LABOR DAY WEEKEND | AUG. 30 - SEPT. 1
PARAMOUNT PICTURES STUDIOS
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BIOS

TRICIA ALLEY
After 15 years of crafting cocktails at hotspots like Providence and Black Market Liquor Bar, Tricia landed her dream job in November 2011. She is now the Southern California Director of Mixology for Southern Wine and Spirits. Tricia is also President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.
GILLIAN BALLANCE, MS
Gillian is Treasury Wine Estates Education Manager for the West. Before that, she was a Wine Director at Cavallo Point, a wine consultant and sommelier for Bottega Restaurant in Napa Valley and PlumpJack Group’s wine director. She also was a wine competition guest judge and has led seminars and lectures.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
OCTAVIO BECERRA
Partnering with Chef Joachim Splichal, Octavio was instrumental in the success of The Patina Group from 1989 to 2005. In 2008, Octavio opened palate food + wine which enjoyed four years of acclaim. He has been featured in many publications, including Bon Appetit, and is currently the chef at the newly opened Acabàr.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
Formerly of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Library Bar, Matthew found his niche by crafting cocktails based on farm-fresh organic foods, such as the Heirloom Tomato Mojito. In 2010, he won “Best Bartender in L.A.” from both Table 20 and Eater LA.
SHEILA BOWMAN
Sheila is a marine scientist who’s worked with the Monterey Bay Aquarium for more than 20 years. As Manager of Culinary and Strategic Initiatives for their Seafood Watch program, Sheila develops sustainability strategies to educate consumers and businesses, making it easy for everyone to choose ocean-friendly seafood.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
As the LA Times Test Kitchen director, Noelle oversees the testing of all recipes that are in The Times. In addition, she writes feature stories for The Times, the “Daily Dish” blog and the “Culinary SOS” column that gives readers their favorite recipes from restaurants and bakeries. Noelle is also on KTLA’s Eat Beat, a weekly cooking demonstration.
JOSEF CENTENO
Josef and his two downtown LA restaurants, the Tex-Mex-styled Bar Amá and Bäco Mercat were featured in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit. Josef was also nominated for a James Beard award. His next downtown LA restaurant, Orsa & Winston, is scheduled to open this fall.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
RYAN CHESTER
In 2008, Ryan Chester and his father, Thad, launched The Rub Co. In 2009, they began competing with Greg Clay on the KCBS BBQ circuit where they have won numerous awards, including 1st place in every category. Recently, Ryan opened Smoqued California BBQ in Old Towne Orange with a second location coming soon.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
ROBIN CHOPRA
Robin is one of three founding partners of the critically acclaimed Corazon y Miel Restaurant & Bar in Bell, California. Robin’s expertise extends from front of house operations to custom cocktail creations. Many of Robin’s beverages have Latin-inspired ingredients and presentations that are the hallmark of his restaurant.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
Michael is the chef and owner of critically acclaimed Providence, in L.A., where his cooking celebrates his passion for all things seafood. His newest venture, Connie and Ted’s, is named in honor of his grandparents. Michael is a staunch advocate for sustainable fishing practices and marine life conservation, earning him widespread respect among his peers and patrons.
Appearing at: OPENING NIGHT, FIELD TO FORK
JULIAN COX
As one of L.A.’s top mixologists, Julian has crafted cocktails for Comme Ça, David Myers’ Sona, John Sedlar’s Rivera and more. He received the 2010 Rising Star Award and The Jimmy Barela Award for his 1800 Tequila Cocktail. Julian also helped open Las Perlas in downtown L.A.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
SYLVIE CURRY
Sylvie, a retired pharmacist, has been competing on the Professional BBQ circuit since 2006. Four years after joining Neil Strawder of Bigmista’s BBQ and his team in competitions, she went solo to lead the award-winning “Lady of Q” BBQ team. Sylvie cooks on a Backwoods Smoker mounted on a 20 ft. BBQ trailer.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
DIANE DE LUCA, CSW
Diane’s combined her entrepreneurial spirit with her passion for wine education and entertaining at LearnAboutWine, Providence (among Gourmet magazine’s top 50 U.S. restaurants) and Le Chateau at The Beverly Hilton. Currently, she’s the District Sales Manager for Bedford International, specializing in Italian wines.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
DIEGO DEL PINO, CWE
A Buenos Aires native, Diego has more than 10 years of wine industry experience in New York and L.A. He’s worked for famed Michelin star restaurants like Le Bernardin and Spago, and is currently the Moët Hennessy Portfolio Manager for L.A. Diego is also a Certified Wine Educator and Sommelier.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
FRED ERIC
Chef, designer, idea man – Fred is constantly recharging the Los Angeles dining scene. An L.A. native, he began his food career as an organic farmer. Fred has since taken his culinary skills around the world in top restaurants from Paris to Japan. In L.A., his restaurants cover the spectrum with Fred 62, Tiara Café and D’elish.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
RAY GARCIA
“Fresh. Simple. Sustainable.” That’s how this L.A. native chef describes the menu at Fig in Santa Monica. Passionate about using locally grown ingredients with minimal preparation, Ray received the James Beard Rising Star Award and made Angeleno’s prestigious Best of LA list for his “locavore-acious” efforts.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
Jessica is a food and nightlife writer for the LA Times. She has judged many L.A. mixology competitions and written extensively about the city’s craft cocktail scene. She is also an avid home bartender who loves dive bars as much as fancy drinking establishments.
