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Thursday, January 26, 2017

01/23/2017 - A Taste of Los Angeles - Union and Knead & Co Pasta Bar

Bruce Kalman

Executive Chef

UNION and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market

Twitter: @ChefBKalman | Instagram: @ChefBKalman

Bruce Kalman’s Northern Italian cooking style embraces the diverse and abundant produce of California to create exquisitely balanced flavor profiles meant to warm the soul at KP Hospitality concepts like UNION in Pasadena, CA and Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in L.A.’s Grand central Market. His commitment to indigenous ingredients goes beyond the farmers’ market to build strong connections with local providers, keeping the operations’ carbon footprint low, supporting the local economy, and connecting diners to high quality vegetables, meats, and cheeses straight from the source.

Kalman’s meticulous approach to authentic, flavor-forward cuisine permeates every corner of his menu. “We use vegetables from root-to-leaf, butcher animals’ head-to-toe, and even stretch fresh cheeses in-house,” he says. “I’m exceedingly passionate about food that is handcrafted from beginning to end.” He imparts his traditionally rooted culinary expertise on his staff as well, aiming for old school quality through modern management techniques, ditching the traditional kitchen fervor in favor of joining the line to cook alongside his team.

The mindful chef’s culinary career began in his hometown of Paramus, NJ. “I started cooking at 13 in a local family-owned pizzeria, and I never looked back,” he says. “I really enjoy it—beyond the food, it’s about the energy of the kitchen, the camaraderie, the teamwork, it’s awesome. Every day is a challenge.” He solidified his skills through a hands-on culinary program at Jersey City’s Hudson Community College, and, after rising through the ranks of local kitchens, moved to Chicago to serve as executive chef for restaurants including Okno, Green Dolphin, and Coco Pazzo.

His next roles came in the Southwest, with Il Piatto in Santa Fe, NM and Chelsea’s Kitchen in Phoenix. Following his westward momentum, Kalman landed in Los Angeles in 2011 to help launch Santa Monica’s Misfit, and later joined West Hollywood’s The Churchill, at which he excelled in producing housemade charcuteries, pastas, and desserts. His innovative success encouraged him to debut Bruce’s Prime Pickle Company in 2013, highlighting his devotion to handcrafted products made from local and sustainable ingredients.
Throughout his career, Kalman has gained recognition from James Beard, with a nomination for “Rising Star Chef,” and has appeared on the Food Network to earn a “Chopped” championship title as well as on Esquire Network to win “Knife Fight.”
Kalman met Marie Petulla in 2014 as UNION took shape, and the two leveraged their respective restaurant skillsets to launch KP Hospitality, now including the Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market concept. As executive chef, Kalman leads the Northern Italian and Mediterranean culinary programs, calling on traditional techniques and indigenous ingredients to impress guests with familiar yet elevated takes on Italian cooking.

When he is not in one of KP Hospitality’s kitchens, the West L.A. resident enjoys taking his wife, Gina, out to dinner and a movie followed by a walk along the ocean, often with their two dogs in tow. The couple also likes to travel, visiting destinations around the country from Portland to Boston to Maui and beyond. Kalman maintains his lifelong music hobby by performing alongside culinary personality Duff Goldman in their cover band, Foie Grock.

Owner, Marie Petulla, with Bruce
and George Pitsironis

George Pitsironis

Wine Director

Sommelier and winemaker George Pitsironis curates wine programs for KP Hospitality’s sustainably minded, ingredient driven Italian concept, UNION in Pasadena, CA. Through adventurous sourcing, he ushers in mainstay Italian varietals alongside regional specialties while incorporating eclectic finds from California’s Central Coast. “I choose to present varieties people may have never heard of—beautiful wines that pair well with food, are well-priced, and are from small producers who do it right in the vineyard.”

