2016 Gourmandise Grain Conference

The Gourmandise School at Santa Monica Place

October 13, 2016

Event Speakers

Or Amsalam - Lodge Bread

Or’s love for food has been shaped by his Moroccan heritage and large family meals. His culinary journey began when he spent summers in Israel as a child, watching his aunts cook authentic dishes for his huge extended family. They taught him the importance of creating things from scratch and infusing love, passion and intention into the food he is making. Their use of bold, middle ­Eastern flavors and colorful spices is still one of his biggest inspirations.

Or has been cooking for as long as he can remember and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles in 2009. Since then, he has worked under some of LA’s top chefs, including Wolfgang Puck at Spago and Chef Micah Wexler at Mezze. In 2012, he founded LA Flavor Catering company, and now he is excited about breaking into Los Angeles’s diverse baking community.

Greg Blanc - Gjusta

Coming soon

Carlos Enriquez - Superba Food + Bread

Carlos Enriquez joined Superba Food & Bread in June 2015, bringing with him not only the knowledge that comes from a lifetime of working with pastry & bread, but stellar industry experience as a pastry chef for some of the country’s most respected restaurants and restaurant groups. As the Bread & Pastry Director for Superba Food & Bread, Carlos Enriquez oversees product development of mill to oven breads and farmers market pastries. “Having the opportunity to develop breads and pastries with ingredients that are hand selected weekly from local farmers is amazing,” he says of working with Superba Food & Bread. “The diversity and number of items that change weekly is definitely that, but also very rewarding.”

A native of Los Angeles, Enriquez grew up in a small family-run bakery in Van Nuys. Of his own approach to desserts and baked goods, Enriquez notes that he loves to add a playful modern twist to childhood favorites, often reinterpreting them depending on the occasion. “Food to me is a simple playground,” he says. “How you approach it will determine how much fun you will have in it.”

Chef Stefano De Lorenzo

De Lorenzo visited Los Angeles in 1995 and he was instantly captivated by the splendor of Southern California. He hasn't left since and worked his way around various restaurants throughout the city.

In spring 2004 Stefano De Lorenzo opened his own little place at 5 Dudley Ave., in Venice Beach, just few steps away for the ocean. Shortly after, "Piccolo Ristorante" became a smashing success and the line at the door got longer and longer that convinced Stefano to expand to a new location not far away in Santa Monica, "La Botte". At La Botte Stefano received many rewards including a “Michelin Star” every year Michelin was present in Los Angeles. Recently he participated in a project of presenting fresh hand-made, local grown grains pasta to the local farmers market around town. Currently Chef Stefano is bringing his experience to Downtown Los Angeles where he is collaborating with “Maccheroni Republic” Italian restaurant to open factory for a daily production of organic pasta.

As a true Italian growing up in a modest family pasta was always in the center of our table and a pot of delicious tomato sauce was constantly present on the very far corner of our wood burning stove. I live for pasta, it is just my favorite food!

Jon Hammond - Tehachapi Grain Project

Jon Hammond grew up on the small organic farm his family started in 1921 in the Tehachapi Mountains, raising pigs, sheep, chickens and rabbits and cultivating vegetables and fruit. He continues to use vintage farm equipment and is focused on growing drought-resistant crops like small cereal grains with a holistic approach to animal husbandry and soil health. He is also a writer and photographer, and a fluent speaker and teacher of Nüwa, an American Indian language of the Tehachapi region.

Nan Kohler - Grist & Toll

Fresh, stone milled flour has changed me forever, as a baker and a person. Sourcing and working with a variety of wheat and grains has unlocked a whole new world of flavors and textures. For me, there is simply no turning back; this is just the beginning of falling in love with baking over and over again. No grain is the same, no harvest is the same, no baker is the same, therefore our flour shouldn’t be the same. The art of milling is the key to exploring the diversity we have been missing in the world of wheat and flour.

Evan Kleiman - KCRW's 'Good Food'

Evan Kleiman is a true culinary multitasker. Chef, author, radio host, restaurateur and sought after speaker, she has been called "the fairy Godmother of the LA food scene" for her central role in bringing a community of food people together through her radio show, Good Food. As host of Good Food on KCRW since 1997, Evan has interviewed more than 6000 guests ranging from celebrated chefs to local farmers, enabling her to explore every aspect of food and how it intersects with human life.

As proprietor and chef of Angeli Caffe for 28 years before its close, Kleiman's improvisational style, while rooted in the Cucina Povera of Italy, showed her reliance on simple ingredients and economical ingenuity to produce delicious and satisfying food with a fresh, honest, pared down aesthetic that people intuitively understand and appreciate. When Angeli opened in 1984 Evan was credited with reintroducing rustic Italian cooking to the US.

As a natural extension of her longtime exposure to everything to do with food, Kleiman's interest now extends to issues of food policy and agro-ecology. The founder of LA's, Slow Food Chapter, which she ran for eight years, Evan now serves on the Stewardship Council for Roots of Change and is a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. She is an active speaker on issues of food culture and sustainability and just to maintain a balance, is also attempting to become the Queen of Pie.

Kleiman is the author of eight books on Italian food and one video app, "Easy As Pie."

Rose Lawrence - Red Bread

Rose is the chef and fermenter behind Red Bread. Rose has always been captivated by food, especially whole ancient grains for their deep flavor and nourishment. She is committed to understanding the science, art, and magic of real food treated with care. Rose is a passionate chef, baker, master food preserver, and is actively involved with food justice issues.

