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NY is on a Journey of Love and Healing: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

Learn to Love Yourself: The Orchid Book Conversation with co-authors Rocio Aquino, Angel Orengo

Rocio Aquino and Angel Orengo, co-authors of “The Orchid” are, as their website shares partners in life and spirit, wanderers who found home in each other’s hearts.

Their journey together has been filled with a myriad of cultures, beliefs, and encounters with both the ordinary and extraordinary. 

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

The story focuses on five of these women, each wrestling with unique life challenges such as closeted sexuality, career pressures, spousal abandonment, sexual abuse, eating disorders, and manipulative behavior. 

As they engage with the program’s curriculum, they peel away layers of self-deception, pain, and societal conditioning, discovering that the love and solutions they seek already reside within them. 

The Orchid serves as both the setting and the metaphor for their collective journey toward self-realization and empowerment.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit FlavRReport’s YouTube channel here. 

Joe Winger:

We’re talking about The Orchid: The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses

I go to a lot of book events, and a few weeks ago in Los Angeles, I went to The Orchid’s book signing. What I was amazed by was there was so much emotion in the audience.  Big smiles, happy tears. 

What are we missing in our lives that your book, The Orchid, helps us recognize? 

Rocio Aquino: 

How beautiful [of a] question. I think, to be honest, that we are perfect already. And we forgot.

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, I think we forget that at the core life doesn’t need to be that difficult. It’s not that complicated that we allow ourselves to be complicated by the things around us, by the things that we’re told, by the way we think our lives need to be, by the number of houses, clothing, shoes – everything right that we need to have.

The moment you bring it down to the basics and you’re like, yeah, life should be simple. We are okay. We’re just learning here. We’re back. We’re like in a school and the teacher wasn’t angry because we got it wrong. On the contrary,  it was just like, Oh, don’t worry. I’ll teach you.

Joe Winger: 

So what I’m interpreting is, people are having these emotional realizations because they’re remembering your message that they’re perfect already?

What do you think it is about that audience interaction that your book is giving?

Rocio Aquino: 

I was in the front, so I was not as intimate like you and your perspective. But what resonates with me and what I see that can resonate for someone else is that they know and they understand that they are not alone on this journey.

The struggles they are feeling are real. They feel the difficulty. Everyone at some point is [feeling] who here has a difficult path? Everyone is like me. That connection is not superficial, but it’s more in a deep way when you are in a group setting after being so disconnected really to talk about the important things that matters in life has another connection.

Angel Orengo: 

We’ve gotten large amounts of feedback by now.  Some people are touched by the fact that someone has written a book selflessly to help them. I know there were people that were touched very much by that.  

I think you understand what that means really, it was all about how do we help the reader get to a different place, right?

Go from point A to point B, right? There are people that for the first time find themselves in an environment where they can treat themselves with some kindness, where maybe they haven’t stopped to think about that before.  Because we try to block it.  

It’s easier to numb pain than to experience it and let it go.

Other people are [having the realization that] it’s not that complicated.  I’m just so happy that I found this now. I think it’s just all of that energy. 

The energy in the room that day was really powerful. When you’re in the presence of that energy and by presence, the collective – it wasn’t us.  It’s we  – emotions come to the surface, and that’s how we clear emotions, and that’s how we clear energy. 

Thank you for sharing that because I didn’t realize that was happening. 

Rocio Aquino:  

We didn’t have any idea and remember, we have two teenage daughters. They bring us back to reality really quickly at our house. 

 

Joe Winger: 

Going to the actual book itself between the characters, the descriptions, their backgrounds. 

What’s real?  What’s fiction?  And for fiction, what inspired it?

Rocio Aquino: 

Everything happened, everything is real, but never happened all together.

Angel Orengo: And not to those people.

Rocio Aquino: We know that some of the places exist and all the situations exist.

The fiction is today there is not a place that you can go for free to heal in this way. But we hope that someone will open it.  Let’s hope we can do it..

Angel Orengo: 

Yeah, the characters, the book is absolutely real.

Every single thing that happens there has either happened to us or happened to someone we know, or we’ve read it in the news. 

The story about the model and the sexual abuse that’s real, right? It’s happening in the modeling industry now where they have gone through their own “Me too” movement.

There is a scene in which “Olivia” is doing a silent walk and she has a vision of her mother near her. [to Rocio] That’s something that has happened to you, about your own mom who passed away.

There’s a scene in which “Olivia” is speaking to her father. It was a difficult relationship and her father wasn’t the best version of a father that he could have been.

That a lot of it is after my own experience with my own father, who I met three times in my life. One of which, the longest, was five hours. So we took pieces and through the help of everyone who collaborated in the book to construct these characters that brought together all these experiences.

We wanted to write the story of Rocio, who morphed into “Sophia”, and then we realized that we wanted to tell more that we needed that in order to be of service to the people who would be reading the book, we needed to tell more stories because there are so many things happening to women out there that we don’t hear about that we wanted to do justice by representing as many of them.

That’s where it all comes from.

Rocio Aquino: 

The same happened to us when we were reading, not writing the book. We were crying constantly.  At one point I put it down, we were crying [so much]. Then we did it first in English and after in Spanish and then we were crying in Spanish so was like, “Okay I’m continue to heal.”

The process for us was really intense 

Angel Orengo: 

The experience that you’re having [the audience and reader’s emotion], everyone is sharing similar things. It’s simple, but as I’m going, I find myself thinking about things that I’ve never thought about in my own life.

I need to put them down. Sometimes it takes me a little bit before I pick it up again. So it’s like peaks and valleys of intensity.

Joe Winger: 

As authors, how are you feeling now knowing that so many people are having such extreme feelings and discoveries from your pages?

Rocio Aquino: 

You never know how your work is going to be received, to be honest. 

Even though we have a very strict culture of not judging anyone, being totally neutral, we are going to make suggestions.

Now that people are seeing the book, it’s a pleasure, it is humbling. 

Angel Orengo: 

There was intentionality in what we were writing. The book came after our first year of deep introspection into who we were and how we wanted to change our lives. [We studied] a lot of self help books. At the time that we started writing, it was about how do we share this with people who normally don’t have access to information

Also for people who don’t have resources to go and spend time in a retreat for a weekend or spend $5,000 or even $500. [We thought] we should do television because this is our background. But let’s own the intellectual property, the story behind it.

[We thought] we should do television [series], but let’s own the story behind it.

So when we sit down with the people who are going to help us craft the TV show, we have a say in how it’s made. Right now what ends up happening is that people don’t think that love is powerful enough to deal with the issues that you have around you. 

We think that we have to combat anger with anger or force. That’s what we’ve been raised to believe. We’ve gotten to a point where love really does conquer all, but not in the way in which we were taught. 

So when we approached a book, it was, “Let’s do it with a lot of love,” we said, and if we can help one person, it’ll have been worth it.

Everyone who we are connecting with is having similar reactions so it’s humbling.  We’re filled with gratitude beyond belief that we were chosen, selected, inspired to write what we wrote and to put it forth. 

Not just write it, but really now be the face of it and take it to as many places as we can.

Rocio Aquino: 

That’s the main point.  When someone says “Thank you”, because now that means I can continue to share with more people.  If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. That’s our main point to invite everyone to our party.

If more people feel better about themself, that is incredible. 

And the part is really, if you are feeling better about yourself? Great! So it’s about that.

Joe Winger: 

During your book event introduction, you mentioned one of your goals is to bring The Orchid to real life.  Where are we today with that goal? How can the audience help you? 

Angel Orengo: 

Everything in your life begins with an intention.  Waking up in the morning, getting off your bed, right? 

Everything is intention after intention. The first and most important thing that we want is for people to truly enjoy the book because through the enjoyment of the book, there is a transformation that’s taking place.

We now understand that the way to change the world, and even though this is not the ultimate intention is the indirect intention, we can make this place a better place to be for all of us. 

It begins by me feeling better about myself, and you feeling better about yourself. And it begins by all of the things that we create.

All these things these women are experiencing in The Orchid. 

To your question, the first thing is for people – and it’s happening already – to say, wouldn’t it be awesome if this place really did exist and these transformations were taking place.  If one person says it, it’s a big deal.

If a million people begin to think that way, or a billion people begin to think that way. Wow. It is about the power of what we have to manifest. 

In terms of The Orchid as a retreat center, I think there are versions of it throughout the world already.  There are many places that exist. I think those places will be inspired when they read our book to go to a different level. We can do more to expand the way we’re doing this. 

There are podcasts down the line. There are television shows that we’ve mentioned. There’s a digital community that we would like to work on and develop.  There is a nonprofit because there are going to be issues that will require that approach.

We’re going to continue building this community that ultimately is going to want to continue conversations as to how I deal with this.

Even though we attempted to do a very complete seven day experience at this retreat center, the truth is that the experiences can vary greatly.

There’s so much more out there.

We only depicted a number of healers. The number of healers and healing modalities out there are endless. I believe it will happen. 

We have had initial conversations with certain people about it, but I would say it’s in early stages.

I would much rather encourage everybody who is already well advanced into a retreat center to look at themselves and see if there’s anything that can be learned from ours and create their own orchid so that we can help more people around the world.

Rocio Aquino: 

Yes. Take the lessons, what you learn and it really is, “How I can begin to have a conversation with someone.”

Joe Winger: 

As authors, can you talk a bit about what your writing process was like? What was the timeline going from idea to finished, published book?

Angel Orengo: 

We began our process for the book at the end of 2021.  So it took us about two and a half years. 

We’ve come across a lot of people who say, ”Wow, that’s fantastic.” It took them nine years or 10 years and so on.

We were doing this 24 hours a day for two and a half years. 

We relinquished everything else that we were doing and we dedicated ourselves to our growth, our personal growth and introspection, which in itself was the core of what’s at the book and to crafting putting on paper as many of the thoughts and ideas that we had.

The first step was Rocio and I basically went back and forth.  We started thinking about which things worked. At first she was the guinea pig. She was experiencing things, a lot of healing practices. 

Rocio Aquino: 

It’s a process. Experiencing different things, and at the beginning you don’t have it very clear, but you begin, “Okay, this was my story.”

The main thing was to teach the lessons in a very original way.  When you are relaxed, when you are in your house watching TV or reading. 

You begin to question, is this serving me or not?  The process of putting our learnings on paper.

Everyone is a creator.  We can create and create.  

No one is going to have our perspective. Angel was very clear [about] what he likes in life and has never spoken bad about anyone.

In my mind, I was not like that. I was speaking bad about people. But then I learned the power that [kind of speaking] represents and now I don’t want to do it.

But it’s those lessons that you begin to learn [from]. I grew up with that different paradigm, and now that I know another one, I prefer the new one.

Because it gives me more freedom, creativity, and everything.

We put everything in place. We worked hard to make this happen because our motivation was to do a book for [the younger version of] me 32 years ago when I tried to kill myself and I didn’t have the tools and I didn’t have anything.

So this is a book that I wish my mom had before she passed away 32 years ago. 

The motivation was really to spread that another way of thinking was available. So we were in a hurry, like this needs to be available for those Rocio’s, for those Pepitas who were out there, who are out there and need to have something that they can grab quick, and they can begin to see a change.

Angel Orengo: 

I would add, the process of writing the book was truly experiential. It wasn’t just spitting it out, we were living certain things. 

There were times we stopped the book to have an exercise of releasing energy. 

What we realized as we were writing, there were things inside of us that needed to be addressed.

Whether it was an experience that happened when you were a child…

I can’t tell you the times where we were crying, deeply moved by what we were writing and reading and how that was cleaning us inside and how that was changing us. 

We went through different hurdles. 

For example, we realized at an early stage that the book could not be judgmental about anything. if we were going to connect with readers, right?

We had no idea that we needed to ensure that the people at the Orchid, Mary and her staff. [They] never looked at anybody and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry.”  It’s more, “We know we’ve been there. You too can heal from that.”

And so all of those things emerged as we were writing.

There was intentionality and some clear ideas as to how we wanted to proceed.  The truth is that we were experiencing and adjusting as we went.

Rocio Aquino: 

With a lot of respect.

Angel Orengo: 

With a lot of respect for each other, the people we were collaborating with, and the reader.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid: the Secret Code of Modern Goddesses. 

The color scheme, it’s primarily female names, from a traditional or direct point of view, it’s geared more toward a female audience. 

As the authors, trying to get a guy in a woman’s life to read it. What would you encourage them to say to get a guy to read it?

Rocio Aquino: 

#1, I’ve been a woman and reading many books about guys, written by guys and I love it. 

So maybe it’s time for a guy to be open minded. I can do this and I can read a book about women.

#2, it’s incredible to go in the deepest way of thinking of women. So try to understand how they work and what they are thinking. This is a fantastic opportunity. It has so many good sides because you want to have a better understanding of your mom, of your sister, your girlfriend, your wife, your daughters.

Then you’ll have a better way of how women relate to each other, but how do they relate to themselves, and how you can be an ally in their process. 

Angel Orengo: 

Recently I was writing a brief article for a fraternity that I belong to and I was very active when I was in college.

Essentially the article is to inspire them to read this book. The issues that we talk about, whether it’s sexuality,  limiting beliefs, the power of forgiveness, the power of gratitude or any of the other issues that the women who are there are speaking of, they’re universal.

