James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Hosted One Hell of a Cocktail Party Last Friday

Chef Josef Centeno of Orsa & Winston's “Breakfast in a Shell” (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

Chef Josef Centeno of Orsa & Winston’s “Breakfast in a Shell” (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

The elegant courtyard of Vibiana in downtown LA was lit with cool lavenders last weekend for the opening reception of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America. Four of LA’s best chefs provided a sampling of regional fare in line with the Taste America theme. Cocktails were twists on standards, and they were strong. I only drank a half of my gin and tonic before I decided I had better slow down.

Chef Neal Fraser of Redbird and Fritzi’s went high-end with Norwegian King Crab Legs topped with Darjeeling and seaweed so colorful it looked straight out of a decorative fish tank. Chef Josef Centeno of Orsa & Winston presented the most precious and Instagrammable hors’douvre of the evening. His “Breakfast in a Shell” consisted of a 3-minute coddled egg, Pecorino-Sardo, cream of wheat, whipped cream with sherry vinegar, pancetta and Japanese rice balls with just a little bit of maple syrup. His use of cream of wheat stemmed from a misunderstanding over polenta, and he discovered he loved it.

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Kraftwerk in 3D at the Hollywood Bowl

Tequila Kraftwerk 3dThis is the end of a very hot California summer. Where better to enjoy it than under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl? I inherited two tickets to the Kraftwerk show last Sunday from some friends. I was thrilled. My companion, Rudi, is tall, handsome, smart, and with two umlauts in his last name, I knew he could explain what Kraftwerk meant. I was surprised when he mentioned the many rap records and Technodelic offerings that were born from the sounds of Kraftwerk.

According to their Wiki page, Kraftwerk (German pronunciation: [ˈkʀaftvɛɐk], means “power station”). They are “a German electronic and pop music band formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1969 in Düsseldorf. The band was fronted by both Hütter and Schneider until Schneider’s departure in 2008.”

Kraftwerk emerged from the German “krautrock” scene in the early 1970s. They present themselves as machine-like humans or robots. I saw Kraftwerk at the Palladium in the ’90s, but I found them much more stimulating this time around. They took a page from every album they have put out, and added 3D to the mix. The performance is stark and robotic. The band barely moves. The 3D imagery was ’80s-influenced and uniform; the projections were clean and linear. My favorite songs were “Tour de France,” which featured videos from the ’70s tour, showing the huffing and puffing of the journey, and “The Model,” filled with visions from ’50s and ’60s high fashion.

When we reached the peak of the show, a star fell from the sky. It was almost as if it were planned. It made for a perfect evening. The tour continues in Mexico and South America next week. Look them up at Kraftwerk.com. Danke.

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Science Fiction Double Feature (+3): New Views of Future Past Edition

12 a.m. – “High-Rise” – Drama/Thriller

81vy3obfjpl-_sl1500_(2015, Magnolia Home Entertainment) The haves and the have-nots settle their differences through murder and anarchy in this gorgeously photographed nightmare by Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”), based on the dystopian novel by J.G. Ballard. Tom Hiddleston is the newcomer to a luxurious apartment tower in what appears to be England circa the ‘70s; the upper levels are populated by decadent upscale types like Sienna Miller (icy and dead-eyed), while the middle and lower classes (Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss) hold down the bottom levels and the building’s architect (a sepulchral, Karloffian Jeremy Irons) oversees all from on the top floor. With everything available to the upper floors and nothing to the lower, minor convenience issues soon blossom into class warfare, which becomes psychedelic and savage. Ambitious and grisly fare from the talented Wheatley, who isn’t quite able to hold together all the storylines or link up his false, ugly past to the dark days of Thatcher-era England that would have followed it, but still manages to present another striking examination of incredible violence simmering under the surface of everyday life. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray includes commentary by Hiddleston, Wheatley and producer Jeremy Thomas, as well as featurettes on the impressive sets and special effects.

