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Weekend Recommender: August 30-September 1

Taste with the LA Times, hear Oscar-winning scores, enjoy a holiday barbecue….

August 29, 2013

Above Beverly Hills (ABH).

Above Beverly Hills (ABH) is hosting a Labor Day cookout and pool party events throughout the weekend. 

Make a Film Foundation’s Comedy Con 2013 Fundraiser
Friday, August 30, 8 p.m.
Performers Sarah Silverman, Tom Papa, and other headliners like Chris D’Elia, Maz Jobrani, and Vargus Mason, join forces for a charity event at The Comedy Store Hollywood to benefit the Make a Film Foundation, which helps children with serious medical conditions create movies. For $30 tickets, visit hollywood.thecomedystore.com. 8433 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323-656-6225

Los Angeles Times THE TASTE
Friday, August 30-Sunday, September 1; see schedule of events for times
This annual culinary celebration features five Labor Day weekend events at Paramount Pictures Studios, including food and wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, and seminars hosted by the Los Angeles Times along with chefs Michael Cimarusti, Sang Yoon, Nancy Silverton, and mixologist Matthew Biancaniello. An opening event on Friday includes tastings from Angelini Osteria, Paiche, and Manhattan Beach Post; a panel at Saturday’s Flavors of LA event examines “the Power of Pop-ups” with critic Jonathan Gold; and Sunday will play host to a barbecue-centric Labor Day Block Party and a Cocktail Confidential demonstration courtesy of ink, Rivera, Hinoki & the Bird, and more. Visit events.latimes.com/taste for tickets ($125 for opening night, $65 for other events, $85 after August 29). 5555 Melrose Ave., Hollywood

The Big Picture: A Night at the Oscars at the Hollywood Bowl
Sunday, September 1, 7:30 p.m.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are celebrating music from Academy Award-winning films at the Hollywood Bowl. This one-night-only event by AMPAS and Acura will feature scores from legendary films like Casablanca, King Kong, and Jaws, while memorable scenes play in HD on oversized screens. Tickets are available at hollywoodbowl.com, or by calling 800-745-3000. 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, 323-850-2000

ABH’s Labor Day BBQ at The Thompson Beverly Hills
Sunday, September 1, 1-7 p.m.
Above Beverly Hills (ABH) at the Thompson Beverly Hills is celebrating Labor Day with a Sunday rooftop barbecue featuring a special grilled menu of burgers, hot dogs, and chicken by Caulfield’s chef Stephen Kalt from (food from 1-4 p.m.). Plus, guest DJs, backgammon boards, a full menu of specialty tacos, and pitchers of house cocktails will also be on hand during daytime pool parties each day (Saturday-Monday) of the holiday weekend. To RSVP or reserve cabanas, e-mail events@caulfieldsbh.com. 9360 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-388-6860



Willie Jane's New Garden-to-Glass Cocktails

The Southern-inspired eatery adds new produce-based sips and gives tips on at-home mixing.

August 29, 2013

Willie Jane Coal Miner's Daughter cocktail.

Willie Jane's cocktails, like the Coal Miner's Daughter, are inspired by the bar/resto's adjacent garden. 

Abbot Kinney’s Southern sweetheart, Willie Jane, is already renowned for its fresh, seasonal ingredients, which executive chef Govind Armstrong incorporates into his Lowcountry-inspired dishes. But a new cocktail menu expertly mixed by bar manager Derrick Ross is similarly rooted in handpicked, homegrown produce, like Thai purple basil and mint from Willie Jane’s adjacent chef’s garden. The end result is complex garden-to-glass cocktails that can be recreated with simpler renditions at home.

“A home mixologist's best friend is going to be simple syrups with herbs,” says Ross, who suggests a recipe for a basic simple syrup using one cup of sugar and one cup of water, brought to a boil, before throwing in two big handfuls of rosemary (about 1/8 pound). “Add your favorite herbs, cover, and let it steep until it reaches your desired flavor,” he says, which could be anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. This quick rosemary simple syrup can then be combined with about an ounce and a half of bourbon and a dash of Angostura bitters to make a Rosemary Old Fashioned.

What Ross does with garden rosemary, thyme, nectarine ginger shrubs, and watermelon basil shrubs at Willie Jane is a bit more advanced, and echoes what he feels is greater experimentation with infused grenadines, syrups, and liquors, given the rising interest in post-prohibition era cocktails. His signature Coal Miner’s Daughter utilizes macerated ginger, along with bourbon, lavender honey, and lemon juice; the Flora contains garden rosemary, plus thyme, vodka, cucumber, and lime; and the Scarlet O’Hara is a watermelon basil shrub-based libation, mixed with bourbon, pomegranate, and Peychaud’s bitters. As ginger has anti-inflammatory benefits, and rosemary and thyme aid detoxification, herbs also serve as healthy dietary additions.