They’re not gender based, right? 

So any opportunity that you have or that you give yourself to relate to those issues, it’s an opportunity to grow. 

I think for men for far too long, we’ve defined masculinity as “the absence of emotion” or perhaps the “existence of physical strength.”

More and more we’re finding out about emotional intelligence, right? 

That emotions in general and our ability to share them to be vulnerable is powerful and can only enhance the people that we are. 

I would say be open minded. The issues are truly for everybody. You can learn a thing or two, not just about yourself, but about the women in your life.

It’s and it could be really powerful. Plus let’s face it, the better we communicate with one another, the better we relate to one another across genders the better our community is going to be, and we need more community in the world. 

I think if anything has shown us, and this is true at any time, right?

Every person you speak to, we’re all longing for community. We need connection. We need to connect more with each other.

Rocio Acquino: 

Deep connection, not superficial.

Joe Winger: 

The book is called The Orchid, The Secret Code of Modern Goddesses.

Wrapping up, for people out there who want to buy the book after hearing about it, Whether it’s websites, social media, how can we follow you? How can we buy the book? 

Rocio Aquino:

There are so many ways right now.  We have a website:  TheOrchidBook.com

You can find the book in English and Spanish.You can buy it on Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, Apple, and we have the audiobook too. 

And the exercise, if you want to do a book club with your friends, you can do some exercise that are on the website. 

Instagram, Facebook YouTube, TikTok.  All @TheOrchidBook_

 

Tribeca Festival 2024: Kristen Stewart, Jenna Ortega World Premieres, Trey Parker & Matt Stone Doc

Tribeca Festival 2024: Kristen Stewart, Jenna Ortega World Premieres, Trey Parker & Matt Stone Doc

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge” To Open the 23rd Edition of the Festival

World Premieres with Jenna Ortega, Lily Gladstone, Michael Cera, Maya Erskine, Kristen Stewart, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Mike Birbiglia, Neil Patrick Harris, Liza Minelli, and More

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge”, Tribeca 2024

“Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge”, Tribeca 2024

The 23rd edition of the Tribeca Festival is out with its slate of feature films including world premieres starring Kristen Stewart, Lily Gladstone and Jenna Ortega.

Another high-profile title is Saving Casa Bonita, a new documentary about South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone restoring an iconic Colorado restaurant.

Saving Casa Bonita, a new documentary about South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone -- Tribeca 2024

Saving Casa Bonita, a new documentary about South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone — Tribeca 2024

Stewart toplines Sacramento, a road trip comedy directed by Michael Angarano and also starring Michael Cera and Maya Erskine. Jazzy with Gladstone and Jasmine Bearkiller Shangreaux is a companion piece to 2023 indie drama The Unknown Country, in which Gladstone appeared just prior to her Oscar-nominated performance in Killers Of The Flower Moon. Ortega stars in director Tiffany Paulsen’s romantic drama Winter Spring Summer or Fall alongside Marisol Nichols, Percy Hynes White and Adam Rodriguez.

The 2024 Tribeca Festival, presented by OKX, today unveiled its features lineup, offering a diverse array of narrative, documentary, and animated films. Scheduled to run from June 5-16 in New York City, this year’s Festival promises a thoughtfully curated program and includes everything from timely documentaries addressing political and social concerns to independent narratives showcasing award-winning actors. Additionally, the opening night event, presented in partnership with OKX and City National Bank, was announced.

Headlining the Talks is Robert De Niro in conversation with French artist JR about continuing the film icon’s family legacy of art through film. The two will also share a sneak peek of an upcoming project. Emmy Award-nominated actor, author, and producer John Stamos will also join for a fireside chat about his New York Times best-seller, “If You Would Have Told Me,” and a discussion about his creative process for performing across various mediums.

Tribeca kicks off on Wednesday, June 5 with the world premiere of Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge, an intimate look at the life of the fashion designer and cultural luminary. The film captures Diane von Furstenberg’s impact as a creative icon, who challenged the status quo with the bold inquiry, “Why shouldn’t a woman do what a man can do?” Directed by Tribeca alumni Trish Dalton and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Woman in Charge opens the lineup of features.

The 2024 selection of feature films includes Jazzy with Lily GladstoneDaddio starring Dakota Johnson and Sean PennFirebrand starring Alicia Vikander and Jude LawBrats, directed by Andrew McCarthy, with Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, and Lea ThompsonSacramento, directed by Michael Angarano, starring Michael CeraKristen Stewart, and Maya ErskineWinter Spring Summer or Fall starring Jenna Ortega and Percy Hynes White; and Liza: A Truly Terrific Absolutely True Story with Liza Minelli. Comedic stars are in Group Therapy, including Neil Patrick HarrisMike Birbiglia, and Tig NotaroAll That We Love stars Margaret Cho and Jesse Tyler Ferguson; and Outstanding: A Comedy Revolution features Lily TomlinWanda SykesRosie O’DonnellHannah Gadsby, and Joel Kim Booster.

Music documentaries highlight the boldest voices of each generation with They All Came Out To Montreux with Prince, Sting, Carlos Santana, Aretha Franklin, and Keith RichardsSatisfied about Renée Elise GoldsberryLinda Perry: Let It Die Here with Linda Perry, Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlile, and Christina Aguilera; and Avicii – I’m Tim with Tim ”Avicii” BerglingChris Martin and David GuettaRenée Elise Goldsberry and Linda Perry will be performing following the world premiere of their respective films.

“Each year, the Tribeca Festival reflects our culture, capturing the essence of the present moment. We’re thrilled to showcase our 23rd edition, delving into captivating explorations of artificial intelligence with Demis Hassabis, thought-provoking discussions on the future of democracy, and so much more,” Tribeca Co-Founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal. “Storytelling possesses a remarkable ability to bring us together, offering hope in these challenging times. We eagerly anticipate engaging with audiences on difficult yet timely subjects.”

The 23rd edition of Tribeca reflects our activist roots, to showcase a slate of films that speak to today’s political moment and inform voters ahead of the upcoming election. Hacking Hate, directed by Simon Klose, questions the role of social media in amplifying hate speech and extremism. McVeigh, directed by Mike Ott, portrays right-wing extremism with chilling modern implications. America’s Burning, directed by David Smick and narrated by Michael Douglas, dives into the economic root of hate and division.

At the core of our mission is the belief that art can spark change, particularly in the aftermath of global conflicts. The Cranes Call, directed by Laura Warner, spotlights war crimes investigators for the Clooney Foundation for Justice, led by Amal and George Clooney, as they risk their lives traveling across Ukraine to build cases against Russian soldiers and commanders. Antidote, directed by James Jones, digs into the truth about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deadly regime. Checkpoint Zoo, directed by Joshua Zeman, documents the daring rescue of thousands of animals trapped behind enemy lines in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As War continues to affect regions like the Middle East and Ukraine, art serves as a powerful reminder of our shared humanity.

“In a year of record high submissions, despite industry-wide challenges, and global tumult, our incredible filmmaking community delivered again with some of the most surprising, inspiring, hilarious, galvanizing, boundary-breaking, and downright entertaining work we’ve had the privilege to feature at the festival,” said Tribeca Festival Director and SVP of Programming Cara Cusumano. “Whether grappling with everything from the crisis of global democracy to the most intimate of human dramas, it was heartening to be reminded of the undeniable power of a great film to illuminate our world.”

For the first time, Tribeca’s signature Viewpoints section of bold original visions and innovative perspectives will be in competition. The interdisciplinary program encompasses U.S. and international films across narrative, documentary, and animation, including the animated feature Boys Go to Jupiter starring Elsie FisherTavi GevinsonJulio Torres, and Sarah Sherman, and the narrative thriller Darkest Miriam with Britt Lower. Documentaries include Champions of the Golden Valley, directed by Ben Sturgulewski, an inspiring sports fable and portrait of people in profound political and social transition, and Searching for Amani, directed by Debra Aroko, a 13-year-old’s dramatic quest to investigate his father’s mysterious murder in one of Kenya’s largest wildlife conservancies.

The final selections were chosen from a record-breaking number of submissions (13,016). This year’s program includes 103 feature films from 114 filmmakers across 48 countries. The lineup comprises 86 world premieres, two international premieres, six North American premieres, and eight New York premieres. Half of the films in competition are directed by women. Additionally, 35% (36) of feature films are directed by BIPOC filmmakers. There are 30 films directed by first-time filmmakers and 25 directors returning to Tribeca with their latest projects.

The Tribeca Festival is curated by Festival Director and SVP of Programming Cara Cusumano, Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer; VP of Shorts Programming Ben Thompson; Senior Programmers Liza Domnitz, Faridah Gbadamosi, Jarod Neece, José F. Rodriguez; Programmers Casey Baron, Jason Gutierrez, Jonathan Penner, and Madison Egan; VP of Games and Immersive Casey Baltes and Immersive Curator Ana Brzezińska; EVP of Artist Relations Nancy Lefkowitz and VP of Artist Relations Meredith Mohr; Curator of Audio Storytelling Davy Gardner; Music Programmer Vincent Cassous; along with a team of associate programmers; supported and inspired by the legendary Paula Weinstein.

The full feature film lineup is detailed below. For more updates on programming follow @Tribeca and #Tribeca2024 on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn.

A Tribeca Membership or 2024 Tribeca Festival passes and ticket packages can be purchased at tribecafilm.com.

ABOUT TRIBECA FESTIVAL
The Tribeca Festival, presented by OKX, brings artists and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, music, audio storytelling, games, and immersive. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is synonymous with creative expression and entertainment. Tribeca champions emerging and established voices, discovers award-winning talent, curates innovative experiences, and introduces new ideas through exclusive premieres, exhibitions, conversations, and live performances.

The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. The annual Tribeca Festival will celebrate its 23rd year from June 5–16, 2024 in New York City.

In 2019, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems bought a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises, bringing together Rosenthal, De Niro, and Murdoch to grow the enterprise.

ABOUT THE 2024 TRIBECA FESTIVAL PARTNERS
The 2024 Tribeca Festival is presented by OKX and with the support of our partners: AT&T, Audible, Canva, CHANEL, City National Bank, Diageo, Easterseals Disability Services, Indeed, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, NBC4 and Telemundo 47, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, National CineMedia, New York Magazine, Spring Studios New York, The Wall Street Journal, Variety, Vulture and WeTransfer.

OPENING NIGHT GALA
Diane von Furstenberg: Woman in Charge, (United States) – World Premiere. Child of a Holocaust survivor, Princess by marriage, and founder of a fashion empire, the many faces of fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg are revealed in this captivating and glamorous documentary portrait, featuring interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Marc Jacobs, Hillary Rodham Clinton and more. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton. Produced by Fabiola Beracasa Beckman, Tracy Aftergood, Sean Stuart, Obaid-Chinoy and Dalton. A Hulu Release.

NY FlavR

“Exhilarating and Breathtaking” Eve Bushman Covers Riesling in Germany’s Mosel Region

“Exhilarating and Breathtaking” Eve Bushman Covers Riesling in Germany’s Mosel Region

I found myself describing the experience as both exhilarating and breathtaking, and these two words have now taken on a new meaning for me, probably forever. Raimund added to my thoughts when he said that here, we “always sit in the green.” 

Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany

Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Have you been to the Middle Mosel, aka Mittelmosel, wine region of Germany? I had learned about the area, saw photos of the steep vineyards and their ancient stone sundials dating back hundreds of years, during a tasting with Raimund Prum from S.A. Pruem many years ago. Fast forward to this year, and we planned our first trip there, where we stayed at the S.A. Pruem guesthouse and visited with Raimund again! We also toured and tasted with Eifel-Pfieffer, C.A. Immich-Batterieberg, Villa Huesgen and Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler.

A sundial in their vineyards

A sundial in their vineyards / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Know before you go: Rieslings are not all sweet! They range from bone dry to sweet. And though “Riesling is King” in the Mosel we enjoyed sparkling wines and rose, as well as Pinot Noir during our tastings. Not all wineries are in Bernkastel-Kues, many are in towns all roughly within 30 minutes of each other. 

Wineries to Tour and Taste

S.A. Pruem: We must start with this winery as they are the reason we traveled to the Mosel for wine. I had met Raimund Prum in 2013 when he led a class for Ian Blackburn of Learn About Wine. Fast forward to this past May 2024, when I finally got to see Raimund again – this time at his home and winery. Raimund inherited the 800-year-old family winery in 1971 and has “expanded from 8.6 acres to 27.9 acres.” 


FlavRReport.com on Youtube

FlavRReport.com on Youtube

 


His family had used money that they made from their apple farms to fund their wine growing business. Back in those days 100% of the people living in the area worked in the wine industry according to Raimund. Nowadays young people may leave, but they come back.  

Raimund is a busy man, representing the winery almost all over the world. But he doesn’t do this alone. Raimund’s wife Pirjo, a WSET Diploma graduate, represents the brand in U.S. and Finland. Saskia, their oldest daughter, took over as the owner in 2017.

They produce many still and sparkling wines, from dry to sweet Rieslings to Rose of Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. I had the opportunity to try most and had a hard time not finishing every sample that was offered. And though other places in the world make Riesling, Raimund said that the “character of the wine is different here” which began over 2,000 years ago by the Romans. (Many Roman pressing stations have been found along the Mosel.)  

Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer

Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

During the days we visited we had many opportunities to talk, but at our appointed time for our interview Raimund took us on a drive to the top of one of his vineyards, and it happened to be the oldest one that also is famous for its sundial. His tallest vineyards are 336 meters high, and the Mosel River is at 136. The ground is a combination of lush earth, wildflowers, and different types of slate rock – the rock in particular adds to the minerality found in the wines.

mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen. 

Mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen from award-winning Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer.  Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Eifel-Pfieffer: Did you know that award-winning Weingut Eifel-Pfeiffer has been in the same family since 1642, and is currently worked by three generations? We had a fabulous tour and tasting with mother and daughter Tanja Gorgen-Eifel and Mia-Katharina Gorgen

We also learned that they only produce Riesling wines, have the coveted 1A rating which means that some of their vineyards are considered the best in the area, motivated Romanians work the steep vineyards, rainfall can’t always be counted on as it changes from year to year, and they have a total of 10 hectares over 30 kilometers in the Middle Mosel. 


 


Their low-alcohol, not-overly-sweet, fresh, and mildly acidic wines are made from single vineyards – and also a blend of different vineyards that are only from the same area. Riesling “show character of each vineyard that you can really taste in the wine…the structure, minerality and acid” according to mother and daughter. 

There are less winemakers now than there used to be: several of the smaller wineries have been absorbed by the larger ones as it’s been noted over time that it’s too cost prohibitive to run a small one-hectare winery.

2021 Mia from Trittenheimer Altarchen

2021 Mia from Trittenheimer Altarchen / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

These Rieslings pair well with all types of food – German, Indian, Chinese to name a few – and China just might be the largest importer of Eifel-Pfieffer wines. I was super impressed with all of their wines, from dry to sweet, but must give a special nod to a 1990 vintage from Trittenheimer Apotheke and the 2021 Mia (made by Mia while she finishes up winemaking school) from Trittenheimer Altarchen

Immich Batterieberg

Immich Batterieberg wine roster / photo credit: Ed Bushamn

Immich-Batterieberg: This time we had the opportunity to sit down and taste with winemaker Gernot Kollmann while learning all about Immich Batterieberg. Let me just start by saying we liked every wine that Gernot opened for us. Most were very dry, all are organic, and 96% of the wines that they make are Rieslings. 

Immich-Batterieberg where we were able to sit down with winemaker Gernot Kollmann

Immich-Batterieberg where we were able to sit down with winemaker Gernot Kollmann / photo credit: Ed Bushman

What makes them special: they are the largest owner of old and ungrafted vineyards in the Mosel, all rocky and steep, and the winery dates back to 1425.  

Seventy-eight percent of the 80k bottles they produce a year is exported to Japan, Italy, U.S., Switzerland, and the U.K. They receive top scores from Suckling and Parker, and those top-scoring wines sell out quickly.

The wines are a perfect example of the trend toward dry white wines (which means not sweet) and the continual production of lower alcohol wines.

Pic credit: Ed Bushman 

Villa Huesgen: If you are looking for a grand tasting experience, Villa Huesgen is it. Of course, if you have the opportunity to be charmed by Adolph Huesgen VIII himself, then it’s even more special. Adolph’s wine curriculum vitae is almost as interesting as the winery alone! He regaled us in stories of his many collaborations (from Australia to South Africa), work in wineries in California (he started his career at Robert Mondavi as the European sales director with Michael Mondavi) and what he and his family have currently achieved (sparkling, still, rose in the original blue bottles Riesling were first made in) at Villa Huesgen. 

Adolph Huesgen VIII

Adolph Huesgen VIII / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

The Huesgen family established the vineyard nine generations before, in 1735. The art nouveau-styled estate was built in 1904. They grow Riesling and Burgundy grapes, currently have their first block of Chardonnay in barrels and make more dry than sweet wines. They import to 35 countries.

We tasted ten wines, one of which recently was listed as one of the top nine Rieslings in the world by the Robb Report April 2024. We would have a hard time not liking any Villa Huesgen wines.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler: This estate is right in the popular part of Bernkastel-Kues, and just adds to the beautiful Mosel landscape. We were greeted by Stefan Pauly, who led us on a tour of the building and the many tasting areas for their guests. As this was the last tour of our trip, we “drank it up” for the history, and of course, the wines. We tasted many Rieslings, and even a beautifully made Eiswein, and were thrilled to discover that our local Total Wine stores has the exclusive label, Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler, and it’s very reasonably priced though it sells out every year. (Made a mental note to go there as soon as we get home!) 

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler

Dr. Heidemanns-Bergweiler // Photo credit: Ed Bushman

We learned that the winery was founded in 1556, they own 22 kilometers of vineyard along the Mosel, and they even offer an alcohol-free wine. One of the tasting areas we saw had a slight walkable ramp and was large enough to “seat a whole boat” of tourists that preferred not to climb up or down ancient steps for a wine tasting.

Stefan Pauly for Dr. Pauly Bergweiler wine estate

Stefan Pauly for Dr. Pauly Bergweiler wine estate / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

When to Visit

We happened to be in Bernkastel-Kues area of the Middle Mosel during Open Wine Cellar Days, which this year began on Germany’s Father’s Day. The holiday and the multi-day event brought many German tourists to the area, which added to the trip for us to “pick up some local color” so to speak. The event shows off many wineries not just during the day for tastings but also for night for tastings, meals, and live music. We chose to stay at the guest house at one winery, S.A. Preum, which made it even more convenient to walk over each night. We have been told that there are always wine festivals, so I highly recommend that you look at the calendar for these before planning your trip.

Raimund Pruem from Weingut S.A. Pruem

Raimund Pruem from Weingut S.A. Pruem / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

We got to Bernkastel-Kues from the Frankfurt airport, we rented a car and enjoyed the easy freeway routes and arrived just under two hours. We went in May, as we tend to pick times of the year when tourist areas are less crowded with summer travelers.

Bernkastel-Kues city

Bernkastel-Kues area / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

Besides wine tasting many tourists rent bicycles and e-bikes, tour on motorcycles, rowboat, parasail, take a boat tour and hike the vineyards. It’s a very walkable area in town with many wine bars, brew pubs, restaurants, and shops along the cobblestone streets. In other parts of the Mosel River, you can find sandy beaches and even water skiing.

Gastehaus at Prum

Gastehaus at Prum / Photo credit: Ed Bushman

There are many hotels along the Mosel River, we chose to stay in a suite at the Gastehaus at Prum and we would definitely return. Beautiful accommodations, locally sourced breakfast, and of course wine! 

 Find on Instagram: @VisitMosel @EifelPfieffer @ImmichBatterieberg @VillaHuesgen1735 @Weingut_PaulyBergweiler @S.A.Pruem

Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in the first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Proof Awards, Cellarmasters, LA Wine Competition, Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.

 

NYC’s Next Flight to Saigon: Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor

NYC’s Next Flight to Saigon: Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist and Foodie Shines Global Spotlight on Asian Flavor

Tracie May made a name for herself in Los Angeles for 25 years as a luxury publicist and event planner leading hundreds of Opening Night parties, events and red carpets.

Then in an “Eat, Pray, Love” – inspired move, she decided to take a leap and move across the world.  


FlavRReport.com on Youtube

FlavRReport.com on Youtube


 

In 2020, she relocated to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and became the Senior Editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine, the most prestigious culinary and hospitality publication in Asia.

Today we catch up with Tracie to talk about life in Vietnam.  The people, the culture, and of course the food.

Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist Foodie Indulges in Delicious at her role with Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger: 

What’s the most important thing that you want to share during this conversation?

Tracie May: 

Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith. Honestly, I took a massive leap of faith, uprooting my entire life.  

I had a big life in LA.  I was there for 25 years, and to take that leap of faith to relocate to Vietnam.  It was never even on my radar.

People thought that I was insane when I said I was doing this. It was not supposed to be for the long term. But the whole point is, you never know where opportunity is going to come. You don’t know what your future looks like, until you write your own story.

I am proof positive that anything is possible if you just take a risk for yourself and your happiness, because the energy or the universe will provide for you if you’re truthful, connected and really get specific about what you want.

Tracie May Vietnamese Publicist Foodie with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Tracie May with Chef Eden Daus of Lesung, holding Epicure Vietnam Magazine

Joe Winger:   

You are now the senior editor of Epicure Vietnam Magazine.  Tell me a bit about the magazine and your role.

Tracie May: 

It’s a really beautiful, glossy print publication. They also have online and social [media presence].

It’s available in every VIP lounge, every business lounge at every major hotel, airline and club lounge. It has a lot of subscribers. 

Focuses on culinary, luxury travel, hospitality, wine, chef profiles. [Food and beverage] business profiles as well as features on certain resort properties.

I was really lucky to [connect with] the publisher.  I sent her a bunch of my writing samples. I joined the magazine about 17 months ago. 

My main focuses are editing content, making sure the English is perfect, and dealing with editorial and the marketing teams.

But my favorite part is running the news section.  [It’s] basically my curation of what’s hot in [food & beverage] in Saigon and all over the world. 

I get to eat the best food all the time. 

The majority of the restaurants that we cover are very high-end, gorgeous, [food and beverage] in town. So I get to eat a lot of amazing food which is awesome. 

The food in Vietnam is extraordinary.


 


Joe Winger:

As a USA foodie, what’s a lesson you’ve learned about Vietnamese cuisine that you want the world to know about?

Tracie May: 

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned, and it is evident in my extreme weight loss of 75 pounds in 2 ½  years, is it’s whole real food.

They are not jacking up their cows and their pigs with hormones. Organic is actually a thing here. The quality of the food, it’s not processed crap in a box that is run by Monsanto.

Because of the climate here, Dalat, which is the region in Vietnam where most of the produce is grown, some of the most unbelievable tasting produce is grown there. 

The fruit is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. 

A watermelon is the sweetest, juiciest, delicious thing you’ve ever put in your mouth; and it’s available from every little fruit stand that is on Quốc Hương.

I walk to my local [stores] because I like to support locals here and have my little bag and pull my produce and all of it is grown on their farm, 

It’s just that’s how people eat here. There is no Kraft macaroni and cheese. There is no processed, boxed chemicals here. 

Because of that, the quality of the flavor profiles is so superior. 

So that is the biggest difference.

The reason why there’s such an obesity problem in the U.S. is the abundance of processed food.

[Here in Vietnam], even fast food.  We’ve got McDonald’s and Popeye’s and KFC. But the taste of a Big Mac or a Whopper with cheese is far different than anything you can get in the States because of the quality of the meat that they use.

That is the biggest difference of why Vietnam is so globally recognized as such a foodie hub.

Joe Winger: 

You’re doing a lot to bring attention to Vietnam as a foodie hub.

Tracie May: 

I was the guest judge on Top Chef Vietnam, and I was the guest judge on the finale of this show called Super Cake, Banh Xeo, which was basically, Build a beautiful cake. And these Vietnamese national TV, reality shows which showcase culinary.

So that was fun.

Joe Winger: 

If somebody from the United States comes to Vietnam for a few days, from a food point of view, what must we try? 

Tracie May: 

Saigon is incredibly vibrant and there’s too much to do.  For the best Vietnamese food hands down It is in district one, which is basically the city. 

Mạ Quán 

Mạ Quán

Mạ Quán 

It’s gorgeous. A restaurant with Vietnamese cuisine that focuses on historical dishes from the imperial city of Huế to the north and in Hanoi to the Mekong Delta and is visually stunning.

The flavors are unbelievable. For sure if you want to eat an extraordinary Vietnamese meal, that’s a place, hands down, highly recommended. 

Lesung

Lesung

Lesung SGN 

In the last 3 months I was introduced to Malaysian cuisine.  Spicy,  sambal based, chili based. The chef / owner is a fine dining chef, who’s a celebrity chef here. He wanted to get back to his roots and he opened this restaurant that’s very reasonably priced.  Fine dining, but in a casual setting, not expensive and truly authentic Malaysian cuisine.   All of his grandmother’s recipes and it’s home cooking at its best. That is a must go. 

Noriboi Omakase

Noriboi Omakase

If you love sushi, Noriboi is an extraordinary omakase restaurant in Thảo Điền, in the town where I live. 12 to 18 tastings of caviar, and the best uni flown in from Japan, and extraordinary toro, and you can’t imagine how good, it’s insane.

Joe Winger: 

You took a very dramatic pivot a few years ago and it turned out so well. 

Tracie May: 

I knew that I had to make a change. I knew that I was unhappy.  Even though I had great friends and a great life and did really cool stuff in LA, I felt like I was just trapped in a hamster wheel.

I was bit by the “Eat Pray Love” bug. 

Decided that, life’s too short to be unhappy.

There is a big, wide, beautiful world out there. Why not explore it while I have the chance?

I happen to have family who live in Saigon, and we conspired together.

I sold my car, put everything in storage, all the paperwork, packed my two dogs and three suitcases and got on a plane.

The original plan was to hang out in Southeast Asia for three months.

