This ‘MasterChef’ runner-up is opening a pop-up restaurant at a Santa Monica ice-skating rink

By Sandra Barrera | [email protected] | Los Angeles Daily NewsJanuary 8, 2018 at 11:45 am Derrick Fox is gearing up for a busy year now that his three-year “MasterChef” contract has ended. The season six finalist, who was known as Derrick Peltz while appearing on the show, recently started a position at a Los Angeles-area restaurant that he plans to announce in the coming weeks. “Until then,” he said from his secret new gig, “I’m just trying to get it all under control and in order, so I can launch a new menu.” Diners can sample the kinds of dishes he’ll be whipping up at a pop-up dinner Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the outdoor ice-skating rink ICE Santa Monica. The $100 per person “Dinner on Ice” features a four-course menu with cocktail pairings, a wine bar, and unlimited skating. Menu items include oysters with rosé granita, endive cups filled with blue cheese, dates, walnuts and white truffle oil, cucumber slices topped with crab and spicy aioli, and miso cod with cauliflower puree, shaved purple carrots and soy reduction. For dessert, there’s a station where diners can roast marshmallows for s’mores. “Everything is a reflection of my new menu that I’m going to be launching,” he said, refusing to divulge any more except to say “check back with me.” Before entering the culinary world, the South Florida native was a drummer for the KIIS-FM breakout band Later Days and later settled into session work in L.A. He’s got a new band called Rogue Star that’s about to drop its first EP. For him, music is like cooking.“To play drums, you have to have rhythm and timing, and in the kitchen, it’s the same way,” he said. The two were also a way to impress girls, which worked out for him in the end. Fox’s wife, the actress Jennifer Fox whose surname he took, encouraged him to audition for Continue Reading

Treat Yourself L.A., a new food festival for millennials, is coming to Santa Monica

From a new food festival to chef Nancy Silverton making hot dogs, here’s what’s happening in the L.A. food and drink world: #treatyourself: Treat Yourself L.A., a new food festival in Santa Monica, is calling itself a “millennial-focused” event. Will there be fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches, churros, ice cream, pizza and a dozen other foods that probably made it onto your New Year’s resolution list of stuff to stay away from? Sure. Some of the confirmed vendors include Sprinkles cupcakes, Hot Star (known for fried chicken cutlets the size of your arm), the Kroft, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken and Pie Hole. The event takes place March 17 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets go on sale Jan. 15 and include all-you-can-eat food samplings and drink tickets. General admission tickets are $75 and VIP tickets are $100. 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica, Farewell to a friendly face: Gary Canter, a member of the family that owns Canter’s Deli in Fairfax, died last week at age 58. He was the grandson of Ben Canter, who — along with two brothers — opened the first Canter’s in Boyle Heights in 1931. The 24-hour deli, known for its enormous sandwiches and celebrity clientele, moved to its current location on Fairfax Avenue in the 1950s. According to Gary’s cousin Terri Bloomgarden, who co-owns Canter’s, Gary started working at the deli in his 20s. “He had this gregarious personality that could just engage people in anything,” Bloomgarden said. “He was always there meeting and greeting customers and making friends.” Bloomgarden added that it was Gary’s vision to bring the Canter’s name to Las Vegas, where the deli now has two locations. “He was always looking outside with different ideas for the family.” 419 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 651-2030, Firing up: Dave’s Continue Reading

