food tv


Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, the Galloping Gourmet and Martin Yan, those are the chefs I grew up with, the chefs who taught me what I enjoy in a cooking show. Current food television offers a much wider variety than days past, much of which makes me want to run screaming from the room. Kind of the way you’d run from the kitchen of a crazy chef. I’ve worked with chefs who rip phones off walls and throw pots. I don’t want to hang out with them in person or through the TV screen. So if you do enjoy that style of food drama, you should probably click away right now.

If you do enjoy a good cooking show, or entertaining romps through neighborhood restaurants, or info about where food comes from, then stick around. Now that it’s raining in California, and I’ve binge-watched all my current dramas through, it’s time to catch up on food. Check out my list…and send me yours too. Hopefully it will rain for a very long time and I’ll binge-watch my entire list while the drops are still falling, then move on to yours!

restaurant shows

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having: Phil Rosenthal is funny. He’s a writer, an actor (well, he was), a producer and the creator of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. And he apparently loves food. So he travels the world with his friends (some of whom you’ll know) and he eats food. He’s done shows in Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He will take you to amazing places to eat good food. And you’ll even learn a bit about cooking.

Check, Please! Bay Area: 3 regular joes and a host anonymously visit 3 of their favorite restaurants then discuss their experiences. Very homey and a great way to stay in touch with the Bay Area food scene.

cooking shows

The Mind of a Chef: How do great chefs think? And what do they cook? Crawl right into their creative brains and learn what real chef-ing is about (and no one in this series will refer to themselves as a ‘celebrity chef’, but they are all the best of the best). David Chang, Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Magnus Nilsson, Ed Lee, Gabrielle Hamilton and David Kinch. Brilliance in the kitchen.

Julia Child: PBS release has released a selection of episodes from various Julia Child’s series. It’s a potpourri of Julia and a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Learn, cook, then see if you can do the voice. ‘Chello….Ihhhhh’m Jhooolia Chaaaiild….’

Good Eats: cooking with Alton Brown, well kind of. Alton Brown isn’t a chef. He’s kind of a geekyscientist who applies his mad science to food. And teaches us how to cook things in a really nerdy but effective way.

more food

Food Forward: Food rebels in the 21st century and beyond. I can’t possibly say it better than they do…‘Food Forward goes way beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions envisioned by food rebels across America who are striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to what we eat and how we produce it. Created by a veteran documentary film making team led by Greg Roden, Food Forward explores new ideas of food in America as told by the people who are living them. Each episode will focus on a different theme–school lunch reform, urban agriculture, sustainable fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science–and spotlight the real people who are creating viable alternatives to how we grow food and feed ourselves.’

Enjoy our rainy weather and happy watching…

Keep in touch,


no kids in restaurants….really?


once upon a time

Several years ago, in my pre parenting age, I was visiting a friend in Germany who was already sporting a toddler. We spent many an hour in the local cafes and bars in her Berlin neighborhood enjoying a quaff or two and it never occurred to me that her son, and the service personnel who attended to us, were anything but pleased with our adventures. He ran around the spots we visited, enjoyed the jungle gyms out back, and deftly dodged the waiters legs and they his adorable little noggin. He drew on the old menus they provided and discussed his various needs with very patient staff members. Eating out with him was such a non-issue that it never occurred to me, when I returned home and began pro-creating a few years later, that it would be different on this side of the pond.

us vs. them

Or maybe the difference is just in my perspective. Back here at home a few years later, once our little angels were up and about, our dining out lives crashed into a painful reality: there are restaurants for adults and there are restaurants for children. The restaurants for children are bright, loud and scary if you are over the age of about twelve. And if you deign to take your super minors out to the adult establishments, be prepared to desert your date and take your toddlers outside to burn off energy in the parking lot while waiting for the food to arrive. Then dash back in, gobble down your meal, pay your $100 tab and make a run for the door all within the space of a single episode of your favorite sitcom. And even with all of this dashing about, expect more than a couple of glares from staff and table neighbors. Then there are the restaurants that won’t even allow kids….at least not if they make noise or want to sit somewhere. Fun, right? I quickly learned that doing the dishes at home after dinner was a much more pleasurable experience.

can’t we all just get along?

Is there not a way to create an experience that is pleasing to the short set, the tall set, and the staff who serve them? Fast casual is always an option, but what if you’d like to enjoy a full meal and a glass of wine? In the US the trend seems to be to create themed restaurants or restaurants for children that parents are welcome to visit. I appreciate the effort, but can’t we designers come up with a solution that serves the needs of all concerned? Do we adults really need to dine in a playroom if we don’t want to cook and we want to spend some time with our children? In my search for answers, I found Fiii Funhouse in Buenos Aires, Argentina (h/t Design Milk) and Kukumuku in Vilnius, Lithuania that were tasked with creating a dining experience for all. Both seem to be making the effort, but adult comfort is still the sacrificial lamb.

all photos courtesy iris cantata arquetica

all photos courtesy Kukumuku/Leonas Garbačauskas/ArchDaily

here’s the problem

With many young adults waiting longer to have children, and if our school district’s growth is any indication, there is a large segment of our population with both money and children. These parents work long hours and would love to have someone cook for them. This market seems pretty valuable to the savvy restaurateur IMHO. So how do we please this very large demographic? Of course part of the issue is addressed by management and staff’s attitude toward children. And design can step in to offer some solutions……because that is what design is about. Defining problems then solving them. The problem here is parents want to dine out with their children without being in a fifty footcandle playroom full of hard surfaces that bounce the babble to a deafening pitch. It’s time for some design thinking, and I’m starting with a brain dump. You can take it from here. Call me if you want my help.

let’s solve it people

Engage the children.

