Ageless Greatness – Barney’s Beanery

Since 1920, Barney’s Beanery has been serving the city of Los Angeles, and they have definitely become better with age. The founder, Anthony Barney, began selling chili (with beans) to the masses, hence the name, Barney’s Beanery. After the great depression hit and people were driving through LA looking for opportunity, Barney would trade a bowl of his chili for the customer’s license plate. If they paid, they would get their license plate back, but most never did and the license plates became part of the décor. This place is chock-full of character and amazing-sized proportions. Even their menu is over-sized with everything from their famous chili to PB&J to pancakes, complete with stories about the restaurant and the Hollywood elite who have dined there.

"The Original"

“The Original” Barney’s in West Hollywood has been expanded a bit, but the original structure remains. The parking lot is even the same parking lot. Over the last 92 years, the city of LA, and West Hollywood in particular, has been growing up around Barney’s. Even the brightly colored “Barney’s Beanery” sign that peeks beyond the surrounding buildings looks like it hasn’t changed in decades. It’s all part of the magic. Even those who are more famous than most can’t stay away from this place. Before her tragic death, Janis Joplin spent some time at Barney’s enjoying one of her last drinks.

Unless you were “grounded” from watching TV during the summer of 2010, you probably saw Ricardo Reyes, the undefeated Pop-A-Shot master, absolutely wreck some of the best players in the NBA including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. That Pop-A-Shot master gained his experience in the game while bussing tables at “The Original” Barney’s. Rumor has it he is still around and awaits his next challengers.

With five locations in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena, and now Westwood, Los Angeles residents are never far from the fun atmosphere and delicious food that has been brewing for nearly a century at Barney’s Beanery. Though some locations are more expansive than others, they all share the same styling. One could expect to find: multiple TV’s for your viewing pleasure, at least a couple pool tables, neon beer and roadway related signs, a motorcycle or two, a plethora of different album covers, both recent and classic, and vinyl, colorful seating, newspaper clippings in the table tops, and iconic Hollywood memorabilia. Boredom is simply not an option. So if you want an incredible omelet in the middle of the night, or a giant cheeseburger and a beer for breakfast, I urge you to head over to Barney’s Beanery and see what the unstoppable craze is about.

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Action Photographer Bo Bridges Takes Chances of His Own

Jamie O'brien - credit Bo Bridges

For anyone that looks to the sky when they hear a plane, they would have definitely wondered what the pilot was up to when it appeared as if they were flying sideways.  The summer after Bo Bridges graduated from Miami University of Ohio, flying sideways is exactly what he was doing; along with shooting photos!  You know what everyone is used to: point, click, shoot.  Throw someone in both flying planes and taking photos and you get: fly, crab (flying sideways), point & fly, click & fly, shoot & fly, fly (which involves recovering the plane), and then do it again.  Bo never mentioned this, but I bet that the passengers, if any, were frantically looking for a parachute!

Simon Dumont - credit Bo Bridges

Within the first five months of the aerial photography gig, Bo had a good thing flowing.  He brought in another pilot (made things safer), took the door off of the plane, and built a clientele seeking his adventure in aerial photography.  But, it was just not good enough.

Ready, set, go!  Destination?  Vail Colorado.

My experience with Bo thus far has lasted about 30 minutes over the phone and a couple of emails.  He carries an open and vibrant spirit around him.  You want to talk to this guy.  So of course he fit in at Vail.  The first job was a blessing in disguise.  He instantly began working in the one and only photo lab in the area.  He turned into a sponge, learned from others mistakes and most importantly, what was working.  After a short stint, Bo finally went out on his own.  He started shooting events, catalogs, dinner parties, anything that would pay.  He then jumped into action ski and snowboard shots.  Wham!  This was it!  Bo went full-bore!

Nate Adams - credit Bo Bridges

Before he knew it, Bo was traveling 200+ days of the year worldwide.  The whole free-skiing movement had begun.  He closely followed the new twin tip skis, hitting the terrain park and half-pipe.  One thing that enthusiasts don’t recognize is that he is also an avalanche analyst.  He was dropping in first with 30 to 40 pounds of additional gear on his back.  And if Bo was safe, then the skier is safe.  He would then sit on the mountain and prepare for the epic shot.