Jonathan Gold finds delight in the secretive Santa Monica restaurant Dialogue

One of the best things I’ve ever eaten was a pressed squab that was part of the Hunt menu at Chicago’s restaurant Next, a bloody, barely roasted bird whose breasts and legs were ceremoniously carved off by a chef at a tableside cart, and its carcass was put into a huge, hand-cranked press to be squeezed like an orange. Ten minutes later, the finished dish and its dense sauce, famously one of the most glamorous preparations of Escoffier, were brought out from the kitchen.I bring this up because Dialogue, a new tasting-menu restaurant in Santa Monica, is the current project of Dave Beran, who was then the chef at Next, and right in the middle of the intimate open kitchen is exactly the gleaming duck press you may have hoped you would see, possibly the only one in the city at the moment. There are no carts — Dialogue, which sits just 18 people, is about the size of a two-car garage. Beran presses his ducks behind the counter, capturing the juices that flow from the silvery spout and reducing them with aromatics until they thicken into a suave gravy, less inflected by booze and innards than the version you may have tasted at Tour d’Argent the first time you went to Paris with a credit card, but perfectly autumnal.Los Angeles, we have noted, has lately become one of the best food cities in the world, at the heart of a great agricultural region, with an astonishingly diverse population, and with an openness to new ideas that you might expect in an entertainment capital. But until lately, there were few non-Asian restaurants that aspired to the highest level of international cooking, the rarefied realm of the World’s Top 50 list, multiple Michelin stars, and reservation lists backed up for three months; of $800 dinner tabs; of 20-course tasting menus that read like symbolist poetry; of sommeliers cross-cutting between elegant Burgundies and stank pét-nats with the fluency of an old-school hip-hop DJ.But Beran is nothing if not Continue Reading

I’m visiting Santa Monica, that city by the bay

Back in Santa Monica, where the men are mostly metro and the women all look like breadsticks. See, I cover the waterfront. So I notice these things. As luck would have it, we find ourselves in a bucket of beer near the pier. If Big Dean’s isn’t the best saloon in America, it’s in the conversation. I feel so strongly about it that I posted to Instagram. “Best bar in America, Big Dean’s, where the sand meets the suds,” or something to that effect. My feeling is that if it’s on social media, it must be true. It has the whiff of “right now!” to it, which is one of the measures of news these days. Plus, there are little hearts and kisses — those touches the mainstream media has yet to master. Sure, my post may be too provocative. Big Dean’s might be only the 10th best bar in America. Then again, what are your yardsticks for a think tank like this: Sarcasm? Stickiness? Laughter? Those would be mine. The best joints anywhere — L.A., Chicago or Boston — are held together with one-liners and 300 coats of lacquer. Doesn’t hurt that Big Dean’s is perched on the Pacific, with ocean air drifting right up its big snout. It’s the Cheers of the surf-and-sand crowd. Except nobody knows anybody’s name. It’s a thoroughly L.A. bar, in that everybody is from somewhere else. In that sense, like L.A. itself, I think of it as an all-star organization. No city, not even New York or London, has so much out-of-town talent on its roster. Plus, any bar with my daughters in it gets bonus points. I watch as they give up their bar stools to well-dressed older gentlemen, just like their mother taught them. “Here, Dad. Sit,” my lovely and patient older daughter says. So I do. Their boyfriends are also here, respectful old-school souls with childhood allegiances to the Cubs and Yankees; that’s always fun to witness. Then there are my pals Verge and Eugene, which sort of sounds Continue Reading

Vacant Santa Monica Sears getting a second life with a $50-million makeover

The vacant Sears department store in downtown Santa Monica is poised for an extreme makeover that will turn the former down-to-earth purveyor of general merchandise into a swanky place to work, eat or grab a beer.Soon the Art Deco landmark will be home to sun-drenched offices for rent with a rooftop garden and a market hall where vendors sell food, drinks and other wares such as books or clothing. It will be renamed the Mark 302.The $50-million renovation is yet another example of how developers are repurposing the growing number of empty big-box stores left behind by fading traditional retailers — especially in desirable locations.And it would be hard to find a belly-up store in a better locale.When this one opened on Colorado Avenue in 1947, it was on the edge of the business district of a sleepy blue-collar beach town. The Santa Monica Freeway did not exist.Today, the city is one of the wealthiest in the state, and the building stands at the terminus of the Expo light rail line, across the street from Santa Monica Place shopping center and a short walk from Santa Monica Pier.“It’s a premier, crown-jewel asset — definitely one to be excited about,” developer Kacy Keys said.The Sears was one of many department stores that opened in the years immediately after World War II to capitalize on the booming growth of Southern California and the pent-up consumer demand unleashed once the war ended. It was the 10th Sears store in Los Angeles County.Keys visited the Santa Monica store as a child in the 1970s and remembers running around with her brother and munching free popcorn, a gustatory perk fondly recalled by others who grew up in the neighborhood.Today, Keys oversees development in the West for Seritage Growth Properties, a New York real estate investment trust that owns 253 Sears and Kmart stores that could potentially be redeveloped.Seritage gained control of the stores in 2015 as part of a $2.7-billion deal that involved leasing most Continue Reading

