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Monday, January 30, 2012

01/31/2012 - Food and Wine in Napa Valley's New Sub-Appellation, Coombsville

Tonight's episode of Slow Living Radio celebrates a newly designated Sub-Appellation in the Napa Valley - Coombsville - nestled behind the town of Napa, which itself is seeing a whole new facelift!  We'll meet three vintners who have helped to forge this designation, Clay Gregory of Inherit the Sheep, Lauren Ackerman of Ackerman Family Vineyards and Tom Farella of Farella Vineyard, who co-authored the appellation's AVA petition.

We'll then welcome back the iconic Napa Valley Chef Ken Frank, whose acclaimed restaurant, La Toque in the Westin Verasa, is nestled on the appellation's boundaries, to talk about the appellation from a chef's perspective.  But we couldn't have Ken back on without hearing the path this extraordinary chef has travelled to be where he is now - from dish washing in France at 17 to having the region's most sought after winter truffle menus... and so much more!

“Newly Recognized, But Long Established”

The Family Wineries and Growers of The Coombsville Vintners & Growers Celebrate Napa Valley's Newest Appellation

The Coombsville Vintners & Growers have announced the approval and designation of Napa Valley’s newest sub-appellation, the Coombsville Appellation. The official Coombsville Appellation designation was made official by the United States Department of the Treasury TTB on December 14, 2011, and makes Coombsville the Napa Valley’s 16th AVA, or American Viticultural Area.

The Coombsville Appellation consists of approximately 11,000 acres and is bound by the Napa River to the west, to the rim of Vaca Range on the east, with altitudes ranging from near sea level at the western edge of the City of Napa, to approximately 1900 ft at Mt. George in the north. The horseshoe-shaped west-facing ridge of the Vaca Range partially encircles the Coombsville area, helping define the north, east and southern boundaries of this newest viticultural area. Coombsville AVA is a sub-appellation of the larger Napa Valley AVA and the multi-county North Coast AVA.

Coombsville Vintner Tom Farella of Farella Vineyard, who co-authored the AVA petition with fellow vintner Brad Kitson, said, “It’s a great day for all of us that have been growing grapes in Coombsville for decades. Coombsville now has its proper place in the Napa Valley lexicon and on the appellation maps. Since the Coombsville name has been in use for so many years, having it placed among the great wine regions of the world feels a little like coming home.”

The Coombsville Appellation is an incredibly distinct area that differs from nearby AVAs in soils, geography and climate. The soils are primarily dominated by the volcanic rhyolitic tuff that comprises the Vaca Range on the eastern side of the Napa Valley.

“I think when people see it on the map they will wonder why it wasn’t there all along because of how it fits into the puzzle pieces of the Napa Valley as a whole. It may have taken awhile to happen, but now it’s locked in and we are very proud of that,” Farella added.

Most of Coombsville’s vineyards are located in the wide alluvial deposits created by the wearing down of the hillsides. These soils are abundant with rock and gravel and, in some areas, are also layered with volcanic ash deposits from Mount George. Separately and in various combinations, these two components provide a variety of planting options specific to each site.

In addition, the close proximity to the San Francisco Bay contributes to the temperate climate of Coombsville. The cooling effects of marine fog occur earlier and last longer than in the more northern regions and temperatures are less extreme during the winter frost season. Bud break is often sooner and harvest is usually later, leading to a longer growing season.  These differences impart unique characteristics in the wines that are produced in this region.

Coombsville wines can be recognized by their soft, but significant tannins, which provide excellent structure and mouthfeel, along with underlying layers of earth and mineral flavors. They are quite often approachable yet sophisticated, complex and layered. Primary varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, Syrah, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

“The members of Coombsville Vintners and Growers welcome the newfound attention to our little corner of Napa Valley. We are excited to showcase the amazing vineyards in Coombsville and the distinct and beautiful wines that are being made in the 16th AVA of Napa Valley,” stated Rebecca Sciandri Griffin, Sciandri Family Vineyards, President of Coombsville Vintners and Growers.

The “Newly Recognized, but Long Established” Coombsville Vintners & Growers welcome visitors to one of the Napa Valley’s historic and most relaxed regions. Coombsville Appellation wineries are primarily family-owned and operated, producing limited quantities of super-premium quality wines. The Coombsville Appellation is a mere one-hour drive from San Francisco, and only minutes from Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury hotels, spas, and B&B's in the city of Napa.

For more information on the Coombsville Appellation, and the Coombsville Vintners & Growers, please visit

Clay Gregory
Owner, Inherit the Sheep Winery

Clay Gregory has more than 25 years of marketing and management experience in multiple industries, building consensus and developing outstanding programs with a wide variety of partners across many fields.  He is currently the President and CEO of the Napa Valley Destination Council, whose mission is to protect and enhance The Napa Valley's position as North America’s legendary wine, food, arts and wellness capital by:  

  • Effectively communicating legendary Napa Valley destination experiences to domestic and international targeted media and Leisure and Small Group markets;
  • Supporting the delivery of legendary guest services  to our destination's guests;
  • Supporting visitor management through encouraging "off peak” seasonal and Sunday through Thursday travel patterns.
The Council works with all Napa County guest-serving businesses and community stakeholders to encourage informed consensus and active support for initiatives that impact tourism.