To complement the creative drinks, Ross would pair the Coal Miner’s Daughter with a medium-bodied menu item, like the sweet tea brine pork chop with wilted cook’s garden greens and date mustarda, or the mac’n cheese with bacon breadcrumbs. The Flora cocktail warrants something lighter, like the frisee salad with sorghum, cucumber, and ricotta, for a balanced, garden-based meal. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, 310-392-2425

Photography by Nico Marques/Photekt


Q&A: Christine by Van Thomas Concepts Creator, Van Thomas

The international stylist talks reconstructive products and the hair world's evolution.

August 28, 2013

Renowned hairdresser Van Thomas at work.

International hair educator and stylist Van Thomas recently unveiled a Christine by Van Thomas Concepts line.

Top hair stylist and educator Van Thomas has styled hair in over 36 countries, founded salons in Kansas, California, and Las Vegas, and served as international education director at JOICO, artistic director at Bosley, and vice president of sales for Iden Cosmetics.

The New Jersey native’s new Christine by Van Thomas Concepts line, named for and inspired by his late daughter, features his reconstructive Life Complex formula in four products—a shampoo, conditioner, protective glaze, and body wash—with more in the works. We caught up with world-renowned stylist to learn more about the new line he launched in March, and his 35 years in the business.

How did you get into the industry?
VAN THOMAS: I became a hairdresser in 1976. I was in the military almost ten years, I went overseas in Asia for seven years straight, and went to beauty school in Chicago while in the services. That got a lot of laughs. I met up with JOICO, and I stayed with them 15 years [as] a local educator involved in international education, and [then] went to Bosley and I helped them develop their products. I stayed there all that time, [then] I pretty much retired. My daughter, Christine, frequently asked why I didn't make my own products. And then three years ago, she suddenly died, so we made this product, her husband and I, and thus, the name Christine.

Did you feel like there was a need in the market?
VT: From day one being a hairdresser, the thing that I hated the most, that I tried to concentrate on, was damaged hair. Everything damages your hair; running your fingers through your hair damages your hair. One time, my friend asked if I could come up with just one product for the beauty industry, what would it be? And I said, a good reconstructor that really works. And boy, I think we hit it.

What’s in your Christine by Van Thomas Concepts reconstructor?
VT: We put together a complex that’s going to be in every single product that we make now or in the future. It's called Life Complex, and it’s a combination of keratin protein, silk protein, and jojoba oil. Keratin is what you’ve already got in your hair, so we’re replacing what you’ve taken out, silk retains hundreds of times its weight in moisture, and jojoba oil is most similar to the scalp and skin’s natural oil.

What trends are you seeing in the hair world?
VT: First of all, we’ve got the bob haircut. That’s never gone anywhere, and it’s never going to go anywhere. But what I see happening lately, especially right now, is the trend toward women wanting long hair again. Everybody’s trying to grow hair. I worked on Asian hair for most of my career, and when I started developing these products, that’s what I geared them toward. Because that’s what people want: that shiny, long, healthy hair. And that’s what I want to help them get. 

Do you have any tips?
VT: To grow your hair long, you have to get it trimmed every six weeks. Your hair won’t grow faster, but it will get longer faster. You’ve got to get those split ends cut off, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of hair, just a sixteenth of an inch, but do it regularly, and your hair will get longer faster.

How have you seen the industry change over your career?
VT: I absolutely loved the ‘60s cuts, the Sassoon cuts. The ‘70s was pretty easy. The ‘80s was terrifying, with all the big hair, back-brushing, back-combing, and hard-holding hairsprays. Some people were purposely damaging their hair; perms were huge. The ‘90s started to soften up a bit. And now, it’s soft, and the colors are incredible.

How is the LA market unique?
VT: In LA, people have their own style. Whereas New York is really following a trend, out here people are more individuals. They want to stand out, they want to be the person that they want to be, and they don’t care what the trend is. 

Photography by Thor Swift


Tony Award-Winning Red Returns

The famous play about art and its creation comes to Long Beach.

August 28, 2013

Red play at Long Beach Performing Arts Center.

Tony Abatemarco and Patrick Stafford star in the new production of Red. 