Taylor Swift is smitten kitten on romantic dinner date with boyfriend Calvin Harris in Santa Monica

Taylor Swift has certainly filled her blank space. The 25-year-old international superstar and boyfriend Calvin Harris stepped out in Santa Monica, Calif., on Tuesday for a romantic dinner. The pair was seen leaving the Giorgio Baldi restaurant hand-in-hand with Swift — who paid homage to her feline friends with cat-face heels and a handbag — looking quite smitten with the 31-year-old DJ. For years the "Blank Space" singer has dated a variety of leading men, but after enduring public scrutiny over her ever-evolving list of suitors, she decided to take a break from love. "I think that I just decided if (the media) was going to say that about me, that I was boy-crazy and so dependent on men and all that, I wasn't going to give them a reason to say that anymore, and I wasn't going to be seen around any men for years — so that's what I did," she said in the September issue of Vanity Fair. "And what ended up happening was I became happier than I had ever been before," she continued. "I swore I would never ever get in another relationship if it meant changing who I was, or taking me out of that mode where my friends are everything to me." Over the past few years, Swift has gone from "boy-crazy" to having several high-profile best friends like Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid and Lena Dunham, to name a few. Now that her focus has shifted to self-love and receiving the support of her besties, Swift said it's "so important" for her boyfriend to get along with her girlfriends. "In every friendship group, you've got one or two girls where you hear people say, 'Oh, she's so different around her boyfriend!'" she told VF. "I never wanted to be that girl. So that was a huge goal of mine: never ever become someone else for the sake of a relationship." Swift and Harris reportedly began dating a few months ago after first meeting at the Brit Awards in February. According to the "Style" Continue Reading

Santa Monica mass murderer John Zawahri’s family had dark history of violence

The twisted mass shooter whose bloody rampage claimed five victims in Santa Monica came from a home with a disturbing history of violence. The father of mass murderer John Zawahri went berserk when his marriage crumbled in 1998 and made chilling threats to kill his wife and kids, court paperwork obtained by The Daily News revealed Monday. “If I had a gun, it would be over,” Samir Zawahri screamed at his wife, Randa Abdou, during a workplace confrontation on April 26, 1998, Abdou said in a request for a restraining order five days after the incident. Samir, 55, and his son Christopher Zawahri, 25, died Friday at the hands of John, who was one day shy of turning 24. Abdou was in Lebanon visiting relatives but has returned to the U.S. and met with investigators, a neighbor told The News. “She’s very sad and fragile, as any mother would be,” neighbor Beverly Meadows, 62, said after speaking with Abdou. “She needs to be left alone to grieve. I can’t imagine in my worst nightmare having to go through something like this.” College officials Monday identified a woman shot in the head outside the campus library as Margarita Gomez, a local resident and mother of two who regularly collected items for recycling. Gomez, believed to be in her late 50s or early 60s, was a familiar and beloved figure on campus. “She was just the nicest lady,” campus bookstore manager David Dever said in a statement released by the school. “She would come by the bookstore regularly and always had a big smile for us.” Officials also released details on the gunman’s college record, revealing that he studied gaming technology at the school. They said he first attended classes in the winter of 2009 and left the school in fall of 2010. His classes were all in the “Entertainment and Technology” program, which primarily involves game design and digital animation. The college had no disciplinary Continue Reading

Santa Monica is an ideal winter getaway, with its outdoor lifestyle and laidback California attitude