Prior to his current role, Gregory served as President of Jackson Family Wines, a collection consisting of more than a dozen independently operated wineries and brands in prestigious California winegrowing regions such as Napa Valley, Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara County as well as International wineries in St. Emilion, Chianti, Australia and Chile.  Gregory was responsible for all marketing, winemaking, vineyard and general management of the various wineries within Jackson Family Wines.

In 2003, Gregory was President of the Napa Valley Vintners and the Napa Valley Wine Auction.  The NVV has more than 350 member wineries and is dedicated to promoting and protecting the Napa Valley to media, trade and consumer audiences. 

Gregory’s role with the NVV was preceded by his position of Vice President and General Manager of Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, California. Clay’s diverse responsibilities over his fourteen year tenure at RMW included managing all winemaking, vineyard, marketing and visitor programs operations. In addition to his managerial duties, he oversaw the strategic direction of the winery, including the To Kalon Project, the first significant renovation and enhancement to the Winery since its construction in 1966.  Clay’s initial position with Robert Mondavi was Brand Manager for Vichon Winery and Byron Vineyards and Winery.

Prior to his stint at Robert Mondavi, Gregory spent more than six years at Motorola, Inc., in Cupertino, California as a Marketing Manager for the company’s Computer Systems division.  Previous to Motorola, Clay demonstrated his early love of wine through two years of “doing almost everything” at Congress Springs Vineyards, a small, family-owned winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.  He tended vines, worked in the cellar, ran the tasting room and managed sales in Northern California.

Born in Manhattan Beach, California, Gregory grew up in northern California. He received his undergraduate and MBA degrees from San Jose State University, with a concentration in Marketing.

In addition to his term as President of the Board of Directors of the Napa Valley Vintners, he served previously as President of the Oakville Winegrowers.  In addition, he is on the Boards of Directors of Napa Humane, Auction Napa Valley, the Napa Chamber of Commerce and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis.

Travel, cooking and dining are some of his passions beyond wine.  He lives with his wife, two Basset hounds, four sheep, three goats and two hens in Napa.

Lauren A. Ackerman
Owner, Ackerman Family Vineyards

Ms. Ackerman has been actively involved within the Napa community since 1994 and has a passion for community-building, innovative education and strategic philanthropy.  Prior to her involvement with various local organizations, Ms. Ackerman had her own successful international management consulting practice from 1990 as well as a successful technology marketing organization beginning in 1982.  Through her consulting practice and marketing company, Ms. Ackerman focused on business development strategies, distribution network policies  and strategic marketing for over 75 corporations, including companies such as Pacificare, Philips Electronics, Sun Microsystems, HP, Sony, Toshiba, Motorola and several others. When her company was sold in 1988, Ms. Ackerman moved to the San Francisco Bay area from Southern California that same year.

Within the non-profit community of Napa County, Ms. Ackerman served as Chairman of the Board at the Napa Valley Community Foundation which she joined as a trustee in February 2003. In this role, she was active in strategic marketing, fundraising, donor education and non-profit collaboration.  The Napa Valley Community Foundation serves as the strategic philanthropic resource for the roughly 350 non-profit organizations throughout Napa County and has grown from $7.5 million to over $20 million in community donor assets in the last five years.

Previous to her chairmanship at NVCF, Ms. Ackerman served as Chairman of Trustees for Copia:  The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa. Her passion for education led Ms. Ackerman to start and fund educational garden programs for youth K-12 which resulted in reaching approximately 6500 students the first year. Additionally, Ms. Ackerman was a founding Trustee at Blue Oak School located in downtown Napa -- an independent, innovative progressive school serving Kindergarten through 8th grade.  At Blue Oak, she assisted with development activities within the community as well as fundraising for the acquisition of additional facilities for expansion of this school.

In November of 2003, Ms. Ackerman completed the one-year strategic philanthropy program called “The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW)” developed by the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, which explores strategic issues related to global philanthropic needs. Ms. Ackerman’s cohort group traveled to South Africa for its international emphasis and funded three collaborative grants in Johannesburg and Capetown.  Additionally, as part of her personal grantmaking initiative within TPW, Ms. Ackerman created and implemented a “Strategic Philanthropy Day” at Copia that brought donors and non-profits together for the first time to discuss collaboration opportunities within the Napa community. As a result of her work with TPW, she opted to join the board of the Napa Valley Community Foundation instead of forming her own private foundation.

Ms. Ackerman also served on the Steering Committee of the Mayor’s Roundtable which was tasked with the creation of an Arts Commission for Napa Valley.  The Arts Commission worked side-by-side with local and state government and the business community to develop a cultural development plan for the area.  Additionally, Ms. Ackerman served on the board of the Napa Valley Conference & Visitors Bureau, now known as the Destination Council. This non-profit organization manages the economic development issues for the Napa Valley County as it relates to tourism.  Ms. Ackerman was also actively involved with the “Destination Brand Strategy” for Napa County through NVCVB.

