaker and founder of a very successful urban winery, the Infinite Monkey Theorem

Then you chose to move on to where you are now at The Ordinary Fellow

What was that transition like for you?

Ben Parsons: 

The Infinite Monkey Theorem was really about disrupting the wine industry and trying to make wine fun and relevant and accessible. 

We were the first ones in the U.S. to put wine in the can. We started kegging in 2008. 

It was really about creating these urban winery spaces, just a tap room for a craft brewery in a city where everyone could come down and enjoy. 

After 11 years of taking that to a 100,000 case production distributed in 42 states, there was a really good opportunity for me to get back to what I wanted to do, which is being in a vineyard.

Even though that might sound like a cliche, there is something quite romantic about farming and being surrounded by nature and really trying to make the very best wine you can from Colorado fruit that you grow and putting it in a bottle versus buying someone else’s wine and putting it in a can, they’re like two very different things.

I had an opportunity to take over a vineyard in southwest Colorado down in the Four Corners just outside of Cortez, where the Four Corners meet. 

It was in disrepair and hadn’t been pruned in four years. So I got back in there and now it’s looking really good.

So that’s taken 4 years.  Yeah it’s relatively small. It’s 13 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Sits at 6,000 feet elevation. So very high for a commercial vineyard. And it’s beautiful. 

It sits on a national monument called the Yucca House, which is an un-excavated ancestral Pueblan ruin from between the 10th and 12th century.

Starts at Mesa Verde, which most people are familiar with for the ancestral cliff dwellings from the Pueblans down there. It’s just a beautiful location. 

Yeah, two very different things, but kind of coming full circle almost as to what I got me into the industry in the beginning, back in the late 90s.

And now back there, but doing it on my own.

 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons takes a Vineyard Tour

 

Joe Winger: 

Your famous quote in the wine world: “I miss being in the vineyard”

So for our audience, who’s going to go to wine country this weekend or this summer, when they take a vineyard tour, what should they be looking at?

Ben Parsons: 

As to how wine gets from a vineyard and a grape to a bottle. Most people think it just ends up on a grocery store shelf and that is not the case.

It’s really the idea that you could grow something from rootstock, farm it, suffer the vagaries of agricultural production, deal with all of those challenges,  do it in a sustainable way. 

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Determine when you’re going to pick that fruit. Take it into the winery. Ferment it. Turn it into wine. Age it in a barrel. Bottle it. Decide on the branding. Decide on the naming. Come up with a label design. 

Take it to all of those small awesome restaurants that everyone wants to hang out at because they’re making great food and getting good press.

You see my wine or I see my wine on someone else’s table, drinking it and to think where that came from.

And how many times those grapes got moved from a to b and then back, from b to c and then c to d whether it be like shoveling grapes with a pitchfork for a destemmer. 

Or shoveling fermented grapes into a press with a Home Depot bucket.

Or picking that case up and taking it from here to here, that got handled so many times, so much went into that, that I think there’s a huge disconnect amongst most consumers. 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons on the Area’s Natural Beauty

Joe Winger: 

You chose to be in Palisade, Colorado making your wine. 

Tell us a little bit about the region and why someone should come visit you in Colorado?

Ben Parsons: 

Palisade is beautiful. It’s on the Western slope of Colorado. It’s about a 4 hour drive West of Denver over the mountains.

About 4 1/2 hours East of Salt Lake City. 

It’s an American Viticultural Area designate called the Grand Valley and it’s pretty stunning. 

You come through this Canyon called the Back Canyon on the North side, you have these book cliff mountains that  rise above you on the South side, you have the Colorado River, and it’s a very niche microclimate. It’s definitely an agricultural community.

What a lot of people don’t realize, because they just drive straight past on I-70 is it’s proximity to all things good, outdoorsy. 

Within 28 minutes I could be at a local ski resort called Powderhorn. It got 32 feet of snow last year 

I’m an hour and a half from Aspen.

I’m an hour and 20 minutes from Moab. 

I’m a 10 minute drive from Fruita, which has the best mountain biking in the world. 

It’s all old Indian territory. There’s wild mustangs up on the book cliffs. 

It’s known for its fruit. It’s actually known for its peaches, believe it or not.  Some of the best peaches grown anywhere in the United States. Arguably the best. 

But it’s a very small microclimate. 

Palisade is around 4,500 feet elevation. There’s about 26 wineries you can tour and visit. Take a few days, spend a weekend. 

There’s some good local restaurants, growing their own produce and making real good farm to table food.

Grand Junction is a city that in the last 5 years has really exploded. 

And Grand Junction is 10 minutes from Palisade. It went through a series of boom and busts during the oil shale boom business back in the day, but now it’s strongly focused on tourism.

Lots of people are leaving the front range of Denver, Colorado Springs and  moving to the Western slope for a kind of quality of life.

Also we have a lot of California transplants because it is cheaper to live. You are outdoors all the time. You can travel long distances very quickly.  I put 42,000 miles on my car this year delivering wine all over the state of Colorado. 

I feel like the state and this particular area has a lot going for it.  Definitely more than enough to fill a long weekend or a week’s trip. 

Exploring vineyards, food, farms, outdoor opportunities. 

Taking a trip to Moab, it’s really pretty. It’s one of the reasons I moved here. 

I’d been in the city for a long time. I grew up just South of London in England, but I lived in London for some time and I loved it when I was young.  I love Denver as well.

When I started the Infinite Monkey Theorem, that was really when a lot of people were moving to Denver and it was becoming something substantial. 

It was one of the fastest growing cities in the country at that time. 

I feel like we were a big part of pushing that growth and in tandem with the other food and beverage scene, like craft breweries and good restaurants.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve mentioned different restaurants and food and dinner.  Our audience primarily are foodies.   We’re in Colorado for a wine weekend, we come to the Ordinary Fellow for a wine tasting.

Can you suggest a few places and different cuisines that are a must visit within 20-30 minutes of you?

Ben Parsons: 

In Palisade there’s a good restaurant called Pesh. One of the former line cooks at a linear in Chicago started it with his wife, maybe 5-6 years ago. It’s excellent. 

In Grand Junction, where most people stay there’s a few good restaurants started by this guy, Josh Nirenberg, who has been nominated for James Beard award several times for best chef and has one called Bin 707,  Then he just opened a third called Jojo’s. He also has a kind of trendy taco spot called Taco Party, which is a fun name. 

If you like craft cocktails, there’s a new place that opened called Melrose Spirit Company. Guy opened it in a hotel that was recently renovated. Really cute, really excellent cocktails.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s get into the wine geek stuff now and talk about your vineyards. You have Colorado Box Bar, Hawks Nest.

So let’s talk through terroir, soil type, elevation. 

Ben Parsons: 

So Box Bar, It’s in Cortez, sits around between 6,000 feet elevation.

It’s on this weatheral loam that has some clay in it, which has these water retention properties. It is essentially a desert. So you do have to drip irrigate, there’s less than 7 inches of precipitation a year. 

So very little rainfall which is good in some ways in that there is very little disease pressure.

You’re not having to spray. There’s no necessity to spray for powdery mildew or anything down at our vineyards. 

It’s essentially farmed very minimalistically. 

Lagging very sustainably, which I know people appreciate. 

Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay. We’re just planting some Chenin Blanc and some Charbonneau, which is an italian red varietal as well. 

Hawk’s Nest is not my own property, but I work with a grower called Guy Drew who planted four different kinds of Pinot Noir and two different kinds of Chardonnay there.

That vineyard is at 6, 800 feet and that is the highest commercial vineyard in North America. 

Similar soil properties as the Box Bar. Making some really good Pinot Noir. 

I think what’s interesting about Colorado is we have a very short growing season, 155 – 165 days.  Napa has 240 days. That’s frost free days. 

So the thing is that we have such high sunlight exposure because of the elevation and the ultraviolet light that we have the same number of degree days as Napa Valley. So we can ripen like Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’re ripening it in a shorter period of time.  That’s fairly unique. 

The Ordinary Fellow is really focusing on traditional French varietals from Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah.

Most recently we took over a vineyard in Utah so I’m actually farming a vineyard about 1 ½ hour drive from Moab called Montezuma Canyon Ranch. 

That’s this ancient sandstone with a little bit of clay in there that was planted in 2007. 12 acres of Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Riesling Chardonnay.  We made an awesome Utah Rosé vineyard last harvest 2023, which we just released. 

You don’t see that many wines from Utah so that’s why I’m excited about it. 

I think there’s only 6 wineries in Utah and I’m not sure that many of them get their fruit from Utah.

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned that you have one of the highest peak elevation commercial vineyards in North America.

What are the benefits and the disadvantages to such a high elevation?

Ben Parsons: 

If you think about spending any time on a mountain, it can be really warm, but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets very cold. 

So having high elevation vineyards, even though you might be in a quite a hot growing region as soon as the sun goes down, the temperature does drop.

You have a large diurnal temperature shift. 

So in Cortez, in the growth, during the growing season or during ripening, say late September, mid September, late September. We could be 85 to 90 in the day, but 45 to 50 at night, which is a really big temperature swing. 

It basically means that the vine has a kind of chance to just shut down and rest.

From an enology perspective, you can retain more natural acidity in the fruit because it’s not being metabolized by having a lot of sunlight constantly and higher temperature. So we don’t have to make any artificial acid additions or anything like that you may have to do in more established wine regions in the United States. 

Our wines all have really great balance to them and really good acidity. None of them are overdone. They’re not big, jammy, overly alcoholic. 

They’re all well balanced between acids, tannin, alcohol, sugar, but they’re all bone dry. 

