Photos: Drawing on eclectic ingredients at Elements Kitchen in Pasadena

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Before Onil Chibs became a chef, he worked for more than a decade in animation with film studios like Disney, Sony and DreamWorks.

And at Elements Kitchen — the newest, fine-dining extension of Chibs’ already-established Pasadena catering and caf branches — Wednesday-night “sketches” are the culinary version of an artist’s extemporaneous doodle.
“There’s this whole idea of sketching and everybody having their pads out and translating it in a certain way,” Chibs said. “As food artists, chefs are doing the same thing.”
The kitchen staff is given a single ingredient — goat or curry or maize, as examples — and about a week to come up with a creative use for it in small-plate appetizers that are served for $5 in the Elements Bar. (On Thursdays, the bartenders do liquid sketches, creating $5 cocktails around an ingredient.)

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Photos: Claud Beltran’s fare-minded approach at Noir Food & Wine Bar in Pasadena

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When it opened in August last year, Noir Food & Wine Bar was Claud Beltran’s first stab at shaping a small-plates menu for one of his eateries. (The chef said he now loves the portioned approach.)
“I always had a dream of doing a menu with hamburger, foie gras, chile verde and gumbo — so here it is,” he said.
Beltran, who built his culinary career in Pasadena at restaurants like the recently-shuttered Madeleines, said he and partner Mike Farwell envisioned Noir as a casual place, serving straight-forward food with a touch of Big Easy style.
“There’s no food trickery,” Beltran said. “It’s not West L.A., and we don’t do foams. … We’re just trying to be very fair, honest — you know, French-, Mediterranean-, California-style food with our little New Orleans craziness.”

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Photos: Chef Job Carder’s Cal-Med cuisine at Dish Bistro in Pasadena

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Dish Bistro‘s Job Carder has a slow-food approach to cuisine in his kitchen on Union Street. He makes all the house breads and pastas; handmade sausages and charcuterie; and cured bacon, prosciutto and pancetta.
Above is the executive chef’s half-roasted Jidori chicken, which he serves with stuffed garlic and thyme. The chicken is slow-roasted with veggies, like sunburst and pattypan squash, Thumbelina carrots, Chambord-glazed cipollini onions and baby turnips.
“I like to stay as true to the ingredients that I’m using as possible and not mask them or overpower them with a bunch of herbs or spices,” Carder said. “I believe that everything should be as clean and pure as possible. … I do it the old-world way.”
Carder said he spends a lot of time building relationships with farmers, creameries and the like.
“Luckily, they’re willing to ship to me, so we can have … produce that is all sourced locally,” he said. “My lamb comes direct from the farmer, my cheese comes direct from the creamery, my fish comes right out of Bodega Bay to me.”
For his summer menu, expect to see Carder working with tomatoes and figs, among other fresh ingredients.
“In the summer, the tomatoes are plump and lush and colorful — that’s when you want to use them,” he says. “And figs: I adore figs, I love figs.”
Dish Bistro & Bar, 53 E. Union St., (626) 795-5546, dishbistroandbar.com
More photos after the jump:

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Photos: At Pasadena’s POP Champagne Bar, dessert is the most important meal of the day

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A traditional Spanish dessert — these days, corrupted by an explosion in popularity and en masse distribution at theme parks and even fast-food joints — the churros at POP Champagne and Dessert Bar are on the high end of the doughy spectrum.
Chef Ray Vasquez rolls his fresh churros in sugar and serves them up with a trio of sauces: warm chocolate, dulce de leche and cinnamon.
POP Champagne and Dessert Bar, 33 E. Union St., (626) 795-1295, popchampagnebar.com
More photos after the jump:

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Photos: Harvest a bounty from farmers markets in the Pasadena area

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Staff writer Caroline An set out to discover what produce is in season at the area’s best farmers markets.
Summer has arrived, and succulent favorites are ripe for the picking: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apricots, plums, peaches and nectarines.
Also, sweet white corn, summer squash, beets, avocados and fava beans are all up for your consideration as hot-weather culinary inspiration.
For something a bit more unusual on your summer menu, try cactus.
Read the full story in Rose Magazine, plus lots of delicious photos after the jump:

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Michael Voltaggio on life — and restaurant concepts — after The Langham in Pasadena

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From the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., the “Top Chef” talked to Krista Simmons of the L.A. Times’ Daily Dish blog about yesterday’s announcement that he’ll be leaving The Langham in Pasadena to start his own restaurant venture:

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Krista Simmons: Because of your personality and your style of cooking, everyone was surprised that you stayed at the Langham for so long. Why leave now that they’re renovating?
Michael Voltaggio: I had to come to terms with the fact that I either stay in Pasadena and be at this restaurant being branded around me, or I can do something on my own outside of the Langham. I decided I want to make my own place. … At the end of the day I know that no matter what, that restaurant wasn’t mine.
KS: What neighborhoods are you scoping out? Is there a possibility that you might not even stay in L.A.?

MV: Restaurants don’t just fall out of the sky, so it’ll be a while. My goal is to stay in Los Angeles. I love L.A. and think it’s the most exciting food city to be in right now. … I’ll be looking in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, places with a lot of foot traffic.

Full post here.

(Staff file photo)

Photos: Edible living arrangements at Pasadena’s Urban Homestead

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In the middle of the bustle of Pasadena lies the Urban Homestead, a self-reliant oasis for Jules Dervaes and his adult children, Anais, Justin and Jordanne.
The family lives and works on the property, where a tenth of an acre is devoted to gardening.
The average home-sized spot has yielded more than 5,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables annually for the past two years. It boasts more than 400 different types of produce, as well as nearly 2,000 chicken and duck eggs and 25 pounds of honey, which is sold to local restaurants, caterers and other clients and also finds its way to the Dervaes’ table.
Read more by reporter Michelle J. Mills in Rose Magazine, at the interactive link below, plus lots of photos after the jump:

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Video: Taste-testing the spiciest hot wings in the San Gabriel Valley

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Alondra Hot Wings says its atomic wings weigh in at a hefty three million Scoville heat units. (Compare that to the hottest pepper, bhut jolokia or the ghost chili, which is at more than one million Scoville units.)

Diners are required to sign a disclaimer before taking on the Alondra challenge of eating the wings, and reporter Stacey Wang was up to the fiery test.
Watch the video, below, and read more in Rose Magazine.

The Langham kicks off World Cup festivities with street food-inspired bar menu

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World Cup opening day is upon us, and, in celebration, The Bar at The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa is now serving up nightly specials and inspired takes on street food from around the globe.
The World Cup “Kickoff” promotion includes The Langham’s signature cocktails and an upscale bar-food menu crafted by Chef Erik Schuster (that’s him, at left).
Each dish represents a different World Cup competitor country, and weekly face-offs will pit one country’s menu item against another. (This week is England’s fish and chips against the U.S. “Dirty Dogs.”)
Follow and play along on Twitter, too, for the chance to win some complimentary World Cup street food.
Let’s take a food journey, in photos, after the jump:


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