Charlie Trotter’s Guest Chef – Me!!!

Today is my birthday. The reason I am telling this tidbit of information to the world is to share my excitement over the coolest birthday gift from my brother, Don, and sister-in-law, Kristy. I will be the Guest Chef For The Day at Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant in Chicago, spending the complete day in the kitchen including food preparation training and working on the line! Then after cooking from 2 PM to 9 PM, I change out of my chef’s whites and sit down to dinner in the dining room with my family. Whoo! Hoo!

Charlie Trotter’s is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the world. For 20 years, the restaurant has dedicated itself to excellence in the culinary arts. Never willing to rest on its laurels, Charlie Trotter’s Restaurant is innovative and progressive in the world of food and wine and has been instrumental in establishing new standards for fine dining.”

If any of my friends, including my blogger friends, are in Chicago on this particular summer evening (date to be determined), come to Charlie Trotter’s (reservations required) and let me cook for you!

Thanks Don and Kristy. I love you. Whoo! Hoo!


A video profile of Charlie Trotter’s eponymous restaurant.

Reuben Sandwich


Norms Restaurant
Grilled Reuben Sandwich $7.99
Deep-Fried Jalapeño $0.25

“Reuben, make me a sandwich, make it a combination, I’m so hungry I could eat a brick,” said actress Annette Seelos to Arnold Reuben, owner of Reuben’s Deli in NYC, circa 1914.

This is just one of the many legends on the invention of this sandwich.

A Reuben Sandwich: Corned Beef, Turkey or Pastrami? Cole Slaw or Sauerkraut? Russian Dressing or Thousand Island? Swiss Cheese or Jack Cheese? Toasted or Grilled? At least everyone agrees to serve it on Rye.


Across the street from the car dealership is Norms We Never Close. It’s a fun place (for a food blogger with a camera) to spend a few hours while getting an oil change and other automobile maintenance.

I’m making corned beef and cabbage in honor of St. Paddy, but since it takes about 50 minutes per pound, and my brisket is 4 1/2 pounds, it won’t be ready anytime soon. So I’m posting the Reuben Sandwich – Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Gina Lee’s Bistro

Thai Marinated Sea Bass with Spinach, Baby Bok Choy,
Chow Mein Noodles in a Coconut Lemongrass Broth

Crispy Fried Shrimp & Pork Won Tons
Hot & Sweet Sauce, Cucumber Slaw

Korean BBQ Flank Steak with Spicy Dressing
Scallion Fried Rice and Tofu Stir Fry

Bento Box: Selection Changes Nightly
Mini Ahi Burger, Crab Cakes, Chicken & Snap Peas Stir Fry, Beef Skewer on Mashed Potatoes

Ahi Burger, Selection from Bento Box on this Night


Korean Lettuce Wraps: Chicken and Tofu, Korean Red Bean Paste
Daikon & Cucumber Relish

Pistachio Crushed Mahi Mahi with Three Sauces

Mandarin Orange Sauce, Creamy Sesame Splash, Soy Syrup


Scott & Gina Lee have been my dear friends for many many years. They opened Gina Lee’s Bistro, an Asian Fusion restaurant in Redondo Beach, over a decade ago. A while back I offered to help Gina start a blog so on this night I took some photos of the food as it was leaving the kitchen.


For dinner, I enjoyed the Thai Marinated Sea Bass paired brilliantly with a glass of Etude Pinot Gris from Scott’s eclectic wine list.

Irene Virbila from the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Everything from Gina Lee’s kitchen tastes fresh and vivid. There’s also a logic to how flavors are woven together.”
I couldn’t agree more. The flavors are just so vibrant…

When you are in Southern California, I recommend a visit to Redondo Beach to have dinner at my friends’ fabulous and unique restaurant. And be sure to tell them Lori Lynn sent you 🙂

An Extraordinary Dinner with Fellow Bloggers


A Salad of Steamed Baby Beets, Frisée , Cumin-Paprika Fried Organic Garbanzos, Shallots and Greek Feta

The inspiration for this dish came from our dinner at AOC. Here, organic garbanzo beans are fried in olive oil with diced shallot, smashed garlic clove, hot paprika, and ground cumin.