There is no fermentable sugar in any of them, which leads to palate weight and mouthfeel, but but they’re not sweet per se. 

Even my Riesling is bone dry.

Joe Winger: 

During the Infinite Monkey Theorem days you led the canned wines movement.  

How does it feel seeing it become so incredibly popular and any big lessons you learned from that experience?

Ben Parsons: 

I genuinely believe that [we led with canned wines].  In 2009 we entered into a R and D project with Ball Corporation, the largest supply of aluminum cans in the world. 

To figure out how to can wine and everyone thought it was stupid and everyone just turned their noses up at it and thought that RTD wine and RTD drinks were stupid.

It’s a tough question because I think that canned wine is good because of its use application, primarily.  Where you can take it and where you can drink it. 

Now, very rarely do I see people putting the best wine they’ve ever made in a can. So I think it’s all about where you want to drink it, who you want to drink it with.  There’s definitely this kind of utility aspect to it. 

Also price point wise, you don’t see that many canned wine, four packs above $16,

I would say so. Yeah, price wise, it’s fairly economical from a sustainability perspective. It makes a lot of sense.

But from an absolute quality perspective, you’re probably still going to be buying bottled wine over canned wine. 

It’s all about where you’re going to consume it. 

Sometimes when I see it I think about when you start any category, there’s always those people that are out there doing it way before anyone else is doing it.  It’s those people that usually don’t reap the benefits of it because they put all of the effort into it. 

I look at LinkedIn occasionally and I’m just baffled by people that think that it’s a new thing.  It just blows my mind. 

Joe Winger: 

You have an excellent sparkling wine and you’ve mentioned England’s excitement about the sparkling. 

Why is England falling in love with sparkling wine? And why should all of us be falling in love with sparkling wine?

Ben Parsons: 

Historically, England has consumed a lot of sparkling wine. 

But in terms of actually growing grapes and making their own sparkling wine, that’s happened in the last 20 years. 

That’s one of those unfortunate advantages of global warming in a kind of isolated geographical area that previously, you wouldn’t have been able to ripen Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.

It would have been a challenge making really good sparkling wine in Kent and Sussex and Southeast England where a lot of it is made. 

But with a few degrees temperature rise, that’s now possible. And it’s the same chalk escarpment as champagne. They’re very close to each other.

They’re just separated by 24 miles of the English Channel, right? 

So they’re actually geographically very close to each other a little further than 24 miles, but climatically very similar. 

So actually, a lot of French champagne houses have bought up land in Kent and Sussex over the last 20 years and have been planting that, and now some of the bubbles are coming out.

Joe Winger: 

When I have an opportunity to speak with an Oregon winemaker, we often talk about the challenges based on their region. Do you feel like you are also in a region [Colorado] that’s more problematic?

Can you share a lesson you’ve learned from solving some of those problems?

Ben Parsons: 

The whole industry because of the shortness of the growing season, it’s always on a knife edge because you can have late spring frosts that can come through a bud break and just wipe you out.

But you can also have these freak-like early winter freezes in October where there’s there’s still fruit hanging or maybe it’s just come off and it goes from 70 degrees in the day to 8 degrees suddenly, and the sap still flowing in the vines and then all of the vines, the trunks split, the cordon split.

That’s what happened in Palisade maybe 3 or 4 years ago now. 

Then in Cortez where Box Bar is, last year we had a hailstorm come through just after the bud break. So our Chardonnay was out and got wiped out. Then the secondary buds pushed and we went from a crop of 36 tons to 10 tons overnight.

That’s just agriculture anywhere. Unfortunately that’s just one of the risks.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about wine. Their flavor profiles. The different bottles you offer.

When we come visit your tasting room in Palisade, Colorado any hints about what they should be excited to taste?

Ben Parsons: 

 

Blanc de Noir

Yeah the sparkling wine, that’s Blanc de Noir, so that’s 100% Pinot Noir. That’s about as geeky as it gets, because that’s single vineyard, single grower, single clone of Pinot Noir. only 8 months in barrel.  The base wine was barrel aged for about 6 months, and then it was entourage, lying on its utilise in a bottle for six months.

Then it’s put on a riddling rack and hand riddled one bottle at a time. Then disgorged by hand, just take the top off, put your thumb over the top of it so nothing comes out and then no dosage.

So again, just super geeky, like really bone dry, like really crisp, great acid. So that is that wine is super hands on.

It’s delicious. It still gets those more developed, brioche-y notes. Texturally it’s very pleasing on the palate. I think we make really good method champignons, bottle fermented sparkling wine. 

 

Chardonnay

A lot of people these days think it’s trendy to not like chardonnay, because they heard somewhere about that, but there are actually some really good Chardonnays out there, which aren’t all aged in new French oak and haven’t all gone through like a creamy buttery secondary fermentation. And I think mine is one of them. It was aged in 8 year old barrels.  So there’s really no influence on it at all. 

It’s all hand harvested or whole cluster pressed. I think that wine has a really pretty texture, like this palette coating texture but it has really good acidity and it smells like a ripe peach or a dried apricot. It’s really pretty.

Pinot Noir

Our red pinot noir.  Again that spent just 9 months in neutral barrels so I think there was a trend like 20 years ago to put everything in a brand new barrel and every winemakers thought it was cool, but you know in the last 5 – 6 years, I think that has changed 

Winemakers are really trying to let the soil and let their vineyards speak for themselves.

Minimal kind of intervention to a certain extent. It is the trend.

Our Pinot Noir has done really well. It’s on the much lighter side. I would say it’s more like a German style Pinot Noir, like lighter with really good acidity, firm tannin. Beautiful aroma.

I think all of our wines are just very well balanced. Very food friendly, very clean. They’re not funky. I’m very proud of that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m assuming balance and the clean is a style choice by you? 

Ben Parsons: 

Balance is easy because it’s done in the vineyard because of the elevation and the retention of acidity.  It’s just about when you pick it. So you’re tasting [the grapes] for flavor and like phenolic ripeness and the seeds being brown, et cetera, but you’re also testing a few for your pH, your titratable acidity and your sugar levels. Then you make an informed decision as to when you’re picking it. 

The cleanliness part of it really just comes down to the fact that I feel like winemakers, even though this doesn’t sound very romantic, you’re almost just like an insurance manager in that you don’t want to mess it up.

So you make informed decisions, preemptively.  You top your barrels, like every 2-3 weeks, you do things to make sure the wine, does not end up flawed  through a secondary characteristic developing.   

Sometimes that’s a flavor enhancer and sometimes that’s good, but when it’s overdone…  I believe there are a lot of wines that they get away with it these days.  To me it’s just bad winemaking.

I’m definitely kind of a minimal interventionist 

Joe Winger: 

I always feel like white wine doesn’t get enough love and respect. People love talking about the complexities of reds.  You make a phenomenal Riesling

Ben Parsons: 

Interestingly I really don’t drink red wine anymore. Occasionally I’ll drink some Pinot Noir, but I much prefer drinking white wines. I think a lot of people in the industry crave acidity, and yeah, my reasoning is a good example.

The general consumer in the U. S. still thinks that all raisins are sweet. I think that’s just a common misconception, that’s purely a stylistic choice from the winemaker, and my choice is to allow the yeast to ferment all of the sugar until there is no residual sugar.

To have a wine with high natural acidity that pairs well with food. That’s my choice as a winemaker. Those are the wines that I enjoy most that kind of just leave your palate just like this rasping acidity. Take the enamel off your teeth, and but have beautiful aroma.

Our Riesling is starting to show some characteristics from being in the bottle for 18 months. Where it gets those kind of, it’s tough to say about making it sound bad, but those more kerosene-y , kind of petroleum, kind of eraser like notes, which are very typical of Riesling, intertwined with really nice citrus and green apple.

Yeah, and like really just good structure. That benefits from growing at elevation here for sure.

Joe Winger: 

Petit Verdot is probably lesser known, less popular, but it deserves all the love anyway. 

Ben Parsons: 

Petit Verdot, interesting, like one of the six red Bordeaux grape varieties. Bordeaux is maritime climate. It’s much cooler than Colorado.

It doesn’t really get the chance to ripen as well as it does here. So when it can ripen, it doesn’t just need to get blended into Cabernet Sauvignon or something to just give it more tannin and more structure. 

Here it can stand alone as a single varietal. 

The greenness is gone. The tannin is not like just rip your face off tannin.  It’s well developed. Like silky, velvety, firm, but not like really dry and like Petit Verdot can be.  Aromatics are very lifted on it, and it’s not a massive red wine by any means.

That’s grown at a vineyard about half an hour from Box Bar called Canyon of the Ancients and that vineyard was planted in 2006.

Unfortunately we only made about 99 cases of that wine. It’s fun to introduce people to wines that they probably haven’t heard of, but wines that that can stand up to any good red wines that you may have heard of.

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons reveals his Favorite Food

Joe Winger: 

Do you identify yourself as a foodie?   Can you pick 1-2 of your bottles and your favorite dish for dinner tonight?

Ben Parsons: 

Yeah I would definitely pair my Riesling with a Thai curry or even a panang curry. I think it does really well with oriental food that has some level of heat to it. But also I think it does really well with a charcuterie plate, some almonds and some cheese. I think you can’t go wrong with that. 

Then my Petit Verdot, for example I think there is more tannin in there.  For those of us that like the light grilling you couldn’t go wrong with serving that with a ribeye. It’s delicious.  Or if you’re cooking a little heartier food in the winter, maybe a lasagna.  Something that can really work with that tannin.