Pitsironis appreciates wine for its social magnetism, historical significance, and traditional processes, as well as its unbreakable link to cuisine. “Food and wine should complement each other—neither should be the sole star, because together they make the experience phenomenal.” In addition to maintaining a dynamic, food-friendly wine list, Pitsironis leads an in-depth training regimen that equips his servers to deliver knowledgeable guidance to guests eager to discover new flavors.

Born in Athens, Greece, Pitsironis lived in the historic city until the age of 7, when his family relocated to New York City. His father’s unconventional collection of Portuguese wines sparked his interest, and various industry positions before, during, and after college exposed him to the excitement and diversity of the hospitality and culinary worlds. His fascination with wine took off during a language immersion trip to France, which he spent harvesting grapes in Champagne for a small independent producer.
Upon returning to The Big Apple from France, Pitsironis’s wine career began to take off even as he remained in school, studying at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, but spending every free moment working with wine at Periyali, the renowned Greek restaurant, and later at Il Cantinori, the celebrity-frequented Tuscan eatery.  

In 1998, Pitsironis headed west, landing at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles as a server for Coco Pazzo, working alongside wine director Kevin O’Connor. Pitsironis stuck with the property as Coco Pazzo gave way to Asia de Cuba, and took over as wine director when O’Connor left for Spago. Three years later, O’Connor invited Pitsironis to join him at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship, where he served as sommelier until 2009.
After a yearlong stint with Southern Wine and Spirits, Pitsironis collaborated to pursue his dream of opening a winery, and Inception Wines was born in Santa Barbara County. While Pitsironis led the winemaking process and served as the face of the brand, he encountered Marie Petulla at Firefly, where they cultivated a strong working relationship.

Petulla later left Firefly to join the team developing UNION, and brought in Pitsironis to curate wine lists for the restaurant. His dedication to local, sustainable winemakers that respect the traditions of the ancient craft align with Chef Bruce Kalman’s authentically influenced, ingredient-driven cuisine, converging to deliver a multi-faceted, genuinely rooted dining experience.

The Studio City, CA resident spends his free time cooking, exercising, and making wine, with a new label launch on the horizon. He also enjoys directing and producing movies with his wife, Dawn Marie, including their debut 2014 film, “A Life, Taken.”

Monday, January 16, 2017

01/16/2017 - A Napa Valley Retrospective with Heitz Cellars and Martha's Vineyard

Kathleen Heitz Myers
President & CEO

Years of hands-on experience in every facet of the family business inspired Kathleen Heitz Myers' deep-rooted love of winemaking. Her firsthand knowledge of every aspect of running a winery combined with a broad-based education in science, genetics and the culinary arts uniquely prepared Kathleen for her dynamic leadership role at one of Napa Valley’s most revered wineries.
The Heitz family values education, and Kathleen approached her studies with the intent of gaining an international perspective. She began her scientific studies in Switzerland, ultimately earning a Biology degree from the University of Oregon. She also attained a lifetime teaching credential from UC Davis, and continued her education in France and Thailand with the study of cuisine.
In 1978, she returned home, eager to contribute to the Heitz Wine Cellars winemaking legacy. Her career at Heitz began in sales and marketing, where she spearheaded a program to export Heitz wines to markets around the globe. Her ability to identify innovative ideas and flawlessly execute them won her the family’s vote of confidence to lead the entire operation.
Since 1998, Kathleen has been the President and Chief Operating Officer of Heitz Wine Cellars. She has charted a highly effective course for the winery by embracing frontline business practices while continuing to preserve Heitz's commitment to quality and innovation.
Kathleen’s ability to create long-term relationships has fostered valued business connections and friendships with customers, employees and community leaders alike, a vital cornerstone of Heitz Wine Cellars’ ongoing success. Her respect for community involves her service on several boards-of-directors including past Chairman of Wine Institute, past President of Napa Valley Vintners, past President of Wine Service Co-op and the Advisory Council for the Land Trust of Napa County.
“My parents believed in the American dream of building a family business,” says Kathleen. “I think they would be amazed at the far-reaching impact of our small winery today. We hear stories from people around the world who celebrate life with Heitz wines, and we promise that we will continue to polish our legacy.”
Kathleen is married to St. Helena businessman George Myers, who is also an avid wine connoisseur and fly fisherman. They synchronize their busy schedules to travel together often as Kathleen represents Heitz Wine Cellars around the world.

