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Monday, February 21, 2011

2/22 - 'CULINARY' DIPLOMACY & SYMPHONIC ARTISTRY: Former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib & Dr. Richard Aldag, Executive Director for the Napa Valley Symphony & Lincoln Theater

Chef Walter Scheib

Slow Living Radio got an eagle eye view of culinary diplomacy from our country's "first kitchen" with former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib. Then we compared musical notes with Dr. Richard Aldag, Executive Director for the Napa Valley Symphony and Lincoln Theater in Yountville-Napa Valley. 

Walter Scheib has quite a story to tell. In fact, he has two stories to tell. The first involves the rise of an American chef to the most storied position in the land. The second offers an intimate, human view of two First Families, the corridors of political power, international personalities, and the most famous building in the United States, from a unique vantage point: The kitchen.

In April 1994, after a lengthy application and screening process, Walter Scheib became the chef to America’s chief executive and the First Family. First Lady Hillary Clinton, impressed by the comprehensive spa menu Scheib had developed for the Greenbrier resort, as well as his highlighting of American cuisine, personally hired Scheib. For 11 years, he prepared everything from simple family meals to elaborate and formal State Dinners. His culinary creations dazzled and delighted White House guests including Nelson Mandela, Emperor Aikihito, Jacques Chirac, Boris Yeltsin, Vaclav Havel, Lady Diana Spencer, Tony Blair, Vicente Fox, and others, not to mention the thousands of congressional members, journalists, and other House visitors who got to know his food.

A highlight of Scheib’s White House achievement was his creation of a distinctly American repertoire for the nation’s First House. He continues to speak with eloquence and pride about America’s bounty today, praising the artisan cheese makers, green grocers, mushroom foragers, master bread makers, fishermen, ranchers, and farmers who have helped our national market basket evolve, and make quality cooking more accessible than ever. “America is rich in amazing produce, meats, and fish,” Scheib says. “Using just a few excellent ingredients, anyone can make a perfect meal with very little formal training.”

THE AMERICAN CHEF™ is the name Scheib has taken for his new corporation. Since he returned to private life, Scheib has founded The American Chef™, the company through which he shares his knowledge of the development of American cuisine at the White House, as well as White House remembrances, with audiences across the country. His special events often aim to bring together business leaders, using group cooking as a method of team bonding. They also offer home entertainers and party planners unique approaches to special events. For cooking schools, cooking demonstrations and lectures, Scheib teaches classes ranging from State Dinner Secrets to throwing a White House Birthday Party.

The American Chef™ offers a multitude of special-event concepts such as White House style cocktail receptions, First Lady Luncheons, State Dinners, and Outdoor “South Lawn” barbecues and picnics. His educational and entertaining sessions and demonstrations are filled with fascinating White House insider's anecdotes, culinary insights, team building and bonding, as well as, exercises with a culinary twist. Sessions frequently feature hands-on cooking demonstrations with audience participation and interaction.

Food is Scheib’s lifelong passion. He discovered his mother’s pots and pans early in life and soon felt comfortable preparing meals for parents and friends. By the time he graduated from high school, he was eager to pursue a profession in the culinary arts. He attended the Culinary Institute of America, from which he graduated with high honors in 1979. Immediately thereafter, Scheib started as a Rounds Cook at a premier Washington, D.C. hotel, and within three years was promoted to Executive Chef. Before coming to the Greenbrier and then the White House, he served as Executive Chef at other major hotels and resorts such as the Boca Raton Resort and Club.

Scheib has developed a very popular speaking approach regaling guests with interesting, informative and often humorous anecdotes from his years in the White House. Scheib has made numerous appearances, both national and local. On the CBS Early Show, he demonstrated how to make a “presidential burger”…on the Fourth of July, no less. Additional television appearances include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, Weekend Today in New York, Nightline and Iron Chef on the Food Network Station. Newspaper and Magazine stories and interviews about his company and his food have been seen in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The U.S. News and World Report, in addition to other articles. Please visit the for the full text of these articles. . He is the co-author of the newly published White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen, which was released in January 2007.

Dr. Richard Aldag
Dr. Richard Aldag, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Napa Valley Symphony and Lincoln Theater Napa Valley. As a composer, Aldag has created works for a wide variety of media, including orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, theatre, and choir. His works have been commissioned by San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Earplay, La MaMa Theatre, Trio Versailles, pianists Barry Salwen and James Dennihan, soprano Eileen Strempel, and the Access Chamber Ensemble, and have been premiered by ensembles that include the Queens Symphony and the Shanghai Symphony, among others.  