Jonathan is an LA Times restaurant critic and author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. Previously, he was a restaurant critic for L.A. Weekly and Los Angeles, Gourmet and California magazines. Jonathan has won seven James Beard Awards for his reviews and in 2007 was the first food writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for criticism.
JOSH GOLDMAN
In 2007, Josh became an Advanced Level Sommelier and the General Manger at Bastide, then at Church & State. In 2009, he joined Chef Michael Voltaggio at The Dining Room at the Langham and in 2011, became the General Manager and Beverage Director at Michael’s ink. He now works with mixologist Julian Cox on projects in L.A.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
Betty is a deputy editor at the LA Times. She writes and edits food articles in the Saturday section and helms the “Find” restaurant review column. Formerly, she worked in the LA Times Business section and for the Wall Street Journal in New York.
SERENA HERRICK
In 2007, she was an NYC art school student by day, bartender by night and taken under the wings of David Fernie. Serena moved to LA in 2011 to hone her signature style of pairing classic cocktails with seasonal ingredients at La Descarga and Harvard & Stone. Currently, she’s thrilled to be behind the bar at Allumette.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
LISA HOGAN
Lisa is the Regional Vice President of Sales for Santa Monica Seafood. She also helps train restaurant staff where her passion for fish and shellfish meets her love of watching a restaurant reach its full potential through training and education. Lisa currently serves on the advisory board of the Cypress College Culinary School.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
EVAN KLEIMAN
Evan is a chef, author, radio host, restaurateur and sought after speaker. Also known as ‘the Fairy Godmother of the L.A. food scene,’ she has been KCRW’s Good Food host since 1997. Evan is also the founder of L.A.’s Slow Food Chapter and the author of eight books on Italian food as well as Easy As Pie, the video app.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
STEVE LOPEZ
Steve joined the LA Times staff in 2001 after four years at Time Inc in New York. His work has won many national journalism awards and he is the author of The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, and The Redemptive Power of Music. Steve is married, has two sons and a daughter.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
GABRIELLA MLYNARCYZK
Gabriella has designed cocktail programs for Mark Gold’s Eva and now Michael Voltaggio’s ink. Her repertoire includes creating food-friendly cocktails inspired by the classics. In 2012, Gabriella’s techniques earned her Best Culinary Cocktail from LA Weekly and Best Cocktail of the Year from Tasting Table.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
GARY MENES
Gary’s background as a chef includes Patina and The French Laundry. He also helmed the kitchen at Firefly in Studio City, opened Palate Food+ Wine in Glendale and Marche in Sherman Oaks. Currently, Gary runs le comptoir, a pop-up in downtown L.A. It showcases local ingredients in a fun, interactive setting.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
BRYANT NG
In 2012, Bryant was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Top 10 Best New Chefs and one of Los Angeles Magazine’s Chefs of the Year. In 2011, he opened his first restaurant, The Spice Table in Downtown L.A.’s Little Tokyo. It celebrates the culinary heritage of Bryant (Singapore) and his wife Kim (Vietnam).
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
IRA NOROF, CWE
Ira has worked in retail as a sommelier and, since 1983, at Southern Wine & Spirits of California as the Director of Education. He is also a Certified Wine Educator, International Bordeaux Educator and Cognac Educator. Ira is currently the President of the Society of Wine Educators and will host The Taste’s “Secret Cellar.”
STEWART PRATO, CWE, FWS, Certified Sommelier
Stewart’s love for wine began amid family-owned vineyards in Lodi. He’s collected numerous experiences and accolades over 20 years at Michelin star restaurants and 5-star hotels. Stewart is now a French Wine Import Specialist for Southern Wine & Spirits and was featured in The Wine Spectator and the Tasting Panel.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
Russ has been an LA Times food editor and columnist for 20 years. He wrote the cookbooks How to Read a French Fry (a finalist for two Julia Child cookbook awards) and How to Pick a Peach (named one of the best 100 books in 2007 by Publisher’s Weekly and Amazon). In 2008, Russ was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage.”