Shaun White - credit Bo Bridges

Fast forward.  Extreme sports is growing rampant.  Mountain Dew needs to fill this market.  Bo’s portfolio fits to perfection.  Carey Hart throws the first back-flip on a dirt bike.  Bo is the only one that captures this, and there were 50+ photographers in attendance.  Bo continues to grow.  Vans Triple Crown, X-Games, Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, all the way to his 3,000 square foot gallery in Hermosa Beach……Phew.

There are two stories in Bo’s life that I know of that are just about the same, but happen at different times.  He hesitates on his dreams.  Before he graduated from high school, he stepped into a photography class.  Here, he found the art that he loved, and enjoyed every second of it.  After graduation, he began a marketing degree at Miami University.  He thought that this would work, a mix of art and business.  But deep down he knew that this wasn’t for him.  Within the first semester, Bo had ventured over to the photography department.  From there, he was able to connect gracefully with ease.  He was accepted into the program without submitting a portfolio, which is almost unheard of.

Bo & Chris

The second story is after college graduation, Bo goes home to Tampa and immediately puts himself to work.  Sounds great, but he had taken the first position that he could find.  He was a banquet server at the Hyatt with a college degree.  Not even remotely what he was destined for.  As you know, it did not take him to long to change course and take a chance.  Remember the plane flying sideways?  He had created a piece of artwork that hit home, literally, with his neighbors.  A stunning aerial photo of the lake that they all lived around.

Carey Hart - credit Bo Bridges

It is continuous leaps of faith, changing majors, stunt flights and knocks on neighbors door that brought Bo to Los Angeles.  He has never looked back.  Would you like to fly sideways?

Bo Bridges

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Pampered Tot, New and Exciting Just Like the Babies They Serve

Greg, Audrey, & Kids

Transforming challenges into opportunities is exactly what Pampered Tot is all about.  Greg and his wife Audrey were preparing to welcome their first child.  Like all loving parents, they want nothing but the best for their kids.  That is why they are more than willing to travel to multiple locations and sift through the endless products and figure out where and what is nothing but the very best.  They spent hours researching, shopping, navigating, and stumbling to complete the purchases necessary to welcome their newborn.  Cognition of this challenge was easy, it was a huge chore.  Creating a brand new opportunity and shopping experience from this challenge that rids future shoppers of the pain that Greg and Audrey went through, now that is something to talk about.

Strollers that can plant a tree

After identifying the opportunity, Greg and Audrey opened their online store in 2006.  They gathered nothing but the very best inventory for their customers.  Their organization of the online shopping experience was done right.  They grew in a downward economy.  Pampered Tot was addressing what the customer needed.  After maturing for a few years, Greg and Audrey wanted to extend their presence into a brick & mortar version of their store.  But, they had to do something that made it more than a simple extension of the website.  And something different they did create.

Cribs & Toys

Everyone has heard of and knows the term hybrid; it is a mixture of two different elements.  Greg and Audrey have accomplished mixing the online store and physical location from multiple directions.  They have started with their brick & mortar location also being the distribution hub for their online store.  Everything that is available online will be in-stock at the store.  Next, many of us shop online before we go to a store to pick it up.  Locating the item in the store is sometimes not as easy as it is online.  Hence, they have a huge 42″ screen at the register that both the customers and team members can locate exactly what they are looking for.  Another one of the reasons many of us shop online is the home delivery.  This is because taking the kids to the store is not as easy as it sounds.  You know what I am talking about.  Getting in and out of the car and keeping the kids in safety is a big chore.  Therefore, Pampered Tot offers curbside pickup.  You stay in the car, the goods are delivered to you and the transaction is done on an iPod, just like the Apple store.  The receipt is even emailed to you.  That is not all either.  Everyone is used to not paying sales tax online.  Greg and Audrey pay the sales tax on all purchases in the store.  Keeps the local Los Angeles customers level with the online customers.  Fantastic!

If you can’t tell, Greg and Audrey have done a lot to support their customers.  They have created a beautiful marriage between the online store and the local store combined with an ultimate level of customer respect, they always come first.  But this is not all that they do.  When I first heard about this, I was shocked.  They give back to the community by planting a tree (thru carbon fund) for every single stroller sold both online and in the store.  Awesome!  But that is not all.  They go ten steps further and plant a tree for every shopping bag that is refused at checkout.  That is correct, one tree for every bag that is refused at checkout.  Last year they were responsible for 4000+ trees planted in our world.  Incredible!  Greg, Audrey and Pampered Tot, you are Leading LA, Thank You!

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uShampooch. Good to Dogs. Good to the Environment.