Leave my stuff with my family, get a backpack and travel throughout Southeast Asia and go pray with some Buddhist monks.  Have my Tomb Raider moment in Angkor Wat in Cambodia and go do a lot of scuba diving.  Then three months later, go home [to the United States] and face the music. 

But COVID happened, my life shifted. So I stayed. 

I couldn’t have imagined a more incredible life that I’ve been able to curate for myself than I have been able to in Saigon.

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Tracie May at Tet Lunar New Year 2024 party

Joe Winger: 

Your background is a world class publicist in North America.  Because of the pandemic, you went from a publicist to a “stay at home mom” figure.

Tracie May: 

I did, but I still had to pay my bills, right?

So I had a free place to stay because my family was paying the rent. When [my family] got stuck in the US during COVID, when Vietnam closed their borders, they got locked out for 10 months. 

Suddenly I’m a mother to 2 kids in an international school. I’ve got to take care of their three dogs, my two dogs, their villa, all their stuff, in a country that I didn’t know and a language that I didn’t speak.

It was all about pivoting.

At the time I had hot pink hair.  All the expat moms, they’ve got kids and they live in a compound because their husbands run Nike or Adidas or…[some huge company]

There’s me, this newbie from LA with my fuchsia hair riding my family’s electric bike with the kids on the back taking them to school.

The [expat Moms are] like, who and what is this? 

Originally I became the talk of the town. 

I live in a bubble, a little enclave within the city, it’s expat land. 

I really think in the beginning I made friends out of total pity.  Suddenly they were like, “Let’s take you to lunch.”  So there were several luncheons introducing me to society and I created my clan. 

The one thing that’s hard about here is that the expat life is very rotational because a lot of the families are on contract.

If you work at the consulate, you’ve got a 2-3 year contract. 

Once the contract is done, you’re back home. I don’t want to leave. 

So one of the hardest things about making really close friends here is that they leave. So it’s a lot of continual rotation.

I have friends who’ve been here for 14 years up to 35 years who felt the bug like me and decided no, this is where you want to be right now. This is a good place to be, but yeah, that’s basically how it happened.

Joe Winger: 

A minute ago, you used the phrase “talk of the town.”  Let’s dive deeper.

You’re getting huge growth on social media. Food and dining, lifestyle, travel in this genre. Your face is everywhere. Your voice is everywhere. Your name is everywhere. 

What’s it like living your life, when someone sees your face, name and recognizes you? 

Tracie May: 

It is bizarre. 

I have no idea how it happened, especially in Vietnam.  Local Vietnamese don’t speak a word of English. 

There’ve been so many times that I’m walking my dogs up my street or [I’m] on the back of a “Grab” bike, which is our version of Uber and they see me, look at my picture before and say:

 “Sorry, Madame. Are you Madam Tracy?”

And show me a picture of myself. 

I’m sure it’s due to doing TV appearances on Top Chef Vietnam and other major, national primetime TV shows here with millions of Vietnamese watching.

It’s bizarre, especially coming from Hollywood where all my focus has always been the promotion of others and the promotion of brands.

Suddenly I’m the [one being] promoted and I just find it really funny. But I’m grateful. 

Joe Winger: 

How has publicity changed from LA to Vietnam?

Tracie May: 

I wear a lot of hats here [in Vietnam].   I’ve become the “go to” event producer.

I was a pretty major event producer in the States and produced [around] 250 fashion shows in three continents around the world, a bunch of parties in LA, and red carpets.

There’s tons of talent in Vietnam.  So now I’m doing it for major Western companies who want a sprinkle of American or they want a real Western perspective for [their event], I’m the girl they call.

One of the events I produced was the 25th anniversary of the Sofitel Saigon Plaza Hotel

That was a huge event inviting every government official, major CEO, all of their massive VIPs. 

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Pichard

Tracie May with Artist Jerome Peschard

I’m actually about to produce another event with Sofitel for one of my clients. One of the most talented people I’ve ever met in my entire life, Jerome Peschard

He’s a French artist with the same story as me, except he got here, fell in love with Saigon and just never left .  He met his wife and has a bunch of kids.  He has become the most collected artist in Asia globally, for specifically pop art related to historic, historic Vietnamese French and machine and pop art and he does it all.  Composite art. 

I brokered a deal with Sofitel on June 21 in celebration of the 60 year anniversary of the Sofitel Hotels and Resorts global brand, their Diamond Jubilee.

We are doing a two month installation, exclusive installation of his works being some are 2.6 meters x 1. 5 meters  – large scale, which are going to be in the lobby as an installation in collaboration with the hotel.

It’s a massive thing, and they called me, so I’m really honored. 

I get to work with him every day and he’s a total rock star.

Tracie May living her best life in Vietnam

Joe Winger: 

What’s the theme at this point in your life?

Tracie May: 

The moral of the story is “Don’t be afraid to take the leap of faith.”

Joe Winger: 

It sounds like you crossed your fingers, closed your eyes and took the jump. 

Was there a big concern before taking that jump? How did that big concern work out for you?

Tracie May: 

It’s very personal.

The concern wasn’t about work. I knew that I could work internationally. I knew I could do PR online and still service clients abroad. No matter where you are in the world, the cream rises to the top and you will figure it out.

On a personal level in the sense that I have always been a serial monogamist. I had a really petrified, paralyzing fear of being alone.

The idea of being 50 and alone again, scared me. Having to start over again, scared me. 

What I’ve learned from that is, I have no problems dating. I have no issue being alone. I actually revel in it because my life is so public now. When I get to be in my underpants, watching Netflix with my two dogs, eating a ham and cheese on freshly baked sourdough baguette with some tomatoes and lettuce; and some truffle aioli from my friend’s company. That’s my happy place. 

That has been the biggest lesson that being alone is okay. Being alone is actually a good thing. 

I don’t need to have a partner or a marriage to justify and qualify who I am. I’m just fine on my own. 

Joe Winger: 

What are the ways to find you and follow you online? How do you want people to find you?

Tracie May: 

It’s all about the gram, right? My Instagram is @_TracieMay_  

Or you can find me as Tracie May on LinkedIn.

My blog is here, but I rarely update it because I never have time.

Ordering Chinese food in NYC? HungryPanda want to Help

Ordering Chinese food in NYC? HungryPanda want to Help

Leveraging their industry-leading delivery services, the HungryPanda app seamlessly connects food, people and culture.

HungryPanda goes further with Asian food culture

The ‘Golden Panda Award’ is a symbol of excellence in the global overseas Chinese food industry, setting the highest standard for culinary achievement.

It stands as the world’s exclusive international honor specifically dedicated to recognizing restaurant businesses in the food delivery sector. This prestigious award embodies commitment to promoting and celebrating outstanding achievements in the realm of international Chinese cuisine.

Kitty Liu from HungryPanda

Kitty Lu from HungryPanda

Joe Winger: 

We are here today with Kitty Lu from HungryPanda. 

Help me get to know HungryPanda.co 

Kitty Lu: 

HungryPanda serves a niche market for Asian communities.  We were established in 2017, founded in the UK when our CEO and the founding team were studying in Nottingham University.

The platform was born from a very simple, but compelling need experienced first hand, by the founders as international students, struggling to find authentic Chinese food in the UK. 

From that outset, HungryPanda started to really focus sharply on that particular niche market, tailoring our user experience with Chinese interfaces to overcome culture and language barriers.

That’s how our app got started.  We are very lucky enough to be growing really fast within the past six years. 

Now we expanded into 10 different countries, including: US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.

Hungry Panda

Joe Winger: 

Different cultures, maybe different ways people use their phones, different apps.

What challenges has HungryPanda faced as you enter the very competitive North America market?

Kitty Lu:

Local regulatory requirements that we need to meet.  Every country, every region has different regulations, and especially with food delivery.  

The U.S. is actually coming out with all the new regulations lately, therefore that’s one of the challenges as well.

Also intense competition from established local and global brands. 

When we entered the North American market, Door Dash, Uber, the giants, had already occupied the mass market.  In the Asian food delivery market, we also have competitors like, Chow Bus and others.

Obviously we were the new brand going to the market. 

Therefore, that’s the main challenge that we faced. But, we were actually quite confident and, lucky enough because we have a very good team structure. All of our team members have experience opening markets in different countries.

So unlike Uber or DoorDash, when they are opening a new market, for example, North American market and Australian market is very different. People have different consumer behavior. But for us the good thing is, although we are in different countries, we are serving the same type of people, which is the  overseas Asian customers, therefore the consumer behavior is rather similar.

Although we have the challenge, it’s easier for us to actually dive in and then adapt in a rapid rhythm.

HungryPanda

HungryPanda

Joe Winger:

Is North America the toughest audience when it comes to regulations?

Kitty Lu: 

With regulations, we’re talking more towards the drivers, how do we protect them?

Obviously there are minimum standards. Because what we call the “gig economy” is still considered a new industry, no matter what part of the world.  

North America, Australia, the UK, all the countries are coming out with new regulations to actually protect this particular industry.

We are all at the same stage, growing from a new industry to a more mature industry.

Joe Winger: 

Your company released a food trends report from 2023.  What’s the biggest takeaway? 

Kitty Lu: 

Consumer interest in the authenticity and quality in food.  

When you talk about Chinese food in North America or  the UK, the first thing you think of is actually Cantonese food because [it] arrived first.

Now we can see all the hot Sichuan hot pots and malatang, all these are more modern and, trendy or more northern cuisine start to really get in the picture. popularity. 

This is something that’s blowing our mind as well.

It’s a strong signal to the food industry to really focus on the authenticity, offering high quality ingredients. This is something I think is actually quite interesting.

Joe Winger: 

Talking about trends, anything was surprising?

Kitty Lu: 

The most popular category is definitely Boba tea.  Now, as.

As we can see the hot pot, stuff actually, coming on top of, all this fried chicken, bubble tea and stuff. That suggests our local consumers start to really adapt into a more authentic flavor Chinese food instead of people always ordering honey chicken, spring side pork. 

They learn to really understand, oh, that’s you know, Chinese people eat in China, they really start to learn and understand and admire about the spice actually in the food.

This is something actually I find quite interesting.

Joe Winger: 

That’s really a big change. 

Based on your 2023 report, any predictions for 2024?

Kitty Lu: 

The rise in the family demands, so AOV ( average order value) keeps growing. Food delivery is not growing accommodating only for one person, two person, but it’s starting to expand, for more towards a family’s demands. 

We can anticipate the age group that actually accepting or keep using the food delivery services actually start to grow and expand as well. 

Also predicting new services for delivery companies. We can actually see the trend that many people start to order.

Pick up orders from the app and you can go straight to the restaurant to pick it up without waiting.  It’s helps you jump the queue.

When you order a pickup it’s actually cheaper than ordering at the shop itself.

Therefore, this is actually one of the trends that we can see. It’s actually start to grow.

Joe Winger: 

How do your users want the experience to go for them?

Kitty Lu:

During the pandemic, everything had to be contactless. Therefore the pickup feature was actually created during that period and blossomed afterwards.

Joe Winger: 

Now you just mentioned the pandemic. Your company learned a lot from that experience, like how much packaging matters. 

Can you talk a little bit more about what you learned about packaging?

Kitty Lu: 

First thing we need to discuss is the difference between Asian food and Western food. 

When it comes to Chinese food, generally it’s very heavy on sauces. Therefore, restaurants have to elevate the packaging standards to ensure the food quality can remain consistent.

When you order Chinese food, you expect it to still be hot, to have the best of flavor. Iit often [comes] with soup and if the packaging is not good, it actually leaks. 

That has always been a challenge that Asian food delivery faces.

China created a new trend with laminate packaging to make sure all the packaging is sealed and kept warm. That helped the whole industry globally to maintain higher standards.

Joe Winger: 

There’s nothing worse than when you get the package to your house and it’s broken,  ripped, it’s spilled.

The superior packaging isn’t about looking pretty necessarily. It’s about keeping your food secure.

Kitty Lu: 

That’s right.  Another thing we have to consider is [being] environmental friendly.

The Chinese food industry has been blamed for using too much plastic to begin with. Therefore, the new packaging uses aluminum.

Joe Winger: 

So your HungryPanda app itself has a lot of features. Can you let’s talk through some of the most popular features?

Kitty Lu: 

Comparing with other apps, one thing we find quite convenient is that on the front page we have a very full restaurant list with tabs: by distance, by popularity, by discounts, by reviews, by delivery times. So it’s very easy for you to access. 

Other apps  have the categories but limited restaurants. 

Joe Winger: 

What’s the best way for an Asian restaurant to make the most of this opportunity of this new food trend?

Kitty Lu:

I think In the age of technology leveraging online platforms for visibility, working with a food delivery platform is definitely one of the ways to help them really engage with consumers.

When we talk about foodies, they are young, they’re always on social media. They’re always online. Therefore, promoting yourself in front of them is very important. 

We use our channels to really promote different restaurants to help them to expand their reach within their comfort zone.

Joe Winger: 

What’s your favorite food? What would you order on your app?

Kitty Lu: 

My favorite food is [the same as] the trend report.  Sichuan malatang.

So that shows the report’s authenticity.  The audience like the food like a real Chinese person.

The reason why I like the malatang is because not only is it delicious, but it’s actually quite healthy as well.