About Heitz Wine Cellars: Founded in 1961, Heitz Wine Cellars is a true Napa Valley legacy: a multi-generation, successful family business that has held true to its founder’s vision for decades and continues to stand proudly in the world’s spotlight. Pioneering vintner Joe Heitz and his wife Alice shared an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that helped usher in Napa’s modern era with his iconic, globally-celebrated wines—including Napa Valley’s first vineyard-designated Cabernet Sauvignon, the legendary Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard—and the vision that Napa Valley wines could achieve international recognition. Today, the Heitz family is steadfastly upholding the principles and unwavering commitment to quality that built a wine portfolio of enduring excellence, while thoughtfully modernizing and diversifying the business. With hands-on management of the winery and organically farmed vineyards, the Heitz family continues to offer quintessential wines, made with 100% Napa Valley fruit, that celebrate their agrarian roots and commitment to the stewardship of Napa Valley, a place they call home.

Heitz Family: Founders Joe and Alice Heitz had a vision that encompassed creating Napa Valley wines that stand with the upper echelon of wines from around the world, and then bringing those wines to the international stage. Their daughter, CEO Kathleen Heitz Myers, brought that vision to the forefront, creating and implementing an innovative and sustainable approach to business, built upon a myriad of relationships that span the globe. Winemaker David Heitz has brought his own expertise to the cellar, while staying true to a vision of classic, polished wines with restraint and elegance. Representing the family’s third generation, David’s son Harrison Heitz joined the team at Heitz Wine Cellars in 2012 with an appreciation of the family’s legacy and his sights on contributing to the future success of the business. While Joe Heitz passed away in 2000, Alice continues to lend support at the winery with her keen palate and quick wit.

Martha May

"Where is Martha's Vineyard?" Here is the correct answer for wine aficionados.
Martha's Vineyard is 34 gently sloping acres on the western side of the Napa Valley just south of Oakville. This verdant niche near the Mayacamas foothills soaks up the morning sun and then cools down a bit earlier than the valley floor.

Fanning out across a graveled alluvial plain, the vines are fringed with towering Eucalyptus trees which are often credited with the distinctive minty aroma and taste of the wine.
This certified organic ranch is home to a proprietary Cabernet clone famed for producing small berries with an intensely purple hue and splendidly concentrated flavor. Joe Heitz crafted the first memorable Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from this exquisite fruit in 1966.

Tom and Martha May have owned this much-heralded vineyard since 1963. From the beginning, the couple decided to focus on the agricultural end of the business, but they believed that they had "special dirt" which just might merit its own wine. The connection they made with Joe and Alice Heitz was a fortuitous moment in Cabernet history.

When the Mays purchased the land and moved into their home, they were greeted with two bottles of Heitz wine that had been left as a welcome by the sellers. Impressed with the gift, the Mays decided to visit Heitz Wine Cellars. That marked the beginning of a friendship that quickly became one of the most important relationships in the winemaking industry. The Heitz family's exclusive arrangement to buy the May family's grapes began with their first harvest and continues today.

Second generation Richard May and Laura May Everett are a major force in the family business today. They approach the farming of Martha's Vineyard in the May family tradition — with great energy and ardor. Both are devoted to the preservation of the extraordinary land that is their heritage.

Now, what about that name?

Trying to come up with a catchy name for their farm in 1963 Tom asked, "What about Martha's Vineyard?" Martha modestly replied, "Oh, we can't do that." But, Tom loved the humor in it, so he persisted until Martha politely acquiesced.
Martha's Vineyard — Now, you know the "West" of the story.