Until early 2011, Ms. Ackerman served on the Advisory Board for the Institute of International Education (, a $400 million non-profit, based in New York and Washimgton, D.C., funded in part by the State Department, the United Nations and public corporations to bring over 18,000 international visitors to the US for cultural and business exchange.  Known best for its Fullbright Scholar program among over 200 international programs, Ms. Ackerman and her Executive North Bay Chapter Team hosted over eight delegations visiting Napa from over 40 countries for dialog and educational understanding of international issues.

Currently, Ms. Ackerman serves on the Board of NapaLearns, an organization that is working to change the educational landscape for over 17,000 students in Napa County through the application of the four C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity via technology as a key tool.
Ms. Ackerman resides in Napa, CA with her husband, Bob, and her two sons Robert and Alexander.  She and her husband own Ackerman Family Vineyards, a small boutique winery making cabernet sauvignon since 1995 with 100% net proceeds being donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.  Ms. Ackerman enjoys sailing, hiking and is an avid horse rider.

Ken Frank
Executive Chef and Owner of La Toque

Chef Ken Frank is entirely self-taught. He began his career at 16 with a dish washing job in France and quickly worked his way through the kitchen ranks to become a successful chef at a very young age. In 1977, at Age 21 he burst onto the culinary scene in Los Angeles as head chef at La Guillotine. He was the first “young American chef” on the West coast. Ken was the opening Chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, considered the Los Angeles birthplace of “California Cuisine,” which he left in 1979 to open the original La Toque on the Sunset Strip at age 23. Young, curious and restless, he pioneered a style of cooking that has become widespread today. His early insistence on using on the finest, often local artisanal ingredients, is now at the heart of great cooking in America.

After a 14-year run, Ken sold La Toque to the Chateau Marmont Hotel next door and went to work with Issac Tigrett at the House of Blues. He opened the New Orleans House of Blues before returning to Los Angeles to open the House of Blues Sunset Strip. Ken was tasked with developing the Foundation Room, a private members only restaurant on the top floor.

In 1995, Ken was hired by the Lancaster Group to take over the kitchen in the Argyle Hotel and opened “fenix at the Argyle.” At fenix that Ken introduced the concept of wine pairing with his tasting menu, the “Menu Fantaisie”. The restaurant immediately received rave reviews including Gourmet Magazine and the Mobil 4 Star Award. It was named by John Mariani in Esquire Magazine as one of America’s Best New Restaurants for 1995. In 1998, The Argyle Hotel was sold and Ken decided to pursue his dream of moving to Napa Valley to open a new La Toque.

In September 1998 the second incarnation of La Toque opened in Rutherford at The Rancho Caymus Inn and immediately became a destination in Napa Valley.  This new La Toque was the subject of articles in a wide range of national publications; Gourmet Magazine, Travel and Leisure, W, Esquire, New York Times, L A Times, USA Today, Wine Enthusiast and more. In March 2000, La Toque was named one of the 20 Best Restaurants in America by the Wine Spectator. In 2007, The Michelin Guide published its first San Francisco Bay Area guide and La Toque was awarded a prestigious Michelin Star. That same year, Ken was approached by the Westin to move La Toque to the new Westin Verasa in Napa.

After exactly ten years in Rutherford, in September 2008, La Toque moved to the town of Napa and the new Westin Verasa Napa. The newest La Toque with a spectacular show kitchen quickly received more great reviews in the press. In October 2009, La Toque Napa earned its own Michelin Star.

He is married and lives in Napa with his wife Sherylle, three cats, an African Grey Parrot and a flock of egg laying hens. Between them they have two grown children.

Monday, January 23, 2012

01/24/2012 - Coffee and Wine Myths Exploded

Slow Living Radio's guests tonight, Ritual Roaster's Coffee Educator, Christopher Cassasa, and Oxbow Wine Merchant's Master Sommelier, Peter Granoff, will bring us the low down on their arts!  Does Espresso have more caffeine than drip coffee? Is Verdhello the same as Verdejo? Where did the cappuccino originate? Why do Australians call Syrah, Shiraz?  Our show will be sure to shed new light on ancient old arts, and give you a new appreciation for these delightful beverages.  Listen in and blog us with your own curiosities about the culture of coffee and wine.

Christopher Casassa
Coffee Educator
Ritual Coffee Roasters, Oxbow Public Market
What is so special about the coffee, you ask? It's the precise care Ritual take with every step: their uncompromising selection of green coffee, unflagging attention to roasting; rigid freshness standards and intensive barista training program.

You may be inclined to laugh when you hear that they taste a coffee no fewer than 20 times before it makes it into the coffee bars.


Ritual is unique in its commitment to buying coffee direct from coffee producers. Of the 166,000 pounds of coffee we roasted last year, nearly 90% came from producers we work with directly.