It’s a hot spicy soup, but you put in fresh vegetables, fresh meat, it’s like you’re cooking your own hot pot

And it’s a very balanced and nutritious meal. Flavorful when you put all these different ingredients into one pot of soup. Brings you more flavors and it’s very fast [to make].

Joe Winger: 

What is HungryPanda’s user coverage look like?

Kitty Lu: 

We have about 30 cities covered in the U. S. Obviously, New York, L.A., all major cities itself. I would be more than happy to provide you with the full on city list. We’re in Canada as well and just over 80 cities all around the globe.

Joe Winger: 

For the audience who’s watching and listening right now, what’s the best next step? How can they enjoy this app? 

Kitty Lu: 

If they haven’t downloaded it yet, give it a try.

For new users, we actually have new user vouchers available for them to have a few free deliveries. 

You can order to deliver, you can order to pick up it’s very convenient to use, very simple.  Obviously we have a much wider supply for Asian food.

Therefore, if you are a Asian food lover, you should have HungryPanda on your phone.

 

NYC Foodies Head to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals Wine, Food and Nature in Palisade CO

NYC Foodies Head to Colorado: Winemaker Ben Parsons from The Ordinary Fellow reveals wine, food and nature

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

Just to touch on background a little bit, you were the winemaker and founder of a very successful urban winery, the Infinite Monkey Theorem

Then you chose to move on to where you are now at The Ordinary Fellow

What was that transition like for you?

Ben Parsons: 

The Infinite Monkey Theorem was really about disrupting the wine industry and trying to make wine fun and relevant and accessible. 

We were the first ones in the U.S. to put wine in the can. We started kegging in 2008. 

It was really about creating these urban winery spaces, just a tap room for a craft brewery in a city where everyone could come down and enjoy. 

After 11 years of taking that to a 100,000 case production distributed in 42 states, there was a really good opportunity for me to get back to what I wanted to do, which is being in a vineyard.

Even though that might sound like a cliche, there is something quite romantic about farming and being surrounded by nature and really trying to make the very best wine you can from Colorado fruit that you grow and putting it in a bottle versus buying someone else’s wine and putting it in a can, they’re like two very different things.

I had an opportunity to take over a vineyard in southwest Colorado down in the Four Corners just outside of Cortez, where the Four Corners meet. 

It was in disrepair and hadn’t been pruned in four years. So I got back in there and now it’s looking really good.

So that’s taken 4 years.  Yeah it’s relatively small. It’s 13 acres of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Sits at 6,000 feet elevation. So very high for a commercial vineyard. And it’s beautiful. 

It sits on a national monument called the Yucca House, which is an un-excavated ancestral Pueblan ruin from between the 10th and 12th century.

Starts at Mesa Verde, which most people are familiar with for the ancestral cliff dwellings from the Pueblans down there. It’s just a beautiful location. 

Yeah, two very different things, but kind of coming full circle almost as to what I got me into the industry in the beginning, back in the late 90s.

And now back there, but doing it on my own.

 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons takes a Vineyard Tour

 

Joe Winger: 

Your famous quote in the wine world: “I miss being in the vineyard”

So for our audience, who’s going to go to wine country this weekend or this summer, when they take a vineyard tour, what should they be looking at?

Ben Parsons: 

As to how wine gets from a vineyard and a grape to a bottle. Most people think it just ends up on a grocery store shelf and that is not the case.

It’s really the idea that you could grow something from rootstock, farm it, suffer the vagaries of agricultural production, deal with all of those challenges,  do it in a sustainable way. 

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Ben Parsons, Winemaker and Owner of The Ordinary Fellow in Palisade, Colorado

Determine when you’re going to pick that fruit. Take it into the winery. Ferment it. Turn it into wine. Age it in a barrel. Bottle it. Decide on the branding. Decide on the naming. Come up with a label design. 

Take it to all of those small awesome restaurants that everyone wants to hang out at because they’re making great food and getting good press.

You see my wine or I see my wine on someone else’s table, drinking it and to think where that came from.

And how many times those grapes got moved from a to b and then back, from b to c and then c to d whether it be like shoveling grapes with a pitchfork for a destemmer. 

Or shoveling fermented grapes into a press with a Home Depot bucket.

Or picking that case up and taking it from here to here, that got handled so many times, so much went into that, that I think there’s a huge disconnect amongst most consumers. 

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons on the Area’s Natural Beauty

Joe Winger: 

You chose to be in Palisade, Colorado making your wine. 

Tell us a little bit about the region and why someone should come visit you in Colorado?

Ben Parsons: 

Palisade is beautiful. It’s on the Western slope of Colorado. It’s about a 4 hour drive West of Denver over the mountains.

About 4 1/2 hours East of Salt Lake City. 

It’s an American Viticultural Area designate called the Grand Valley and it’s pretty stunning. 

You come through this Canyon called the Back Canyon on the North side, you have these book cliff mountains that  rise above you on the South side, you have the Colorado River, and it’s a very niche microclimate. It’s definitely an agricultural community.

What a lot of people don’t realize, because they just drive straight past on I-70 is it’s proximity to all things good, outdoorsy. 

Within 28 minutes I could be at a local ski resort called Powderhorn. It got 32 feet of snow last year 

I’m an hour and a half from Aspen.

I’m an hour and 20 minutes from Moab. 

I’m a 10 minute drive from Fruita, which has the best mountain biking in the world. 

It’s all old Indian territory. There’s wild mustangs up on the book cliffs. 

It’s known for its fruit. It’s actually known for its peaches, believe it or not.  Some of the best peaches grown anywhere in the United States. Arguably the best. 

But it’s a very small microclimate. 

Palisade is around 4,500 feet elevation. There’s about 26 wineries you can tour and visit. Take a few days, spend a weekend. 

There’s some good local restaurants, growing their own produce and making real good farm to table food.

Grand Junction is a city that in the last 5 years has really exploded. 

And Grand Junction is 10 minutes from Palisade. It went through a series of boom and busts during the oil shale boom business back in the day, but now it’s strongly focused on tourism.

Lots of people are leaving the front range of Denver, Colorado Springs and  moving to the Western slope for a kind of quality of life.

Also we have a lot of California transplants because it is cheaper to live. You are outdoors all the time. You can travel long distances very quickly.  I put 42,000 miles on my car this year delivering wine all over the state of Colorado. 

I feel like the state and this particular area has a lot going for it.  Definitely more than enough to fill a long weekend or a week’s trip. 

Exploring vineyards, food, farms, outdoor opportunities. 

Taking a trip to Moab, it’s really pretty. It’s one of the reasons I moved here. 

I’d been in the city for a long time. I grew up just South of London in England, but I lived in London for some time and I loved it when I was young.  I love Denver as well.

When I started the Infinite Monkey Theorem, that was really when a lot of people were moving to Denver and it was becoming something substantial. 

It was one of the fastest growing cities in the country at that time. 

I feel like we were a big part of pushing that growth and in tandem with the other food and beverage scene, like craft breweries and good restaurants.

Joe Winger: 

You’ve mentioned different restaurants and food and dinner.  Our audience primarily are foodies.   We’re in Colorado for a wine weekend, we come to the Ordinary Fellow for a wine tasting.

Can you suggest a few places and different cuisines that are a must visit within 20-30 minutes of you?

Ben Parsons: 

In Palisade there’s a good restaurant called Pesh. One of the former line cooks at a linear in Chicago started it with his wife, maybe 5-6 years ago. It’s excellent. 

In Grand Junction, where most people stay there’s a few good restaurants started by this guy, Josh Nirenberg, who has been nominated for James Beard award several times for best chef and has one called Bin 707,  Then he just opened a third called Jojo’s. He also has a kind of trendy taco spot called Taco Party, which is a fun name. 

If you like craft cocktails, there’s a new place that opened called Melrose Spirit Company. Guy opened it in a hotel that was recently renovated. Really cute, really excellent cocktails.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s get into the wine geek stuff now and talk about your vineyards. You have Colorado Box Bar, Hawks Nest.

So let’s talk through terroir, soil type, elevation. 

Ben Parsons: 

So Box Bar, It’s in Cortez, sits around between 6,000 feet elevation.

It’s on this weatheral loam that has some clay in it, which has these water retention properties. It is essentially a desert. So you do have to drip irrigate, there’s less than 7 inches of precipitation a year. 

So very little rainfall which is good in some ways in that there is very little disease pressure.

You’re not having to spray. There’s no necessity to spray for powdery mildew or anything down at our vineyards. 

It’s essentially farmed very minimalistically. 

Lagging very sustainably, which I know people appreciate. 

Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay. We’re just planting some Chenin Blanc and some Charbonneau, which is an italian red varietal as well. 

Hawk’s Nest is not my own property, but I work with a grower called Guy Drew who planted four different kinds of Pinot Noir and two different kinds of Chardonnay there.

That vineyard is at 6, 800 feet and that is the highest commercial vineyard in North America. 

Similar soil properties as the Box Bar. Making some really good Pinot Noir. 

I think what’s interesting about Colorado is we have a very short growing season, 155 – 165 days.  Napa has 240 days. That’s frost free days. 

So the thing is that we have such high sunlight exposure because of the elevation and the ultraviolet light that we have the same number of degree days as Napa Valley. So we can ripen like Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’re ripening it in a shorter period of time.  That’s fairly unique. 

The Ordinary Fellow is really focusing on traditional French varietals from Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah.

Most recently we took over a vineyard in Utah so I’m actually farming a vineyard about 1 ½ hour drive from Moab called Montezuma Canyon Ranch. 

That’s this ancient sandstone with a little bit of clay in there that was planted in 2007. 12 acres of Chenin Blanc, Merlot, Riesling Chardonnay.  We made an awesome Utah Rosé vineyard last harvest 2023, which we just released. 

You don’t see that many wines from Utah so that’s why I’m excited about it. 

I think there’s only 6 wineries in Utah and I’m not sure that many of them get their fruit from Utah.

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned that you have one of the highest peak elevation commercial vineyards in North America.

What are the benefits and the disadvantages to such a high elevation?

Ben Parsons: 

If you think about spending any time on a mountain, it can be really warm, but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets very cold. 

So having high elevation vineyards, even though you might be in a quite a hot growing region as soon as the sun goes down, the temperature does drop.

You have a large diurnal temperature shift. 

So in Cortez, in the growth, during the growing season or during ripening, say late September, mid September, late September. We could be 85 to 90 in the day, but 45 to 50 at night, which is a really big temperature swing. 

It basically means that the vine has a kind of chance to just shut down and rest.

From an enology perspective, you can retain more natural acidity in the fruit because it’s not being metabolized by having a lot of sunlight constantly and higher temperature. So we don’t have to make any artificial acid additions or anything like that you may have to do in more established wine regions in the United States. 

Our wines all have really great balance to them and really good acidity. None of them are overdone. They’re not big, jammy, overly alcoholic. 

They’re all well balanced between acids, tannin, alcohol, sugar, but they’re all bone dry. 

There is no fermentable sugar in any of them, which leads to palate weight and mouthfeel, but but they’re not sweet per se. 

Even my Riesling is bone dry.

Joe Winger: 

During the Infinite Monkey Theorem days you led the canned wines movement.  

How does it feel seeing it become so incredibly popular and any big lessons you learned from that experience?

Ben Parsons: 

I genuinely believe that [we led with canned wines].  In 2009 we entered into a R and D project with Ball Corporation, the largest supply of aluminum cans in the world. 

To figure out how to can wine and everyone thought it was stupid and everyone just turned their noses up at it and thought that RTD wine and RTD drinks were stupid.

It’s a tough question because I think that canned wine is good because of its use application, primarily.  Where you can take it and where you can drink it. 

Now, very rarely do I see people putting the best wine they’ve ever made in a can. So I think it’s all about where you want to drink it, who you want to drink it with.  There’s definitely this kind of utility aspect to it. 

Also price point wise, you don’t see that many canned wine, four packs above $16,

I would say so. Yeah, price wise, it’s fairly economical from a sustainability perspective. It makes a lot of sense.

But from an absolute quality perspective, you’re probably still going to be buying bottled wine over canned wine. 

It’s all about where you’re going to consume it. 

Sometimes when I see it I think about when you start any category, there’s always those people that are out there doing it way before anyone else is doing it.  It’s those people that usually don’t reap the benefits of it because they put all of the effort into it. 

I look at LinkedIn occasionally and I’m just baffled by people that think that it’s a new thing.  It just blows my mind. 

Joe Winger: 

You have an excellent sparkling wine and you’ve mentioned England’s excitement about the sparkling. 

Why is England falling in love with sparkling wine? And why should all of us be falling in love with sparkling wine?

Ben Parsons: 

Historically, England has consumed a lot of sparkling wine. 

But in terms of actually growing grapes and making their own sparkling wine, that’s happened in the last 20 years. 

That’s one of those unfortunate advantages of global warming in a kind of isolated geographical area that previously, you wouldn’t have been able to ripen Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.

It would have been a challenge making really good sparkling wine in Kent and Sussex and Southeast England where a lot of it is made. 

But with a few degrees temperature rise, that’s now possible. And it’s the same chalk escarpment as champagne. They’re very close to each other.

They’re just separated by 24 miles of the English Channel, right? 

