LA Times | Travel show - 2014 Headliners

2014 HEADLINERS Henry Rollins Alyssa Milano Adam Richman Arthur Frommer
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LA Times | Travel show - 2014 Speakers
Robin Abcarian
Robin Abcarian | Saturday | Sunday

Writing about topics as diverse as the George Zimmerman trial, the debate over whether to bomb Syria and Miley Cyrus’ twerking problem, Robin is often the most read columnist on the LA Times website. She has covered the last three presidential campaigns for The Times, and has also worked as a national reporter, covering mass shootings and devastating tornadoes. She has also covered the Oscars, the Emmys and the Sundance Film Festival.
Andy Abramson
Andy Abramson | Saturday | Sunday

Andy is the founder of Comunicano, Inc., a full-service marketing communications agency, servicing start-ups, companies in transition and established brands with regard to marketing, advertising, public relations, promotion, events and reputation management. He writes VoIPWatch (, a leading industry blog, while also serving as the technology correspondent for the syndicated radio program, “Business Rockstars,” whose flagship station is KFWB-AM.
Betto Arcos
Betto Arcos | Saturday | Sunday

A native of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, Betto is a freelance radio journalist and host of KPFK’s world music show Global Village (Tuesdays, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.), a daily program he created as music director in 1997. Since 2009, he’s been a regular contributor to PRI’s The World and NPR, reviewing and reporting on Latin and World music. In 2002 and 2011, he developed the music portion of Prof. David Carrasco’s course “Religion in the Latin American Imagination” at Harvard University.
Sabina Bandera
Sabina Bandera | Sunday

Sabina runs the world-famous La Guerrerense food cart in Ensenada, Mexico. She and her charming smile have appeared on such shows as “México: One Plate at a Time” with Rick Bayless and “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain. Articles trying to describe the experience of having a tostada or cocktail from La Guerrerense have been featured in Travel+Leisure, San Diego Reader, Travesías, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Gourmet, Reforma and many other publications.
Mark Boster
Mark Boster | Saturday | Sunday

A photojournalist for 37 years and Times photographer since 1983, Mark has covered presidential campaigns, the war in Kosovo, the 1984 Olympics, Super Bowls, the World Series, the space shuttle disaster, the Northridge earthquake, wildfires and Hurricane Katrina. His book, “Four Seasons of Yosemite: A Photographer’s Journey,” includes a foreword by Robert Redford.
Kevin Coffey
Kevin Coffey | Saturday | Sunday

A police detective and expert in travel crime avoidance, Kevin specializes in traveler risk reduction techniques. In his off-duty hours, he trains corporate travelers on how to better protect their wallets, purses, smartphones and other valuables while traveling. Kevin has been featured on ABC’s “20/20,” the Travel Channel, CNN, CNBC, the Oprah Show, and is the author of “Traveler Beware! An Undercover Cop’s Guide to Avoiding: Pickpockets, Luggage Theft, and Travel Scams” and “Lies, Cons, and Stolen Suitcases.”
Aidan Demarest
Aidan Demarest | Saturday

Aidan is a key player in the Los Angeles cocktail scene having opened some of the city’s most successful cocktail bars and clubs such as Seven Grand, The Doheny, The Edison Downtown and the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt. Aidan plays many roles in the spirits and hospitality industry such as judge at the San Francisco World Spirits competition, board member of the Sporting Life Los Angeles, brand ambassador of elit by Stoli, and owner of Neat spirits bar in Glendale.
Nigel Dick
Nigel Dick (award-winning filmmaker) | Saturday | Sunday

Award-winning film and music video director Nigel Dick has helmed more than 500 productions all over the world from north of the Arctic Circle to the edge of New Zealand; from the air above the Bahamas to the depths of an English coal mine. He’s worked with artists ranging from Britney to Ozzy, Oasis to Nickelback, Cher to Macca. He’s also cycled over the Canadian Rockies and the Southern Alps and shot behind the scenes at the Tour de France twice.
Katrina Early
Katrina Early | Saturday | Sunday

Katrina is responsible for PR campaigns, consumer marketing and brand partnerships for VisitBritain, the national tourist agency for England, Scotland and Wales. Recently, Katrina has overseen the “GREAT Britain You’re Invited” and “Bond is GREAT Britain” campaigns, as well as media relations for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. She has nearly 20 years of experience in PR and marketing.
Chris Erskine
Chris Erskine | Saturday | Sunday