Buying direct enables us to get our hands on the very best coffees while ensuring that the quality-focused producers are rewarded for their hard work. It also means that when you're drinking our coffee, you're only one step away from the producer responsible for this exquisite treat.


Peter Granoff, M.S.
Co-Owner, Oxbow Wine and Cheese Merchant
In 1991 Peter Granoff was the 13th American to earn the coveted title Master Sommelier, and is one of the 16 Americans to date that have earned the Krug Champagne Cup by passing all three parts of the exam on the first attempt. He is active today as an examiner and lecturer for the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory, Advanced and Masters level programs. In 1991 Peter also received the James Beard Foundation Sommelier of the year Award.
In January of 1995 Peter and his brother-in-law Robert Olson, a software engineer, launched Virtual Vineyards, an ecommerce pioneer and the first US entity to sell wine on the Internet. According to Wells Fargo Bank, Virtual Vineyards was the first business ever to process a secure credit card transaction over the Internet. It was also the subject of a Harvard Business School Case Study, and was cited in numerous business and e-commerce marketing journals & texts as a pioneer during that heady (headless?) era. The company had a good six-year run and grew to $28 million in annual sales before what Peter calls “the era of ludicrous expectations” caught up with it.

Prior to Virtual Vineyards Peter spent 25 years in the hospitality industry as a food & beverage director, wine buyer, sommelier, bartender, waiter, box schlepper, dishwasher, and busboy, including two years in the Burgundy region of France, and a year with a Relaix & Chateaux hotel in Switzerland. He even “faked it as a chef” on several occasions. He is active as a speaker, panelist, judge, and educator in numerous consumer and industry settings, and has presented at professional wine and e-commerce conferences at American universities such as Harvard, Wharton, Rhodes, and UC Berkeley, and as far away as Switzerland, France, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

In 2002 Peter joined the Adjunct Faculty at the Culinary Institute of America’s new Professional Wine Studies Program, and was an active instructor until the demands of his latest business ventures forced him to take a hiatus.

Since 2003 Peter has been co-proprietor of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant & Wine Bar in San Francisco’s acclaimed Ferry Building Marketplace. In January of 2008 Peter and his current business partners opened Oxbow Wine Merchant & Wine Bar, and Oxbow Cheese Merchant, in the newly created Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, California. These three businesses benefit from Peter’s accumulated business experience, down to earth perspective on wine, great sense of humor and thoroughly gray hair.

Twitter: @oxbowwine • @oxbowcheese • @fpwm

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

01/17/12 - Brookfarm Macadamia Owners at "Home" at the Prescott Hotel, San Francisco

For this Slow Living hour, the crew caught up with long time friends Pamela and Martin Brook, owners of the wonderful range of Brookfarm macadamia products at one of our favorite San Francisco hotels, the Prescott.  Hear their inspirational story and how they are contributing to the environment while, at the same time, allowing consumers around the world a taste of the native Australian macadamia in some of Pam's sumptuous recipes.

Pamela and Martin Brook
Brookfarm Macadamia Products, Australia

“It’s not enough to produce healthy, quality foods – people want to taste the difference.” Pam & Martin Brook.

Welcome to Brookfarm, Australia’s most awarded producer of fine gourmet macadamia products such as our macadamia muesli and walkabout mixes. At Brookfarm we are great believers in  natural ways of growing and producing food – our farm is in its transition to full Organic certification and uses natural pest management methods to control insects and disease in our trees. Caring and nurturing our environment which includes our farm is the cornerstone of our business. All Brookfarm products are GM Free.

In our kitchens we introduce macadamias into great tasting healthy foods that become part of your everyday diet – from delicious Brookfarm macadamia muesli to fine first cold pressed macadamia oils & addictive Walkabout fruit & nut blends.

Our History

Founded in 1999 by Pam and Martin Brook, Brookfarm is today Australia's leading producer of premium quality Macadamia products and works on the 3 P's principal, Passion for Quality,  Passion for a better environment and Passion for great tasting healthy food.
The award winning range includes Macadamia Mueslis for breakfast; Walkabout Mix and delicious Roasted Macadamia Nuts for an anytime snack plus Premium Grade Natural and Infused Macadamia Oils for the chef in all of us.

In November 2000, after 18 months of testing, baking and tasting, Pam & Martin sold their first Macadamia Mueslis at the local Bangalow markets. Pam created the products, and for the first 2 years, they baked and packaged in the local bakery, then Martin would load the muesli into the back of his car and sell to local shops & cafes. The product range grew by popular demand and today all Brookfarm products are made in our own purpose built factory. High quality and attention to detail still lies at the very core of our business.

Brookfarm products are sold throughout Australia and exported overseas, including the USA & Europe. We sell to quality food stores and selected cafes and restaurants, resorts, hotels and on-board domestic and international airlines. In 2007, Brookfarm won both the Telstra & MYOB Australian Business of the Year- the first food manufacturing company to win this prestigious award.


