Posts Tagged ‘Star Chefs’

Really interesting eco-friendly products: Further and VerTerra

Once in a while, you get some great products in an event gift bag, and you just have to write about it. Such was the case with the Star Chefs gift bag, which included a couple of really cool eco-friendly products that I’ve been obsessing over ever since.

Further: This company makes soap, lotion and candles out of the glycerin derived from distilled biofuel. According to the company’s website, Further co-owner and founder Marshall Dostal found himself with gallons of glycerin left over from making biofuel out of used vegetable oil he picked up from L.A. restaurants. His wife and business partner, Megan, saw all this glycerin and said, “You need to get this sh*t out of our house!” (OK, I have no idea if that part is true, but that’s my interpretation of the website’s “walked into the garage and became alarmed at what her husband had accumulated.”) And so Further was born.

I got a bottle of the hand soap and was immediately excited. Ever since my fiance, Rory, started working on his documentary Toxic Soup, which describes the ill effects of chemicals in almost everything we use, own, eat, etc., we have been more conscious about the stuff we put on and in our bodies. Since Further is made in an eco-friendly manner from something that would have been thrown away, is biodegradable, was not tested on animals and doesn’t contain chemicals (the scent comes from essential oils), I realize I had hit the green jackpot! The scent is great, too — made from bergamot, olive and exotic grasses, it’s unisex and not overwhelming. The only thing I wish were different about it is the price: soap and lotion retail for $12.50 each, and the candle goes for $24. Being green isn’t cheap, but this stuff would make great gifts.

VerTerra: This company makes disposable dishware out of fallen leaves from trees in south Asia. According to the company, these leaves would be burned usually, so this is another waste-turned-useful product. The leaves then have steam, heat and pressure applied to them to make them into plates and bowls without any glue. Considering how well these products hold liquids, I was shocked to learn that there was no glue holding them together. VerTerra naturally composts in two months, so you can toss them guilt-free. And they’re pretty cool-looking, too!


06 2010

Star Chefs shined on Santa Monica

Last month’s Star Chefs event at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica showcased some of the best culinary talent in Southern California. The event was a walk-around one with a different chef-created dish at each table. Some of the most-talked about chefs were there, including Michael Voltaggio from The Dining Room at the Langham Hotel, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from Animal, and Ray Garcia of FIG, among others.

Some of my favorites from the night were Animal’s poutine made with oxtail and cheddar and Voltaggio’s wagyu beef with white cheddar, cream of dehydrated broccoli and topped with dehydrated broccoli.

Voltaggio's wagyu beef. From e*starLA.

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04 2010

UPDATED: Too much umami in Umami Burger

SoCal Burger at Umami

OK, I know I’m late to the game on this one, but I finally ate at Umami Burger. I had the SoCal Burger at Umami Urban, otherwise known as the Umami that took over the Snackbar space at Space 15 Twenty, which was topped with butter lettuce, “spread,” oven-dried tomato, house-made American cheese and caramelized onions. Overall, it was salty. I could barely eat half the burger, which wasn’t very large to begin with. I really wanted to like it because I could tell the flavors were complementary, but the umami was just too intense. My dining companions enjoyed their burgers, so I figured the saltiness was just not for me. And the fries were salty, too — you could see the flecks of sea salt on them. Oh, well. At least I finally tried it, right?

UPDATE: I tried Umami again at the Star Chefs event. This time I had a mini burger version served up specially for the event topped with a sweet sauce and parmesan cracker. I still found it salty, though not as salty as the burger I had at the Umami Burger in Hollywood. So maybe the one I had was overly salty, though, like I said, my fellow diners enjoyed their burgers. Or maybe I’m just more sensitive to saltiness. So you can take this with a grain of salt!

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03 2010