So they’re actually geographically very close to each other a little further than 24 miles, but climatically very similar. 

So actually, a lot of French champagne houses have bought up land in Kent and Sussex over the last 20 years and have been planting that, and now some of the bubbles are coming out.

Joe Winger: 

When I have an opportunity to speak with an Oregon winemaker, we often talk about the challenges based on their region. Do you feel like you are also in a region [Colorado] that’s more problematic?

Can you share a lesson you’ve learned from solving some of those problems?

Ben Parsons: 

The whole industry because of the shortness of the growing season, it’s always on a knife edge because you can have late spring frosts that can come through a bud break and just wipe you out.

But you can also have these freak-like early winter freezes in October where there’s there’s still fruit hanging or maybe it’s just come off and it goes from 70 degrees in the day to 8 degrees suddenly, and the sap still flowing in the vines and then all of the vines, the trunks split, the cordon split.

That’s what happened in Palisade maybe 3 or 4 years ago now. 

Then in Cortez where Box Bar is, last year we had a hailstorm come through just after the bud break. So our Chardonnay was out and got wiped out. Then the secondary buds pushed and we went from a crop of 36 tons to 10 tons overnight.

That’s just agriculture anywhere. Unfortunately that’s just one of the risks.

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk about wine. Their flavor profiles. The different bottles you offer.

When we come visit your tasting room in Palisade, Colorado any hints about what they should be excited to taste?

Ben Parsons: 

 

Blanc de Noir

Yeah the sparkling wine, that’s Blanc de Noir, so that’s 100% Pinot Noir. That’s about as geeky as it gets, because that’s single vineyard, single grower, single clone of Pinot Noir. only 8 months in barrel.  The base wine was barrel aged for about 6 months, and then it was entourage, lying on its utilise in a bottle for six months.

Then it’s put on a riddling rack and hand riddled one bottle at a time. Then disgorged by hand, just take the top off, put your thumb over the top of it so nothing comes out and then no dosage.

So again, just super geeky, like really bone dry, like really crisp, great acid. So that is that wine is super hands on.

It’s delicious. It still gets those more developed, brioche-y notes. Texturally it’s very pleasing on the palate. I think we make really good method champignons, bottle fermented sparkling wine. 

 

Chardonnay

A lot of people these days think it’s trendy to not like chardonnay, because they heard somewhere about that, but there are actually some really good Chardonnays out there, which aren’t all aged in new French oak and haven’t all gone through like a creamy buttery secondary fermentation. And I think mine is one of them. It was aged in 8 year old barrels.  So there’s really no influence on it at all. 

It’s all hand harvested or whole cluster pressed. I think that wine has a really pretty texture, like this palette coating texture but it has really good acidity and it smells like a ripe peach or a dried apricot. It’s really pretty.

Pinot Noir

Our red pinot noir.  Again that spent just 9 months in neutral barrels so I think there was a trend like 20 years ago to put everything in a brand new barrel and every winemakers thought it was cool, but you know in the last 5 – 6 years, I think that has changed 

Winemakers are really trying to let the soil and let their vineyards speak for themselves.

Minimal kind of intervention to a certain extent. It is the trend.

Our Pinot Noir has done really well. It’s on the much lighter side. I would say it’s more like a German style Pinot Noir, like lighter with really good acidity, firm tannin. Beautiful aroma.

I think all of our wines are just very well balanced. Very food friendly, very clean. They’re not funky. I’m very proud of that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m assuming balance and the clean is a style choice by you? 

Ben Parsons: 

Balance is easy because it’s done in the vineyard because of the elevation and the retention of acidity.  It’s just about when you pick it. So you’re tasting [the grapes] for flavor and like phenolic ripeness and the seeds being brown, et cetera, but you’re also testing a few for your pH, your titratable acidity and your sugar levels. Then you make an informed decision as to when you’re picking it. 

The cleanliness part of it really just comes down to the fact that I feel like winemakers, even though this doesn’t sound very romantic, you’re almost just like an insurance manager in that you don’t want to mess it up.

So you make informed decisions, preemptively.  You top your barrels, like every 2-3 weeks, you do things to make sure the wine, does not end up flawed  through a secondary characteristic developing.   

Sometimes that’s a flavor enhancer and sometimes that’s good, but when it’s overdone…  I believe there are a lot of wines that they get away with it these days.  To me it’s just bad winemaking.

I’m definitely kind of a minimal interventionist 

Joe Winger: 

I always feel like white wine doesn’t get enough love and respect. People love talking about the complexities of reds.  You make a phenomenal Riesling

Ben Parsons: 

Interestingly I really don’t drink red wine anymore. Occasionally I’ll drink some Pinot Noir, but I much prefer drinking white wines. I think a lot of people in the industry crave acidity, and yeah, my reasoning is a good example.

The general consumer in the U. S. still thinks that all raisins are sweet. I think that’s just a common misconception, that’s purely a stylistic choice from the winemaker, and my choice is to allow the yeast to ferment all of the sugar until there is no residual sugar.

To have a wine with high natural acidity that pairs well with food. That’s my choice as a winemaker. Those are the wines that I enjoy most that kind of just leave your palate just like this rasping acidity. Take the enamel off your teeth, and but have beautiful aroma.

Our Riesling is starting to show some characteristics from being in the bottle for 18 months. Where it gets those kind of, it’s tough to say about making it sound bad, but those more kerosene-y , kind of petroleum, kind of eraser like notes, which are very typical of Riesling, intertwined with really nice citrus and green apple.

Yeah, and like really just good structure. That benefits from growing at elevation here for sure.

Joe Winger: 

Petit Verdot is probably lesser known, less popular, but it deserves all the love anyway. 

Ben Parsons: 

Petit Verdot, interesting, like one of the six red Bordeaux grape varieties. Bordeaux is maritime climate. It’s much cooler than Colorado.

It doesn’t really get the chance to ripen as well as it does here. So when it can ripen, it doesn’t just need to get blended into Cabernet Sauvignon or something to just give it more tannin and more structure. 

Here it can stand alone as a single varietal. 

The greenness is gone. The tannin is not like just rip your face off tannin.  It’s well developed. Like silky, velvety, firm, but not like really dry and like Petit Verdot can be.  Aromatics are very lifted on it, and it’s not a massive red wine by any means.

That’s grown at a vineyard about half an hour from Box Bar called Canyon of the Ancients and that vineyard was planted in 2006.

Unfortunately we only made about 99 cases of that wine. It’s fun to introduce people to wines that they probably haven’t heard of, but wines that that can stand up to any good red wines that you may have heard of.

Palisade Colorado Winemaker Ben Parsons reveals his Favorite Food

Joe Winger: 

Do you identify yourself as a foodie?   Can you pick 1-2 of your bottles and your favorite dish for dinner tonight?

Ben Parsons: 

Yeah I would definitely pair my Riesling with a Thai curry or even a panang curry. I think it does really well with oriental food that has some level of heat to it. But also I think it does really well with a charcuterie plate, some almonds and some cheese. I think you can’t go wrong with that. 

Then my Petit Verdot, for example I think there is more tannin in there.  For those of us that like the light grilling you couldn’t go wrong with serving that with a ribeye. It’s delicious.  Or if you’re cooking a little heartier food in the winter, maybe a lasagna.  Something that can really work with that tannin.

I think my wines do well with a lot of different food just because of the balance that they have, they’re not going to overpower the food and vice versa, which is what it’s all about. 

But I also enjoy them, just having a glass on its own, to be honest.  When I get home from work, sometimes I love that.

Joe Winger: 

I’m watching your Instagram videos quite a bit, and it seems like you’re having a lot of fun sharing knowledge, showing your vineyard, showing what it’s like day to day.

Ben Parsons: 

The one time that I do enjoy social media is when you’re in the vineyard or you’re doing something that seems that other people might never have seen before.

I’m in awe of where I am because I feel like it comes across in those videos. It’s pretty down here today, and those are beautiful vineyard sites.

Or if you’re filtering a wine or racking a wine or, trying or shoveling grapes.

Just the imagery comes across and really shows how much work is involved in it. I always struggle when it’s like go take a photo of a bottle of wine in front of a restaurant.  I don’t know how you make that look cool.

Find more about Ben Parson’s The Ordinary Fellow website, instagram

More about Palisade, CO

 

NYC Demands Better Coffee, They Traveled the world to find it, Dr Christina Rahm from Rahm Roast Coffee

NYC Demands Better Coffee, They Traveled the world to find it, Dr Christina Rahm from Rahm Roast Coffee

Today we’re talking coffee!  The rich and delightful taste of Rahm Roast, crafted from carefully selected coffee beans straight from Guatemala.

Dr. Christina Rahm is a scientist, supermom, devoted partner, and the ultimate coffee aficionado! 

With a passion for detoxing and a mission to uplift lives, she’s not just about the lab coat life; she’s out there exploring the globe in pursuit of both science and the perfect cup of joe.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit FlavRReport’s YouTube channel here

Joe Winger: 

So what I love the most is your introduction, Dr. Christina Rahm, “Mother. wife, scientist and coffee lover.”

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

Thank you. Yeah I always start with mother. Now my kids are older. I’m like, am I supposed to say mother to adult children? They were such an integral part of my life. And hey, that was the reason I started drinking coffee. Just to be honest, I had to stay awake to take care of them.

Joe Winger: 

Do you remember what first inspired you to get interested in coffee?

Dr. Christina Rahm:

Motherhood, basically.. 

I grew up in a home where everybody loved coffee but me. I remember when I had my 1st child, and I was thinking, how do all these mothers stay awake? 

I worked back then too. It was a lot, working and taking care [of my first baby].

I was delusional because I thought I’m going to have my son, and I thought, I’ll go back to work on Monday. Cause you don’t know. I remember that Monday getting up and calling my mom and saying, “This is not doable.  What am I going to do?”

I had a job where they let me take him to work, but still it was a lot. And my mom was like, you’re going to have to drink coffee. 

So I started drinking coffee. 

My parents loved it growing up. They would offer us coffee with cream and sugar when we were little.

I grew up on a farm and  they would offer it and I’d be like, no, I don’t like it. I was the only one in my family that didn’t like it, but I learned to love it after I had a child. 

Then I three more [kids]. But I love the taste of it. 

Also, as a scientist, I had a pituitary tumor and different types of cancer.

When I started researching, you can’t ever claim that a natural substance cures anything, but I did notice there were certain types of coffee and coffee beans that caused cancer cell death, apoptosis. 

So it was one of the things that I added to my regimen. 

What happened was, the cancer metastasized and I was trying to eat everything from spirulina to coffee to resveratrol.

I did give up alcohol for a while. 

Then someone said one glass of alcohol is good because of the resveratrol. 

So I  added wine back in [to my diet].

But like I learned to love [coffee].   The more I researched it, the more I understood that it had mold and mitotoxins and it had all kinds of things.

Even though the pure bean could help from a physical perspective and from a healthcare perspective because of the pesticides and GMOs in the land, air and water that we have. 

I hate bringing up the topic because people [think] the environment’s not that bad. 

The problem is, regardless of your political stance, our environment is not healthy like it used to, because we’ve had so much pollution/

Nuclear war and when a nuclear war happens, it does not leave the stratosphere. 

It disseminates across our world. 

So a our things – plants and herbs and roots and seeds – you have to be very careful where you get it. 

Most of my career I focused a lot on detoxification and really helping clean out the environment.

Things I’ve worked on… You can go to the store and buy coffee or buy vitamins and they can have heavy metals, lead, mercury, horrible things in it. 

I don’t want to scare people.

Instead, I’ve worked on creating some things that hopefully will help people feel, look, and be better because we just all need to be as great as we can be. 

There’s no easy, one pill solution, right? 

Coffee was definitely something for me.  

People drink [it] every day, and if they’re going to drink it, I’m hoping they drink something that’s, free of mitotoxins, that has a good pH level, that is fair trade.

I had a whole list of things that were so important to me.

When Rahm Roast launched I was very happy because we ended up getting a 91% cup score. We worked really hard for that. Only 1% of the coffee in the world has a score that high.

But I think what was more important than a score, what’s that going to do for you? 

What really matters to me is that the coffee did not have toxins and the coffee did not have heavy metals and it hadn’t been exposed to GMOs or pesticides.

If my name was going to be on it it better be something that’s really helping people and making their life better. That was important to me.

Joe Winger: 

Two words you said a second ago, let’s connect them: coffee and detoxification.

What does that process look like for Rahm Roast?

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

I went all over, even to Ethiopia because [they] have great coffee.

I would meet with different coffee plantations and different owners trying to find a really good place. We ended up being able to find a place in Guatemala that was on top of a mountain, which had never been exposed to GMOs and pesticides.

The water’s clean, the air’s clean. 

It was a very isolated place.  We decided we wanted to partner with a business that was small.  All they cared about was making something that was just really unique and special.  [Unlike most other businesses] they were not worried about mass production.

They’re worried about making sure that it tastes good, which taste was important to us. 

But the biggest issue was let’s make sure that everything is fair trade, the organic, the vegan, we wanted everything. I wanted to be sustainable. 

For me, sustainable is not enough. 

We need to remediate things because you can to be sustainable. It’s not completely accurate, right? 

