A Tablet in the Kitchen

Chef Gianfranco's Tumeric Ice Cream

I am building a brand for a chef I know. Michelin-starred Italian chef, Gianfranco Minuz knows that brand-building and social media are important. He’s writing a book that will include his vast wealth of recipes, techniques and stories but knows that the road to publishing, let alone selling a cookbook is difficult to say the least. He knows that what will give him an edge beyond his fabulous food, is his personal brand.  And so we work on it.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube.  It takes a team and really good equipment. His team consists of me, his daughter Chiara, musical wizard Alan Ishii and of course, the chef himself. I have been blessed with technology via Verizon and it helps so very much.  We couldn’t do the things we do without a strong wireless network, incredible phones that do great camera work or the very recent addition to my equipment family, the Windows Lumia 2520 tablet.  That thing is a BEAST. It braves steamy pots, closeups into said pots and documents and records everything.  We can switch back and forth from stills to video, prop that sucker up on a box and let it film difficult angles we can get into and even better, it backs all that video up automatically to Onedrive and the Verizon Cloud. We can zoom in, zoom out, edit on screen, toggle sound off and on, mix and stir.  The tablet is an incredible addition to our team.

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The Beautiful Game

Pablo Zabaleta of Argentina and Andre Schuerrle of Germany compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

They call it the beautiful game.

And so it is.

Beauty, art, movement, dance, acrobatics, contortionism, aerial jumps…poetry in motion.

I can’t tell you when the first time I saw a soccer game, or as we call it, futbol, but I can tell you this, it has been in my blood probably from those first moments.  I remember as a child standing by our black and white T.V. and jiggling the foil covered antenna so we could get a better picture and being frustrated that I might miss one of the great Pelé’s moves.  That’s how far back my love affair with the beautiful game goes.

In this recent World Cup in Brazil, I fell in love all over again.  There is nothing like it.  It is the Olympics of soccer – coming together every four years, the best of the best, all to battle for precious status as world champions. Unlike most of my compatriots, I don’t just watch World Cup.  Oh no, my love runs deep and true. Year after year, season after season finds me glued to Univision, the Spanish language channel that so wonderfully and diplomatically covers those games.  Even my 8-year old grandson Aiden says, “Grams, I ONLY like the Univision announcers, they know the game.” Through it all, I cheer on my beloved Mexico teams.  I have a partiality for Guanajuato because that is where my grandparents came from. I watch and wonder who of each team will be selected for the coveted Seleccion Nacional (the team that will go to the World Cup).  I fall in love over and over again with the players.  I watch games against every team in the world and, while I hope for the USA, (it IS my country), I still don’t think that they are up to the challenge of winning a world cup from FIFA.  They proved me happily wrong this year.

I overheard someone at a restaurant near my job saying that the Germany – Argentina game (final of the World Cup 2014) was boring because they only scored 1-0 and I wanted to scream.  THIS is what drives me crazy about so-called soccer/futbol fans.  They don’t see what I see and what I see is beautiful.  I see furious running that is so fast, it almost looks like speeded up film but I’ve seen players in real life, real time, running just that fast.  I see dance moves, flexibility that is so incredible it seems the players are made of rubber and are almost boneless, I see drive and determination, I see art in motion, I see passion, I see…beauty – beauty in a game.

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The Storyteller

My grandfather after losing my grandmother.

My grandfather, Papa Chava, had an amazing life.  It was a difficult one sure, but he lived through incredible times and had many stories to tell.  Maybe it was from him that I learned my storytelling/writing skills.  Maybe not, but I remember sitting on his lap as a child listening wide-eyed to the stories he had to tell me. Salvador Medina Camarillo was born in Mexico on June 1, 1900.  He always liked to say he came from the place of “los mumias de Guanajuato” (the mummies of Guanajuato).

It ’s hard to research because the church that had his birth and baptism documents was burned in the Mexican Revolution, taking with it all records of my grandfather’s birth.  I’m not sure what village or town he was born in, but he grew up in Irapuato, Guanajuato.  Irapuato is located at the foot of the Arandas Mountains (cerro de Arandas) in the south central region of Guanajuato.  In pre-Conquest times, the land belonged first to the Chichimeca, then the Tarasco or Purepecha, then back to the Chichimeca.  

It was a hard life, being indigenous and poor.  He always told me I was so lucky to be an American and to have been born here.  He told me stories about going out to work in the fields with his father when he was just three years old.  It was firmly etched into his memories because that day, his first day of a lifetime of hard labor, he made money.  Just a few centavos.  Enough, he said, to buy his mother a pot and to press the centavo that was left into her work worn hand.  That day set a tone for his life.  To the day he couldn’t get out of his bed due to illness, he worked hard and took care of the family he loved and was proud of.   Irapuato is still known for growing strawberries and in the little garden at the back of the house on Goodwin Avenue, he grew the best strawberries I ever tasted.  Maybe they reminded him of home.  This photo I found on the Library of Congress circa 1900 of strawberry pickers in Guanajuato gives me a little glimpse into a life that might have been his.

Screenshot 2014-05-31 08.35.27

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2014 Hollywood Bowl Season Kickoff


The Hollywood Bowl.  Those three words resonate in the hearts of most Angelenos and when they are said, bring to mind picnics with friends, good wine, warm summer nights under the stars, glorious music and fireworks.  The Bowl is a summer ritual for so many of us.

Like many of us natives, I grew up with the Bowl.  It wasn’t far from my grandparents place.  Someone in the family inevitably went, lugging us kids along.  I remember trudging up to it from street parking several blocks away.  Ahead of me were uncles and aunts, carrying along picnic baskets and blankets.  I remember sitting at the picnic tables near Camrose street and the food was always memorable.  Later, we’d pack things up, someone would volunteer to schlep it all back to the car and we’d file into the Bowl.  We always went on nights when there were fireworks and there was usually classical or jazz playing.  Those yearly treks were magical and are ingrained into my memories.

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Stoneleigh Wine’s Urban Oasis

The video was created by New Zealand’s Stoneleigh Wine, who shows how nature can appear in the most unexpected places, bringing a ‘Wonder of Nature’ to inner city Auckland through an event with a suspended garden, a soundscape inspired by the sounds of the vineyards. Stoneleigh prides itself of utilizing sustainable organic materials for all their natural landscapes/settings. They’ve partnered with New Zealand recording artists, Mt Eden, whose song ‘Drive’ evokes the flavors of Stoneleigh wine in sound.bringing a ‘Wonder of Nature’ to inner city Auckland through an event with a suspended garden, a soundscape inspired by the sounds of the vineyards. Stoneleigh prides itself of utilizing sustainable organic materials for all their natural landscapes/settings. They’ve partnered with New Zealand recording artists, Mt Eden, whose song ‘Drive’ evokes the flavors of Stoneleigh wine in sound.

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