Chris is a writer and editor at the Los Angeles Times. His work appears in all sections of the paper, but he is best known for his columns, Man of the House and Fan of the House, which appear in the Saturday and Sports sections weekly. Additionally, he helps edit the Travel section of The Times. He is the author of “Surviving Suburbia,” a collection of his columns from The Times. It reached the LA Times bestseller list in 2003. His most recent book, “Man of the House,” a collection of essays on life in suburban America, was published in 2006. He is also a popular host and speaker at charity events around Southern California.
Bill Esparza
Bill Esparza | Saturday | Sunday

Bill is a freelance writer for the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, OC Weekly’s Tijuana Si! and contributes to the LA Weekly food section. Bill’s widely read, award-winning blog, Street Gourmet LA, is the go-to blog on Latin-American cuisine and culture from the barrios of Los Angeles to the limits of South America. He has appeared on “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” “Top Chef Masters,” “Mexican Made Easy,” and recently hosted the Travel Channel’s “Street Eats: USA.”
Rick Farman
Rick Farman | Saturday | Sunday

Rick has been a prime force in the creation of some of the country’s most groundbreaking festivals, including the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which Rolling Stone praised as “one of the 50 moments to change the history of rock and roll;” San Francisco’s iconic Outside Lands, held in Golden Gate Park; and the groundbreaking food and drink festival, Great GoogaMooga.
Maja Gartmann
Maja Gartmann | Sunday

A native Swiss citizen, Maja has been working for Switzerland Tourism in the U.S. for more than 10 years, first in New York and now Los Angeles. She is passionate about introducing her country’s charms, history, culture and breathtaking beauty to the American audience. As the West Coast media manager for Switzerland Tourism, she has been fortunate to meet influential individuals, major government officials, celebrated actors and entertainers and escort high-profile media throughout her homeland.
Jessica Gelt
Jessica Gelt | Saturday | Sunday

Jessica has written extensively about food, nightlife, entertainment and travel for the Los Angeles Times. A versatile and widely read reporter, she sometimes combines a few different beats within a single story, like the time she went to Hanoi in search of the perfect bowl of street noodles. Jessica is known for discovering lively, but little-known, pockets of the cities she covers, then shining a light on the reasons they matter.
Catharine Hamm
Catharine Hamm | Saturday | Sunday

Catharine has been part of the Los Angeles Times Travel section since 1999, serving as travel editor since 2003. She launched the “On the Spot” travel consumer column early in 2007, and it now appears in newspapers and on websites across the country. Since Catharine has been editor, The Times Travel section has won the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation top honor for newspapers, circulation more than 350,000, four times.
Sebastian Harrison
Sebastian Harrison | Saturday | Sunday

Sebastian has spent half his life living in a handful of countries overseas. He founded Cellular Abroad, specializing in affordable cellular solutions for the traveler. The company, a licensee of National Geographic for more than half a decade, travelers stay in touch by phone, tablet or computer when traveling. His hobbies are travel, stand-up paddling, yoga, and food and wine. When not traveling, he calls Malibu, California and Sicily in Italy home.
Johnny Jet
Johnny Jet | Saturday | Sunday

John travels about 175,000 miles and visits more than 20 countries each year. He and his website,, have been featured in USA Today, Time, Fortune and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC and PBS. He now appears every Saturday on “The Tech Guy Show,” heard locally on KFI-AM, talking about travel and technology.
Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly | Sunday

A blogger and consultant, Brian is the founder of The Points Guy, a website where he shares his knowledge of frequent flyer miles and travel points. Brian’s fans follow him for information on how to book extravagant international trips for next to nothing. He has been featured in The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler and the Los Angeles Times, and on CNN and “The Today Show.” He also dishes out his signature tips and advice via Twitter.
Ed Kushins
Ed Kushins | Saturday | Sunday

Twenty years ago, Ed had a visionary idea to connect people around the world, one home exchange at a time. What began as a small club has grown into the largest home exchange travel company in the world. As president of, he is one of the most sought after experts on affordable, culturally authentic travel. He and his wife remain active users of HomeExchange for their own travels around the United States and the world.
Jen Leo
Jen Leo | Saturday | Sunday

Jen writes the nationally syndicated Web Buzz column for the Los Angeles Times, was named one of Vail Resorts “Epic Moms,” and has her own site, for curated travel deals to Las Vegas, SoCal, Hawaii and her personal favorite travel theme — family travel. You can hear her co-hosting the popular weekly podcast “This Week in Travel,” available on iTunes. Outside of Jen’s travel life she co-founded, a website that reviews children’s iPhone and iPad apps.
Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon | Saturday

