Go Texan

Today, we (me, the team, and Latte) wrapped up day 2 of shooting my new TV show. This morning I was thrilled to visit the Sunset Valley Farmers Market here in Austin and then a delicious restaurant that is all about building community and using only the freshest, organic ingredients.

At the farmers market, they had a sign promoting local farms and farmers: “Go Texan.”

Today, we went for it 100% and it tasted delicious!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


2 Lattes. 2 Shoots.

Today was the first day of shooting for my new TV show where I travel around the US spotlighting restaurants that support their local food purveyors as well as visiting the food purveyors themselves!

With one Latte under my belt, we headed to our first location… delicious food, wonderful Southern hospitality, and great teamwork all around.

With Latte number two by my side, we were off to visit Vital Farms to talk about pasture raised organic chickens.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a warm day in Austin (with warmer weather for tomorrow – in the 90’s!), but never too hot for my good friend, Latte.

It was a long day and we are all up in 6 hours for day #2, but, I must say, the people and food in this city are so fantastic – I just might be too excited to sleep!

Deep in the Heart of Texas


My sous and I arrived in Austin this afternoon. We got to fly out with the Director of Photography who is from San Francisco and connected through L.A. (great guy) and were greeted in Austin by my new Executive Producer. Soon following, we met the rest of the team (a total of 7 people!) and, I must say, this is a stellar crew.

In a handful of hours, we hit the ground running. We’ll be visiting some local quintessential Austin spots, a funky restaurant, and even a farm. All in a days work.

The best surprise of today? My executive producer is a coffee fanatic.

Praise Latte. This is gonna be a great, highly caffeinated 6 weeks.


T minus 12 hours

Only 12 hours left before my sous and I take off on our 3 week adventure, shooting my new TV show!

With my taxes finally done (I owed), laundry in the dryer (I need more quarters), dishes washed, and last avocado eaten, I think I’m ready. (Well, minus the part where I have to pack…)

First stop: Austin, Texas. Someone once told me that there are more runners than cars in Austin. I also heard it’s the “Live Music Capital” of the world, that there are tons of natural springs, pools and hiking trails, and that the food is outstanding with an abundance of barbecue, Tex-Mex, and farm-to-table delights. (Note to self, pack floss.)

I’ll be visiting 3 restaurants in Austin as well as making several visits to local food purveyors and maybe even a few farmers markets (my favorite), in my quest to find the freshest, most flavorful food in Austin.

For all these things, I am counting down the hours until our departure.

It’s T minus 12 hours. I hope I can sleep.

Which means that it’s T minus 8 hours until Latte! Who needs sleep?!

I can’t wait.

For both.

But first… off for more quarters.


Dueling Muffins.

Last night, I cooked up a batch of my double chocolate toasted almond orange zest cranberry muffins from my cookbook (in the chocolate, yes chocolate, season) to deliver to the crew at KTLA (channel 5) in the morning.

Getting ready for a warm oven:

Truth be told, I have a meeting scheduled with their makeup artist to get some makeup tips since I’ll be hitting the road filming my new show and, well, I’ll be the makeup artist. (Hey, this bald head can get shiny, what can I say?) I wanted to do something a little special for the crew because they so graciously hosted me for a morning cooking spot on March 2nd, which was a lot of fun.

To mix things up a bit, I tried subbing out the almonds with pecans. (Okay. Maybe I was toasting the almonds and got a little sidetracked and they overcooked… a bit. Like burnt popcorn. I’m not saying that’s what happened, but it is a definite possibility.)

Well, one thing I have found again and again – it’s the little mistakes in life that, if embraced, can lead to even greater things. As one of my friends from back in the day used to say, “there are no mistakes, only outtakes.” This is one of the things I love about life and love about cooking. As it turned out, pecans were a delicious substitute for almonds. Dare I say, better? Maybe.

Warm melty chocolate pecan delight:

Well, you’ll have to let me know. Idea! You whip up a batch of the muffins with toasted almonds, I’ll bring the pecan version, and we’ll discuss this with a muffin in one hand and double shot Latte in the other hand. Deal? Okay, deal. In fact, let’s shake on it.

The Lyon Cometh

This week, (a week I’ve been waiting months to arrive) I embark on part I of the filming of my new TV show, and I couldn’t be more excited!

On Thursday, me and my sous (who is traveling with me) and a crew of 7, will be off and running for 3 weeks filming around the US, spotlighting restaurants that support their local food purveyors. We’ll also be stopping by to visit those local food purveyors, farmers, farms, and mom and pop shops to share their story as well.

Part I of the travels/filming will look a little like this:


After 3 weeks, we take one week off, then we’re hitting the road again for another 3 week stint. Operation Midwest and East Coast.

I’m so excited to travel and learn and then share the highlights and ins and outs with all of you. I’ll be sending updates throughout the trip so you can travel along with me (and Latte, of course) mile by mile.

New people, new stories, and new restaurants…

Lookout, America. The Lyon cometh!

A Lyon Dreams of Sushi

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Inspired by the movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, that my sous and I recently enjoyed, this morning we headed to downtown L.A. and took a fantastic 3 & 1/2 hour sushi making class at the Sushi Institute of America. Also joining us was my sous’ sister, Karen, and our best friend, Scott – a master sushi lover.