As the realities of climate change become more and more evident, it is vital that companies like Brookfarm play a positive role in helping to preserve our planet. On our own farm we have planted over 30,000 sub-tropical rainforest and Eucalypt trees. At Brookfarm we are committed to planting 1500 rainforest trees a year.  Our transition to full Organic Certification began in January 2010 and is the completion of a 10-year program of moving our farm to safe and natural farming methods . We have eliminated chemicals, pesticides and synthetic fertilisers from our farm. We now critically look at all aspects of our farming operation to reduce our carbon footprint. 

In November 2008, Brookfarm formed a partnership with the Australian based Rainforest Rescue. We have committed funds from the sales of our new Walkabout Mix and Brookfarm Bars to preserve forever land that borders the Daintree National Park. By buying back this freehold land we preserve vitally important wildlife corridors that will protect native animals including the endangered Cassowary.

Recently we have joined with over 200 other New South Wales companies - working with the State Governments Sustainability Advantage program. Every aspect of our business is critically examined and measured for its carbon footprint,  and through the changes, we are  working towards becoming carbon negative.

Health Benefits

Macadamia nuts are cholesterol-free and are the richest source of monounsaturates of any natural commercial food.

Research from Newcastle University and the Wesley Hospital, Brisbane shows that monounsaturated fats can assist in lowering blood cholesterol levels and reducing the incidence of heart disease. It was noted that just 6 - 20 macadamia nuts eaten daily can actively reduce the risk of heart disease. In clinical testing, a balanced diet supplemented with macadamias has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels by up to 7% in 4 weeks.

Macadamias are an excellent source of protein, calcium, potassium, dietary fibre and antioxidants. They are also very low in sodium. All these are essential for good health and well being.

Macadamias contain a large range of minerals. They are rich in iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium and contain significant levels of zinc, copper and selenium. Macadamias are also rich in vitamin E, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin and also contain pantothenic acid (B5) and folate.

Tree nuts are an ancient food and studies of the Mediterranean diet recommend them to be eaten daily. The incidence of heart disease is significantly lower in people who eat nuts regularly (more than five times per week) than in those who eat nuts less than once a week.

Are macadamias fattening? 'Good' fats are essential in a healthy diet. They give food, taste and flavour. Monounsaturates may be metabolised differently from other fats in the intestine so that they do not produce 'fattening' biochemicals. Providing macadamias are substituted and not in addition to other foods, there is evidence that they will either not contribute to weight gain or will reduce weight. USA studies of frequent tree nut eaters show that they usually weigh less than control patients.

Prescott Hotel: An Eco-Friendly Hotel in San Francisco Union Square

Garret Garritsen
General Manager

A past conductor of the San Francisco Civic Symphony, competitive same sex dancer and beagle lover, Garret brings us a taste of San Francisco history and the Prescott story.

Like other downtown hotels in San Francisco, the Prescott Hotel offers an exceptional central location and comfortable, stylish guestrooms. What sets our boutique hotel in Union Square apart from the rest are the little things that translate into big reasons to come back again and again, such as our hosted evening wine hour in the lobby living room, our club level accommodations and lounge, and especially our hospitality, for which guests regularly commend us. We are genuinely happy to welcome you to our hotel.

Just two blocks from Union Square, come discover why Travel + Leisure named The Prescott Hotel one of the "Best Hotels in the World" for 2009.

Prescott Hotel aims to lead eco-friendly hotels in San Francisco, including the use of sustainable products and eco-friendly practices. While we take care of you at every moment, we simultaneously act to preserve the planet.

We believe that service and sustainability go hand-in-hand at our San Francisco boutique hotel, so we incorporated eco-friendly actions and amenities at every level, some of which include:

Exceptional bath amenities made from natural ingredients by earth-friendly manufacturers.

In-room recycling bins for stylishly convenient guestroom recycling.

Rooms and linens cleaned with eco-certified cleaning supplies.

Towel and linen reuse program helps dramatically reduce water and energy use.
Organic and/or fair-trade coffee and tea.

The Club Lounge

Organic snack and beverage options in our in-room honor bars.

Efficient lighting fixtures reduce energy consumption throughout the hotel.

Effective low flow toilets, showers and faucets reduce water consumption throughout the hotel, and are regularly audited to retain peak performance

Comprehensive recycling program for cups, clothes hangers, batteries and more

Donation of unused and partially used amenities to community programs

Guest and employee dry cleaning service uses eco-friendly methods and products.

At the Prescott Hotel, a Kimpton Hotel, service-oriented hospitality is united with our eco-friendly practices. We are bringing about our focus of caring for both our guests and the planet. Our boutique hotel daily demonstrates that you can provide the ideal hotel experience and at the same time be firmly committed to environmental sustainability.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

01/10/2012 - Healthy Living with the California Health & Longevity Institute, Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village

Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village

The California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) is the only place of its kind offering a seamless integration of evidence-based medicine with qualified experts and programs designed to improve health and wellness for individuals and organizations.  The Institute uses a 360-degree approach by integrating five disciplines to achieve lifestyle and well-being goals: Medical, Nutrition, Fitness, Life Balance, and Spa.  An on-site medical clinic fuses the latest breakthroughs in Western preventive-care medicine with complementary and alternative Eastern medical techniques, and houses a complete imaging suite, dermatology center, and a medical laboratory.