I have a lot of patents based on remediation of things and making sure that you’re not just detoxing, but you’re helping the plants and you’re helping everything grow.

Because we should have this much top soil [gestures to 6 inches] and now we have this much top soil [gestures to 2 inches] and there’s not enough nutrients in it that help the plants and the roots and the seeds.  They’re just not the same. 

We explored all of that and came up with a process to clean the beans and detox the beans of any kind of monotoxins, mold, fungus, bacteria, viruses, anything surrounding it. 

I developed that in 2015. I started by basically writing a series of patents that had to do with getting rid of nuclear waste.

The regeneration of land, air and water and the human body and also the reversal of aging.

What I’ve learned as a scientist and as a human being is to admit failure every day, and then to admit that I’m going to try to be better every day. 

And that’s what happened with the coffee. 

It was a one step process that involved a four day process to make the cleaning and it’s made from basically a zeolite silica trace mineral vitamin mixture which goes in and cleans the beans.  

I think that’s the reason our cup score is so high because the PH level basically getting rid of all those minor toxins, all the things, the beans that are harmful or could be harmful creates a ph level that is very conducive to our body.

I don’t know if you know this, but our Earth is composed of silica and water, right?

As humans, we are too. 

So when you put something in your body, you want to make it compatible bioavailable to the body. And I would say that’s another proprietary thing that I do. And I work on things I’m working on. 

Understanding the DNA of a coffee bean, and understanding our DNA and then understanding how they would work copacetically together.

Another thing that was really close to me that I actually have not talked about in any interview is the fact that. With coffee and coffee enemas and different things that people have, there’s like a 70 percent increase right now in colon cancer. It’s horrible. And I would credit that to the environment and to all the things we’re being exposed to.

And even vegans are getting colon cancer. Even younger people. You can look it up. 

It was in the New York Post, everything else. So I wanted a coffee that a doctor decided functional med doctors or doctors in other countries wanted to help with this area that could use it as a colon cleanse as well.

Again, I have not talked about that anywhere, but for me, it was essential because as a person that’s had so many different types of cancer, I want to put things in my body that will help my body. 

What’s interesting about what I do for a living now, I used to work in pharmaceutical and biotech and we could say.

We don’t cure bronchitis, but here’s zithromax to help with bronchitis and it does right from my perspective. 

Giving people things that make their body, make them achieve the greatest thing they can, that, which is to be their best self, it’s so important.

And if those things that we give them can also improve the cellular health of their body by making the healthy cells healthier and making the cancerous or the sick cells not even wanna be there, then that is a goal. 

There’s been all kinds of studies, there’s all kinds of information which shows that could be possible.

But again, the problem is in theory, yes, that can help people in different areas of health. 

But in reality, I don’t feel like it has because I think the coffee beans and coffee has been exposed to so many things in our environment that then sometimes we’re putting more toxins into our body. 

So that was really a major focus for me when I worked on the coffee.

We drink coffee every day and we deserve to have really good coffee. 

I’m not saying,me making spaghetti and saying my spaghetti is the “best spaghetti in the world.”

I will tell you that I’ve traveled to 89 countries and I’ve studied this for years and this has been a topic of mine since I was in my twenties, that has been important to me. 

Then my oldest son, my Mom used to give him the coffee with the sugar and the cream and he would just keep drinking it.

And I would get in an argument with my Mom about why are you giving my Son coffee now? 

He’s bouncing off the walls. He just loves it. 

So he put fire under my feet on it. I was like, I’m too busy working on all these other projects. 

He was like, “Mom, you have to make good coffee.”

Because some people drink four or five glasses a day. So it needs to be healthy for you. 

It’s just like water. If you’re going to drink water, you want to drink healthy water; and water is part of the process when I make the coffee too.  It’s a specific type of water that helps clean the beans. 

It’s interesting. I tried to do it in the United States. I could not find a master coffee maker that could do what I wanted.

I found one in Cyprus [Greece]. 

So I was in Cyprus introduced to an award winning coffee grinder coffee maker.

He’s won awards all over, [ he] understood my process, understood how to do it. 

Then after you tasted it, after it went through the process, he was like, this is amazing. This is the best coffee ever. And again, it makes sense.

Like when we’re healthy, we look better, right? 

When coffee beans are healthier, they taste better. They’re better. 

It’s just simple and I love it. 

I think it’s magical how science works and how all of our DNA is connected. We’re connected to a leaf on a tree. We’re also connected and able to bring coffee to the world that’s going to help people.

I think it is probably one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most in the last three to four years of my life.

Joe Winger: 

That’s beautiful.  Obviously you have a huge scientific background.  Our audience is into the flavor. Food, spirits, wine, coffee based on flavor. 

I’m sure you can understand how science can intimidate so many of us.

Is there a very simplified way of explaining what makes Rahm Roast good for the body, good for the planet? 

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

It’s like going to an organic farm up in the mountains where everything’s perfect and tasting a bite of a watermelon and it just tastes so great. 

Or of strawberries. 

When you go to these places on these islands that have never been exposed to GMOs and pesticides.

And you’re like, why does this taste better? 

Sometimes in the United States, you’ll buy a rose for someone and it doesn’t even smell like a rose, but then you’ll go to a tropical island where they don’t use GMOs or pesticides and it smells so beautiful.

This is the most beautiful rose. It smells so amazing. 

The coffee was made and sourced from a single source in a place that was the perfect environment that we could find. We looked everywhere. 

Then the process. That was made basically cleaning it until it was beautiful and perfect. It’s like you brush your teeth, you take a bath, you look better.

If you don’t shave or brush your teeth or take a bath for two years, then you may not look the same as you look today. 

This coffee has been cleaned in a very holistic way, organic way using only natural.

It tastes amazing. It tastes almost like chocolate.

It’s very smooth.

Using zeolites [like they] used to line the ducts of the Aztec and Incas and Mayas and the pyramids. It’s documented throughout history and all I did was take a process and make sure it was cleaning so that it would look beautiful.

I think it’s simple.

I sourced it from the most amazing place that had not been exposed to pesticides and GMOs, that was fair trade, that everything was a sole source farmer.

We knew everything about the history.  I want your audience to also know this. 

It’s not just the beans and the plants.  

It’s the parent plants and the genetics behind it. 

When you see race horses. They breed, right? You pay a lot of money if you have a winner from the Kentucky Derby.  Because it’s genetics. 

There’s a genetic component and there’s always this debate about genetics and the environment.

Which one’s better? 

And so to me, both are important. 

So I looked at the genetics of the plants and the seeds

I made sure the environment was a really good environment to raise a healthy environment to raise these amazing coffee beans. And then we just cleaned them and made them even more beautiful so that everyone could taste how amazing they are.

Scientists made GMOs to try to make plants bigger, better, right? That failed. 

So as a scientist I went back to school, I went to Harvard and studied nanobiotechnology for a very different reason than most people think. 

I studied to see how we could reverse it.

Things naturally from things that we’ve put into our world that weren’t natural, that have hurt us. 

Joe Winger: 

Incredibly inspirational.

From a corporate point of view, can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to pursue the social responsibility of the company?

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

In my career, I worked for the government. I’ve worked for a lot of the top pharmaceutical and biotech companies. 

I would say I failed at that in many ways.

Our economy depends on spending a lot of money on health care.

It was a hard time for me, but I never gave up. 

From my perspective. Since I had cancer, since I had Lyme’s disease, since I had a child that had cancer, I’ve devoted my life to trying to do the right thing.  I have an opportunity to be alive for a reason.

It was a blessing, even though I didn’t feel like it was a blessing when I was diagnosed. I have a warrior strength of fighting anything.

We’ve just got to be better humans, right? 

My goal is to make every person have the longest, best life possible.

That means mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And as a scientist, I feel like it’s on my shoulders and my responsibility to tell the truth and to do it in a positive way instead of being a whistleblower blowing things up. 

I want to offer these things that can help people.

About 8-9 years ago, I started really stepping up and talking about social issues, working on female empowerment. I just always try to talk about how we can empower.

When you have gifts, if you have influence, if you have money, if you have power, your job is to protect those weaker than you or that need help.

And somehow we’ve lost that in our move for success.

We think we don’t we forget about that. But for me, that’s my motive to make social change is to it’s my responsibility to be a good human. I’m going to die someday. And I’m going to have to answer for everything I’ve done on this earth.

So I have to try every day to be better. 

The coffee was something that was for a social change that I think we need to be aware of without scaring everyone. 

And so that has led me to move past that. To run companies. I have 22 companies actually under DRC ventures and a lot of people don’t know that. So there’s 22 companies that I’m actually in charge of right now, trying to make some good social changes in the world.

Joe Winger: 

For our audience who wants to learn more about your and Rahm Roast Coffee, what are the best ways? 

Dr. Christina Rahm: 

DrChristinaRahm.com is my website.

I’m on social media at Instagram, LinkedIn

The root brand sells Rahm Roast at RahmRoast website.  We also donate from every bag of coffee to philanthropy as well. 

Daytime TV Star Thaao Penghlis Seducing Celebrities in His newest Book

Daytime TV Star Thaao Penghlis Seducing Celebrities wants to Give You a Taste at his next dinner party.  Read all about it in his new book.

Thaao Penghlis has starred in some of the biggest TV shows of all time – including playing on daytime TV’s “Days of Our Lives”.

Thaao Penghlis new book Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time

Now in Thaao’s new book, Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time he reveals seduction in the dining room by creating incredibly delicious for his famous friends.

Today’s conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, un-edited conversation, visit our YouTube channel here

Joe Winger

Congratulations on your new book.  It’s a tasty read and a fast read. 

Thank you for joining us for a conversation today.

Thaao Penghlis: 

Thank you for inviting me.

 

Joe Winger: 

You’ve done a lot of work in your life. We’re going to go to food and books as quickly as possible. 

When you’re at an airport or in public, what is the most common thing people remember you from?

Thaao Penghlis:  

Certainly Days [of our Lives]. There’s a big Armenian contingency out there who always comes at me at the airports, [Days…] was in 152 markets. Especially when you’re in New York and it’s an international port. When Mission [Impossible] was on. I certainly enjoyed that. I think it had a large male audience because of the action and that I liked it was interesting. That kind of prepared me for the masks that I did on Days [of Our Lives]. So it was a real challenge. Working in daytime; I think the biggest challenge is remembering all those lines and giving it some kind of conviction and taking those lines off the page.

And a lot of the time, because there’s too many lines, we’re just on the edge, and so because I have a certain intensity I’m able to cover. I think through all those years people, airports probably are the biggest. I’m going to do a PA [public appearance] at the Grand Canyon in August. 

It’s a very special train ride through the Grand Canyon with just 22 fans.  It’s going to be a very intimate affair. So over the years, you get the older people who are the real followers, because the youth today have different appetites.

Just like they do with food, they’re not always conscious about what they’re eating. Unless they’re educated about it or they’re raised on good food. And I think today food has become a convenience rather than a celebration. 

Joe Winger:  

You use wonderful words in your book. It feels almost like poetry. “Food is the magic of our universe.” Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Thaao Penghlis: 

We’ve been given such diversity as far as food is concerned, that we have that many choices, especially in countries that can afford food. But to me, once you’ve grown up tasting octopus – we used to hang it on the [clothes] line for three weeks until it dried out. There’s no blood in the octopus, therefore, it doesn’t rot – that was mouthwatering. 

Some of the fruits you have in life, like mangos.  When you can appreciate the way they’re being served.  It’s not like eating an apple. If you eat a mango and you slice it, then cut it up in quarters, there’s a different texture to it.  The flavor.  To the eye it becomes attractive. I think food, when you think about what you can control in your life and you are blessed to have it. I think food is magical because of that. 

Joe Winger: 

One more line of food poetry from your book.  “You discover your body’s secrets by the way you feed it and how it feeds you back. “

Thaao Penghlis: 

When we who are in the Greek Orthodox church, we go through a fast to the last day [of holidays like Easter] before we go to the church and get the bread and the wine.

You start to appreciate the food that you can’t have because of its limitations in the religion. The last day you’ll have olive oil on bread with some sugar, things like that. So when you get to food and understand it, when you stop eating and cleanse your body, sometimes it just juices, you become hungry.

You get to understand what food does to the body by emptying it out. If you don’t eat well, or if you eat late, then the next day, you’re not going to feel great.

So you get to understand what the body can take and what, and when, are the limitations to eating and at what hour, if you drink too much wine.  

As an actor, I don’t drink very much.  But if I have wine, the next day, my eyes are going to show it. So it tells me something about the kidneys, because the eyes are connected to the kidneys. So it’s understanding how the machine you’ve brought into life carries your soul. How does that express itself in the best way possible?

As actors, we have a responsibility because of that body being presented on camera as a certain responsibility to the producers to the show and to your audience. So you get to understand.  I would go through a four day fast with Bela’s broth, Celsius broth.  I would find that would cleanse me through the days I did like a liver cleanse, which got rid of stones.

You get to understand what the organs are, that you can do things naturally without having to take all those dreadful medicines and those pills. 

The body is all we’ve got. Why have I overcome certain things in my life? It’s always been through nutrition.

Joe Winger: 

Your journey, the things you’ve learned, and you touch upon that in the book a little bit, lessons you learn from different actors and producers and people you’ve worked with, but that’s another great lesson is as far as using it as a medicine.