CHRISTIAAN ROLLICH
As head barman for Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s restaurants, Lucques, a.o.c. and Tavern, Christiaan not only creates the cocktail menu for each restaurant, he makes everything from scratch. His imaginative market-inspired cocktails have been featured in Los Angeles, Food & Wine, Details, People and the Los Angeles Times.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
JOHN SEDLAR
In 2011, this Southwest cuisine chef was named “Chef of the Year” by Esquire, and his restaurant, Rivera, received the title of “Best New Restaurants 2011.” In 2012 and 2013, John was nominated for “Best Chef Pacific” by the James Beard Foundation. Currently, he’s developing Museum Tamal, a museum devoted to food in the Latin world.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
With partners Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich, Nancy is the co-owner of Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza in L.A., Newport Beach and Singapore, as well as Mozza2Go and Chi Spacca. Nancy also founded La Brea Bakery and Campanile Restaurant. Additionally, she has mentored many who have gone on to become award-winning chefs and restaurant owners.
NEIL STRAWDER
The idea for firing up Bigmista’s Barbecue, a world-class catering business in Southern California, was sparked by Neil Strawder (aka Bigmista) and his wife. Since 2006, Neil’s won many awards and was featured on CBS’s The Ultimate BBQ Showdown, TLC’s BBQ Pitmaster (Season 2), Fox’s Good Day L.A. and KTLA’s Morning News.
Appearing at: LABOR DAY BLOCK PARTY
ARI TAYMOR
Ari is the chef and owner of Alma in downtown Los Angeles. Previously, he worked at flour+water, Bar Tartine, Plate Shop and La Chassagnette. LA Times restaurant critic, Jonathan Gold, reviewed Alma and wrote, “Nobody is cooking quite like this in L.A. at the moment.”
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
BRANDYN TEPPER
Brandyn’s passion for bartending began at Avila Beach’s Mr. Ricks. When he moved to L.A., he and his team at The Wellesbourne earned Los Angeles Magazine’s 2012 “Best Classic Cocktails” award. Brandyn is now at Hinoki & the Bird, serving a seasonal, Silk Road-inspired menu of classic swizzles, negronis and cups.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
CRAIG THORNTON
Craig is the owner of Wolvesmouth, an underground pop-up dinner concept in downtown L.A. He left cooking in restaurants to focus on honing his personal taste and distinct plating style to evolve Wolvesmouth into an intersection between food, music and art. In Dec. 2012, The New Yorker did a profile piece on Craig.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
NGUYEN TRAN
With no prior restaurant experience, Nguyen and his wife/executive chef, Thi, opened Starry Kitchen in 2009 from their apartment. Within 6 months it became Yelp’s #1 Asian Fusion listing and in 2010 it became an official restaurant. Recently, they opened Third, First Restaurant in Chinatown’s Grand Star Jazz Club.
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
MICHAEL VOLTAGGIO
Michael was the Top Chef from Bravo’s Top Chef (2009) and Angeleno magazine’s Best New Chef (2010) among other accolades. In 2012, LA Magazine named his restaurant, ink., as one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in Los Angeles. Recently, GQ magazine called ink. the “best new restaurant in America.”
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
BRADY WEISE
Brady has carved the perfect spot for himself among L.A.’s cocktail elite by creating memorable concoctions, many of which find their base in malt or beer. His career has included stops in Chicago and San Francisco, and he currently can be found at 1886 Bar in Pasadena creating unique beer cocktails.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
BROOKE WILLIAMSON
Before Brooke became chef/owner of Hudson House in Redondo Beach and The Tripel in Playa Del Rey with husband, Chef Nick Roberts, she honed her culinary skills at Michael’s, Daniel, Boxer, Zax, and at her own Amuse Café and Beechwood. Brooke was also runner-up on Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 10).
Appearing at: FLAVORS OF L.A.
KUNIKO YAGI
Yagi has worked with chef David Myers at Sona in L.A. plus opened her restaurants in Las Vegas and Tokyo. She was also named executive chef of the flagship French brasserie, Comme Ça, in West Hollywood. In January 2013, Yagi became executive chef of Hinoki & the Bird at The Century in Century City.
Appearing at: COCKTAIL CONFIDENTIAL
In 2000, Sang renovated his favorite dive bar in Santa Monica, Father’s Office. Since then, the “Office Burger” has been hailed as the country’s best burger by the TODAY show and Esquire magazine. In 2008, Sang opened a second Father’s Office location in Culver City and, in 2011, debuted Lukshon, dedicated to traditional and creative Southeast Asian flavors.
SHERRY YARD
Regarded as one of America’s top pastry chefs, Sherry is the chef/owner of Helms Bakery. For 20 years, she was the executive pastry chef of the Wolfgang Puck empire and has made desserts for the Grammy’s, Emmy’s and Academy Awards. Her books include: The Secrets of Baking (James Beard award winner) and Desserts by the Yard.
Appearing at: FIELD TO FORK
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