The Institute (CHLI) was founded in November 2006 through a partnership between David H. Murdock, WellPoint, and renowned geneticist Andrew Conrad, PhD.  Mr. Murdock, chairman and sole owner of Dole Food Company, Inc., long envisioned creating a place where individuals in search of a healthier lifestyle could engage with the best available experts in the fields of Medicine, Nutrition, Fitness, Life Balance and Spa to improve the quality and longevity of their lives.  WellPoint, Inc., the largest health benefits company in terms of medical membership in the United States, recognized a need to educate their corporate clients about strategic methods of reducing healthcare costs and absenteeism while increasing productivity through proven methods that provide a return on investment.  Dr. Conrad, one of the world’s foremost experts in the fields of genetics, complemented this venture with his studies about the degradation of DNA due to lifestyle factors.  Together, they refined a vision to proactively provide an educational approach to improve the health and well-being of individuals and corporations’ employees which resulted in California Health & Longevity Institute.

Terry Schaack, M.D.

Medical Director

Dr. Terry Schaack has devoted his medical career to the highest levels of patient care and cutting-edge medical research. For more than 15 years, Dr. Schaack was in private practice, providing primary and preventive care to patients in Southern California. He maintains hospital privileges at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California where he was recently elected secretary of the medical staff. Before going into private practice, Dr. Schaack served as a hospital intensivist and as a Director of Emergency Services. At California Health & Longevity Institute, Inc. he is a Medical Director.
After completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester, New York, Dr. Schaack received his medical education at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Additionally, he trained in internal medicine at Ohio State University and did sub-specialty training in Rheumatology at UCLA. Currently, Dr. Schaack is the primary investigator for a National Genetics Institute study on DNA breakdown and repair. Dr. Schaack received a Senior Rheumatology Scholar Award by the American College of Rheumatology and in 2006 he was nominated as one of the “Best Doctors in America.”

Paulette Lambert, R.D., CDE
Director of Nutrition

With an ability to translate the latest scientific medical research in nutrition into tips and strategies easily understood by consumers, California Health & Longevity Institute Director of Nutrition Paulette Lambert, RD, CDE (registered dietitian and certified diabetic educator) is a nationally recognized expert in her field.  In addition to being a sought-after speaker for corporate meetings and conferences in the fields of insurance, healthcare, consumer products and more, she can be seen as the nutrition expert on ABC’s Extreme Makeover:  Weight Loss Edition.  She has also appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, KNBC Los Angeles, KABC Los Angeles and KCBS Los Angeles.  She is a regular contributor to Organic Spa and A Woman’s Health magazines as well as being cited frequently for her expertise in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Shape, Los Angeles Times, Smart Meetings and more.

As the Director of Nutrition for the Institute since its opening in 2006, Paulette develops the nutrition programs and protocols for individual consultations, workshops for consumers and corporate groups including “Smart Dining Out” and “Strategies for Healthy Eating” and the popular Wellness Kitchen.  This interactive food experience, a signature program at the Institute, combines nutrition education with a hands-on cooking class in a fun yet informative class set in a made-for-television demonstration kitchen.  Paulette’s passion for delicious food and cooking (she is a self-described “foodie”) allows her to create recipes for the Wellness Kitchen that are infused with flavor and chock full of nutritional content while satisfying even the pickiest of palates.  (In fact, she applied to study pastry at the Culinary Institute of America before deciding to pursue a career in nutrition.) She also provides nutrition support for healthy menu options developed for the restaurants, in-room dining and banquet facilities at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, where the Institute is located.  She works closely with the Institute’s medical team to provide care for each guest’s personal health strategies and needs.  Paulette also spearheads the Institute’s partnerships with local school systems to provide healthier lunch programs for area children.

With more than 30 years of experience in her field, Paulette’s vast experience with clinical nutrition includes expertise in the areas of weight management,  diabetes, heart disease prevention and cardiac care, cancer prevention and management, obesity, gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, supplements, sports training and more.  As a certified diabetic educator, she has lectured extensively for the American Diabetes Association.

A graduate of California State University at Northridge, Paulette holds a degree in nutrition and completed her residency at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Texas.  After finishing her studies, Paulette worked for hospitals in Texas and Southern California before becoming the first registered dietitian in California to move to private practice. 

Discover a destination of purpose, complete with an expansive spa and an array of dining options, all enclosed within acres of serene gardens near Los Angeles, Malibu and Santa Barbara. Westlake Village offers leisurely comforts and the perfect atmosphere for business meetings and trips, as well as accessibility to Los Angeles-area conferences and trade shows. Located within the luxury Hotel, California Health & Longevity Institute offers a comprehensive approach to health and well-being in the areas of medicine, nutrition, fitness and life balance.