I think my wines do well with a lot of different food just because of the balance that they have, they’re not going to overpower the food and vice versa, which is what it’s all about. 

But I also enjoy them, just having a glass on its own, to be honest.  When I get home from work, sometimes I love that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m watching your Instagram videos quite a bit, and it seems like you’re having a lot of fun sharing knowledge, showing your vineyard, showing what it’s like day to day.

Ben Parsons: 

The one time that I do enjoy social media is when you’re in the vineyard or you’re doing something that seems that other people might never have seen before.

I’m in awe of where I am because I feel like it comes across in those videos. It’s pretty down here today, and those are beautiful vineyard sites.

Or if you’re filtering a wine or racking a wine or, trying or shoveling grapes.

Just the imagery comes across and really shows how much work is involved in it. I always struggle when it’s like go take a photo of a bottle of wine in front of a restaurant.  I don’t know how you make that look cool.

Find more about Ben Parson’s The Ordinary Fellow website, instagram

More about Palisade, CO

 

LA’s best kept Sushi Secret: Yama Sushi Marketplace celebrates 40 years

Yama Sushi Marketplace, LA’s best kept secret, celebrates 40 years

This June 2024, Yama Sushi Marketplace, a rare gem in Los Angeles will celebrate 40 years of the freshest Sashimi and Sushi Angelenos have come to crave and if possible, keep a secret.

“Please don’t tell anyone about this store” whispers one customer while another admits that “It is just not right to gatekeep this any longer!”

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

In June 1984, Kenzo Yamada and his wife Nobuko opened Yama Seafood on Las Tunas Drive in San Gabriel.

After many years working as a fish power broker in Los Angeles, Kenzo Yamada or “Yama San” decided to open up his own shop where because of his contacts, was always assured the freshest and best cuts of fish when he visited the fish market every morning.

Today, these same fish companies provide Yama Sushi Marketplace with the freshest fish from all over the world, delivered daily.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

The network of Japanese sushi specialists is quite impressive and Yama san knew them all, from Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu Restaurants), Katsuya Uechi (Katsuya Sushi) and  Kazunori Nozawa (Sugarfish and Kazunori).

No doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA

There is no doubt that Los Angeles was ground zero for Sushi in the USA, especially with the guidance of Noritoshi Kanai of Mutual Foods (Japanese Food Distributor who introduced Sushi to the American palette).

Although through the years, many larger Japanese Super Markets began to grow in Los Angeles, Yama Seafood stayed true to form, giving customers personal service to choose the freshest cuts of Salmon, Yellowtail, Blue Fin Tuna as Yama San would personally slice each serving of sashimi for the customers.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

Nobuko San, his wife, would run the front and cook the most delicious side dishes for customers, and customers were always given a bag of ice to keep the fish nice and cold.

One of Yama’s first employees, Enrique Moreno (“Kike San”) became Yama’s right hand man, and helped create the now famous Yama California Roll.  “We wanted something special with the correct balance of filling, texture and rice”.

https://www.facebook.com/yamaseafoodla

Last year, in 2023, the Los Angeles Times recognized Yama as having LA’s Best California Roll, and still today, customers line up at Yama for this special sushi.  It is true that customers would literally fight over the last California Rolls in the fridge as two customers famously played a tug of war with the last California Roll Sushi as it went flying into the air and spilled on to the floor.

Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret”

Although Yama Seafood was San Gabriel’s “Best Kept Secret,” many customers through the years heard about Yama and still to this day travel across state lines to grab the Yama Sashimi and Sushi.

Yama San was a fixture in San Gabriel as many customers had a very close and personal relationship with him as he was always very generous with his support of the community.

In May 2021, Yama San decided it was time to pass the torch, and the Kohno Family of San Marino, stepped in to take over this precious gem.

“The actual interview took 6 months”

Scott Kohno

the CEO of EJL Entertainment

Yama San wanted to make sure that he could trust the next generation to maintain the quality and vision that he firmly established in San Gabriel.

With Scott’s extensive background in retail and food throughout the USA and Asia and his family’s experience in finance, marketing and operations, the store was gradually upgraded, and an expansion plan of the new Yama in West LA (opened 2022) and a brand new Yama in K-town (September 2024) commemorates an exciting time for the Yama Sushi Marketplace brand.

Today, Yama Sushi Marketplace has been named the “Adult Disneyland” by one of Yama’s customers as it transcends just a typical market or restaurant.

From the freshest sushi prepared by sushi chefs on the hour every hour,  to the largest selection of Sake, curated by Scott’s wife, Wendy a Kikisakeshi (Sake Sommelier) Yama has something for everyone.  Unique Shoyu (soy sauce) with Matsutake mushrooms, fresh wasabi, party platters including the new Temaki Time Hand Roll Party Platter and unique gifts and kitchen goods from Japan make the shopping experience second to none.

Whether it is the monthly sushi making or sake tasting classes or the cute Japanese stationery products, Yama is a store that is truly a feast for the eyes (a customer literally walked into to the store with her eyes shielded so she would not be tempted by Yama’s Specialty Gift Table.  “I just want sushi today and cannot get distracted by these tempting Japanese gifts!” she insisted.   A West LA Father holding the hand of his 4 year old daughter commented “thank you so much for bringing this store to West LA.  My daughter and I love Yama and it is now our Friday Night Date Night!”

To commemorate Yama’s 40th milestone, Yama will feature special events during the entire month of June, including retro nostalgic dishes from 40 years ago, mystery grab bags, special 40th anniversary merchandise and the festivities will conclude with the June 29th 40th Anniversary Celebration featuring a Blue Fin Sashimi Cutting Demonstration and Japanese Taiko Drummers.

Yama Seafood LA is a Japanese sushi marketplace

Yama Seafood is a Japanese sushi marketplace with 39 years of history in the San Gabriel Valley. They specialize in offering authentic Japanese meals that customers can enjoy at home, including a variety of party platters.

Both of their stores (San Gabriel and West LA) feature a unique selection of imported Japanese products, snacks, sake and beer, carefully curated and seasonally refreshed by their dedicated team. Additionally, they cater to diverse dietary preferences with grab-and-go items like Chicken Katsu, Somen Salad, and an assortment of Vegan Sushi options under our special brands, Sushi With Attitude and Vegan Sushi With Attitude.

This combination of tradition, quality, and variety makes Yama Seafood (Sushi Marketplace) an ideal destination for anyone seeking an authentic Japanese culinary experience.

For more information, to order online or for grand opening & anniversary celebration activities please visit: https://www.yamaseafoodla.com

LA Learns to Love: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

How to Learn to Love Yourself: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

Rocio Aquino and Angel Orengo, co-authors of “The Orchid” are, as their website shares partners in life and spirit, wanderers who found home in each other’s hearts.

Their journey together has been filled with a myriad of cultures, beliefs, and encounters with both the ordinary and extraordinary. 

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The story focuses on five of these women, each wrestling with unique life challenges such as closeted sexuality, career pressures, spousal abandonment, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and manipulative behavior. 

As they engage with the program’s curriculum, they peel away layers of self-deception, pain, and societal conditioning, discovering that the love and solutions they seek already reside within them. 

The Orchid serves as both the setting and the metaphor for their collective journey toward self-realization and empowerment.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit FlavRReport’s YouTube channel here. 

Joe Winger:

We’re talking about The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

I go to a lot of book events, and a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, I went to The Orchid’s book signing. What I was amazed by was there was so much emotion in the audience.  Big smiles, happy tears. 

What are we missing in our lives that your book, The Orchid, helps us recognize? 

Rocio Aquino: 

How beautiful [of a] question. I think, to be honest, that we are perfect already. And we forgot.

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, I think we forget that at the core life doesn’t need to be that difficult. It’s not that complicated that we allow ourselves to be complicated by the things around us, by the things that we’re told, by the way we think our lives need to be, by the number of houses, clothing, shoes – everything right that we need to have.

The moment you bring it down to the basics and you’re like, yeah, life should be simple. We are okay. We’re just learning here. We’re back. We’re like in a school and the teacher wasn’t angry because we got it wrong. On the contrary,  it was just like, Oh, don’t worry. I’ll teach you.

Joe Winger: 

So what I’m interpreting is, people are having these emotional realizations because they’re remembering your message that they’re perfect already?

What do you think it is about that audience interaction that your book is giving?

Rocio Aquino: 

I was in the front, so I was not as intimate like you and your perspective. But what resonates with me and what I see that can resonate for someone else is that they know and they understand that they are not alone on this journey.

The struggles they are feeling are real. They feel the difficulty. Everyone at some point is [feeling] who here has a difficult path? Everyone is like me. That connection is not superficial, but it’s more in a deep way when you are in a group setting after being so disconnected really to talk about the important things that matters in life has another connection.

Angel Orengo: 

We’ve gotten large amounts of feedback by now.  Some people are touched by the fact that someone has written a book selflessly to help them. I know there were people that were touched very much by that.  

I think you understand what that means really, it was all about how do we help the reader get to a different place, right?

Go from point A to point B, right? There are people that for the first time find themselves in an environment where they can treat themselves with some kindness, where maybe they haven’t stopped to think about that before.  Because we try to block it.  

It’s easier to numb pain than to experience it and let it go.

Other people are [having the realization that] it’s not that complicated.  I’m just so happy that I found this now. I think it’s just all of that energy. 

The energy in the room that day was really powerful. When you’re in the presence of that energy and by presence, the collective – it wasn’t us.  It’s we  – emotions come to the surface, and that’s how we clear emotions, and that’s how we clear energy. 

Thank you for sharing that because I didn’t realize that was happening. 