There’s something so wonderful about the simplicity of sushi. I totally understand how the sushi greats, (like Jiro, his son and kitchen staff) train their whole lives in this art. Making the rice is a science in and of itself: the traditional method to clean it, the right ratio of rice and water, the mixture for the sweet/salty rice vinegar, stirring with the proper technique, fanning the rice to cool it, and so on – this one task alone can take years upon years to master.

The more and more we practiced and learned, the further perfection seemed.

I can only imagine how a sushi master must just ‘feel’ when it’s the right amount of rice in their hands for making a roll or the nigiri (when the fish is on top of a mound of rice). To begin to play with that delicate balance was very exciting for all of us. And the results? Snacks, rolls, and pieces of sashimi and sushi all along the way!

We also learned how to make dashi (fish stock made from seaweed and dried tuna) and miso soup. In fact, we ended up making so much sushi that, upon going home, we had to walk to the neighborhood bookstore to share our feast with our friend Tim (one of the tasters for my cookbook – he actually gave so much feedback that he’s IN the book). We armed him with some soy sauce, a pair of chopsticks and off he went.

Every grain of rice has a purpose. Every motion, every slice, every… delicious bite. The only downside to today’s class, if you can call it that, was the self inflicted sushi coma, which I quickly overcame with the aid of my best buddy, Latte.

You never know, tonight I think I may have some dreams of sushi of my own.


Cookies for Breakfast?

Last night, as I was shopping for ingredients (at my local grocery store) for the recipes I have been testing in preparation for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Cooking for Solutions Event that I am participating in, I spotted, in the frozen section, a “Toaster Breakfast Cookie.” A what? Yes, a “breakfast cookie,” and made with whole grains, to boot. Fascinated, I looked at the nutritional information on the back of the box. 1 cookie has about 6 grams of fat, 300 calories, 230 mg of sodium, 19 grams of sugar… and so on.

It reminded me of ANOTHER amazing food product I saw in the aisles a couple of weeks ago.

Seriously? An “excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A, B….” I almost grabbed the whole lot off of the shelves. I NEED this – for my health! It’s a cookie. How could I resist? Well, cop a squat and let’s read the ingredient list, shall we? The first ingredient is sugar, followed by a number of other “nutritious” ingredients such as vegetable oils (likely GMO canola oil), polydextrose (processed sugar that mainly comes from corn these days and is likely GMO), corn syrup (um, GMO?), dextrose (mainly comes from corn these days and is likely… say it with me, GMO?), natural and artificial flavors (which ones, please), etc.

With processed foods being marketed as nutritious with fancy packaging and colors, it can be so difficult shopping at grocery stores (and I can’t even imagine how much more difficult when you have kids).

As my Director of Photography, Carl,  on my PBS show (Growing a Greener World) once said while we were shooting an episode in a small town (comprised of many overweight people) where there were only fast food restaurant options for dinner, “these people have no chance.”

No chance? What’s wrong with this picture, Latte?

It is becoming increasingly hard to navigate the way through the maze of food marketing and gimmicks: the lack of proper food labeling, the money and politics behind food lobbyists, the fact that so much of the government farming subsidies go for GMO mono crop corn (which we can’t actually eat without processing it first), the news that some fast food restaurants now accept food stamps… and on it goes.

My wish is for people to know that it is fresh food that is synonymous with nutritious and delicious. Maybe even subsidize food that doesn’t need processing before we can eat it. Real food. Now, that’d be something.

This is why I dedicate a whole section in my cookbook to discuss how to shop safely(!) at the grocery store (perimeter shopping) and why I love shopping at farmers markets. At least, when shopping at your local farmers market, you can ask the grower where the food comes from, how it’s grown, and even visit their farm.

Education is a start, however I know it’s complicated. The problems weave through the socioeconomic lines to the political streets to the media train to our education system. And when we are told that a cookie has as much vitamin E as two cups of carrot juice, what chance do we really have?

My Cookbook, Some Spice, and Everthing Nice

This is a really fun thing!

My favorite spice company, My Spice Sage, is sponsoring a giveaway of a signed copy of my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh.

Spices and a free signed cookbook? Read on and share with your friends!


What was I thinking?!

When I embarked on the journey (5 years ago) to write my seasonal cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, I always planned to self-publish so I could take my time with each recipe – ensuring deliciousness, make sure each photo was perfect, and (therefore) design the cookbook of my dreams.

I never really thought about what this would mean on the distribution end, though. I mean, 10,000 books isn’t really THAT many books, is it? Actually, it is. Translation: 4 storage units underground (climate controlled) about 45 minutes outside of L.A. (cheaper), many boxes of tape, sharpies, and return labels, and countless trips to post offices all around the country (I love making new friends!). Today, I had to replenish my stock which means my super-sous and I drove (in separate cars) to the storage unit to “grab” some books (read: 396 books or 1,188 pounds) load them into our cars (read: sweat) and subsequently unload them into my apartment (read: very time consuming).  I look forward to the day where I can reclaim my apartment (or as we have been calling it – the office supply/book warehouse) and walk freely without a fun book maze taking me everywhere (have you ever seen the movie Labyrinth?).

Oh, Nathan of years ago, if I could only have a wise word with you now…

Thank goodness for my super-sous who always makes things more fun and, of course, trusted Latte who is never more than a sip away.