Nathan is known to TV viewers for his simple, innovative cuisine featuring fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Host of “Good Food America” (Veria Living) and chef and co-host of “Growing A Greener World” (PBS), Nathan was creator and host of “A Lyon in the Kitchen” (Discovery Health and Fit TV), among the final four on the second season of “The Next Food Network Star,” and appeared as guest chef and expert on TLC’s “Home Made Simple” and “Real Simple Real Life.” Nathan was recently honored with an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Culinary Host” and his seasonal cookbook, “Great Food Starts Fresh,” was named one of the Washington Post’s ‘Top Cookbooks.”
Brady MacDonald
Brady MacDonald | Saturday | Sunday

Brady MacDonald is a senior producer for, working on home page production, special projects and website design. He writes the Funland theme park blog for the Times Travel section, covering the latest trends and newest rides at major parks around the world.
Nico Melendez
Nico Melendez | Saturday | Sunday

Public affairs manager and spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, Melendez has served in the administration of President George W. Bush as public affairs special assistant at the Department of Transportation and at the Department of Homeland Security. His military awards include a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, three Navy Achievement Medals and several other unit and campaign awards.
Andy Murdock
Andy Murdock | Saturday | Sunday

Andy is the managing editor for Airbnb based in San Francisco. Before joining Airbnb he was digital editor at the global travel publisher Lonely Planet. Andy’s writing has been published by USA Today, CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Fox News and other print and online publications. Andy is a recovering botanist, social media enthusiast, lover of all things food-related, and a very good houseguest.
Liliane Opsomer
Liliane Opsomer | Saturday | Sunday

A tourism executive and freelance writer, Liliane is co-author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids.” She currently serves as Deputy Director and Press Officer for the Tourist Office for Flanders-Brussels. Liliane is passionate about travel and has visited more than 40 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Egypt. Some of her favorite European destinations are Ghent in her native Belgium, Dresden, Vienna, Paris, Budapest and the villages around Galway Bay.
Christopher Reynolds
Christopher Reynolds | Saturday | Sunday

Christopher has spent two decades writing about travel, arts and culture for The Times. In the last few years, he has climbed Mayan pyramids, roamed a Titanic cemetery (in Halifax, Nova Scotia), crept around Moscow’s Red Square in a snowstorm, and jumped (with rope attached) from the tallest building in Soweto, South Africa. In 2012, his SoCal Closeups series became one of The Times’ first iPad apps. In 2013, he launched Postcards from the West, a series with photographer Mark Boster.
Eric Rosen
Eric Rosen | Saturday

Eric lives in Los Angeles and writes about food, wine and travel. He is the Los Angeles editor of JustLuxe and contributes regularly to Los Angeles Confidential Magazine, Metrosource Magazine, Condé Nast’s HotelChatter and Jaunted, Jetsetter and Gilt City. His work has also appeared in the LA Times. As managing editor of The Points Guy, Eric helps Brian Kelly manage the site’s content, contributes posts on the points game, and identifies and analyzes travel industry trends that will affect TPG readers.
Dario Soto
Dario Soto | Saturday | Sunday

Dario is business development manager at Cartan Global. He is in charge of sales and corporate partnerships for Cartan’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ and Rio 2016 hospitality and travel programs. Dario has a BA from UCLA and a masters in sports management from CSU Long Beach. He is currently finishing up a second masters in sports organizations management put on by the International Olympic Committee and Olympic Solidarity at the Universitat de Lleida in Barcelona.
Marcos Tello
Marcos Tello | Saturday

Marcos became enamored with the bartender trade while watching his favorite show, “Cheers,” as a young boy in Los Angeles. While mostly self-taught, he furthered his education under the tutelage of cocktail gurus Sasha Petraske, Audrey Saunders and Dale DeGroff to refine his artistry. He has successfully helped install classically inspired cocktail programs at Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, The Edison, 1886 (a recent recipient of Food & Wine’s Best Bar’s in America 2012), Killer Shrimp, Tom Bergin’s Horseshoe Tavern and FEED Body & Soul.
Nguyen Tran
Nguyen Tran | Saturday | Sunday

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.
Matt Thornton
Matt Thornton | Saturday | Sunday

Matt is the owner and president of Jay Buckley’s Baseball Tours, America’s first and largest national baseball tour business. Started in 1982, Jay Buckley’s Baseball Tours takes fans to exciting major league baseball games, phenomenal ballparks and great baseball towns throughout the U.S. Fans from nearly all 50 states and around the world enjoy over 200 ball games and 48 different baseball stadiums every year. Matt lives with his family in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Anne Willan
Anne Willan | Sunday

Anne has had an extraordinary career in the culinary arts and is recognized as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on French cooking. She founded École de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, and has had more than 50 years of experience as a teacher, cookbook author, culinary historian and food columnist. She has written more than 30 books, including “La Varenne Pratique,” “French Regional Cooking” and the “Look and Cook” series, showcased in her 26-part PBS program.
Come back to see a full list of Travel Show speakers.