Organic frisĂ©e is layered with very thinly sliced shallots, steamed baby beets splashed with good red wine vinegar and sea salt and freshly ground pepper, topped with Greek feta cheese. Warm garbanzo beans with the cumin-paprika olive oil is spooned over the top. The red wine vinegar on the beets plus the fragrant olive oil on the beans makes a great “deconstructed” vinaigrette. (I am excited to submit this dish, too, to “My Legume Love Affair” Event by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook Blog).


Last week, the folks at Foodbuzz invited Featured Publishers to dine at Suzanne Goin’s awesome AOC restaurant in Los Angeles. Ben of Château Petrogasm blog selected the refreshingly esoteric wines to pair with this extraordinary meal including one of the few domaines that make excellent red Sancerre, Domaine Vacheron 2005. Ben’s wine blog of tasting notes through images is pure genius…

We dined together on a fabulous multi-course menu of:

  • chicken liver crostini with pancetta
  • roasted dates, parmesan and bacon
  • marinated beets, olives, fried chickpeas and feta
  • leek and cantal tart with thyme and pancetta
  • smoked trout, persimmon, endive and creme fraiche
  • petrale sole, split peas, ham hock and truffle butter
  • grilled skirt steak with roquefort butter
  • rabbit ragout with dijon, chestnuts and tarragon
  • chanterelles, ricotta gnocchi and sherry cream
  • sweet potatoes with bacon, romesco and spinach
  • sheep’s milk cheescake with cassis compote and almond croustine
  • chocolate and hazelnut dacquoise with gianduja mousse and salted caramel ice cream

  • Strangers just a few hours earlier, we departed after hugs and well wishes.

    Wonderful photos of all these dishes are posted at Foodbuzz Los Angeles by Jen of eating plum blog. If you think these dishes sound delicious, you must see her outstanding photography.
    You absolutely must visit Evie, she is hilarious. In her post on Mushroom Barley Soup, her advice on serving the soup is to “use a bowl, not a plate. These decisions can be so difficult.” Go to Hot Dish! to see what I mean.
    And Kat of Dirt Cake blog is the Pastry Cook at Spago Beverly Hills, lovely and very passionate about her craft…be sure to check out her yummy post on Oatmeal Cream Pie with a crème brĂ»lĂ©e center.
    What is Foodbuzz?
    Foodbuzz: the first-ever community site devoted exclusively to food and dining content—an unparalleled resource for searching, surfing and sharing with fellow foodies everywhere.

    Maybe you already know Ryan the Girl, of The Pink Spoon blog and Managing Editor at Foodbuzz.com? If the future of Foodbuzz is determined by the quality of the people involved, it cannot help but be a smashing success.
    Before leaving AOC, I bought Suzanne Goin’s cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques in which she penned, “Don’t wait til Sunday.” In addition to her fabulous recipes, she tells many charming personal stories. Her cooking style is pure and fresh and the book is an inspiration to cook local, organic, seasonal dishes using all the senses.


    A heartfelt thank you to the folks at Foodbuzz for hosting this event and especially for fostering a unique camaraderie among strangers with a like passion for all things food related.

    Cha Gio

    Cha Gio: Imperial Rolls also called Vietnamese Spring Rolls


    We enjoyed our Cha Gio at the tiny, six table restaurant Nam’s Red Door in San Pedro, California where the menu hasn’t changed one bit in over 30 years.


    Chopped pork, crab meat, black mushrooms, cellophane noodles and Asian spices wrapped in rice paper, then fried.


    To assemble: wrap the spring roll in a lettuce leaf, add cucumber, mint, and cilantro, then dip in nuoc mam and, if fond of heat, add the ubiquitous Chili Garlic Sauce.
    Beverage pairing: Cold Vietnamese Beer “33” Export

    Also try:
    Mi Xao Ga – crispy egg noodles topped with chicken and vegetables

    And for dessert:
    Bánh Flan

    Caramel custard became part of Vietnamese cuisine through the French colonization of Vietnam. The Vietnamese way is to steam the custard as opposed to the French method of cooking in a bain-marie. Delicious, very light and fluffy.

    Ăn nào! Bon appétit !