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dineLA Restaurant Week is a 2-week dining event created by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitor Bureau (aka LA, inc) to introduce diners to hundreds of neighborhood restaurants throughout Los Angeles County.

:: Check out my dineLA Vegetarian Roundup – my top 10 picks for restaurants who have vegetarian and even vegan items on their dineLA menus.

To celebrate, dineLA hosted a party at the W Hotel in Westwood last week on Jan 11th, 2012 with flowing scotch, champagne, beer, and wine. Though I’ve taken a break from drinking, I had to have just one scotch because it was Highland Park 12 year, neat with one ice cubes on the side please.

Chef Jason Fullilove from The Tar Pit has the best last name ever! He may look familiar because he was on the 1st episode of Chef Hunter on Food Network last month. Keep a look out, as he’ll soon be on Cooking Channel too. Finally, diversity on TV, yeah! Chef Jason’s food is yummy. For dineLA, you will find 2 vegan dishes on his vegetarian menu including a Roasted Vegetable TerrineWinter Root Vegetable Pasta, and a choice of 3 decadent desserts.

Executive Chef Chris Morningstar from Ray’s and Stark Bar, hailed by Esquire Magazine as “One of the best new restaurants of 2011″. Bravo Chef Chris! Chris and I first met while we were both preparing for our Test Kitchen dinners as Chris’ dinner was the night following my 2-nights of Ani Phyo’s Gastrawnomique. His menu was completely opposite mine….all animal products vs. my vegan raw. I get a kick out of the fact his last name, Morningstar….it’s the brand name of popular vegan and vegetarian breakfast sausages….though Chris’ expertise is with meat. Ray’s and Stark Bar is a Patina group restaurant, and I was super stoked when Chris told me his boss and Master Chef Joachim Splichal had given him a copy of Ani’s Raw Food Essentials to use while creating menus and recipes for Google campus.

Exec Chef and owner Kerry Simon from Simon L.A. is offering several vegetarian items on his lunch and dinner dineLA menus including Market Roasted Vegetable Kale Salad, Fennel Pollen, Sherry Vinaigrette (I love kale!), Spinach Salad with Dates and Persimmon, plus desserts that look amazing like a House Made Kit Kat. Yum! Chef Kerry is very accommodating, is happy to let you order items from the dineLA menu, plus is fine with you making substitutions and requests. So just ask, and you shall receive!

dineLA asked artist Phil Lumbang to illustrate chef characters that were being silk screened onto canvas dineLA bags for everyone. What a fun idea, and very cool bag. Chef Chris Morningstar had a character screened onto his chef jacket, super cute!

Shana Wong (LA Magazine), William Karz (LA, inc), Shelley Leopold (LA Weekly), and I watching the screening of characters onto the canvas bags.

Our hostess Stacey Sun is red. She makes dineLA happen. Thanks Stacey! Excited to check out new restaurants beginning next week!

Join our discussion on my Facebook page and at Twitter.
Watch my award-winning cooking shows on YouTube.

Download my free 2012 Healthy Jumpstart report with tips for recharging your immune system, nourishing your body, and boosting your metabolism at www.RawFoodRockStar.com.

ani phyo raw food essentials expo west vitamix

Vitamix invited me to sign books for 2-hours at their booth on Day 2 of Expo West. We had a line that was so long the other vendors complained our fans were blocking their booths. Hum…I would have thought they’d be stoked to have a captive audience to sell to.

ani phyo raw food essentials vitamix expo west vegan vegetarian raw

Even the fire marshall was called in because our line was too long. A good problem to have! I signed 200+ books in 2-hours! (Plus, I signed another 100+ at our reception later that eve.) Thank you Vitamix for generously gifting these books to our friends and fans.

vitamix ani phyo raw food essentials expo west

This is the amazing Vitamix team that made this all happen. You can see the video of my 60-minute DVD they’re including with the TurboBlend-VS playing in the background.

vegnews magazine vegan raw food ani phyo elizabeth castoria

I love Expo West because I get to connect with old friends I haven’t seen for a while. Here’s Elizabeth Castoria from VegNews Magazine. Their booth was just down the isle from Vitamix.

ani phyo koya webb

I found the beautiful fitness model Koya Webb. I love how ripped this girl is…so pretty.

ani phyo go raw raw food vegan

This was the most brilliant display at the Expo. GoRaw simply hydrated their bar, and set it to sprout over time. Perfect demonstration of why raw….raw generates more life. Now, try that with processed cooked food.

eric botner raw food ani phyo earth circle organics

Eric Botner is an amazing man helping make superfoods available to the mainstream. Earth Circle Organics was one of the generous sponsors for my Gastrawnomique dinner event last November. And, they have a cacao and cashew crunch that is sweetened with coconut syrup (the latest in low glycemic sweeteners) that is to live for!

chris ochs sunfood ani phyo raw food superfood vegan

Chris Ochs at Sunfood was another generous sponsor for Gastrawnomique.

ani phyo airheads raw food expo west oxygen bar

After a day of being inside a huge convention center under fluorescent lights, I needed an oxygen infusion. Luckily, I found an oxygen bar, AirHeads, at the Seventh Generation booth, and plugged in for several minutes to recharge.

I ran into many, many other friends including Ryan and Jeremy Black from Sambazon, Frederick from Big Tree Farms, Jane Kim from Sea Tangle Kelp Noodles, my friends at Sequel, ….but unfortunately didn’t get photos with them.

