Chef Ilan Hall

Peter and I had such a great time in New York last week, and I’ll be posting lots of photos on the blog soon. Our social media hashtag for the trip was #PPP60 and you can check out some photos on my instagram here.

“PPP” is sort of a nickname I have for Peter. Basically, it’s short for “Peter Peter Peter”, so triple P plus 60 for his yearlong (60th) birthday celebration (#PPP60)!

Before we left for New York, I posted a photo of us on our last visit (together) in 2005. I wasn’t sure, but thought the chef in the background was Top Chef (season two winnerIlan Hall. It turns out, it WAS Ilan Hall and he commented on the instagram here.

We ran into Ilan at an event in Brooklyn, and our friend Jenn had the good sense to recreate our original photo — sort of. Eight years later, we’re all a bit wider NOW, but it was so great seeing Ilan again! Follow Ilan on twitter here, and check back soon for more New York fun!


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L.A. Kitchen Shared Plates Event

I’m a huge supporter of  L.A. Kitchen, the nonprofit facility that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system. #SharedPlates is an upcoming dinner party event that benefits the L.A. Kitchen.

When: Saturday, October 22, 2016 (7-10pm)

What: 100 people will host dinner parties in homes across Los Angeles. By sharing plates, stories, and a few surprises, these dinners will bring Angelenos from every walk of life together to reveal the power of food. Tickets are $75 per person. 100% of ticket sales will go to support L.A. Kitchen’s vital work to ensure that neither food nor people will ever go to waste.

Get involved: (host a dinner, buy tickets and invite friends) at the #SharedPlates website.

More about L.A. Kitchen below:

Read my L.A. Times piece here.

Watch a short video here.

More of my L.A. Kitchen photos here.

#SharedPlates Website

The L.A. Kitchen is located at
230 W Ave 26
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Website (donate, volunteer, engage).

@TheLAKitchen on twitter, instagram and facebook


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My L.A. Kitchen Article (L.A. Times)

I am SO very proud of this article I wrote for the L.A. Times.

L.A. Kitchen is a nonprofit facility located in L.A.’s Eastside that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables to be used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system. They also create healthy meals for low-income seniors. In case you missed the print edition on Saturday, the online link is here.

Please check back soon for more photos and blog posts about L.A. Kitchen. I’ll be writing regular features on the organization, including visits with staff and students.

BOOKS: A few recent favorites!


When it comes to buying books, I can’t help myself. There’s nothing better then cuddling up with one of my dogs (that’s Woody above) in our comfy, dining nook with a great book. At first I couldn’t decide WHICH books to share for last minute holiday gifts, so I went with recent favorites. These are books I would’ve loved receiving as gifts, if I had the patience to NOT buy them for myself first.

For The Food-Obsessed Traveler: Rice Noodle Fish by Matt Goulding

I haven’t been to Tokyo in years (except for quick stopovers to Okinawa) but after reading “Rice Noodle Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture”, I’m saving up for a full kuidaore (aka “eat until you drop”) food extravaganza!

“Rice Noodle Fish” is not just another travel guide. It’s a beautiful look into the heart and soul of food culture in Japan. The “Ramen Matrix” section alone (starting on page 174) is a fantastic bit of culinary education. Check out a short video clip about the book here.

The Roads and Kingdom’s book is published by Anthony Bourdain (I’m a fan).

Buy Rice Noodle Fish
Matt Goulding Roads & Kingdoms website
Matt Goulding on twitter @mdGoulding
Roads & Kingdoms on twitter @RoadsKingdoms

For The Whisky Lover: “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All” by Richard Betts

I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), my dad lives in Scotland and I also happen to love Scotch. Over the years, I’ve done several whisky tours in Edinburgh, but I didn’t KNOW how little I knew about it until I read Richard Bett’s genius whisky guide. The scratch & sniff sections are fun and fascinating but what I love most is the simplicity of the book. Betts helps make sense of whisky by focusing on three categories: grain, wood and place. Oh, and he also notes that “Essentially, whiskey is just distilled beer”… MIND BLOWN.

My favorite Scotch? Auchentoshan’s Three Wood.

Listen to Evan Kleiman’s Good Food interview with Richard Betts here.

Buy The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All
Richard Betts website

Richard Betts on twitter @YoBetts

For The Writer: “The Art Of Memoir” by Mary Karr

I’ve been trying to write my family story for YEARS. The problem is, that I get overwhelmed with the drama and not-so-happy childhood memories. I’d spend months in my office, writing, WEEPING, and then beating myself up for not continuing.