Rocio Aquino:  

We didn’t have any idea and remember, we have two teenage daughters. They bring us back to reality really quickly at our house. 

 

Joe Winger: 

Going to the actual book itself between the characters, the descriptions, their backgrounds. 

What’s real?  What’s fiction?  And for fiction, what inspired it?

Rocio Aquino: 

Everything happened, everything is real, but never happened all together.

Angel Orengo: And not to those people.

Rocio Aquino: We know that some of the places exist and all the situations exist.

The fiction is today there is not a place that you can go for free to heal in this way. But we hope that someone will open it.  Let’s hope we can do it..

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, the characters, the book is absolutely real.

Every single thing that happens there has either happened to us or happened to someone we know, or we’ve read it in the news. 

The story about the model and the sexual abuse that’s real, right? It’s happening in the modeling industry now where they have gone through their own “Me too” movement.

There is a scene in which “Olivia” is doing a silent walk and she has a vision of her mother near her. [to Rocio] That’s something that has happened to you, about your own mom who passed away.

There’s a scene in which “Olivia” is speaking to her father. It was a difficult relationship and her father wasn’t the best version of a father that he could have been.

That a lot of it is after my own experience with my own father, who I met three times in my life. One of which, the longest, was five hours. So we took pieces and through the help of everyone who collaborated in the book to construct these characters that brought together all these experiences.

We wanted to write the story of Rocio, who morphed into “Sophia”, and then we realized that we wanted to tell more that we needed that in order to be of service to the people who would be reading the book, we needed to tell more stories because there are so many things happening to women out there that we don’t hear about that we wanted to do justice by representing as many of them.

That’s where it all comes from.

Rocio Aquino: 

The same happened to us when we were reading, not writing the book. We were crying constantly.  At one point I put it down, we were crying [so much]. Then we did it first in English and after in Spanish and then we were crying in Spanish so was like, “Okay I’m continue to heal.”

The process for us was really intense 

Angel Orengo: 

The experience that you’re having [the audience and reader’s emotion], everyone is sharing similar things. It’s simple, but as I’m going, I find myself thinking about things that I’ve never thought about in my own life.

I need to put them down. Sometimes it takes me a little bit before I pick it up again. So it’s like peaks and valleys of intensity.

Joe Winger: 

As authors, how are you feeling now knowing that so many people are having such extreme feelings and discoveries from your pages?

Rocio Aquino: 

You never know how your work is going to be received, to be honest. 

Even though we have a very strict culture of not judging anyone, being totally neutral, we are going to make suggestions.

Now that people are seeing the book, it’s a pleasure, it is humbling. 

Angel Orengo: 

There was intentionality in what we were writing. The book came after our first year of deep introspection into who we were and how we wanted to change our lives. [We studied] a lot of self help books. At the time that we started writing, it was about how do we share this with people who normally don’t have access to information

Also for people who don’t have resources to go and spend time in a retreat for a weekend or spend $5,000 or even $500. [We thought] we should do television because this is our background. But let’s own the intellectual property, the story behind it.

[We thought] we should do television [series], but let’s own the story behind it.

So when we sit down with the people who are going to help us craft the TV show, we have a say in how it’s made. Right now what ends up happening is that people don’t think that love is powerful enough to deal with the issues that you have around you. 

We think that we have to combat anger with anger or force. That’s what we’ve been raised to believe. We’ve gotten to a point where love really does conquer all, but not in the way in which we were taught. 

So when we approached a book, it was, “Let’s do it with a lot of love,” we said, and if we can help one person, it’ll have been worth it.

Everyone who we are connecting with is having similar reactions so it’s humbling.  We’re filled with gratitude beyond belief that we were chosen, selected, inspired to write what we wrote and to put it forth. 

Not just write it, but really now be the face of it and take it to as many places as we can.

Rocio Aquino: 

That’s the main point.  When someone says “Thank you”, because now that means I can continue to share with more people.  If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. That’s our main point to invite everyone to our party.

If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. 

And the part is really, if you are feeling better about yourself? Great! So it’s about that.

Joe Winger: 

During your book event introduction, you mentioned one of your goals is to bring The Orchid to real life.  Where are we today with that goal? How can the audience help you? 

Angel Orengo: 

Everything in your life begins with an intention.  Waking up in the morning, getting off your bed, right? 

Everything is intention after intention. The first and most important thing that we want is for people to truly enjoy the book because through the enjoyment of the book, there is a transformation that’s taking place.

We now understand that the way to change the world, and even though this is not the ultimate intention is the indirect intention, we can make this place a better place to be for all of us. 

It begins by me feeling better about myself, and you feeling better about yourself. And it begins by all of the things that we create.

All these things these women are experiencing in The Orchid. 

To your question, the first thing is for people – and it’s happening already – to say, wouldn’t it be awesome if this place really did exist and these transformations were taking place.  If one person says it, it’s a big deal.

If a million people begin to think that way, or a billion people begin to think that way. Wow. It is about the power of what we have to manifest. 

In terms of The Orchid as a retreat center, I think there are versions of it throughout the world already.  There are many places that exist. I think those places will be inspired when they read our book to go to a different level. We can do more to expand the way we’re doing this. 

There are podcasts down the line. There are television shows that we’ve mentioned. There’s a digital community that we would like to work on and develop.  There is a nonprofit because there are going to be issues that will require that approach.

We’re going to continue building this community that ultimately is going to want to continue conversations as to how I deal with this.

Even though we attempted to do a very complete seven day experience at this retreat center, the truth is that the experiences can vary greatly.

There’s so much more out there.

We only depicted a number of healers. The number of healers and healing modalities out there are endless. I believe it will happen. 

We have had initial conversations with certain people about it, but I would say it’s in early stages.

I would much rather encourage everybody who is already well advanced into a retreat center to look at themselves and see if there’s anything that can be learned from ours and create their own orchid so that we can help more people around the world.

Rocio Aquino: 

Yes. Take the lessons, what you learn and it really is, “How I can begin to have a conversation with someone.”

Joe Winger: 

As authors, can you talk a bit about what your writing process was like? What was the timeline going from idea to finished, published book?

Angel Orengo: 

We began our process for the book at the end of 2021.  So it took us about two and a half years. 

We’ve come across a lot of people who say, ”Wow, that’s fantastic.” It took them nine years or 10 years and so on.

We were doing this 24 hours a day for two and a half years. 

We relinquished everything else that we were doing and we dedicated ourselves to our growth, our personal growth and introspection, which in itself was the core of what’s at the book and to crafting putting on paper as many of the thoughts and ideas that we had.

The first step was Rocio and I basically went back and forth.  We started thinking about which things worked. At first she was the guinea pig. She was experiencing things, a lot of healing practices. 

Rocio Aquino: 

It’s a process. Experiencing different things, and at the beginning you don’t have it very clear, but you begin, “Okay, this was my story.”

The main thing was to teach the lessons in a very original way.  When you are relaxed, when you are in your house watching TV or reading. 

You begin to question, is this serving me or not?  The process of putting our learnings on paper.

Everyone is a creator.  We can create and create.  

No one is going to have our perspective. Angel was very clear [about] what he likes in life and has never spoken bad about anyone.

In my mind, I was not like that. I was speaking bad about people. But then I learned the power that [kind of speaking] represents and now I don’t want to do it.

But it’s those lessons that you begin to learn [from]. I grew up with that different paradigm, and now that I know another one, I prefer the new one.

Because it gives me more freedom, creativity, and everything.

We put everything in place. We worked hard to make this happen because our motivation was to do a book for [the younger version of] me 32 years ago when I tried to kill myself and I didn’t have the tools and I didn’t have anything.

So this is a book that I wish my mom had before she passed away 32 years ago. 

The motivation was really to spread that another way of thinking was available. So we were in a hurry, like this needs to be available for those Rocio’s, for those Pepitas who were out there, who are out there and need to have something that they can grab quick, and they can begin to see a change.

Angel Orengo: 

I would add, the process of writing the book was truly experiential. It wasn’t just spitting it out, we were living certain things. 

There were times we stopped the book to have an exercise of releasing energy. 

What we realized as we were writing, there were things inside of us that needed to be addressed.

Whether it was an experience that happened when you were a child…

I can’t tell you the times where we were crying, deeply moved by what we were writing and reading and how that was cleaning us inside and how that was changing us. 

We went through different hurdles. 

For example, we realized at an early stage that the book could not be judgmental about anything. if we were going to connect with readers, right?

We had no idea that we needed to ensure that the people at the Orchid, Mary and her staff. [They] never looked at anybody and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  It’s more, “We know we’ve been there. You too can heal from that.”

And so all of those things emerged as we were writing.

There was intentionality and some clear ideas as to how we wanted to proceed.  The truth is that we were experiencing and adjusting as we went.

Rocio Aquino: 

With a lot of respect.

Angel Orengo: 

With a lot of respect for each other, the people we were collaborating with, and the reader.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid: the Secret Code of Modern Goddesses. 

The color scheme, it’s primarily female names, from a traditional or direct point of view, it’s geared more toward a female audience. 

As the authors, trying to get a guy in a woman’s life to read it. What would you encourage them to say to get a guy to read it?

Rocio Aquino: 

#1, I’ve been a woman and reading many books about guys, written by guys and I love it. 

So maybe it’s time for a guy to be open minded. I can do this and I can read a book about women.

#2, it’s incredible to go in the deepest way of thinking of women. So try to understand how they work and what they are thinking. This is a fantastic opportunity. It has so many good sides because you want to have a better understanding of your mom, of your sister, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughters.