Red, 2010’s art-centric breakout play, which took home the Drama Desk Award, Drama League Award, and six Tony Awards, including Best Play, is back at International City Theatre’s Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Penned by John Logan, three-time Academy Award screenwriting nominee for Hugo, Gladiator, and The Aviator, the theatrical masterpiece now features a new cast and director Caryn Desai, but is still just as much an ode to artistic merit and invention.

From canvas priming to brushwork, paintings are born from start to finish onstage at the hands of forthcoming and fastidious artist Mark Rothko (played by award-winning actor Tony Abatemarco). When the renowned abstract painter is hired to create a series of murals for the prestigious Four Seasons restaurant circa the late 1950s—a coveted commission in the modern art world—he entreats the help of a young assistant, Ken, played by Patrick Stafford. The pair work for two years in Rothko’s New York studio, but the more Ken begins to question his mentor, the more Rothko and his work begin to unravel. The interplay between the two, as artwork and bonds are built and challenged, affords the audience a naked look into the esoteric world of art, and the courageousness and vulnerability involved in creating it.

For tickets to the show ($29-$45), which will run through September 15, call the theater at 562-436-4610 or visit internationalcitytheatre.org300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

Photography by Suzanne Mapes


Connie and Ted's: A Taste of Rhode Island in WeHo

Michael Cimarusti serves up New England-style seafood, anchored in love.

August 27, 2013

After showing his flair for seafood at Water Grill and earning two Michelin Stars, multiple James Beard Foundation nominations, and widespread acclaim for his French-Asian powerhouse restaurant Providence on Melrose, chef and New England native Michael Cimarusti’s next project comes even closer to home. Connie and Ted’s, the sprawling modern clam shack that overlooks bustling Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, is his tribute to the time and WWII-tested love affair of his grandparents, who nurtured his passion for fishing and cooking over childhood summers spent at their cottage on the Rhode Island shore. An avid fisherman and advocate for safe marine practices, Cimarusti has been packing the house since opening mid-summer by serving up soulful, no-frills seafood. His true love of the craft—and a love of family, instilled by grandparents Connie and Ted long ago—is deliciously apparent.

Remarkably fresh, straightforward fish and shellfish are the cornerstone of his spirited new project with restaurateur Craig Nickoloff, business partner Donato Poto, and executive chef Sam Baxter, who also helmed Providence. With the authenticity of the clam shacks and oyster bars found along the New England seaboard and the Western Coast, Cimarusti keeps his preparation simple and seafood varieties plentiful.

Watch through the open kitchen as a prestigious selection of oysters are shucked to order at the raw bar, or prepared with San Marzano tomato, arugula, and garlic breadcrumbs as deviled oysters, or fried and served in sandwich form with coleslaw and spicy mayo. Chowder fans shouldn’t miss Jo’s Wicked Good Chowda’, a trio of New England, Manhattan, and clear Rhode Island seafood stews, and signature “stuffies” (baked clams bursting with linguica, garlic, butter, and breadcrumbs). Lobsters by the pound are the seafood chef’s specialty, served grilled or steamed to perfection with drawn butter for dipping, as well as fried clam fitters with tartar sauce, and straightforward-but-satisfying lobster rolls served hot or cold, with a side of crispy fries.

Try one of the 24 California craft beers on tap or domestic wines by the glass at the buzzing bar area, where seating is also available for those who can’t snag a coveted reservation. Save room for strawberry rhubarb pie or a whopping Blondie, topped with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, and crafted in-house for that personal touch. For reservations, call 323-848-CRAB or visit connieandteds.com. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

Photography by Noé Montes


Giada De Laurentiis' LAFW Opening Night: Festa Italiana

The beloved chef hosted the third annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival kickoff.

August 26, 2013

Downtown Los Angeles welcomed some of the biggest culinary stars in the country for the third annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival (LAFW) this past weekend, from August 22 to August 25. Beloved chef and birthday girl Giada De Laurentiis hosted the four-day festival’s opening-night celebration alfresco at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday, August 22. The festivities boasted an authentic Festa Italiana theme, and featured over 200 wineries and tastings by 25 top chefs including leading Italian connoisseurs Scott Conant, Thomas Keller, and Michael Chiarello.