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Graffiti Artist Pegasus: Gods and Monsters Solo Show Opens Oct 1st at Artists Corner Gallery

trumpAnonymous London graffiti and street artist Pegasus, known for his “tributes” to pop culture figures, as well as his support of political movements like gay rights and Black Lives Matter, will be bringing a new show to Artists Corner Gallery in LA on October 1st. The opening night reception runs from 7pm until 10pm.

Previous work by Pegasus has been displayed at the Caledonian Road (featuring Queen Elizabeth wearing her crown and Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack swimsuit), in the bathrooms of the Winchester Bar in Angel and the skate park along the Embankment in London (a nude Prince Harry). Possibly his most famous work is “Fallen Angel,” an image of Amy Winehouse on a Camden building. The painting was whitewashed over before being repainted, and with the approval of Amy Winehouse’s mother Janis, became an unofficial shrine for the mourning fans.

“Pegasus’ solo show at Artists Corner gallery presents some of his most famous graffiti art works on canvas, as well as exhibiting new collectable works. Pegasus states that he is interested in the different perceptions we have of icons. The title of the show, ‘Gods and Monsters’, can be seen as challenging the representation of public figures and highlights the role the media plays in portraying famous people as good or bad – or a bit of both extremes. The artist invites the audience to decide for themselves on what his paintings represent: gods or monsters?”

Artists Corner Gallery LA|1546 Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The show will continue through October 31, 2016. Please RSVP: gallery@artistscorner.us

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Chang Sensory Trails, For A Delicious Taste of Thai Cuisine at the Victorian, Friday

All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

All Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

Today, I joined Chef Jet Tila and a host of Foodie bloggers and writers for a private luncheon of Northern Thai cuisine sponsored by Chang, Thailand’s fastest growing beer. It was set in a DTLA loft close to the heart of the Arts District. Chang beer understands hospitality, and they demonstrated that knowledge by offering one of their crisp and tasty beverages as I entered the loft set as a dining area. Chef Tila and his crew were busily preparing our meal when I arrived. The table was beautifully set as the smell of the food being prepared saturated the area. It was a fine proceeding to kick-off tomorrow’s Chang Sensory Trails at the Victorian in Santa Monica.


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“The Magnificent Seven” a Remake You Definitely Do Not Want to Miss

the-magnificent-seven-poster-5I was so excited to see the remake of “The Magnificent Seven” when I heard that the wonderful action director, Antoine Fugua (“Training Day,” “The Equalizer,” and “Southpaw”) was at the helm. He always takes it a step up when it comes to directing action movies.

The first “Magnificent Seven” was made in 1954 and starred Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. It was actually a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” which was set in the 1500s.

In this version, Denzel Washington is in the role Yul Brynner originated. He plays Sam Chisolm, and you really don’t need to know much about him, except for the fact that he looks great in black, has a beautiful horse, is a killer shot and has tons of charisma. It’s Denzel after all.

Okay, so, Sam gets hired by Emma Cullen (the wonderful Haley Bennet) and her brother, Matthew (Matt Bomer) to help save their small farming town from a ruthless land baron, Mr. Bartholomew Bogue (the very thin and very slimy, Peter Sarsgaard) who according to an article, gave up gluten and lost a ton of weight.  Bogue is forcing the farmers to sell him their land so he can mine it for gold. The dude is a classic egomaniac with a narcissistic personality disorder. (Sound familiar?).

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Son of Monsterpalooza Makes Us Totally Geek Out

Russell Streiner (Johnny), Judith O'Dea (Barbara), and Kyra Schon (Karen Cooper) from Night of the Living Dead (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

Russell Streiner (Johnny), Judith O’Dea (Barbara), and Kyra Schon (Karen Cooper) from Night of the Living Dead (All photos by Elise Thompson for The LA Beat)

Last Friday, Son of Monsterpalooza descended upon the Burbank Marriott, bringing thrills, chills, and an impressive roster of makeup artists and movie stars. There were so many cool art galleries, shops, and displays that we didn’t even make it in to see any panels or movies. It wasn’t even necessary; we had a blast just wandering around.