Then you’ll have a better way of how women relate to each other, but how do they relate to themselves, and how you can be an ally in their process. 

Angel Orengo: 

Recently I was writing a brief article for a fraternity that I belong to and I was very active when I was in college.

Essentially the article is to inspire them to read this book. The issues that we talk about, whether it’s sexuality,  limiting beliefs, the power of forgiveness, the power of gratitude or any of the other issues that the women who are there are speaking of, they’re universal.

They’re not gender based, right? 

So any opportunity that you have or that you give yourself to relate to those issues, it’s an opportunity to grow. 

I think for men for far too long, we’ve defined masculinity as “the absence of emotion” or perhaps the “existence of physical strength.”

More and more we’re finding out about emotional intelligence, right? 

That emotions in general and our ability to share them to be vulnerable is powerful and can only enhance the people that we are. 

I would say be open minded. The issues are truly for everybody. You can learn a thing or two, not just about yourself, but about the women in your life.

It’s and it could be really powerful. Plus let’s face it, the better we communicate with one another, the better we relate to one another across genders the better our community is going to be, and we need more community in the world. 

I think if anything has shown us, and this is true at any time, right?

Every person you speak to, we’re all longing for community. We need connection. We need to connect more with each other.

Rocio Acquino: 

Deep connection, not superficial.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid, The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses.

Wrapping up, for people out there who want to buy the book after hearing about it, Whether it’s websites, social media, how can we follow you? How can we buy the book? 

Rocio Aquino:

There are so many ways right now.  We have a website:  TheOrchidBook.com

You can find the book in English and Spanish.You can buy it on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, Apple, and we have the audiobook too. 

And the exercise, if you want to do a book club with your friends, you can do some exercise that are on the website. 

Instagram, Facebook YouTube, TikTok.  All @TheOrchidBook_

 

Daytime TV Star Thaao Penghlis Seducing Celebrities wants to Give You a Taste at his next dinner party. 

Daytime TV Star Thaao Penghlis Seducing Celebrities wants to Give You a Taste at his next dinner party.  Read all about it in his new book.

Thaao Penghlis has starred in some of the biggest TV shows of all time – including playing on daytime TV’s “Days of Our Lives”.

Thaao Penghlis new book Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time

Now in Thaao’s new book, Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time he reveals seduction in the dining room by creating incredibly delicious for his famous friends.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger

Congratulations on your new book.  It’s a tasty read and a fast read. 

Thank you for joining us for a conversation today.

Thaao Penghlis: 

Thank you for inviting me.

 

Joe Winger: 

You’ve done a lot of work in your life. We’re going to go to food and books as quickly as possible. 

When you’re at an airport or in public, what is the most common thing people remember you from?

Thaao Penghlis:  

Certainly Days [of our Lives]. There’s a big Armenian contingency out there who always comes at me at the airports, [Days…] was in 152 markets. Especially when you’re in New York and it’s an international port. When Mission [Impossible] was on. I certainly enjoyed that. I think it had a large male audience because of the action and that I liked it was interesting. That kind of prepared me for the masks that I did on Days [of Our Lives]. So it was a real challenge. Working in daytime; I think the biggest challenge is remembering all those lines and giving it some kind of conviction and taking those lines off the page.

And a lot of the time, because there’s too many lines, we’re just on the edge, and so because I have a certain intensity I’m able to cover. I think through all those years people, airports probably are the biggest. I’m going to do a PA [public appearance] at the Grand Canyon in August. 

It’s a very special train ride through the Grand Canyon with just 22 fans.  It’s going to be a very intimate affair. So over the years, you get the older people who are the real followers, because the youth today have different appetites.

Just like they do with food, they’re not always conscious about what they’re eating. Unless they’re educated about it or they’re raised on good food. And I think today food has become a convenience rather than a celebration. 

Joe Winger:  

You use wonderful words in your book. It feels almost like poetry. “Food is the magic of our universe.” Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Thaao Penghlis: 

We’ve been given such diversity as far as food is concerned, that we have that many choices, especially in countries that can afford food. But to me, once you’ve grown up tasting octopus – we used to hang it on the [clothes] line for three weeks until it dried out. There’s no blood in the octopus, therefore, it doesn’t rot – that was mouthwatering. 

Some of the fruits you have in life, like mangos.  When you can appreciate the way they’re being served.  It’s not like eating an apple. If you eat a mango and you slice it, then cut it up in quarters, there’s a different texture to it.  The flavor.  To the eye it becomes attractive. I think food, when you think about what you can control in your life and you are blessed to have it. I think food is magical because of that. 

Joe Winger: 

One more line of food poetry from your book.  “You discover your body’s secrets by the way you feed it and how it feeds you back. “

Thaao Penghlis: 

When we who are in the Greek Orthodox church, we go through a fast to the last day [of holidays like Easter] before we go to the church and get the bread and the wine.

You start to appreciate the food that you can’t have because of its limitations in the religion. The last day you’ll have olive oil on bread with some sugar, things like that. So when you get to food and understand it, when you stop eating and cleanse your body, sometimes it just juices, you become hungry.

You get to understand what food does to the body by emptying it out. If you don’t eat well, or if you eat late, then the next day, you’re not going to feel great.

So you get to understand what the body can take and what, and when, are the limitations to eating and at what hour, if you drink too much wine.  

As an actor, I don’t drink very much.  But if I have wine, the next day, my eyes are going to show it. So it tells me something about the kidneys, because the eyes are connected to the kidneys. So it’s understanding how the machine you’ve brought into life carries your soul. How does that express itself in the best way possible?

As actors, we have a responsibility because of that body being presented on camera as a certain responsibility to the producers to the show and to your audience. So you get to understand.  I would go through a four day fast with Bela’s broth, Celsius broth.  I would find that would cleanse me through the days I did like a liver cleanse, which got rid of stones.

You get to understand what the organs are, that you can do things naturally without having to take all those dreadful medicines and those pills. 

The body is all we’ve got. Why have I overcome certain things in my life? It’s always been through nutrition.

Joe Winger: 

Your journey, the things you’ve learned, and you touch upon that in the book a little bit, lessons you learn from different actors and producers and people you’ve worked with, but that’s another great lesson is as far as using it as a medicine.

The book is called Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time. It is an enormous undertaking: beautiful pictures, recipes, Hollywood stories, your family. There’s a lot going on. 

What inspired you to write the book?

Thaao Penghlis: 

The hardcover has all the colored pictures inside. So it has a different dimension to it when you actually see it, because let’s face it, presentation is very important.

So when you see color, when you see something displayed you want to get into it. If something looks like someone just piled something, it’s not attractive to the appetite. 

My manager called me one day and he said, “You always talk about food. Why don’t you do a cookbook?”

I went, “Oh, I don’t know how to do a cookbook. Everything that I’ve caught has come out of my head.”

I remembered, I learned when I worked at the UN [United Nations] for a year when I was in the diplomatic corps. In my youth I went into kitchens where they had chefs. I saw presentation. I understood the etiquette of arriving there on time.

45 minutes later you’re having the hors d’oeuvres, maybe it’s champagne, maybe it’s some caviar or whatever they presented. 

Then it was time to go into the dining room and sit there. It became a ritual. And so you got to appreciate the time, the presentation that someone put in.

So all these memories came into my head. I said how would you think? How do you think about food? I said it’s really seducing people, isn’t it? 

By the way you create an atmosphere, by the way you look at a dish, and by the aroma. So I said, Let’s call it “Seducing.”

I said who have I seduced? 

How about celebrities that I’ve met and worked with? That’s how it came about seducing celebrities. One meal at a time.   

I always like to serve the first, second and the third course. But usually, I don’t join the guests on the first course, because I’m busy preparing the main course.

So I present the first course to them. Then I’m in the kitchen. The actor, Danny Kaye in the old days.  He used to be an expert of Chinese food and around the counter in his kitchen is where his friends sat and he just fed them.   That was something that was so gratifying for him. 

So I understand if it’s done well, and your friends leave.  They take it for granted.

People don’t cook these days, or they’re intimidated because of the way you’ve presented it.  So therefore let’s take you out instead. So you don’t get that personal touch that I think is so important.

When you sit around your watering hole, as I call it, that “table”, which is something if when I leave this country eventually and go home to Australia, that is one thing I’m going to take with me is that table because it has a huge history to it. 

To me the table and how you decorate it and how you present it is very important to the appetite of the person joining you.

Joe Winger:  

I’m thinking of your table, sometime in the future when you do move, that could be a heck of an auction item. The amount of people who sat around it and heard stories and shared stories. 

Speaking of those stories, you’ve named huge Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson George Clooney, amazing actors, Joanna Cassidy, William Hurt.

Your Hollywood life has been so many decades of work and amazing people.  What was the process like deciding who makes it into the book and deciding who you had to leave out?

Thaao Penghlis: 

You don’t like everybody you’ve worked with and everybody you’ve met, food is very personal

In the old days they serve you poison. In the French 18th century, you’d be sitting there and if you were an enemy, they’d serve you a dish with poison. That’s how they got rid of enemies. But I don’t know. 

Dame Edna, who I was best man at his wedding, which is Barry Humphries. He was very particular. He was also a person who loved art.  So he would walk around my house looking at what kind of a collection and made his judgment on it. 

The same thing with the food, he would taste it. He would give you that quite qualifying look that he approves. 

Omar Sharif was different. When I worked with him,  we had champagne and caviar every day, because that’s the way he lived.

