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Category: News

Gjelina ordered to cut number of seats

Gjelina

Your favorite Venice restaurant patio may soon be shrinking. After last month's decision by the West L.A. Planning Commision to limit Gjelina's number of seats to 60 (including only 14 on the patio), the city Department of Building and Safety this week has issued an "order to comply." That means an inspector will be dropping by to check on the number of seats, and if the planning commission's decision is flouted the restaurant's conditional use permit could be jeopardized. 

Gjelina owner Fran Camaj could not be reached at the restaurant for comment. But Venice Stakeholders Assn. President Mark Ryavec, who has helped lead a charge against the squeeze on parking along Abbot Kinney Boulevard and increasing noise from patrons at bars and restaurants, expects the planning commission's decision to send a message to restaurateurs. If Gjelina wants more than 60 seats, the number allowed under its current permit, it has to apply for a new permit and provide additional parking. 

"This is the tip of the iceberg. [Gjelina] is the most egregious case of what's happening on Abbot Kinney," Ryavec said. "Our neighborhood is both blessed and bedeviled by this new popularity of Abbot Kinney and all the new establishments. Many of the buildings have got grandfathered parking, which means they don't provide any parking. And so the patrons are all parking in the residential neighborhoods." Ryavec said that some Venice Stakeholders Assn. members counted up to 120 seats at Gjelina. 

Meanwhile, the battle for better parking in Venice continues to be waged. The Venice Stakeholders Assn. is contesting plans for another Camaj-owned restaurant down the street, which would provide stacked parking via a car lift. "Our advisor-architect says it's not credible," Ryavec said.  

Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, (310) 450-1429, www.gjelina.com.

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Photo: The Gjelina patio. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Nathan's hot dog eating contest in Coney Island: Chestnut downs 62 dogs to win

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest 2011 Coney Island Coney Island 4th of July Independence Day Kobayashi Joey Chestnut hot dog hot dogs competitive eating

Independence Day wouldn't be complete without the spectacle of the Nathan's hot dog eating contest on New York's Coney Island. Normally, this 4th of July event belongs to competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi.

But a contractual dispute left Kobayashi on the sidelines, paving the way for others such as Joey Chestnut to dethrone him. You gotta see it to believe it, but Chestnut went on to eat 62 dogs. He won $10,000 and a mustard-yellow champion's belt.

Kobayashi, meanwhile, staged his own competition, eating 69 hot dogs, which would have been a world record had it taken place at a sanctioned event.

The competiton is pretty simple: Eat the most hot dogs and their accompanying buns. And don't hurl.

For some added intrigue, women competed in their own competition this year: Sonya Thomas won by eating 40 hot dogs. She earned $10,000 and a pink belt.

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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

“Kimchi Chronicles” premieres at the Korean Cultural Center

Kimchi 
What more do you need when your husband is famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose lamb chops with black trumpet mushrooms and caramelized foie gras helped win him three Michelin stars and several James Beard awards? Apparently, nothing can compare to mom’s cooking. And in Marja Vongerichten’s case, it’s her Korean mother’s traditional dishes like bulgogi and bibimbap.

Marja (who is half Korean) will be at the Korean Cultural Center on July 7 to talk about her upcoming APT television series “Kimchi Chronicles” after a premiere screening of its first episode.

It’s a 13-series half-hour-long show—a part travelogue, part food fantasy and part documentary about self-discovery through Vongerichten’s native cuisine—because after all, you are what you eat.

Continue reading »

City Council approves restaurants for LAX (Cole's in Terminal 4, ¡Loteria! Grill in Terminal 5, and more...)

Marketplace

After a contentious contract bidding process (and plenty of big talk about big-name restaurants), the Los Angeles City Council has approved plans by three concessions companies for new eats at LAX. Yes, it looks like there will be a ¡Lotería! Grill at Terminal 5. 

Expect an airport version of the Original Farmers Market at Terminal 5, including ¡Lotería! and Monsieur Marcel. The Original Farmers Market at LAX will feature longtime tenants such as T&Y Bakery, Magee's House of Nuts, Light My Fire and Three Dog Bakery. There will also be two locations of L.A.-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Last fall, Delaware North Cos., as part of a joint venture, was also selected by LAX to bring Skewers, a new Japanese yakitori concept by "Iron Chef" Masaharu Morimoto, to Terminal 5. Delaware North also operates Pink's Hot Dogs LAX and the Daily Grill in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, as well as the Encounter inside the LAX Theme Building.

Meanwhile, in Terminal 4, Host International will operate Cole's French Dip, Campanile, 8 Oz. Burger Bar, La Provence Patisserie & Café and L.A. Gourmet Street Truck -- a venue for a rotating roster of food trucks such as Buttermilk and Nom Nom. There will be Starbucks locations too. 

And in Terminals 7 and 8, CMS/Camacho Ventures is bringing Seven Grand, BLD, Yogurtland and more Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations. 

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Coney Dog!