Lily & Her Pups

One of the most lovable members of your family receives unadulterated enjoyment from running around wild and free along the beach.  It is a true expression of freedom and happiness.  It is such a display of living, the cognition of what has to happen when they return home is absolutely unnoticed…by these lovable creatures.  They are furthest possible place away from worrying about how messy they are.  The parents though, are not quite so care free of the mess that they have to clean.

Eleven years ago, uShampooch had opened its doors to help ease bathing of your wild and free puppy.  No more careful transport across the living room to a small bathroom where you’re hunched over a tub trying to minimize a mess while cleaning up a mess.  uShampooch is mainly designed as a self-service dog wash.  This design carries over to the above the waist wash stations with a wide front opening and stairs for your dog to walk up.  All of the necessary dog shampoos and conditioners are included and there are specific locations to dry and style your best friend.  The best part is that you don’t have to clean up the washing station.  The friendly energetic staff at uShampooch takes care of the mess.  If you are short on time, uShampooch also has a full service professional grooming service.  That is not all either.  You will be adding to the value of stopping by because of the top of the line doggie store in house.  Collars, leashes, food, treats, and toys, to name a few, are all available for purchase.

Los Angeles is a vibrant, dynamic, specific, and demanding place.  Knowledge grows quickly and must be met immediately.  Lily, the new owner of uShampooch, came in with her fists a-blazing.  uShampooch was going to be transformed into the place that resets the bar to all new levels.  First, the entire venue is undergoing a major remodel and all of the equipment is being updated.   Next, Lily is extending the focus of all-natural products, which by the way they are throughly researched so they meet the altruistic definition of what it means to be all-natural, by including a specific catering to dogs that suffer from allergies and dietary restrictions.  This translates into a carefully selected array of ingredient-specific kibble, raw meats, treats and chews.  All of the food will have no preservatives, nothing will be treated with colors or antibiotics, and some of which will be considered human grade.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Most of the collars and leashes are made from materials like hemp and contain nothing toxic.  The all-natural soaps and shampoos will also have a selection that addresses sensitive skin and allergies that some of the dogs have and you still have the option to bring your own.

The vision that Lily has created is a dynamic, modern, beyond the aesthetics semi-luxurious environment for the owners and their canine counter-parts to hang out.  uShampooch is a gathering place that fosters bonding and community and pet owners are invited to hang out before and after the wash.  She will extend this community outreach with events like dog CPR, group training, microchipping, and meet-ups at the Redondo Beach Dog Park just across the way.  Weekend are always hopping and they often see between 50 and 70 dogs in one day.  In addition to while you are hanging out, there is cool music and free wifi to surf the internet.  Fantastic!

Lily is a passionate dog lover who is Leading LA.  Her basis for everything that she does is founded on a continual dedication that uShampooch is the place to go to for all of your non-veterinarian dogs’ needs.

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Meet the Founder of Magical Blooms, Jenny Barker

Everyday, we all wake with a tentative plan to grow our lives.  Society ekes into us what is right and what is wrong.  Jenny was following suit right after high school.  She was going to take the flower shop to the next level and earn a college degree in landscape architecture.  During the first year, Jenny’s boyfriend’s mom threw a bump into her road.  She suggested that Jenny should start her own flower shop right out of her garage.  At first, Jenny chuckled.  It was almost too good to be true because it was exactly what she wanted.  Fortunately Jenny launched that idea into reality.  At the beginning, it sounded perfect, but it was not.  Our culture fights back.  Who is the Jenny on the block starting her own business?  Beautiful, young blond girl doing great things and making her life her own.  Come on, that is not right!  But it is right.  It is exactly what everyone should be encouraged to do.  Hence, Magical Blooms is in its thirteenth year and has an amazing client list, all who are very happy: Desperate House Wives, Grey’s Anatomy, Samantha Who, Brothers and Sisters, Disney Entertainment and Golden Girls, to just name a few.

The system we live is at an interesting point right now.  The economy is struggling.  Universities are raising tuition at alarming rates.  Job seekers are told that they have to be perfect for consideration.  Businesses are fighting to stay alive.  And feeling the “sense of community” is stretched thin.  Born and raised in Redondo Beach, Jenny Barker, the founder of Magical Blooms, is actually giving back to the community.  This all started at the young age of 15 and a half.  Jenny got her first job working in a local flower shop.  It is here that she fell in love with the art of creating bouquets.  It was an expression of pure joy and happiness.  All she wanted to do is return the feeling by making the world a better place full of beautiful flowers.