[He would be] telling me stories of Lawrence of Arabia and many of his other films and I think, because I look like his son, he was very taken not in the beginning. In the beginning, he was quite rude and quite distant.  It wasn’t until I was about to start the first scene with him where he comes into the room and when I met him, he was distant, shook my hand and said, “Hello”.

So when he comes into the room, he’s supposed to slug me after something I say.

He says to me, by the way, “Please, when I hit you do not go over this 18th century table and break it. It’s very important that we are respectful about this table.”

And I said, Oh, I’m not going anywhere. And he says, what do you mean?

I said, “Oh, Omar. I said, if you hit me and I go flying off that table, where do you and I go for the next four hours?”

He says “What will you do? 

I said, “I’ll probably adjust my tie.” 

He started to laugh and that’s how it started.  

How do you infiltrate a person’s personality who comes in defensive working with Bill Hurt in “Altered States”.

I had some very difficult dialogue because it was very technical. How do you make it real?  I started to do this sequence and he says to me, “Is that how you’re going to do it? 

And I said, “Why is that how you’re going to do it?”

And from that moment, he goes, “You’re an arrogant son of a…,”

And I said, “So are you.” 

From that moment, we clicked.  When we joined hands in Mexico, away from Warner Brothers, we had a good bond. 

I never stood for his star attitude. You have to call it. So I don’t like it.  When someone brings that, I leave that, I go outside.

 

Joe Winger: 

Doris Roberts, after dinner once wrote you a note. I took that idea as an incredibly loving gesture.

if you could talk a little bit about that note, and then any other amazing gifts from you dinner parties?

Thaao Penghlis: 

When I approached Doris and she would write the introduction, her comment was, “Oh, darling, why don’t you do that?” 

I said, Doris, you’ve been coming here for dinner for years. So why can’t you just get in touch with your heart and write something pleasant?

And that’s what she wrote. 

Because every time she came, it’s like my friends who come over always know they’re going to get a good meal. I never go cheap on the thing. I’ve seen people come in the house with daisies in their hand. I said, “Does this house look like it collects daisies?” 

Or they’ll bring me Two Buck Chuck.

I said, are you bringing that so I can put it as a wine for the food, because it’s certainly not going on the table and things like that.

Where people are not experiencing you or contributing and also shows you how cheap it is. And even when Doris, who used to get crates of champagne from Dom Perignon for free, because she was connected to somebody who worked there, she would come in.

She would say “Darling, here’s some Dom Perignon, put it in the fridge.” 

I said, “Oh, okay. Thank you.” I think, Oh, this is a person who understands quality. 

Then five minutes later, she’s sitting at a chair. She says open the champagne for me, will ya?. So I realized it wasn’t for the house.  It was for her.  So she didn’t bring anything. 

Here’s this woman who makes an enormous amount of money. I’ve studied with her for over 20 years with Katsalis, the director, and then she would come in and sit at the table and she would look at the flowers and then she would look at the presentation of everything and then she would smell the food and so through that experience –  you don’t always get respect, you have to earn it.

With her, because of my work as an actor, and because of my success as an actor, and also now writing some people will say to you, “Are you writing another book? 

But they say it in such a derogatory way.

Whereas Doris said, “I’m so proud of you.“

I went out with Doris, just the two of us went to movies because she always had to have company.  She was like Joan Rivers. She had to have every night filled. She couldn’t stand just being on her own. So when she was invited to my home, she always remembered the presentation and the flavors of that evening. 

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk a little bit about what was the process of writing the book like this time?

Thaao Penghlis: 

Recipes are in my head.

So I had to cook in my head. For six months I started to think, Oh,I never wrote anything down. 

I would call friends and say, “What was your favorite meal I cooked?”

Then I would say, Oh, okay, that’s good; and then I would just test my friends and they would tell me what they like the best.

So I got all these recipes that were still in my head. And I somehow remember what I put in it. My sister in law in Australia says to me, the difference between you and I as chefs is that I have to have a cookbook in front of me. You open the fridge and say, what are we going to eat?

I spent six months going through recipes. 

Then finally I said, what did my mother cook? The Greek traditional foods or the Greek desserts. And my sisters are very good at cooking desserts. 

Then slowly I collected the foods and started to make them. 

Joe Winger: 

That’s an incredible journey. 

We’ve pushed toward the idea of an impolite or a bad dinner guest.  How do we find an appropriate dinner gift? And then what would be a definite no?

Thaao Penghlis: 

People will ask me, what can we bring?

It’s a silly question because you can’t bring food. So you, what do you bring wine?  Or flowers? Or whatever enhances the atmosphere?

But something that’s not here, but sometimes when they keep asking me that, I say, bring cash. And that always throws them because they take it seriously.

So sometimes I won’t answer that question. I said, “Surprise me. But make it expensive.”

So I like to play with them.  

I said to a friend of mine once, your hands are always empty.  They never spoke to me for three years after that. They turned around and left. 

There’d been guests who arrived when you had a seven o’clock dinner and arrived at 9:30. I’ll open the door and say to them, “I’m sorry, we’ve already had dinner. We’ll talk another time.” And then I closed the door because I find it disrespectful.

It tells you who people are and their consciousness. I don’t like unconscious people, but we’re  going through a very difficult time in the world. 

And it’s all because people are not conscious of others. It’s always about them. And so to me, the wonderful thing about serving food and expecting something in return, something.

Even if it’s – we used to write notes in the old days, a phone call – but texts now have become such a convenience.

Why don’t you just call me and tell me where I spent two days preparing this, that you can’t afford a five minute phone call, but you’ll text me in one sentence and that’s it. 

Things like that I don’t approve of. 

I think that kind of communication short changes [the memory of the experience].  I want to be at times where you want to cook again. If you’re not gonna share something about yourselves, call me the next day and say, I had such a wonderful evening. Some people think it’s enough when they leave, or they got here, 

But they don’t understand how you complete things.  Completion is very important. Just as an actor, you have an arc in your character, it’s complete. 

The same thing with food. 

When I serve food, it’s complete. I have an order: I have hors d’oeuvres. I have a first course. I have the main course. And then I have dessert and maybe some Greek coffee or tea or whatever people need and the wines.

But I just find people are unbelievable. They don’t understand what it takes to put an evening together. 

If you don’t know how to treat me, I’m going to show you. So that’s what I said there.

Joe Winger:

Have you ever played with the idea of a cooking show? Is that something you see at all for yourself?

Thaao Penghlis: 

It’s a lot of work.  All that preparation. I’ve done it as a guest here and there. 

Joan Rivers used to join guests and everything, she always made some wonderful jokes.

Dame Edna would make wonderful jokes. 

I’m doing a book signing May 22nd at the Grove in Los Angeles at a Barnes and Noble.  I’ve got to do a cooking show. I thought what are we going to cook?  Something that’s not difficult. 

So I’m going to do a vegetarian dish, which is not in the book, but it’s with shiitake mushroom, truffle oils, mint, basil heirloom tomato, raw peas and pine nuts. Then I will mix that in with the pasta and some olive oil and then some truffle oil and with some herbs and that’s about it. 

That’s so convenient and it’s such a delicious dish with Parmesan cheese over it. 

Joe Winger: 

The book is called Seducing Celebrities: One meal at a time 

You breezed over Joan Rivers for a moment and I wanted to touch upon it because In that chapter, you help us see her in a different way than what we always think of her as, especially being in the car with her daughter, Melissa as a young girl.

When I think of Joan Rivers, the stereotype, I think of outrageous, and you have one or two moments beyond her, Barbra Streisand, there’s a little bit of outrageousness there, are there any outrageous moments that you didn’t include that you thought about including?

Thaao Penghlis: 

I don’t I don’t mind telling stories, or privately telling stories.

There’s got to be a borderline, just like etiquette.  If I’m expecting for people to behave a certain way.

One time, there was a famous guest, which I won’t mention, who was having problems with their daughter, and they were sitting around the table. The phone rang in the middle of dinner, and he answered it, he starts screaming on the phone, and telling his daughter off.

I just lost it, I got up and I said, “If you don’t mind, take your bloody phone call outside, we’re not interested in your private business and how rude of you.”

Because I don’t like people bringing phones into the house.

The inner chatter that goes on with people’s minds, where they’re so distracted with life instead of just being there.  Being present. 

With Telly Savalas as well. There have been times also with people with Days [of Our Lives] and I couldn’t tell those stories because firstly, I have to work with him again. Secondly, I don’t think it’s everybody’s business.

There was a book that Hustler put out all the stories about those magnificent stars of the [1940s] and talked about their sexual proclivities. 

Someone said, “Why would you do that?”  Why would you betray your friends that way? 

You smash the myth. They spent years creating a myth.  But when you start getting into the nitty gritty, you make those people ordinary. And show business is not about being ordinary.

So I try to refrain from telling things that go beyond the norm. I want to be able to see these people later in some time, even though they’re gone,

I still believe we’ll see them on the other side that they did more good for me. Otherwise it’s a matter of respect and keeping someone’s dignity there.

Joe Winger: 

Your book starts almost like a love note or a Valentine to growing up with your family. Your mother, your father, their first trip to L. A., to your grandfather George’s herrings and olive oil tin.

Thaao Penghlis: 

Yeah, that was something to watch growing up.  

To see my grandfather bringing his knowledge of food from the islands of Greece. 

What I remember the most, even my grandmother, you’ve come down in the mornings and you can smell the cinnamon toast. She would be dipping wicks into wax and creating candles for the church.

Joe Winger: 

Seducing celebrities one meal at a time. 

Can you give us a tease about what you’re looking forward to in the future?

Thaao Penghlis: 

I just finished exploring the Holy Families. 