Michael Newcombe
General Manager

I’ve always been attracted to ocean living and the qualities of life that California affords. And this place is about as good as California gets.”

Love it or not, there’s no denying the California lifestyle is a phenomenon to be reckoned with. Fortunately, Michael Newcombe holds Golden State living in high regard and is in a plum position to experience it as General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, California. “Everything is done with energy out here: recreation, socialising, eating – everything,” says the 20-year Four Seasons veteran, a connoisseur of the good life who revels in fine food and wine as well as golf and sailing. “That goes great for me, because I’m the sort of person that totally embraces the California lifestyle.”
If California is the fitting destination for one of Newcombe’s passions, the Westlake property is the perfect address. Joined at the hip to an independent health and longevity facility, the Hotel offers a broad array of programs focused on nutrition, fitness and wellness alongside exceptional leisure opportunities including the Jack Nicklaus-designed Sherwood Lake golf course and one of the country’s top-rated spas.
Newcombe’s formula for Westlake’s continued success includes increased emphasis on the meetings market, something for which he has particular talent. Indeed, among the General Manager’s first moves upon taking the helm in early 2011 was to have the Hotel’s sales team put added effort into executive physicals – a “really sexy product,” he notes, adding that physicals expose corner office executives to the Westlake experience with the potential for increased meetings business down the road.

Newcombe brought a strong skill set for all of the above to California. Prior to Westlake, he held the top spot at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, which has 34,000-square feet (3160 square metres) of event space and myriad recreational facilities across 400 acres (162 hectares). “I have a love of sport deep in my soul,” he recalls of the thrill of being posted in the Big D over a 12-month period that saw the Texas Rangers go to the World Series and the city host both the NBA All-Star Weekend and Super Bowl XLV.

Born and raised in the English Cotswolds, Newcombe excelled at sports from a young age, particularly at sailing, which saw him participating in national championships and European events. Some of his crewmates went on to earn Olympic medals. He continues to sail as a member of various yacht clubs.

Growing up, Newcombe travelled frequently with his father, an executive at a British automotive company. Though he initially set his sights on a medical career, he was inspired to hospitality by a film adaptation of Arthur Hailey’s Hotel, which he saw on television as a 12-year-old. “I became fascinated by the idea of a business operating 24/7 and never knowing what the next day will bring.”

That fascination has led Newcombe to Four Seasons hotels in London, Toronto and Sydney, along with stints as Hotel Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Dublin and opening General Manager of Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire. He took his first gig in Casablanca for the sake of cultural immersion. “Living in other cultures rather than visiting them is how to get a real sense of what they’re all about.”

An enthusiastic oenophile who has enhanced his palate through wine education, Newcombe is like a kid in a candy shop in California. “I grew up on Old World classics of France and Italy and now find myself in the home state of the finest New World wines,” he says, practically salivating at the opportunity to lend his expertise to Westlake’s wine list. Now, what pairs best with good health and wellness?

Monday, January 2, 2012

01/03/12 - A Toast to the New Year at the Bubble Lounge!

To toast the New Year, Slow Living Radio heads to The Bubble Lounge in San Francisco to learn about sparkling wine around the world and a taste of the French lifestyle.   We'll also discover the essence of that perfect partner too, caviar, from a dedicated sustainable suppllier, the California Caviar company.

The Slow Living Crew wish you cheers for 2012!

The Bubble Lounge – San Francisco
Phone: 415.434.4204

Marisa Ceballos
Marketing and Event Director
Marisa Ceballos has worked at Bubble Lounge as the Marketing and Events Director for the past 5 years.  Previously, Marisa worked at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in Marketing and Program planning. She enjoys working with various customers on creating memorable and functional events. She always makes sure to add Champagne to beverage menus or include Champagne related themes to her events. In her spare time, Marisa is pursuing a Masters degree in Marketing at Golden Gate University, she enjoys traveling internationally, and running in races to support various charities in the Bay Area.

Raphael Knapp
Champagne Educator

Born in 1978 from an Italian mother and French-Austrian father, Raphael is a native Parisian, growing up at his parents’ home in Vincennes and also spending many afternoons and weekends at his grandparents’ home in the Latin Quarter.  Many years later, after completing internships in Paris, Ohio (yes, Ohio!) and San Francisco, Raphael made a leap of faith and decided to move back to San Francisco permanently after his college graduation in 2002.  After representing wine brands from all over the world for two years, he partnered with a friend in 2004 to create their own importing company, International Vineyards. Five years later, Raphael created Return to Terroir, finally realizing his dream of sourcing the best young wine making talent of France, as well as creating a convenient excuse to visit his home country as much as possible!

Along the way, Raphael realized that his passion for French wine, history and Terroir was something he could share with others.  His day job as a wine importer naturally translated to opportunities to conduct staff trainings in wine at many Bay Area restaurants as well as consult on their wine lists. Store owners began asking him to host their tastings and bring his infamous maps. This naturally led to a series of courses on French wine at the Alliance Fran├žaise in San Francisco, followed by private tastings, classes, and wine dinners, as well as corporate events. 