-- Betty Hallock

Rendering of Cole's and L.A. Gourmet Street Truck courtesy of HMS Host

Put Dad to the test this Father's Day: Chile Habanero Eating Contest

Habanero

Who better to enter a Chile Habanero Eating Contest on Father’s Day than Dad himself? Chichen Itza Restaurant specializes in cuisine from the Yucatán Peninsula, a region of Mexico that consumes ultra-hot chiles habaneros on the daily. For those who have never eaten a chile habanero, here’s some insight: In comparison to the jalapeno pepper, which rates 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale (a measurement of the spicy heat of a chili pepper), the chile habanero rates 100,000 to 350,000. How’s that for picante?

On Sunday, June 19, the Downtown L.A. eatery challenges all spicy food lovers, not just dads, to become contenders as they bravely face the restaurant’s Chile Kut, a roasted chile habanero sauce, at the fiery event as part of the Father’s Day celebration at Mercado La Paloma. Interested? Register up to one hour prior to contest time, which starts at 2 p.m. 3655 S. Grand Ave., L.A., 213-741-1075, chichenitzarestaurant.com.

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Photo credit: David Karp / Los Angeles Times

An affront to the good name of 'bacon'

Bacon

Bacon_is_good 
Bacon cannot speak for itself. So I will speak on its behalf. Who's with me? It has come to my attention that the term "bacon" is being sullied. It's now being used as a shorthand label for all the nonsense cluttering your email in-box, the stuff that falls somewhere between email from a Nigerian businessman and urgent notification that your credit limit has been ... exceeded. You know, all the coupons, recipes, newsletters, updates, tips, sales, tricks and alerts that you willingly signed up for at one point and now just delete, delete, delete when you see them stacking up:

"Bacon is all of your Facebook notifications or bank e-mails saying that a bill is due," says Tommy Vallier, a social media consultant and one of the people that coined the term at a Pittsburgh technology conference in 2007. "We came up with the word just as bacon really started to become a problem."

It's such a problem that now we have "How to manage e-mail in-box bacon" suggestions, and there's even a service ($20 a year) to help you unsubscribe to it all.

Don't get me wrong, such tips and services all sound swell. But do we have to sully the good name of bacon? Can't we come up with another name? Like, e-clutter? Or, I don't know, how about "unwanted e-mails?" Why call it bacon? Do you join me in my outrage?

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Photo: Bacon Love. Credit: Not On Display via Flickr 

Homeboy Industries expands with diner at City Hall

Villaraigosa 
Homeboy Diner, which opened this week, is the latest business venture of Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles institution that supporters say has helped thousands of gang members quit lives of crime with counseling, tattoo removal and job training.

As cameras flashed at the grand opening Thursday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa broke bread alongside Father Gregory Boyle, the white-bearded Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy during the height of the L.A.'s gang wars 23 years ago.

Just last year, Homeboy — and Boyle — had few reasons to rejoice.

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Father Greg Boyle blesses Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, center, and Councilman Tom LaBonge, right, at the grand opening of Homeboy Diner in City Hall. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Chef Gordon Ramsay on the one ingredient you should NOT have in your pantry

Triumvirate 
Do you hear that sucking sound? That's the white truffle oil market going down the drain.

As Season 2 of "MasterChef" returned to Fox on Monday night, there was plenty of tension and drama and leg-pulling. There was also a break in programming to talk about the most ridiculous, worthless cooking ingredient on the market, and why you are a cooking neophile if it has a spot in your pantry:

Continue reading »

Checking in on the Heart Attack Grill in Chandler, Ariz.

HeartAttackGrill
Arizona has been full of arguably bad ideas for many years. I should know, I grew up in Tucson and lived through the impeachment of Gov. Evan Mecham and the release of the Public Enemy hit "By The Time I Get to Arizona." These days there is the controversy surrounding Gov. Jan Brewer's stance on immigration and Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio's penchant for dressing his inmates in pink underwear.

So it comes as no surprise that a restaurant named Heart Attack Grill, which serves free fat-laden food to customers who weigh in at over 350 pounds, exists in Chandler, a Phoenix suburb. I had known about the place for a while and had succeeded in forgetting about it before it suddenly appeared in the news last week. On Wednesday the Associated Press reported that the restaurant had closed due to the sudden death of its 29-year-old, 575-pound spokesman, Blair River.

Continue reading »

LudoBites' foie gras quesadilla draws protesters

Foie gras protest
Fans of pop-up restaurant LudoBites weren't the only ones who showed up to dinner last night for chef Ludo Lefebvre's foie gras quesadillas. Protesters from the Animal Protection and Rescue League gathered at Casa Pulido in Redondo Beach, holding signs and shouting, "Shame!" to some diners as they walked into the restaurant  -- where the final episode of the TV series "LudoBites America" was being shot.  

A melee of protesters, police and a camera crew crowded in front of the restaurant. "People are asking if this is part of the production," Ludo's wife and LudoBites partner, Krissy Lefebvre, said. "What production? This is a restaurant!" 

Meanwhile, diners were bent on getting their fattened duck liver. "At least one per table except the vegetarian table [ordered the foie gras], and many ordered two," Krissy Lefebvre said, "plus a couple of folks ordered a third."

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How the heck do you pronounce Gaglioppo, anyway?

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Betty Hallock / Los Angeles Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.