I did a two week trek up and down the Nile to these sacred places. So I’ve written a story because most of the things we see about religion are postcards or lovely paintings. What do we do when we explore it within ourselves and follow those routes? Something else happened.

I’ve written a teleplay. It’s very interesting the way it begins and where it begins and how it follows through into The Great Escape. 

Find Thaao Penghlis’ new book on Amazon at  Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time

 

Have LA drinkers fallen in love with Monkey Shoulder’s Refreshed Bottle, Flavor and Style

Have LA drinkers fallen in love with Monkey Shoulder Refreshed Bottle, Flavor and Style

Award-winning Monkey Shoulder whisky, the 100% malt whisky made for mixing, is revealing a fresh new look and feel to its bottle, the first major change to the brand’s hero bottle since it started shaking up the traditional whisky category in 2005.

The changes include a bold refresh of the label and a lighter bottle – up to 25% in glass reduction – providing an even better cocktail-making experience.

Get ready to party with a new look.

Monkey Shoulder bottle slims down for an easier pour

The new and improved Monkey Shoulder bottle will be implemented across both The Original and Smokey Monkey varieties of the whisky and is more than just a glass reduction.

Refreshingly light, the new look includes a longer neck for an easier pour, for both bartenders and consumers making whisky cocktails at home.

The bottle is perfect for shelf display

The new look matches the liquid within; the new split-label design and the enlarged brand logo oozes premium and is perfect for being displayed proudly on the whisky shelf or back bar. Fans of Monkey Shoulder’s “three monkeys” badge need not fear, as it still features pride of place on the new label.

The innovations to the design were delivered thanks to an AI-powered visual analysis to test key features and label viewability, followed by rigorous consumer testing. This led to a new look bottle and label that not only maintained its premium cues and distinctiveness but was approved by fans of the brand.

Everything remixed but the recipe: Inside the bold new bottles is the same award-winning liquid loved around the world. Made with single malt whiskies from the Speyside region of Scotland, selected in small batches then married together, Monkey Shoulder Original Malt Whisky retains its rich, smooth, and fruity flavour.

Ifan Jenkins, from Monkey Shoulder says: “Just like our cocktails, we wanted to mix things up when it came to our look. The eye-catching, new-look bottle has been designed not only to improve the cocktail-making experience with its glass-reduction, but also stand out from the crowd (just like the liquid inside). It’s with this bold new look that we’re looking forward to shaking up the drinks’ cabinets of Monkey Shoulder fans around the world, as well as grabbing the attention of those starting to explore the world of whisky for the first time.”

The newly packaged bottle will be available in mid-2024 in countries where Monkey Shoulder is sold, available in the best bars and retailers globally.

Monkey Shoulder, the world’s first made for mixing blended malt whisky

In 2005, Monkey Shoulder, the world’s first made for mixing blended malt whisky, burst into the world of whisky, and it has been breaking the conventions of the category ever since. Developed as the ultimate mixing whisky for cocktails, Monkey Shoulder Original Blended Malt Scotch Whisky is blended in small batches of Speyside’s finest single malt whiskies then married together. Rich, smooth and fruity, the original blend is bold enough to be mixed, yet balanced enough to enjoy neat. This unique blend gets its name from when turning the malting barley was still done by hand.

Does LA Love Ice Cream? Can Ice Cream Legends Ben & Jerry do a Million Scoops on Free Cone Day April 16

Does LA Love Ice Cream? Can Ice Cream Legends Ben & Jerry do a Million Scoops on Free Cone Day April 16

On April 16, Ben & Jerry’s is throwing its annual Free Cone Day celebration, and while any day free ice cream is involved is a win, the Ben & Jerry’s team behind the annual fan appreciation event, now well past its 40th year, are inviting fans to help make this year’s Free Cone Day the biggest and best yet with 1 million scoops served.

Ben & Jerry Free Cone Day is April 16

 

Ice Cream Legends Ben & Jerry Have a Million Scoop Goal, Can They Do it? Find out on Free Cone Day April 16

Free Cone Day returns after a four-year pause

Last year, Free Cone Day made its highly anticipated return after a four-year pause, and dedicated Ben & Jerry’s fans showed the Vermont-based ice cream maker just how happy they were that the giveaway tradition was back.

“It was nothing short of amazing to see our fans back in our shops in their full Free Cone Day glory,”

Dave Stever

Ben & Jerry’s CEO

…who dished out ice cream at the Scoop Shops in Vermont.

“We gave out over 970,000 scoops across the globe, but we know together with our fans we can break 1 million scoops.” Stever added, “We’re asking our fans to really bring it this year: invite their friends, family, neighbors, and help us beat our goal of 1 million scoops on Free Cone Day 2024.”

The beloved tradition began in 1979 as cofounders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield survived their first winter – as a tiny, independent, two-person ice cream business – in the frozen tundra of Vermont.

National Weather Service records dubbed it “the brutal winter of 1978-1979” as the average temperature reached a record low of 14.1°F (-10°C) and the winter season snowfall set a record of 52.9 inches (134 centimeters).

The first Free Cone Day in 1979

Today’s traditions are no different than the first Free Cone Day in 1979 as it has always been a way to give back to the community and thank fans for their support.

The only difference is that the once single “mom & pop” shop is now one of the largest, most successful ice cream businesses in the U.S., as well as in 35 other countries around the globe.

New flavors debut on Free Cone Day

Fans can stop by their local shop for a go-to favorite or ask about new flavors like brand-new Scoop Shop exclusive Mango flavor, made of mango ice cream swirled with sweet cream ice cream, or recently debuted Non-Dairy Strawberry Cheezecake.

New additions Impretzively Fudged and PB S’more make great options for the sweet and salty lovers.

Can’t decide?

Flavors may vary based on location but fans are welcome to try any and all available flavors and are encouraged to get back in line as many times as they’d like. Experienced fans understand it’s easiest to jump back in the queue on Free Cone Day with a scoop already in hand.

To find the nearest participating Scoop Shop, visit https://www.benjerry.com/scoop-shops/free-cone-day.

Ben & Jerry’s is an aspiring social justice company that believes in a greater calling than simply making and selling the world’s best ice cream.

The company produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream and Non-Dairy/vegan desserts using high-quality ingredients and lots of big chunks and swirls. As a Certified B Corp, Ben & Jerry’s incorporates its vision of Linked Prosperity into its business practices via values-led sourcing initiatives when purchasing ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s is distributed in over 35 countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchised Scoop Shops, and via on-demand delivery services.

Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, a fair financial return, and addressing issues of social, racial, and environmental injustice around the globe.

The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, guided by Ben & Jerry’s employees, granted $5.1 MM in 2023 to support progressive, justice-focused grassroots organizing around the country.

For up-to-date information visit benjerry.com.

Los Angeles’s newest Cocktail Bar from Jared Meisler ‘The Moon Room’ Opens on Melrose

Los Angeles’s newest Cocktail Bar from Jared Meisler ‘The Moon Room’ Opens on Melrose

Renowned Los Angeles bar proprietor Jared Meisler (The Roger Room, Bar Lubitsch, The Friend, The Little Friend, The Brig and Gin Rummy), in collaboration with multi-talented textile and graphic designer Tria Jensen Meisler, announces the grand opening of their latest venture, THE MOON ROOM, in the Melrose District on Friday, March 15, 2024.

Multi-award-winning mixologist Annemarie Sagoi will lead the cocktail program, ensuring an unforgettable drinking experience.

THE MOON ROOM, located at 7174 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, occupies a prominent spot at the southeast corner of Melrose and North Formosa Avenues, just a stone’s throw from La Brea Avenue.

Surrounded by the bustling energy of the city’s chic boutiques and culinary hotspots, it stands out as a beacon of allure in the heart of the Melrose District, beckoning with its inviting atmosphere and promises of unforgettable experiences.

“I have always loved that stretch of Melrose Ave.

It’s iconic and feels like a geographic center of Los Angeles,”

Meisler

“The idea was to create a chic and sophisticated room that is not pretentious and feels fun. A place to gather and celebrate. It’s a hub for people all over LA that come to life when the sun goes down.”

Guests are enveloped in a chic and sophisticated ambiance within THE MOON ROOM’s walls. Velvety black lacquer banquettes complement meticulously carved wood panels. White marble tables and contemporary café chairs with brass accents offer a striking juxtaposition against the sultry darkness.

The floor boasts a mesmerizing herringbone pattern, leading the eye to walls adorned with a curated collection of provocative art that intermingles with vintage abstracts, pop art, black and white nudes, and other avant-garde pieces from modern and contemporary artists. This eclectic mix creates an atmosphere of playful sensuality.

An enormous, mirrored ball gently gyrates at the heart of the space, casting a soft glow reminiscent of the moon’s seductive luminosity.

The fusion of chic 1970s and 1980s Paris and New York styles with the contemporary essence of Los Angeles creates a luxurious, sophisticated, and sensual environment that invites guests to immerse themselves in an experience beyond the ordinary.

Step out onto the narrow balcony and indulge in a bird’s-eye view of the bustling late-night activity along Melrose Avenue. Sip on your favorite cocktail, puff on your favorite puffable, and relish the cool breeze of the Los Angeles evening. It is the perfect setting to unwind and soak in the city’s vibrant energy below.

Music is a defining element at THE MOON ROOM, where the baby grand piano exudes a seductive appeal, setting the stage for captivating live performances. As the evening unfolds, the ambiance shifts to pulsating funky disco grooves.

THE MOON ROOM’s beverage Director Annemarie Sagoi has crafted an exotic menu of inventive and playful craft cocktails, each exuding a steamy and seductive vibe.