Santa Monica lives up to — and goes beyond — the city’s motto: “Fortunate people in a fortunate land.” Especially during this time of year. The California destination provides the perfect break from the hat-scarf-and-gloves routine of a New York winter. The sunny weather, energetic fitness enthusiasts and cheerful Californian dispositions are contagious. Quickly after landing you will feel relaxed and on “Pacific Time.” While Los Angeles conjures images of Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood Hills and gridlocked traffic, Santa Monica — only 14 miles from LAX — could not be more different, with its laid-back style and health-conscious culture. On the boardwalk, strangers exchange smiles, and carefree couples on rollerblades are more commonly seen than the text-while-walking throngs of city dwellers. Getting here is easy. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. Carry on your luggage (the dress code is officially beach casual), arrive at Los Angeles International Airport and pay $1 to hop on the Big Blue Bus. That’s an eco-friendly service that will take you to the Santa Monica beach in just 30 minutes. There are beach hotels to fit every budget. For your trip’s splurge, try Casa del Mar. The service is fit for royalty, the decor details are impeccable and the views are akin to magazine photographs. Casa del Mar is also the perfect home base for a long weekend getaway. The atmosphere is beach-elegant and the walls in the expansive lobby and in the guest rooms are filled with vintage California and beach-related books, reflecting both contemporary and historical roots. Even the most discerning traveler would relish the amenities, which include a serene spa, in-room Jacuzzi baths, live music daily and a swimming pool overlooking the ocean. After check-in, head to Perry’s bike rentals to pick up beach bicycles. They will be your only necessary transportation Continue Reading

Santa Monica smoking ban: City outlaws lighting up EVEN in your OWN apartment

It may soon be a lot harder to find a place to smoke in Santa Monica, Calif. The Santa Monica city council approved an ordinance Tuesday that would bar new tenants of apartments and condos from smoking inside their residences, according to NBC 4. The smoking ban, which will require a second vote by the City Council to become law, would take effect 30 days after it is approved, the Santa Monica Patch reports. Existing residents would not be exempt from the new law, either. They would have to decide whether to designate their residences smoking or nonsmoking if the law goes into effect. "If you want to keep your unit for smoking, you may do so, but you must speak up," Adam Radinsky, head of the Consumer Protection Unit in Santa Monica, told the Los Angeles Times. The ordinance also includes a mandate that would require landlords to compile a list of residences that have been designated smoking in their buildings, according to the Santa Monica Patch. Landlords would be required to give that list to prospective tenants. The new ordinance would not be enforced by police or landlords, according to Radinsky. Neighbors would have to file actions in small claims court if less formal efforts to enforce the rule failed. Lighting up is already prohibited in the coastal city's beaches, parks and restaurants, and within 20 feet of the entryways and windows of any public buildings in Santa Monica. Some Santa Monica locals, however, believe that the new ordinance is a sign that the city council is going too far. "I really don't think they should be telling people what to do if they are paying for the place they're living in," Jennifer Jones told NBC 4. KNBC "If you want to keep your unit for smoking, you may do so, but you must speak up," said Adam Radinsky, head of the Consumer Protection Unit in Santa Monica. Santa Monica tops the list of many California cities that are seeking to implement new restrictions that curb second-hand smoke, Continue Reading

Nine Santa Monica hotels for a sunny SoCal experience

When many out-of-towners start California dreamin’, they’re likely imagining the sun, sand and surf of Santa Monica. From the iconic Santa Monica Pier to the abundant shopping and dining options on the Third Street Promenade, this SoCal jewel has long attracted families, couples and entertainment-industry stars. The high-end hotels and elegant coastal retreats have also played a major role in luring travelers. And while Santa Monica offers dozens of solid properties to pick from, here are nine that have particularly captured our attention. Casa del MarSurprising as it may be, Casa del Mar is one of only two hotels in Santa Monica that are located directly on the beach. This rare real estate is further enhanced by a pool with beach views, full-service spa, and opulent rooms with huge jetted tubs and tasteful decor. Another reason it one-ups other hotels in the area: In 2015, Obama White House designer Michael Smith gave the property a major makeover, resulting in a luxe atmosphere with loads of beachy details. But its story dates back much further than that. Originally built as a glamorous beach club in the 1900s, Casa del Mar has been a place where Hollywood A-listers and well-heeled locals have rubbed elbows for a long time (and now you can join the cool club, too). Oceana Beach Club HotelIf you’re searching for a Santa Monica hotel that’s a bit less of a high-powered hideaway for Hollywood hotshots, check into the relaxed and intimate Oceana Beach Club Hotel. A small number of rooms (70) means that staff has the time to offer personalized care for each guest. Expect a porter to take your bags upon arrival, a doorman to hold the door, and everyone to be trained to act as a concierge. Plus, rooms are airy and spacious, with homey touches like coffee-table books and potted plants. It’s this sort of welcoming atmosphere that compensates for the lack of on-site amenities (you won’t find a spa here, and expect to walk 10 to 15 Continue Reading