Travis Lett - Gjusta

Coming soon

Zoe Nathan - Rustic Canyon Family

At her flagship restaurant, Huckleberry, Zoe oversees production of the handcrafted breads, breakfast pastries, and desserts made with techniques rooted in the French tradition. She also creates all the savory breakfast and lunch dishes at Huckleberry, many of which, like Green Eggs & Ham and her delightfully messy Fried Egg Sandwich, have become classics around the LA dining scene. She enjoys playing with different grains and finding that perfect balance between being healthful and flavorful. She often finds that whole grains have a wonderful depth of flavor and nuttiness that is so much more interesting than the plain white-flour pasta, white rice or couscous.

Farmer Mai Nguyen

“[This is] why I farm: to provide delicious, nutritious, culturally-appropriate food using environmentally regenerative methods. It’s critical to ensuring food security and good health for everyone. I draw from my scientific knowledge, food business management experience, and cooperative community organizing background to grow food and create farming networks. I present on organic no-till, draft animal, and dry farming techniques and participate in experimental, environmentally regenerative farming trials.

I treasure heritage grains for their drought resistance. You can get tons of food from a few inches of rain. It's ancient and it's California's future.”

Zach Pollack - Sotto and ALimento

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Pollack’s culinary curiosity began over 6,000 miles away in Florence, Italy while studying abroad to pursue a degree in architecture from Brown University. Pollack credits the Florentine central market for instilling in him a passion for food so profound, it deflected his career trajectory straight into the kitchen.

After working in Italy's twenty regions and strengthening his skills under esteemed chefs such as Neal Fraser and David Myers in Los Angeles, Pollack partnered with chef Steve Samson in 2011 to open Sotto, focusing on the regional cuisines of Southern Italy. Sotto garnered tremendous popular and critical acclaim including a spot on Esquire magazine’s ‘Best Restaurants in America’ list and earning the #1 honor in Los Angeles magazine’s ‘Best New Restaurants’ awards and has been featured in renowned national publications including Food + Wine magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, and the New York Times. Pollack has been honored by esteemed publications including as a ‘Rising Star’ by StarChefs and on the prestigious ‘30 Under 30’ list by Forbes magazine.

In 2014, he struck out on his own to open Alimento in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles that was ranked within the top 20 of Los Angeles Times' food critic Jonathan Gold's "101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles 2015," Los Angeles Magazine's "Top 10 Best New Restaurants," Angeleno's "Best New Restaurants," Bon Appétit's "Best 50 New Restaurants," and GQ's "25 Most Outstanding Restaurants of 2015." In addition, Zach was nominated as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's "Rising Star Chef of the Year" award in 2015. Most recently, Zach announced the opening of his second project Cosa Buona, which will showcase Italian-American fare and debut in Fall 2016.

Alexander Phaneuf - Lodge Bread

Born and raised in the Coachella Valley, Alexander Phaneuf has been cooking since the age of 14. Following culinary school in New York City, Phaneuf was hired by Masaharu Morimoto to open Morimoto Napa. Phaneuf transitioned to a sous chef position under Dominique Crenn at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, leading the team to the first of their two Michelin stars. A chef colleague from Crenn persuaded him to accept a sous role at AQ, which led to him taking over its sister restaurant TBD. His work there quickly became the talk of the town, building off the slow food movement and cooking from a 50 square-foot wood burning hearth with a team of exceptional chefs.

He relocated to Los Angeles with the goal of opening his own restaurant. He soon met chef Or Amsalam, who shared Alex's passion for baking artisan bread. They opened Lodge Bread on Nov. 2 to much critical acclaim from the local press and food community.

Minh Phan - Porridge and Puffs

LA Chef Minh Phan is lover of grains. Being one of the first Angelenos to put quinoa on the menu (not to mention the acclaimed 9-grain buckwheat pancake) at Axe in 1998, she continues the exploration with her latest project Porridge + Puffs. Coming from a fine dining background with a recent stint at Denmark’s acclaimed Dragsholm Slot Gourmet, she’s amplifying her California-Asian flavors with a bit of Nordic sensibility, including the use of grains in unexpected places.

Jason Predergast - Tender Greens

Born and raised in Chicago, Executive Chef Jason Prendergast graduated from the Culinary Institute of America with honors. Before joining the Tender Greens’ culinary team, Jason worked at FIG Restaurant in Santa Monica, Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows, AK Restaurant & Bar in Venice and the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago and Westlake Village.

Jason takes pride in sourcing the purest ingredients and using simple techniques to showcase their big flavor. Most mornings he can be found at farmers’ markets around LA searching for the freshest and best of the season for his daily specials.


Glenn Roberts - Anson MIlls

After a decades long career in hospitality design focusing on adaptive reuse of historic architecture, Glenn Roberts sold everything he owned in 1998 to follow his passion for heritage grain repatriation and the restoration of the place based cuisine of the Carolina Rice Kitchen. Today, Glenn's company, Anson Mills, grows heritage grain seed, farms that seed on many organic production farms and mills fresh to order for more than 4500 chefs, bakers and pastry chefs direct worldwide.

Alex Weiser - Tehachapi Grain Project

Alex is an enthusiastic supporter of sustainable farming of all kinds, and he continues to experiment with diverse crops, including heirloom and traditional regional
varieties, at his family's farms. He is even working on creating an infrastructure to help local farmers grow and harvest delicious, drought tolerant Heritage Grains. His hope is to bring these sustainable, flavorful and healthy heirloom grains back to Southern California. Weiser Family Farms produce is available at farmers markets, select stores, and many of the finest restaurants in Los Angeles County and the Southland.

Conference Partners