The most exciting thing was meeting and photographing three of the stars from the zombie movie that started it all, “Night of the Living dead.” Russell Streiner, who both produced the film and played Johnny, guy on the worst date ever, Judith O’Dea (his blonde date, Barbara), and Kyra Schon, who played the 10 year-old Karen Cooper, the most memorable zombie of them all. They were all great sports, posing together for a picture.

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Theater Review: “Sawed in Half”

Photo by Natalie Rodriguez. Used with permission.

Photo by Natalie Rodriguez. Used with permission.

“Sawed in Half” is an entertaining and poignant new one-woman show now playing at the ACME Theatre in North Hollywood. The show stars the bubbly and talented Andrea Mezvinsky, a former magician’s assistant and off Broadway actress. Ms. Mezvinsky  was once crowned “America’s Funniest Mom” on the Oprah Winfrey show. She co-wrote “Sawed in Half” with her director, Victoria Larimore.

Through the show, she takes the audience along on her colorful and stirring journey, starting with her childhood, when she was inspired as a three-year-old to become a performer after watching Baby June perform “Let Me Entertain You” in Ames, Ohio, “where the cows outnumbered the Jews.” Besides Baby Jane, her muses range from Frida Kahlo to Erma Bombeck and Isadora Duncan.

Her hilarious, guilt-spewing mom appears via voiceover, and Ms. Mezvinsky also doubles as her deceased, lovable, wisecracking Jewish grandmother from “the other side,” which is a major highlight of the show. Ms. Mezvinsky also shines with mic in hand, doing portions of her stand-up comedy routine.

The relatable show is Ms. Mezvinsky’s ode to overcoming obstacles, including difficult men, difficult mothers and the difficulty of being an actress while moving forward in life to attain her goals. As she says, “The past is like your ass… it’s behind you.”  Amen.

“Sawed in Half” runs Fridays and Saturdays through October 8th at the ACME Theatre 5124-5126 Lankershim Boulevard.  For tickets go to Brown Paper Tickets.

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The LA Beat Talks with Chef Neal Fraser about Face Forward’s Charity Gala Happening this Saturday

havana-nightsOn Saturday evening, Face Forward’s Seventh Annual Charity Gala themed “Havana Nights” comes to the gorgeous Vibiana event space downtown. Starting at 6pm, guests will enjoy Cuban inspired cuisine by Top Chef Master Neal Fraser, cigar lounge, mojito bar, conga drums, and a live concert by Nelly, whose megahit “It’s Getting Hot in Herre (So Take off all Your Clothes)” won a Grammy in 2003.

A number of celebrities will be in attendence, walking the red carpet and mingling with guests. Laker Byron Scott, Pamela Anderson, Adina Porter of “American Horror Story” and “True Blood,” Lotte Verbeek of “Outlander,” and professional boxer Shane Mosley will be amongst the stars there to support the cause.

Face Forward’s mission is “to support those physically affected by domestic violence and human trafficking. Founded in 2007, Face Forward provides pro bono reconstructive surgery for victims of severe domestic abuse with funds raised supporting travel, aftercare and additional associated costs. Face Forward empowers survivors to leave behind physical scars and stigmas to ‘Face Forward’ to an infinite future.” Buy your tickets here!

Check out our interview with celebrity chef Neal Fraser as we get a sneak peek at the event, the menu and the decor, after the break.

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Ronnie Marmo’s Theatre 68 Grand Opening Party in North Hollywood


Photos by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

Award-winning thespians Joe Mantegna and Carolyn Hennessy join Theatre 68’s acclaimed artistic director Ronnie Marmo at the grand opening party for the gorgeous new theatre located at 5112 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood.  For more info, visit www.theatre68.com

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