Famous foodies like Neil Patrick Harris, Ali Larter, Anthony Anderson, and Josh Henderson, as well as a bevy of Bravo’s Top Chef stars, were among the celebrated guests who strolled the booths at the kickoff for the preeminent culinary event founded by Los Angeles Food & Wine CEO David Bernahl. Following hours of gastronomic extravagance, cake master Duff Goldman took the stage and presented the glamorous De Laurentiis with a surprise birthday cake, after which the Food Network star was given an operatic and moving serenade by Josh Guerrero of the LA Opera. DJ ?estlove provided the energizing tunes throughout the night, and later hosted an afterparty at WaterMarke Tower where guests kept the eating and dancing going until the early morning.

The Concert Hall morphed into an Asian-themed feast for Asian Market Night the following evening, which was hosted by Eater and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and boasted tastings from Asian cuisine masters like Roy Yamaguchi and David Myers, Ty Ku Asian sake, and a smorgasbord of wine. On Saturday night, Lexus presented a LIVE on Grand event with chef Curtis Stone, tastings from star chefs including Stephen Kalt and Neal Fraser, and a performance by Gavin DeGraw. A roster of celebrity chef lunches, cooking demonstrations, and events presented by The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Delta, Jenn-Air, and Lexus—who transported festival-goers around via complimentary Lexus vehicles—rounded out the increasingly popular four-day food spectacular.



CH Carolina Herrera's Flagship Shop on Rodeo Drive

The designer's elegant and culturally rich lifestyle brand has an LA home.

August 26, 2013

Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera’s sophisticated and classic ready-to-wear lifestyle collection, CH, now has a home base in Los Angeles. In what marks her 14th US retail store and 99th location internationally, the global designer’s flagship CH Carolina Herrera location launched on Rodeo Drive this summer. Fêted with an elegant opening attended by devout Herrera fans like Amy Adams, Ali Larter, and Rashida Jones at the end of the June, this third California store follows the success of her lifestyle outposts in Costa Mesa and San Diego.

See photos from the CH Carolina Herrera opening on Rodeo Drive>>

So, why Rodeo Drive? “Rodeo epitomizes Beverly Hills: the palm trees, clean white buildings, open space, and the luxurious shopping,” explains Herrera. “So many great movie scenes are filmed on Rodeo. It is a landmark renowned all over the world, where fashion meets entertainment.”

And that fashion includes the new store’s show-stopping Fall pieces like a full, animal-print party skirt and reversible red and black plaid coat. Other CH stars this season are structured two-piece business suits, feminine ruffled skirts, and blousy coat dresses, in an elegant palette of black, white, grey, emerald, and midnight, with ritzy details like fur, short leather gloves, and jazzy pops of red. The more whimsical pieces are complemented by Herrera’s timeless staples like her modern takes on classic white shirts, and signature fine leather Matryoshka bags, which come in an assortment of sizes and colors in the brown, red, and metallic families. CH was launched in 2001 as the wearable counterpart to the House of Herrera—founded in 1981—and features stylish but functional ready-to-wear clothing, shoes, bags, and accessories for men, women, and children.

Herrera’s sophisticated aesthetic carries through to the new 2,676-square-foot space, unique in its traditional Spanish and art deco-rooted design, as demonstrated in stone floors, white and sand walls, and CH logos carved into oak and ebony furniture. Rich wood, leathers, silks, and brass are consistent with her other locations, but personal touches like antique leather chairs, potted greenery, and a library with neighboring limestone fireplace and chimney convey the designer’s warmth and classic appeal. 230 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-362-6100

Photography by Adrian Wilson


Hammer Projects Presents an Exhibit by Muralist Maya Hayuk

The artist's large-scale abstract murals adorn the Hammer Museum lobby.

August 26, 2013

Maya Hayuk Hammer Museum.

Maya Hayuk’s murals, acrylic and spray paint wall instillations, launched at the Hammer Museum on August 16.

Baltimore native and current Brooklyn resident Maya Hayuk travels the world painting her vibrantly colored, psychedelic murals, utilizing intricate pattern-work that conjures intergalactic imagery and customary Ukrainian designs. Following one-person exhibitions at coveted museums in the Netherlands, Rio De Janiero, Santiago, and around New York City, Hayuk was commissioned by Hammer Museum's assistant curator Corrina Peipon—who has mentored the artist for almost 15 years—to paint her engaging pop-culture creations in the lobby of the Hammer Museum as part of Hammer Projects, a series that supports emerging artists. Her mammoth murals launched as “Hammer Projects: Maya Hayuk” at an August 16 event with artists Chris Johanson and Gary Panter and music from No Age band.