An active participant for many years in the New York music scene, Aldag served as Secretary-Treasurer of the International Alban Berg Society, and on the Board of the League of Composers/ISCM, the American New Music Consortium, and the OMNI ensemble. As an educator, he has served on the faculties of the San Jose State University School of Music and Dance, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College of CUNY, Fordham University, and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.

Located on the grounds of the historic California Veterans Home in Yountville, Lincoln Theater Napa Valley was built in 1957 to provide a central performance venue/meeting facility for the residents of the Veterans Home and the community at large. Aimed at providing a more suitable home for the Napa Valley Symphony and creating a larger world class venue for an array of performing arts disciplines, a group of concerned citizens gathered in the early part of the 21st century to create a plan to raise the funds necessary to renovate the facility. The result of their labor and generosity is a beautiful 1,200 seat venue, located in the center of the Napa Valley.

Since re-opening in 2005 following its $20 million renovation, Lincoln Theater Napa Valley has presented approximately 70 shows each year, ranging from symphonic music (LTNV is the performance home of the Napa Valley Symphony and Festival del Sole), jazz, world music, rock, classical and ethnic dance, comedy, musical theater, opera, and touring theater companies. In addition to its presenting program and performances by the Napa Valley Symphony, LTNV is the performance home of community groups that include the Napa Regional Dance Theatre and the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, as well as a centrally located venue suitable for large scale public meetings.  ###

Monday, February 14, 2011

2/15 - HEALTHY PLEASURES: Chef Aaron London, Ubuntu Restaurant & Heidi Strong of Pilates Napa Valley

Chef Aaron London

Slow Living Radio  presented a cornucopia of  health, wellness & farm-to-table flavors with Chef Aaron London of the Michelin-starred Ubuntu restaurant in Napa, and Heidi Strong, director of Pilates Napa Valley.

Chef Aaron London - At only 27, Chef Aaron London brings a dozen years of culinary experience to his position as executive chef at Ubuntu, the Michelin-starred “vegetable” restaurant in Napa, CA.  Growing up in Sonoma County, CA, London always dreamed of becoming a chef and as a teenager, London cooked for just about anybody who’d eat his food—friends, family members, even neighbors. Finally, at 14, he got his first job as a dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant in his hometown.

From there, London attended the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY, and, on weekends during school, took the train down to New York City to stage at top restaurants such as Daniel and Café Boulud. After completing his first term in 2002, he worked for six months in a full-time externship at Daniel before moving to Montréal (where his Grandmother Cook lived) in 2003. North of the border, London helped open Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, which is still regarded as one of the city’s top eateries. In 2004, London moved to Restaurant Toque, and after a year and a half as a Chef de Partie, London returned to the U.S. to complete his schooling at CIA and work at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, NY.

In 2007, London took some time to recharge and think about what he wanted to do next. After some time back in Northern California’s Wine Country, he flew to Europe, where he bicycled from one country to another, staging at restaurants along the way. He lingered under the tutelage of Chef Pascal Barbot at Astrance in Paris, and also spent time at Chef Alain Passard’s L’Arpège. Following Paris London staged at La Chassagnette in Provence, well known for its garden to table menu. Later in the trip, while in San Sebastian, Spain, London received word from his father about the opening of Ubuntu. Seeing Ubuntu as a potentially his “dream restaurant,” he was soon on a plane back to the U.S.

London started at Ubuntu during the restaurant’s fourth week of business as a line cook, and later became a sous chef before moving to executive sous chef. Finally, he was promoted to chef de cuisine under Jeremy Fox, the restaurant’s former executive chef, and served in that role for nearly a year before assuming the lead spot in the kitchen. London lives in Napa and is an avid bicyclist. 

Heidi Strong
Heidi Strong, owner and director of Pilates Napa Valley has been a graphic designer all her life. As a designer, she developed a deep appreciation for aesthetics.  In design, there must be balance in all elements; that's what makes a design pleasing to the eye.
But as a professional designer, she didn't have that balance in her working life. There was always the pressure of deadlines, and working with clients or management to articulate a vision or a message though design. Sometimes it came easily; but often it was challenging.