Next…photos from the Vitamix Mix + Mingle with moi later that evening.

Last week’s dinner at the Test Kitchen was a chance for me to introduce my latest Raw Food 3.0, inspired by molecular gastronomy without the chemicals, vegan and raw. My 6 courses were presented to a main stream foodie audience in a fine dining atmosphere. And it RAWked!

Truffle Flan
black sesame tuile / calamata / pomegranate / golden & goji berries
I dehydrated the olives, then ground them into powder to intensify the flavor. The berries were soaked in a palm sugar syrup. And the Tuffle Flan’s smooth, light texture comes from Irish Sea Moss. The green are shards of perrilla, aka shiso or sesame leaf.

Smoked Anaheim Chili
cacao mole / avocado / chipotle cucumber / kalahari salt / omega chips
Anaheim chilis were stuffed with a cold-smoked cashew cheeze. Using a vaporizer, apple and cedar chips fed smoke into a bag filled with cashews. Avocado marble was made using a cryovac, which sucks out all the air in a plastic bag to preserve and seal. Cucumbers were compressed in the cryovac with chipotle oil. The cryovac pressed the liquid oil flavor into the cucumbers.

Lapsang Souschong Wild Mushroom
fresh corn polenta / hemp maqui berry / kale chip / english pea dust
Mixed wild mushrooms were infused with a smoked black tea for a rich, earthy flavor and used to top a fresh corn polenta. English peas were freeze dried, then crushed into dust. And my mayonnaise was made with hemp oil for nutty flavor and maqui berry for beautiful purple full of antioxidants.

Fauxlafel
lemon mousseline / cilantro gelee / red earth acai / yuzu garden
Fauxlafel was seasoned with fresh dill and made with carrot pulp from juicing 150 pounds of organic carrots. Luckily, I didn’t have to juice all those carrots myself, and instead just picked up the pulp from Beverly Juice Club. It sat on a mousseline kream of lemon and cashews. Cilantro was juiced and mixed with Irish Sea Moss to create a bright green, intensely flavored gelee. Micro greens and baby orchids were tossed in yuzu juice.

Molten Cookie Dough
lucuma yacon gelato / tart cherry / persimmon gastrique
Cacao cookie dough tartlet was filled with liquid, warm cacao sauce. Served with lucuma gelato sweetened with yacon syrup, flavored with fresh vanilla beans. Topped with freeze fried cherries and dried persimmon slice. Served on a sauce of persimmon and tart vinegar.

Pumpkin Gelee
strawberry leather / candied rosemary & cacao nibs / sweet corn / mango shards
Pumpkin was blended with fresh vanilla and Irish Sea Moss, then placed on a crust of dates and cashews. Strawberries and mangos were each blended and dehydrated into leathers. Rosemary and cacao nibs were candied with palm sugar, then dehydrated. Corn was freeze dried for a sweet, light, crisp texture.

It was so much fun to get to feed everyone my new style of Gastrawnomique cuisine in such a beautiful setting with amazing staff. It was a packed house both nights. Celebrities who came to dine included Frances Fisher, John SalleyJarad Butler, and Diane Warren.

In the kitchen were some of the most amazing chefs assisting me and making sure my dinners were successful both nights including Bravo Top Chef Alex Reznik and Next Food Network Stars Doreen Fang and DAS. I’ll post up more behind the scenes and kitchen photos next….

Generous sponsors included Excalibur Dehydrators, Earth Circle Organic, Big Tree Farms, Sunfood, Gold Mine Natural Foods, and Sambazon.

These photos were all taken by Maria Loewenstein, except for the Lapsang Souschong Wild Mushroom which was taken by Rogelio Marhx.

Today was Day 3 of food prep at the Test Kitchen. My GastRAWnomique molecular gastronomy inspired dinner is just days away. Chris Ochs and Josh from SunFood personally delivered a ton of superfoods. Diane Paylor and I were elbow deep in cacao. And Top Chef Alex Reznik was cold smoking my cashews for me.

To cold smoke, Alex uses a smoking gun packed with chips to push smoke into a sealed container of raw cashews. The cashews absorb the aroma of the smoke, but stay raw. Pretty cool. No pun intended.

Restaurant Mo-Chica’s Ricardo Zarate and I making Cheddar Kale Chips.

Richi helping me set up 8 Excalibur Dehydrators. These are my favorite dehydrators, and they come with Paraflexx reusable non-stick sheets. Thanks for sending them over to me Excalibur! So much love from the community, sponsors have been super generous and include: Excalibur, Sambazon, Earth Circle Organics, Sunfood, Gold Mine Natural Food, Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, Big Tree Farms.

Chef Seth Greenburg at the Huntley Hotel Penthouse Restaurant invited me into his kitchen where he shared with me some of his favorite molecular gastronomy techniques.

Chef Seth and I compressed melons and cucumbers, and put chemicals into water and fruit puree to create popular spheres or ‘caviar’. We even made ‘noodles’. See what could be done using chemicals got my creative juices flowing thinking about ways to create similar effects without chemicals, and instead 100% natural and raw.

Test Kitchen brings together the best Chefs in LA, and has become much like a think tank where Chefs share their creativity, ideas, and time. Great energy in this space! Chef Christian Page, a locavore sourcing his ingredients locally and seasonally, is to the left of the photo, and is about to open Daily Dose Restaurant in downtown LA in mid Dec.

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