Drink prices range from $12-$18 and include Andromeda with Reposado Tequila, Mint, Cilantro, Jalapeno, Pineapple, Chartreuse & Habanero; Phoenix with Vodka, Sticky Rice Syrup, Longan, Ginger, Lychee and Lime; Pavo with Byrrh Quinquina, Sweet Vermouth, Fresh Berries, Lemon & Apricot; Cassiopeia Spritz with Kumquat, Jasmine, Cocchi Rosa, Lemon & Pet Nat; Orion with Reposado Tequila, Mezcal, Spiced Cocoa, Camel Milk, Coconut, Chartreuse & Black Salt; Lynx Martini with Gin, Bianco & Dry Vermouth, Za’atar Oil Wash, Pistachio & Orange Blossom; Hercules with Irish Whiskey, Coffee Liqueur, Cold Brew, Chai Spices, Honey & Averna Foam; Selene with Zubrowka Vodka, St Germain, Cinnamon, Apple, Angostura & Lemon; Draco with Dark Rum, Rhum Agricole, Creole Shrubb, Cocchi Di Torino & Manzanilla Sherry; and Pegasus with Bourbon, Date, Amaro & Black Walnut Bitters.

There are several NO BOOZE options including Grus with Lyre Aperitivo, Zero Proof Sparkling Rosé, Mineral Water & Lemon; Fornax with Mint, Cilantro, Jalapeno, Lime, Pineapple, Habanero and Mineral Water and CBD Tart Cherry Phosphate.

In addition to the assorted list of Wines by the Glass, Bottled Beers, Dry Ciders and a High Life + Well Bourbon orTequila Shot, there are snacks including Assorted Olives; Marcona Almonds; Pecorino Romano; Wasabi Peas; Salami with Stone Ground Mustard; Spicy Pepitas and Kettle Chips.

AbilityFirst 2024 — 50th Annual Food & Wine Festival — unveils Date and New Location!

AbilityFirst 2024 50th Annual Food & Wine Festival unveils Exciting Plans Announcing Date and Unprecedented New Event Location!

50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival Sunday, June 9, 2024

AbilityFirst proudly announces the 50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival, scheduled for Sunday, June 9, 2024, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and in celebration of this milestone, the event will take place at a new and enchanting location: The Urquhart Residence in South Pasadena!

The Urquhart Residence in South Pasadena!

Great crowd at the event, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

Great crowd at the event, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

The 50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival is a landmark outdoor event renowned for its gourmet food and beverage tastings.

Guests will have the opportunity to indulge in culinary delights presented by a diverse array of top local restaurants, cocktail bars, breweries, and vintners.

Dulce Vida Tequila

Dulce Vida Tequila, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

As AbilityFirst marks this special anniversary, this year’s festival promises an evening filled with exquisite flavors, entertainment, and a vibrant celebration of AbilityFirst’s mission.

Inspiring program at the event

Inspiring program at the event, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

For 98 years, AbilityFirst has been at the forefront of providing person-centered programs to empower individuals with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Anita Lawler Wine

Anita Lawler Wine, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

These programs guide individuals through each life transition, fostering social connections, independence, and providing essential employment preparation, training, and experience.

El Cholo Cafe

El Cholo Cafe, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

Proceeds from this year’s AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival will directly benefit AbilityFirst’s programs which help an individual successfully transition from childhood to adult life; providing employment preparation, training, and experience; build social connections and independence; and offer participants and their caregivers an opportunity to refresh and recharge through recreational activities.

Fun music from DJ Q Nice

Fun music from DJ Q Nice, Courtesy of the AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival

AbilityFirst’s person-centered programs empower individuals to discover what is important to them in their lives, and to develop the skills that are important for them to achieve their goals.

Anita Lawler

Anita Lawler

Ticket Information:  The 50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival will take place on Sunday, June 9th, 2024, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Urquhart Residence in South Pasadena.

For more information and to purchase Tickets directly to this year’s 50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival, please visit Tickets to the 50th Annual AbilityFirst Food & Wine Festival 2024.

Dave Saeta

Dave Saeta

St Patricks Day in LA: Cocktail Collab as “A Taste of Green’ as Bailey’s Partners with Ian Charms

St Patricks Day in LA: Cocktail Collab as “A Taste of Green’ as Bailey’s Partners with Ian Charms

St. Patrick’s Day is now only a short leap away as we gear up to celebrate the Emerald Isle.

With the turn of the season comes an invitation to swap out your drab winter wardrobe for brighter spring hues because this just in – green is the new black.

St Patricks Day Cocktail Collab Brings Combines Flavor and Jewelry

This St. Patrick’s Day, Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur is partnering with celebrity-loved jewelry brand Ian Charms to release an exclusive charm collaboration that will make the ultimate fashion statement for the holiday.

The two iconic brands are celebrating their Irish roots with a limited-edition Baileys x Ian Charms Necklace & Cocktail Charms Set to make sure both you and your cocktail have the perfect touch of green for your celebrations.

“Baileys has been a beloved treat in my family for generations

and it’s exciting to finally be partnering with a brand that lets me celebrate my Irish heritage,”

Lisa Sahakian

Founder and CEO of Ian Charms

“Designing this charm set was incredibly fun and we’re thrilled to be offering our customers something truly unique to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with.”

St Patricks Day Cocktail Collab is Necklace & Cocktail Charms Set

The Baileys x Ian Charms Necklace & Cocktail Charms Set includes two distinct pieces – a necklace to complement any outfit and a cocktail charm to adorn onto the stem or rim of your cocktail glass.

The design features an eccentric combination of handmade charms, beads and pearls inspired by Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur’s unapologetically delicious ingredients and cocktails.

The one-of-a-kind charm set also pulls elements from the limited-time-offering Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake Irish Cream Liqueur as well as quintessential Irish emblems, making this set the perfect accessory for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“We are delighted to be releasing this limited-edition collaboration

with a beloved brand like Ian Charms

to give adults a new way to indulge in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,”

Camille Hemming

Senior Brand Manager of Baileys & Liqueurs, DIAGEO North America

“Between the classic Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur or the green-themed Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake that’s making a return for the holiday, we hope to offer more ways than one to toast to our brands’ Irish roots.”

“This exclusive drop marks Baileys’ second piece of Treat Couture, fashion-forward collaborations that inspire adults to indulge in unique wearable creations.

To celebrate the indulgence of fashion in the lead up to St. Patrick’s Day, treat yourself to a signature cocktail featuring beloved Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur and minty green limited-time-offering Baileys Vanilla Mint Shake Irish Cream Liqueur.”

BAILEYS ESPRESSO MARTINI
Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 0.75 oz espresso
  • 0.75oz Ketel One Vodka
  • Coffee Beans, to garnish

Method:

  • Fill shaker with ice
  • Add all ingredients and shake
  • Strain into a cocktail glass
  • Garnish with coffee beans

VANILLA MINT MARTINI 
Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Vanilla Mint Shake
  • 0.5 oz Fernet Branca Menta
  • 3-4 dashes Absinthe

Method:

  • Shake with 1 ice cube for dilution
  • Strain into cocktail glass
  • Garnish with grated chocolate + mint sprig

The limited-edition Baileys x Ian Charms Necklace & Cocktail Charms Set is available exclusively on IanCharms.com while supplies last. Ian Charms is a female-owned, handmade jewelry company based in LA that has amassed a loyal fan base of celebrities and consumers alike. Ian Charms will donate all proceeds from the charm set sales to CurePSP, and Baileys will match the amount with a donation to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), a non-profit educational foundation supporting emerging and established women entrepreneurs.

Baileys encourages consumers of legal drinking age to treat themselves responsibly this season.

For more information, please visit www.BAILEYS.com.

Ian Charms is a female owned, handmade jewelry company


Ian Charms is a female owned, handmade jewelry company based in LA. Named “Ian” charms because the creator’s last name (Lisa Sahakian), like many Armenian names, ends in those three letters. For those who like to adorn their necks and wrists with a more personal flair, Ian Charms will work with you to craft a custom piece, just start the process by ordering the type of custom jewelry you’d like.

Notable fans of the brand include Justin BieberDua LipaJulia Fox & Doja Cat, among others.
IanCharms.com
@iancharms

NAWBO is the unified voice of America’s more than 14 million women-owned businesses


Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of America’s more than 14 million women-owned businesses representing the fastest growing segment of the economy. NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries.

NAWBO develops programs that help navigate women entrepreneurs through the various stages of their business growth. To learn more about NAWBO, please visit www.nawbo.org.

To learn more about NAWBO’s non-profit educational foundation, the NAWBO Institute, please visit www.nawbo.org/university.

BAILEYS Irish Cream Liqueur

BAILEYS launched in Ireland in 1974. It is now available in 180 markets worldwide and is the number one selling liqueur in the world.

Owned by Diageo plc, BAILEYS is currently ranked 7th among all distilled spirits sold worldwide. It’s the signature delicious balance of Irish Cream, whisky and fine spirits that makes BAILEYS Original Irish Cream the perfect little indulgence when you need a break from your daily routine.

The BAILEYS portfolio includes Original Irish Cream, Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Vanilla Cinnamon, Espresso Crème, Strawberries & Cream and Almande.

For more information on BAILEYS Original Irish Cream, please visit us at www.BAILEYS.com.

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

 

Publicist / comedian Christine Peake at Opening Weekend of “Lovers and Other Strangers” at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

Publicist / comedian Christine Peake at Opening Weekend of “Lovers and Other Strangers” at Burbank’s Taylor Acting Studio

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.

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