At her last design job, she was consistently under a great deal of pressure. A co-worker suggested that she take a Pilates Reformer class. She was told it would reduce stress, and help relieve those shoulder stitches and neck aches that come from sitting in front of a computer monitor, mousing the life long day, all the while receiving evil e-mails.  Ouch!  What's more, she was also informed it would strengthen her core and sculpt the body into goddess-like condition.  For real?  Heidi had never been much of a jock, but thought she'd give it a try.  Who doesn't want to be in goddess-like condition?  And you can't win if you don't play, right?
She started taking reformer classes, and quickly became addicted.  Never had exercise  been more fulfilling.  It wasn't easy, but it didn't stress her body out more.  In fact, stress melted away.  Kind of like being in a bath tub with candles and a glass of wine, but resulting in a tighter, more defined body.  She liked the community of the small, focused reformer sessions--it was actually fun to go and work out with friends.  Heidi realized that this was something she wanted to help others experience.  And she saw her body changing in a way that she couldn't quite believe possible.
So she quit her job as a designer, and devoted a full-time effort to becoming a certified instructor with a dream of opening her own studio in my home town of Napa.  And that's how Pilates Napa Valley came to be.  Lean more about what Pilates can do for you at Pilates Napa Valley.  ###

Monday, February 7, 2011

2/8 - FROM WINE STAINING TO DOG TRAINING: Ryan Hill, Hill Family Estate Winery & Kevin Salem, Dog Psychologist & Expert Trainer

Ryan Hill of Hill Family Estate
Slow Living Radio explored diverse passions. First, we met Ryan Hill, proprietor of  Hill Family Estate winery in Yountville. Not only does the Hill Family present wines of exceptional quality, but their award-winning wines are changing the complexion of Fender guitars, Ezera surfboards and the bats of major league baseball with the help of their handcrafted Hill Harvest Red!  Next we learned the insider secrets for training man's best friend... the ever loving pooch... as we welcomed nationally-renowned canine psychologist and expert trainer Kevin Salem.
Kevin Salem, "Teddy", and Ryan Hill

The 'Hill Harvest Red' brings a signature tint to the major league 

After more than 25 years of growing grapes for some of Napa Valley’s finest wineries, the Hill Family decided to produce their own wines.  In 2001, Hill Family Estate released their first vintage of the “Beau Terre” vineyard designated Merlot and a proprietary blend called “Origin.” By definition, Origin is the foundation, the beginning of something. The Hills’ passion for wine and love for the Napa Valley all begins with their family. The Hill Family’s constant pursuit of excellence in vineyard management and winemaking allows them to produce wines which beautifully express the individuality and depth of character in each varietal. From the romance of the label to the time and dedication put into each bottle, the Hill Family invites you to share their wine.

Dog Psychologist &
Expert Trainer Kevin Salem
Kevin Salem is considered to be one of the brightest minds in the world of dog training. It’s hard to paint his image with the same brush as other dog experts in the business, as his unique way of writing and training philosophy makes him very distinct. Ever since he was young, Kevin has been able to relate and communicate with dogs in a very special way. You know when you meet a natural. We’ve all seen one. These individuals are rarely taught, but rather born. In over two decades of working with different breeds, he has successfully trained thousands of dogs worldwide, earning him the nickname,“The Dog Prodigy.” Regardless of your dog’s age, temperament, or previous history, you’ll find that his “Diverse Method” has proven to work against tough odds making him a true pioneer in his field.

Kevin Salem & Ryan Hill share their passions with
the Slow Living team
He is known for accepting challenging cases that the majority of dog schools don’t accept or don’t know how to deal with. We are referring to “red zone dogs,” and those already given up on by many trainers, veterinarians and even animal behaviorists. He is proud of saving hundreds of these dogs from abandonment, shelters, or worse, euthanasia. Kevin gained his experience from studying and applying many ways of training. To expand his knowledge even further, he compared the strengths and weaknesses of different trainers while studying various methods from many books, video clips, instructional videos, and different seminars and workshops on dog training, dog behavior, and canine psychology. Mr. Salem is the president and founder of IDTF (International Diverse Trainers Federation). 

This organization unites trainers from all over the world who believe and follow the “Diverse Method.” If you are a trainer with an open mind who combines different methods in a humane yet effective way to get better, faster and long-term results, you are exactly who he is looking for. Make a difference today by joining this organization free of cost. Visit (Coming Soon)

If you are passionate about working with dogs, Kevin also teaches field workshops on how to become an effective trainer. He is a prominent speaker, whose seminars are guaranteed to take your knowledge and abilities to an entirely new level. Kevin has an uncanny ability to communicate with people and their pets. His training sessions and seminars are always fun and productive. He always says, “I’m not the trainer. You are. I am simply the instructor who will help and teach you every step of the way so you become an effective trainer/owner. Once I am out of the picture, your dog should respect and listen to YOU.” 

Kevin currently operates Dog Secrets in northern California where he offers house calls not only throughout the US, but all around the world. You may also send your dog to his most popular program, the Doggie Boot Camp in Sacramento CA.  ###