If you have not already visited Magical Blooms (it is a popular flower shop), the first time that you burst through the doors you will find a more than unique opportunity where a bouquet of flowers is available to excite your life.  This is all within the philosophy that Jenny fostered based on true synergy between the flowers she offers and the individuals that they bring life too.  The philosophy begins with an at home feeling.  You are not at a flower shop, you are at a place that you could call home for yourself.  This feeling rolls over and avoids the typical, “What kind of flowers would you like?”  You have a personal conversation connecting the intention of the flowers with who they are for and/or where they will go along with the combination of strong fragrance and vibrant colors the flowers offer exploding into the world they are delivered to.

In addition to Jenny’s amazing floral career, she has also been working on several TV shows: For Better or For Worse, Merge, Live Like a Star, and most recently The Arrangement.  She will continue her pursuit to be on television and do everything in her power to land a show educating viewers on her art of arrangements.  That is not all.  This fall, she plans on studying her second year of Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica in the Masters Program.  Jenny caps it off with the responsibility of being a single mom.  Jack is the beautiful son that she loves immensely.  He has an incredible mom.  Thank you Jenny.  You are Leading LA.

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From CSI to CSLA (City Sip LA), Nicole is Sharing What She Loves

Keeping up with the pace of Los Angeles is a talent in and of itself.  It is a city that views creativity as a birthright, is immensely vast, decidedly impractical and equally messy and marvelous all at once.  Becoming a master of this guise consumes your entire day.  Nicole, the founder of City Sip LA, was given a new responsibility based out of Canada.  Because she was able to work out of LA, she was given freedom she was not aware of that she needed.

Life will present itself in mysterious ways.  Nicole was in full stride with a career that fits Los Angeles beautifully, associate producer for CSI.  How could things get any better?  Well, one day things did take a turn, and they took a turn that was unexpected.  She was derailed from her career into a position that was helping create a board game based on what she was an expert in, CSI.  Although she was a little hesitant at first, it seemed like a great fit because of her content knowledge of CSI over the last seven years .

Passion of what you love comes out into the open when you least expect it.  With the new found free time, Nicole immediately placed herself into sommelier courses.  The required homework is what eventually brought City Sip LA to Los Angeles.  About once a week, Nicole would put together wine tasting “homework” parties.  She was consumed by the enthusiasm and number of questions that were being thrown her way.  She was more than just learning by reading, she was learning by doing; and doing very well.  Nicole passed her first year of the sommelier courses with ease.

The popularity of her tasting parties grew very quickly and extended to friends of friends, and even further to friends of friends of friends.  Things grew hectic to say the least.  In order to manage her schedule, Nicole put together a little website called www.citysipla.com.  This website is what branded Nicole and gave her following a place to go for all the information.  After about a year, Nicole decided to congratulate City Sip LA open its very own venue.  Echo Park did not know this, but they were very lucky to have Nicole venture into opening City Sip LA.  Suddenly there was an atmosphere that meshed great wine and an open atmosphere in a place that was starving for it.  This ambiance grew out onto Sunset Blvd. that invited others to open similar businesses.  When you walk by City Sip LA, you’ll know what I am talking about.  And remember to drop in give a Nicole a little thank you, she deserves it.

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Swining and Dining: A Night at Cochon 555

Cochon 555, Live at the House of Blues - credit Hugh Galdones Photograhpy

Crispy pigs ears, offally good pate, headcheese heroes, chile verde tacos, smoked pork belly and German chocolate bacon cake comprised Chef Ben Ford’s winning combination at last Sunday’s Cochon 555 event at the House of Blues.

Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station and four other regional chefs – Chad Colby of Mozza, Jason Neroni of Superba Snack Bar, Neal Fraser and Travis Lorton of Strand House and Micah Wexler of Mezze – delighted the wine-sipping crowd with their creative uses of the whole pigs that were delivered to their kitchens. While a live butchering demonstration hogged (pun intended) the crowd’s attention, the five chefs and their teams feverishly prepared decadent dishes that each incorporated one or more parts of the pig.

Ben Ford's Championship Work - credit Hugh Galdones Photography

Cochon 555, an annual culinary competition that travels the US, seeks to promote sustainability and utilization of local food sources. Five days before the event each chef is delivered a heritage pig from a local farm. No part of the animal goes unused. The chef must create a snout-to-tail menu based upon the size and consistency of the pig. “Ben spent the first four hours just studying the pig, “said his wife, Emily Ford. “He had to know what he was working with before he could even begin to think about a menu.”