“The stairs, the walls, the changing light, the multiple vantage points, the different levels of potential engagement, the amount of time I had to work, the scaffolding, and how I could actually reach the walls all influenced what happened,” says the artist, who created all five murals organically by improvising on site, attempting to tailor her work to the space she was given. “It feels better to work this way than to force what ‘has to’ happen. The painting emerged from what was already there, and it was my job to listen and figure out what it was asking for.”

Specifically, the geometric stairs by one wall gave rise to a weaving pattern, a wall’s three-level scaffold is something Hayuk incorporated via a three-tiered painting, and another wall was painted in a single day. For works she knew would be seen from a distance, Hayuk strived to emphasize the wetness of the paint, so it would look like slick vinyl. She also considers how the lighting changes in daylight and under artificial lights, as well as vantage point, which is much different to someone driving by as opposed to stepping close to the work. “These experiences are very personal to me and very exciting,” she says.

Next, the MFA graduate and frequent art curator, who has studied at prestigious art schools in the Ukraine and Maine, and been part of group exhibitions from San Francisco to France, is spending five days designing a custom mural for the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto. “Hammer Projects: Maya Hayuk” will remain on display through January 26, 2014.

Photography by Brian Forrest


What We're Reading

James Franco gets artsy, The Canyons' appealing architecture, LA's most historical gardens.

August 23, 2013

Oak Forest gardens in LA.

Descanso Gardens features an extensive oak forest that traces its roots back to the native Tongva people. 

Oscar-nominated actor James Franco can add another accolade to his already lengthy list. He’ll return to the small screen this fall to host/executive produce an art series on Ovation, which will tap his creative side. [Variety]

Eater reports that chef Josef Centeno of Baco Merca and Bar Ama is giving MasterCard holders a sneak preview of his anticipated new Italian restaurant Orsa & Winston, opening to the public this fall. [Eater LA]

Before the summer comes to a close, LAist recommends five storied SoCal gardens to visit. [LAist]

Another thing to do before beach season ends? Get a mani/pedi at Olive & June, designed by the same team behind TenOverSix. [Racked LA

One reason to look forward to colder weather: a slew of new men on Downton Abbey this season. [Huffington Post]

In other entertainment news, while The Canyons centers on adult-film star James Deen, what the LA Times really loves about this movie is its architectural references. [LA Times]

Photography courtesy of Descanso Gardens; Image via laist.com


David LeFevre's Hit: Fishing With Dynamite

The chef's quaint oceanside eatery serves stellar seafood in Manhattan Beach.

August 23, 2013

Seafood connoisseur chef David LeFevre, who already earned a Michelin Star while serving as executive chef at Downtown LA’s prominent Water Grill, put himself on the culinary map in a major way with the hearty, soulful fare at his first restaurant Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post garnered two James Beard Foundation nominations and countless accolades after opening in April 2011). Exactly two years to date, the renowned and well-traveled chef took his aquatic talents two doors down to open a 36-seat, homey seafood establishment: Fishing with Dynamite, a walk-in only restaurant which made an explosive entrance onto the West Side dining scene at the end of April.

Intended to honor traditional and more inventive seafood from the East and West coasts, chef and co-owner LeFevre’s handcrafted food imparts his charm and longtime adoration of fishing, which was a childhood pastime of his during summers spent on Virginia’s eastern shore. Walking into his cozy oceanside abode—which bursts with bright sunny walls, patterned cement tile, vintage Japanese buoys, and eclectic artwork collected over travels abroad—feels a bit like walking into the chef’s own private beach cottage. Score a spot at the six-seat raw bar, the four-seat cocktail bar, or one of the white-molded chairs at the wrap-around banquettes, and LeFevre will treat you as his personal guest.

The raw bar takes center stage, both as the focal point of the white wooden dining room designed by FC Studio, and on the seafood-centric menu. Start with chilled oysters or shellfish selections, offered with a medley of sauces: mignonette, cocktail, ponzu, or pico de gallo. The rest of the decadent dishes are divided into New School, Old School, and No School, the latter encompassing non-seafood options. Try LeFevre’s flavorful takes on East coast and Old School seafood dishes like his Maryland blue crab cake served with homemade dill pickles or the New England clam chowdah’. Grilled octopus with cranberry beans and date-tomato ragu, and a black miso cod lead the New School camp, while the No School category features pork belly and vegetables aplenty. Leave room for After School treats such as the signature key lime pie with a graham cracker crust.

To drink, beverage director Jerry Garbus, also of M.B. Post, has picked 20 wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle, crisp Belgian ales, and crafted cocktails of only clear spirits—to complement and not detract from the superstar seafood. 1148 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310-893-6299

By Jasmin Rosemberg

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