When I started reading Mary Karr’s book a few weeks ago, I was in tears again. But these were tears of joy, of understanding, of shaking my head and mouthing “yes, that’s it”.  In the introduction, Karr writes, “In some ways, writing memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist.”

The publisher writes: “As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.”

“The Art Of Memoir” will make me a better writer, I’m sure of it. Listen to her talk about it on KCRW’s Bookworm here. A great gift for any aspiring writers out there for sure.

Buy The Art Of Memoir
Mary Karr’s website

Mary Karr on twitter @MaryKarrLit

For Fans Of Gourmet Magazine: “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life” by Ruth Reichl

Did I mention I’m a huge fan of Ruth Reichl? The photo below is from my office and she inspires me every day.

Like most food lovers I know, I was an avid reader of Gourmet Magazine for years. My husband Peter and I even attended the Gourmet Institute in New York back in 2005. I miss Gourmet, and I still can’t part with the final 2009 magazine issues (also in photo below).

Ruth’s latest book moved me so much, that I read it multiple times. I first downloaded My Kitchen Year on my iPad (I love the digital highlighting feature), and then purchased the hardcover (where I went in and highlighted my favorite parts old school). Still wanting more, I downloaded the Audible version and experienced it all over again. That’s right, I purchased it THREE times. Did I tell you I’m a fan? If you love My Kitchen Year as much as I do, I highly recommend listening to Ruth read it. It was emotional, thoughtful and so very inspiring too.

Alice Water writes: “Ruth is one of our greatest storytellers today, which you will feel from the moment you open this book and begin to read: No one writes as warmly and engagingly about the all-important intersection of food, life, love, and loss. This book is a lyrical and deeply intimate journey told through recipes, as only Ruth can do.”

Here’s a link to a terrific Eater article on My Kitchen Year.

Ruth’s spicy Pollo alla Diavola is currently my favorite chicken recipe. You’ll find it on page 59 (in the hard cover).

I'm A Fan.

Buy My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Ruth Reichl’s website

Ruth Reichl on twitter @RuthReichl

For The Home Cook: 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan

Seriously, this is one of those books that will be USED often. It is NOT just a pretty, coffee table cookbook. I love the pictorial pantry pages that include ingredients for basic (level 1 cooks), intermediate (level 2) and champion (level 3 cooks). Great drinking recipes too, like Korean “corn cheese”!

Buy 101 Easy Asian Recipes
Follow author Peter Meehan on twitter @pfmpfmpfm
Lucky Peach on twitter @LuckyPeach

For Dog Lovers: “Beloved Dog” by Maira Kalman

This book made me tear up. It really did. Just a few pages in and author Maira Kalman expressed exactly how I feel about my beloved dogs. The cover even resembles my terrier mix, Woody.

The Brain Pickings website posted excerpts from this truly delightful book. Check them out here.

Buy Beloved Dog
Maira Kalman’s website
Maira Kalman on twitter @MairaKalman

Happy Reading and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Jo

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Trust me, snapchat is NOT just for teens. I’m almost 52 and I started using it regularly after watching this video by Sunny Lenarduzzi. It’s a terrific tutorial if you’re new to snapchat or thinking about trying it out for your brand, blog or even just FUN.

After I set up my account (MyLastBite), I was still unsure how to actually USE the app as the layout isn’t all that intuitive. A few texts to my nephew Chace, plus lunch with niece Kindal (yes, both teens) and I was ready to go. More info on snapchat’s tip page here.

I like how snapchat allows me to “tell a story” with photos and short video clip (or snaps). Each snap is automatically deleted within 24 hours, so there’s an urgency for followers to view daily (or even hourly). Snaps can be saved into your camera roll too.

My snaps are very laid back, behind-the-scenes into my daily life. I mostly post clips of dishes I cook for my husband Peter, my three lovable rescue dogs, food and travel posts and, on occasion, a night of “drunk snaps” at bars and restaurants. Ok, so sometimes I delete those in the morning!

Being a relatively new user to snapchat, I was so thrilled that L.A. Magazine included me on their list of “Food-Related L.A. Snapchatters You Need to Follow”!

Jo is a social media queen. Not only dominating on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram but totally owning Snapchat where she shares everything from cleaning out her doll collection to cooking at home to hugging on celebrity chef friends at premiere L.A. food events. L.A. Mag

Thanks again Caroline!

Are you on snapchat? If so, please comment with your username so I can follow your stories too.

Snapchat App

Video Tutorial

L.A. Magazine

Snapchat Tricks & Tips

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