The chefs and their teams prepare tirelessly in the week leading up to the event. “The pig arrived on Tuesday and our shortest day since has been fourteen hours,” said Jason Neroni , head chef of the soon-to-open Superba.

Featured Chefs - credit Hugh Galdones Photography

While the center of the room stationed each restaurant’s contribution, the perimeter of the room was dotted with wineries, breweries, cheese shops and photo booths that added to the overall joviality of the event. One was hard pressed to look around the room and find a single face that wasn’t smiling ear to ear.

“Cochon is a plethora of porcine goodness,” said the owner of Olde Reminisce Farm, Lori Enright, who supplied the pig for last year’s butcher’s demonstration.

The crowds moved about the room sampling the dishes, fine wines and craft beer, all while the speakers blasted classic Motown, feel-good reggae and the Beastie Boys to commemorate the passing of Adam Yauch (otherwise known as MCA).

While each chef presented a uniquely different menu, the philosophy of sustainability was consistent across all chefs. “Sustainability is paramount in my approach to cooking,” said Micah Wexler, head chef at Mezze.

Ben Ford Holding the Championship Trophy - credit Hugh Galdones Photography

When we finally caught up with Ben Ford, we were only able to get a few words in before the chefs were called to the stage.

The MC of the night called up each chef by name. As the chefs arrived to the stage, drinks in hand, there was an overall sense of camaraderie amongst the contestants. The hugs, handshakes and back pats were a symbol of the spirit of this event.

Then the MC announced Ford as the winner. Ford’s camp erupted in elation.

We met up with Chef Ben Ford and his team at the after party. “This competition is all about what gets handed to you,” said Chef Ben Ford. Thank you and congratulations to Chef Ford and the other four chefs. What got handed to us was nothing short of a cornucopia of divine swine.

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Maria Miranda Studio; True Humble Beginnings

Walking into Maria Miranda Studio along Redondo Beach will immediately set a sparkle in your eyes.  The genuine feeling of customer service and talent resonates throughout the studio.  Looking for your dress is no longer a chore, it is an experience!

Ten years ago, Maria opened her first shop with the least amount of financial risk possible; the smallest single unit available in a storage facility.  She did not know this, but the teeny tiny space was a blessing in disguise.  If she did not provide a good experience, the customers would definitely turn and leave immediately.  From this, she was able to add to her mastered art of helping others.  Now there is not a single crack in the service that Maria provides, she gives you her undivided attention.

During our conversation, Maria shared something with me that really struck a chord.  Often, the question of why she was at the storage unit would come up from her customers.  They were used to lower customer service from her competitors in much more accommodating locations.  What was going on?  Yes, Maria was at a challenging point in her life.  But her answer is how she exemplified who she is, “I am not going to share my misery.  The customers did not come to hear that.  They came here to look stunning.  And that is what I did for them!”

As the business matured, Maria went from the storage space to shared retail space and then finally into her own studio after about 5 years.   The quest for the current location along PCH took about four months.  Maria had specific characteristics that she was looking for; a skylight, wooden floors, close to the beach, and a place to park her car.  It had to be perfect, just like the feeling the customers have when the leave her studio.  Before the hunt was complete, Maria had moved out of the previous location.  This dedication to perfection put her in limbo.  She needed a place to work.  Instead of bringing the clients to her home, Maria picked a funny place to go, hotels.  I’m sure this had to be a spectacle.  A luggage cart full of wedding dresses coming and going and future brides trying them on in the bathroom.  But we know how Maria works.  She was able to mask the place where they were with her passion in what she does and the aura she created for her customers to enjoy.  It is beautifully done.  Unfortunately, she became so popular that the concierge finally had to ask her, “Excuse me, are you staying here?”  Uh oh, her time was up!  She needed to move on.

Things always seem to happen for a reason.  This push from the hotel guided her back to Craigslist.  After a few minutes, she found a place to check out.  Meeting the owner and walking through the studio gave her the feeling she was searching for.  The location was a dream come true.  She signed the lease that very same day and immediately moved in.  She is still there and things are going very well.  Maria Miranda Studio has just opened the second location in the Plaza El Segundo.  She was invited by plaza because of the positive and strong traffic flow she brings with her.  I am looking forward to the great things that are still to come.  Thank you Maria, you are Leading LA!