While his specialty is French wine, there are no off-limits topics or regions, no matter how obscure or well-known.  Raphael believes that the story behind the wine is just as important as its region of origin or grape variety, and that above all, wine is personal.  Grape-growing and wine making have been integral parts of human existence for thousands of years, yet there is always something new to learn, and new wines to discover.

Lisa Simon

California Caviar Company

Lisa Simon is a veteran to the food and wine world originally from New York. Happily she lived, in a foodie household with a Mom who had been raised by her Sicilian grandparents, which lent to rolling out pasta and enjoying good food and wine when she was old enough to learn. She started off honing her skills in her own restaurant kitchen after college going into partnership with her Mom and worked with farmers and suppliers targeting the best products available. This was when many of the top Manhattan restauranteurs widely knows today had opened their first restaurants. After moving out of the suburb into Manhattan she further worked up the ranks in the industry with top chefs in various facets of the restaurant business from Wine Director to General Manager and with chefs such as Alfred Portale and Bobby Flay in operations and much in between. She has worked with many farms and unique products here and abroad from food and wine in a sales and marketing capacity meeting with chefs all of the country.  Having the chance to relocate in 2009, it gave Lisa the opportunity to work with Deborah Damond, owner of California Caviar Company, who is  pioneering the caviar business, and well respected by many chefs all over the US. From celebrity clients to most discerning chefs, Lisa is enjoying all of what is dynamic about this sought after gourmet food.

California Caviar Company offers innovative and enticing delicacies to enhance the culinary world, specializing in sustainable caviar and gourmet foods. The company works with the nation’s top caviar importers, farmers, and purveyors to provide the highest quality sustainable alternatives to luxury food items.

In addition, California Caviar Company partners with executive chefs and gourmet food companies to develop and distribute signature product lines and private labels. 
California Caviar Company links together the old world traditions and mystique of the past caviar culture with the consciousness and creativity of today’s culinary world and global demands of sustainable aquaculture.

We lead the way for the future of the caviar industry by setting the highest quality standards for our products and by finding sustainable alternatives for chefs and consumers. Feel free to indulge.


The combined effects of environmental stress, global warming and overfishing have depleted the world’s fish supplies by 52 percent since 1989 and are expected to further deplete those supplies by 1.5 percent annually until the year 2020. The increasing demands on wild fisheries by commercial fishing operations have caused overfishing.

As a result, there has been an increasing demand for alternative sources of seafood. Aquaculture — the growing of fish in closed systems that provide the fish with sufficient oxygen, fresh water and food — has offered a solution to the market demand for seafood.


Sustainability generally is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The term, in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital ecological support systems, such as the planet’s climate system, systems of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, without causing irreversible damage to ecosystem health.


Organic foods are produced according to certain production standards. For animals, this means that they were reared without routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. While industry standards do exist, organic fish farming is not formally regulated in America.

The European Union has a regulatory body that has begun developing such standards and a certification process, but these have not been fully adopted in the United States. While organic farming generally operates without the use of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones, the organic farming of fish often requires additional limitations of the feed — food that is not derived from animals with hoofs or feathers.

History of Caviar

The sturgeon is a prehistoric fish that has roamed the earth’s waters for more than 250 million years. In the earliest known consumption of caviar, it was highly revered and especially prized by Russia’s ruling class. Once caviar became a staple at the Imperial Court, Russian royalty was known to consume large amounts daily.
Because sturgeon were so large and difficult to catch, their eggs were in high demand. Those fortunate enough to catch sturgeon proudly displayed the live fish to their guests before their feast. It soon became regular practice to carry caviar while traveling to Paris and other European cities.

In the early 1900s, the United States became the world’s largest producer of caviar. Sturgeon roe was so plentiful that it was often discarded or fed to pets. Local pub owners served salted caviar with onions to encourage patrons to consume more beverages, a precursor to the modern practice of serving pretzels and peanuts in bars.

The sturgeon population in the United States rapidly became depleted as the species was overfished. This led to a 1906 ban on commercial sturgeon fishing. Since that ban, sturgeon may be caught only by sport fishermen, and the species has become heavily monitored and regulated.

Similar to the U.S. sturgeon population, sturgeon in the Caspian Sea became depleted by commercial fishing over the course of the 20th century. The Soviet Union began to regulate commercial sturgeon fishing and went so far as to ban open sea fishing temporarily in 1962. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) recognizes the sturgeon as an endangered species.

Today, there are only 2 million Huso Huso sturgeon (Beluga) worldwide. In 2005, the United States banned the importation of wild Beluga caviar to the United States. Fortunately, farmed caviar, active sturgeon hatchery programs and strictly monitored wild catch quotas protect the viability of the species while offering a sustainable and lasting means to the enjoyment of this fabled delicacy.