  1. aquariums
  2. videos/tv (silent would be nice)
  3. a playroom with supervision….over there!
  4. roll around space, wiggle room
  5. pleasing colors that don’t hurt adult eyes
  6. climbing structures (again….over there!)
  7. a view into the kitchen

Quiet the roar.

  1. sound absorbing materials on ceilings and walls
  2. cork or other sound absorbing flooring
  3. carpet (cleanable)
  4. upholstery (cleanable)

Entertain the children.

  1. books on tape
  2. music
  3. crayons and paper
  4. nice, patient servers

Create a safe environment.

  1. higher lighting level in play areas (not in dining areas!)
  2. supervision (in addition to parents)
  3. safe toys
  4. multiple seating options to accommodate various ages

Dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets are not the answer.

  1. create an interesting children’s menu (duh)

And to keep servers happy…

  1. slightly higher prices and tip-free dining (so servers aren’t paying their bills on a wish and a prayer)
  2. children’s discounts on nights that would otherwise be slow
  3. supportive management

We can do this….and it seems to me it would benefit everyone. The key words here are dine and children. The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. What do you think?

Keep in touch,

the other coast

I just spent an awesome couple of weeks at my home away on the east coast. Being a first generation Californian, I have as much New York in me as I do California. So when someone (like my California sis in law) asks me what to do and where to go, I am an annoying font of unending response. For the obvious (Statue of Liberty, Museums, Macy’s, Ground Zero), buy a guidebook. If you want a piece of my New York, here you go…


photo courtesy airbnb how gorgeous is that basement wall?

photo courtesy airbnb…how gorgeous is that basement wall?

Brooklyn. Airbnb is a great option for apartments that are bigger and much less expensive than a hotel room in Manhattan. And it’s a quick couple of stops from Union Square on the ‘L’ train. Easy peasy. We stayed between Williamsburg (hipster) and Bushwich (artsy) in the most adorable apartment. Walking distance from great Brooklyn neighborhoods (think Chestnut Street for the hipster, SOMA for the artsy).


Seriously eat everywhere. My cousin hooked us up with an amazing pizzeria in Bushwick called Roberta’s. It was totally worth the 90 minute wait, even with a 6 month old. Cocktails and foosball out back keep you happy.


Eat a black and white. It’s not the same as anything made in California and I’m not just saying that. It’s not a cookie and it’s not a cake. Find them in delis and don’t be put off by the cellophane wrapping…they get stale quickly. Don’t share and make sure you alternate bites or you’re not getting the whole experience. Italian ices. When I was little we could buy Italian ices on the street, now you will find them at pizza parlors and even ice cream stores. Ices are something like sorbet…kind of. Lemon is the traditional favorite, but my favorite is always melon. For the best ices you’ll need to buy in Brooklyn or Queens, but you’ll find them everywhere. Don’t have just one. You need to compare.


Use the subway, don’t be a wuss. $2.50 to get in (just put twenty bucks on a metro card) and you can go anywhere you want. You’ll get lost but it’s okay…you’re on vacation. Get a map or an app and figure out what line gets you closest to where you want to go. Look at the map and see what’s at the end of the line so you know which side of the track to board on then follow the signs. If you stay in Brooklyn take the ferry to Manhattan at least once. The waterfront is one of a kind.


Midtown: Don’t wait in the ridiculous line to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s a gorgeous building, but a horrendous line. If you want to see New York from the top go to the Top of the Rock. Both buildings are in midtown and you can see one from the other. Walk through Central Park. You have to. And if you can stomach it have a dirty water hot dog…it’s a hideous tradition. If you have a sweet tooth go to Dylan’s Candy Bar and buy mediocre candy in a ridiculously over-stimulated environment. My son’s first stop every trip. If you want to try some amazing chocolate go to Max Brenner’s. Don’t eat there, but buy some delicious, beautifully designed Israeli made kosher truffles. Go to Grand Central Station, find the bar in the center of the station, get a drink and pay too much money to people watch…it’s a gorgeous building. Make sure you look up.

Chelsea/Meatpacking DistrictGalleries and restaurants…do your homework. Spend some time on the High Line, walk, eat, enjoy. The High Line is an abandoned elevated freight rail line that once served the meatpacking district when it was packing meat. Now it’s a unique public park. Chelsea Market is the food hall of all food halls with restaurants that are beyond fabulous. Can you say Buddakan?

Gramercy/Greenwich Village/Soho: Eataly is Mario Bataly’s Italian food mecca with restaurants, marketplace, wine shop. Go hungry. Visit the Strand Bookstore, but only if you go with a friend who also loves books. My people were (kind of) patiently waiting on the sidewalk after about 15 minutes and I was still in the first 1/10 of a mile in and they say there are 18 miles of books. Go to Union Square at night to people watch. Maybe the snake people will be there. Shop on and around Spring Street.

Lower East Side: The Tenement Museum recreated the homes of several turn of the century families that are open for tours…pretty cool to see how my people lived after they came through Ellis Island. Katz’s Deli is famous for their knishes….if you haven’t had a knish in a while you need to visit. And pickles….find a pickle place. Essex Street is a good place to start…you’ll recognize it by the barrels of pickles standing out on the sidewalk. There are a few although once upon a time there were a lot more. Keep your eyes open. Last visit I went to The Pickle Guys…try a few different flavors. And finally find The Doughnut Plant…it’s down below Delancey. The best most interesting and delicious donut flavors you’ll find anywhere. Get something seasonal. Then get a creme brulee and a jelly donut. And go back on the weekend and get some ice cream too.

So there you have it…I’m still a newbie to Brooklyn so don’t have much to say about it yet. But we did love the vibe there. Once the kids are up and out we may just pack up and move east of the East River.

Keep in touch,