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Groundwork Coffee is Raising the Foundation of What it Means to be Organic & Sustainable

Jeff Roasting on The Revelation

Listening to the definitions of what Groundwork Coffee calls organic and sustainable is absolutely beautiful.  They do not just ride their bikes to work and call up an organic coffee supplier so that they can put checkmarks on some sheet of paper.  Groundwork Coffee has dissected those two powerful statements and applied their definitions inside and outside of their operation.  When you pour a delicious cup of coffee at one of their several locations, from the seed, to bean, to roaster, to grinder, to brew, to cup, and finally to your lips, the definition of organic and sustainable have been met in every single step of the way.  And that is not good enough for them.  In addition to maintaining the open door open book status of who they are, they internally challenge themselves everyday with a continuous improvement analysis and action of what they are doing.  Thank you Groundwork Coffee!  You are leading the way in Los Angeles by several measures.

Venice on Rose Location

One of the measures that surprised me was the handling of the fruit from the harvesting process.  Once the fruit is washed off of the bean, they require that the supplier let them hands on, which means visiting farmers in South America, analyze where the water goes instead of just letting it go down the drain.  Looking at the impact the extra fruit may have in the water is the surprise.  Lets say that the water ends up in a lake or a pond.  Algae love the additional sugar.   They flourish.  But this increase in the algae levels depletes the oxygen from the water.  Now the fish are dying because of a lack of oxygen.  Because the fish are struggling, the birds that feed off of the fish start to suffer as well.  Hence, there is a measurable effect in the community that needs recognized.  That is a true measure of sustainability.

Once you walk into one of Groundwork’s locations, you will feel a sense of community.  Every shop is unique in their own way, matched with the characteristics in which they reside.  But that is not all.  They extend even further.  A relationship with one of the farmers from Rwanda has expanded to a community outreach in Rwanda, from LA.  Groundwork Coffee recently created a soccer drive.  They partnered up with members of the community and sent equipment such as cleats, shin guards, jerseys, and soccer balls to the kids in Rwanda.  This had a huge impact for the kids when they hit the field.  Amazing!

The passion of who they are extends all the way into the finite levels that every bean has touched the human hand.   Now just wait until you sit down and try a cup.  You’ll love it!

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La Botte, A Restaurant In A Wine Barrel

When you walk down the steps and enter Stefano’s Italian restaurant, La Botte, in downtown Santa Monica, you feel like you have just walked into a wine barrel.  He created the touch, the feel, the smell, the sensation by decorating the floors, walls and building tables from actual wine barrels.  This unique setting immediately sets the tone that you are in for a great night!

Eight years ago, Stefano, the head chef, manager, and owner of La Botte, took the risk to make his mark in Los Angeles.  The first step was opening Piccolos Cipriani along the beach in downtown Venice.  He was confident in the selection of a small location to introduce his art of fine Italian cuisine to his new hometown.  Little did he know, this would create a conflict for him.  Within a few months, the place had a line waiting out the door.  He needed something bigger.

Just one year after the opening of Piccolos Cipriani, Santa Monica was blessed with La Botte.  It was here that Stefano was able to match his ambition of accommodating his customers with the most comfort possible.  Instead of night just for two with a potential to wait outside, he was able to invite larger groups into his establishment with the availability to plan their night in advance: exactly what he wanted.

In addition to building a great restaurant, Stefano has truly connected with the city of Los Angeles.  He is leading by building beautiful relationships with the local farmers.  He started these relationships by just walking down the street to their bi-weekly market.  The beauty is found in the heart of La Botte, the customers dishes.  Stefano and the farmers constantly collaborate together to bring in the finest freshest ingredients that are just a quick phone call away.

Growing up in Italy, Stefano always found himself hopping around in the kitchen.  When I asked how he was able identify this is what he wanted to do, he said, “I woke up one day and decided to do something.  This naturally brought me to where I am today, the kitchen.”  Digging a little deeper for his favorite dish surprised me, “I like everything on the menu.  Why else would I make it?”  But if customers push him enough, he will recommend the Cassunziei All’Ampezzana.  This is a traditional dish from his hometown Cortina, a couple of hours north of Venice Italy.  The dish is red beet stuffed raviolis decorated by brown butter, parmesan and poppy seeds, which are very hard to find, but will connect you to right where Stefano is from.  One part of this experience that I must share is that you will be right where you want to be when you indulge, Los Angeles!

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