The book is called Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time. It is an enormous undertaking: beautiful pictures, recipes, Hollywood stories, your family. There’s a lot going on. 

What inspired you to write the book?

Thaao Penghlis: 

The hardcover has all the colored pictures inside. So it has a different dimension to it when you actually see it, because let’s face it, presentation is very important.

So when you see color, when you see something displayed you want to get into it. If something looks like someone just piled something, it’s not attractive to the appetite. 

My manager called me one day and he said, “You always talk about food. Why don’t you do a cookbook?”

I went, “Oh, I don’t know how to do a cookbook. Everything that I’ve caught has come out of my head.”

I remembered, I learned when I worked at the UN [United Nations] for a year when I was in the diplomatic corps. In my youth I went into kitchens where they had chefs. I saw presentation. I understood the etiquette of arriving there on time.

45 minutes later you’re having the hors d’oeuvres, maybe it’s champagne, maybe it’s some caviar or whatever they presented. 

Then it was time to go into the dining room and sit there. It became a ritual. And so you got to appreciate the time, the presentation that someone put in.

So all these memories came into my head. I said how would you think? How do you think about food? I said it’s really seducing people, isn’t it? 

By the way you create an atmosphere, by the way you look at a dish, and by the aroma. So I said, Let’s call it “Seducing.”

I said who have I seduced? 

How about celebrities that I’ve met and worked with? That’s how it came about seducing celebrities. One meal at a time.   

I always like to serve the first, second and the third course. But usually, I don’t join the guests on the first course, because I’m busy preparing the main course.

So I present the first course to them. Then I’m in the kitchen. The actor, Danny Kaye in the old days.  He used to be an expert of Chinese food and around the counter in his kitchen is where his friends sat and he just fed them.   That was something that was so gratifying for him. 

So I understand if it’s done well, and your friends leave.  They take it for granted.

People don’t cook these days, or they’re intimidated because of the way you’ve presented it.  So therefore let’s take you out instead. So you don’t get that personal touch that I think is so important.

When you sit around your watering hole, as I call it, that “table”, which is something if when I leave this country eventually and go home to Australia, that is one thing I’m going to take with me is that table because it has a huge history to it. 

To me the table and how you decorate it and how you present it is very important to the appetite of the person joining you.

Joe Winger:  

I’m thinking of your table, sometime in the future when you do move, that could be a heck of an auction item. The amount of people who sat around it and heard stories and shared stories. 

Speaking of those stories, you’ve named huge Hollywood stars like Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson George Clooney, amazing actors, Joanna Cassidy, William Hurt.

Your Hollywood life has been so many decades of work and amazing people.  What was the process like deciding who makes it into the book and deciding who you had to leave out?

Thaao Penghlis: 

You don’t like everybody you’ve worked with and everybody you’ve met, food is very personal

In the old days they serve you poison. In the French 18th century, you’d be sitting there and if you were an enemy, they’d serve you a dish with poison. That’s how they got rid of enemies. But I don’t know. 

Dame Edna, who I was best man at his wedding, which is Barry Humphries. He was very particular. He was also a person who loved art.  So he would walk around my house looking at what kind of a collection and made his judgment on it. 

The same thing with the food, he would taste it. He would give you that quite qualifying look that he approves. 

Omar Sharif was different. When I worked with him,  we had champagne and caviar every day, because that’s the way he lived.

[He would be] telling me stories of Lawrence of Arabia and many of his other films and I think, because I look like his son, he was very taken not in the beginning. In the beginning, he was quite rude and quite distant.  It wasn’t until I was about to start the first scene with him where he comes into the room and when I met him, he was distant, shook my hand and said, “Hello”.

So when he comes into the room, he’s supposed to slug me after something I say.

He says to me, by the way, “Please, when I hit you do not go over this 18th century table and break it. It’s very important that we are respectful about this table.”

And I said, Oh, I’m not going anywhere. And he says, what do you mean?

I said, “Oh, Omar. I said, if you hit me and I go flying off that table, where do you and I go for the next four hours?”

He says “What will you do? 

I said, “I’ll probably adjust my tie.” 

He started to laugh and that’s how it started.  

How do you infiltrate a person’s personality who comes in defensive working with Bill Hurt in “Altered States”.

I had some very difficult dialogue because it was very technical. How do you make it real?  I started to do this sequence and he says to me, “Is that how you’re going to do it? 

And I said, “Why is that how you’re going to do it?”

And from that moment, he goes, “You’re an arrogant son of a…,”

And I said, “So are you.” 

From that moment, we clicked.  When we joined hands in Mexico, away from Warner Brothers, we had a good bond. 

I never stood for his star attitude. You have to call it. So I don’t like it.  When someone brings that, I leave that, I go outside.

 

Joe Winger: 

Doris Roberts, after dinner once wrote you a note. I took that idea as an incredibly loving gesture.

if you could talk a little bit about that note, and then any other amazing gifts from you dinner parties?

Thaao Penghlis: 

When I approached Doris and she would write the introduction, her comment was, “Oh, darling, why don’t you do that?” 

I said, Doris, you’ve been coming here for dinner for years. So why can’t you just get in touch with your heart and write something pleasant?

And that’s what she wrote. 

Because every time she came, it’s like my friends who come over always know they’re going to get a good meal. I never go cheap on the thing. I’ve seen people come in the house with daisies in their hand. I said, “Does this house look like it collects daisies?” 

Or they’ll bring me Two Buck Chuck.

I said, are you bringing that so I can put it as a wine for the food, because it’s certainly not going on the table and things like that.

Where people are not experiencing you or contributing and also shows you how cheap it is. And even when Doris, who used to get crates of champagne from Dom Perignon for free, because she was connected to somebody who worked there, she would come in.

She would say “Darling, here’s some Dom Perignon, put it in the fridge.” 

I said, “Oh, okay. Thank you.” I think, Oh, this is a person who understands quality. 

Then five minutes later, she’s sitting at a chair. She says open the champagne for me, will ya?. So I realized it wasn’t for the house.  It was for her.  So she didn’t bring anything. 

Here’s this woman who makes an enormous amount of money. I’ve studied with her for over 20 years with Katsalis, the director, and then she would come in and sit at the table and she would look at the flowers and then she would look at the presentation of everything and then she would smell the food and so through that experience –  you don’t always get respect, you have to earn it.

With her, because of my work as an actor, and because of my success as an actor, and also now writing some people will say to you, “Are you writing another book? 

But they say it in such a derogatory way.

Whereas Doris said, “I’m so proud of you.“

I went out with Doris, just the two of us went to movies because she always had to have company.  She was like Joan Rivers. She had to have every night filled. She couldn’t stand just being on her own. So when she was invited to my home, she always remembered the presentation and the flavors of that evening. 

Joe Winger: 

Let’s talk a little bit about what was the process of writing the book like this time?

Thaao Penghlis: 

Recipes are in my head.

So I had to cook in my head. For six months I started to think, Oh,I never wrote anything down. 

I would call friends and say, “What was your favorite meal I cooked?”

Then I would say, Oh, okay, that’s good; and then I would just test my friends and they would tell me what they like the best.

So I got all these recipes that were still in my head. And I somehow remember what I put in it. My sister in law in Australia says to me, the difference between you and I as chefs is that I have to have a cookbook in front of me. You open the fridge and say, what are we going to eat?

I spent six months going through recipes. 

Then finally I said, what did my mother cook? The Greek traditional foods or the Greek desserts. And my sisters are very good at cooking desserts. 

Then slowly I collected the foods and started to make them. 

Joe Winger: 

That’s an incredible journey. 

We’ve pushed toward the idea of an impolite or a bad dinner guest.  How do we find an appropriate dinner gift? And then what would be a definite no?

Thaao Penghlis: 

People will ask me, what can we bring?

It’s a silly question because you can’t bring food. So you, what do you bring wine?  Or flowers? Or whatever enhances the atmosphere?

But something that’s not here, but sometimes when they keep asking me that, I say, bring cash. And that always throws them because they take it seriously.

So sometimes I won’t answer that question. I said, “Surprise me. But make it expensive.”

So I like to play with them.  

I said to a friend of mine once, your hands are always empty.  They never spoke to me for three years after that. They turned around and left. 

There’d been guests who arrived when you had a seven o’clock dinner and arrived at 9:30. I’ll open the door and say to them, “I’m sorry, we’ve already had dinner. We’ll talk another time.” And then I closed the door because I find it disrespectful.

It tells you who people are and their consciousness. I don’t like unconscious people, but we’re  going through a very difficult time in the world. 

And it’s all because people are not conscious of others. It’s always about them. And so to me, the wonderful thing about serving food and expecting something in return, something.

Even if it’s – we used to write notes in the old days, a phone call – but texts now have become such a convenience.

Why don’t you just call me and tell me where I spent two days preparing this, that you can’t afford a five minute phone call, but you’ll text me in one sentence and that’s it. 

Things like that I don’t approve of. 

I think that kind of communication short changes [the memory of the experience].  I want to be at times where you want to cook again. If you’re not gonna share something about yourselves, call me the next day and say, I had such a wonderful evening. Some people think it’s enough when they leave, or they got here, 

But they don’t understand how you complete things.  Completion is very important. Just as an actor, you have an arc in your character, it’s complete. 

The same thing with food. 

When I serve food, it’s complete. I have an order: I have hors d’oeuvres. I have a first course. I have the main course. And then I have dessert and maybe some Greek coffee or tea or whatever people need and the wines.

But I just find people are unbelievable. They don’t understand what it takes to put an evening together. 

If you don’t know how to treat me, I’m going to show you. So that’s what I said there.

Joe Winger:

Have you ever played with the idea of a cooking show? Is that something you see at all for yourself?

Thaao Penghlis: 

It’s a lot of work.  All that preparation. I’ve done it as a guest here and there. 

Joan Rivers used to join guests and everything, she always made some wonderful jokes.

Dame Edna would make wonderful jokes. 

I’m doing a book signing May 22nd at the Grove in Los Angeles at a Barnes and Noble.  I’ve got to do a cooking show. I thought what are we going to cook?  Something that’s not difficult. 

So I’m going to do a vegetarian dish, which is not in the book, but it’s with shiitake mushroom, truffle oils, mint, basil heirloom tomato, raw peas and pine nuts. Then I will mix that in with the pasta and some olive oil and then some truffle oil and with some herbs and that’s about it. 

That’s so convenient and it’s such a delicious dish with Parmesan cheese over it. 

Joe Winger: 

The book is called Seducing Celebrities: One meal at a time 

You breezed over Joan Rivers for a moment and I wanted to touch upon it because In that chapter, you help us see her in a different way than what we always think of her as, especially being in the car with her daughter, Melissa as a young girl.

When I think of Joan Rivers, the stereotype, I think of outrageous, and you have one or two moments beyond her, Barbra Streisand, there’s a little bit of outrageousness there, are there any outrageous moments that you didn’t include that you thought about including?

Thaao Penghlis: 

I don’t I don’t mind telling stories, or privately telling stories.

There’s got to be a borderline, just like etiquette.  If I’m expecting for people to behave a certain way.

One time, there was a famous guest, which I won’t mention, who was having problems with their daughter, and they were sitting around the table. The phone rang in the middle of dinner, and he answered it, he starts screaming on the phone, and telling his daughter off.

I just lost it, I got up and I said, “If you don’t mind, take your bloody phone call outside, we’re not interested in your private business and how rude of you.”

Because I don’t like people bringing phones into the house.

The inner chatter that goes on with people’s minds, where they’re so distracted with life instead of just being there.  Being present. 

With Telly Savalas as well. There have been times also with people with Days [of Our Lives] and I couldn’t tell those stories because firstly, I have to work with him again. Secondly, I don’t think it’s everybody’s business.

There was a book that Hustler put out all the stories about those magnificent stars of the [1940s] and talked about their sexual proclivities. 

Someone said, “Why would you do that?”  Why would you betray your friends that way? 

You smash the myth. They spent years creating a myth.  But when you start getting into the nitty gritty, you make those people ordinary. And show business is not about being ordinary.

So I try to refrain from telling things that go beyond the norm. I want to be able to see these people later in some time, even though they’re gone,

I still believe we’ll see them on the other side that they did more good for me. Otherwise it’s a matter of respect and keeping someone’s dignity there.

Joe Winger: 

Your book starts almost like a love note or a Valentine to growing up with your family. Your mother, your father, their first trip to L. A., to your grandfather George’s herrings and olive oil tin.

Thaao Penghlis: 

Yeah, that was something to watch growing up.  

To see my grandfather bringing his knowledge of food from the islands of Greece. 

What I remember the most, even my grandmother, you’ve come down in the mornings and you can smell the cinnamon toast. She would be dipping wicks into wax and creating candles for the church.

Joe Winger: 

Seducing celebrities one meal at a time. 

Can you give us a tease about what you’re looking forward to in the future?

Thaao Penghlis: 

I just finished exploring the Holy Families. 

I did a two week trek up and down the Nile to these sacred places. So I’ve written a story because most of the things we see about religion are postcards or lovely paintings. What do we do when we explore it within ourselves and follow those routes? Something else happened.

I’ve written a teleplay. It’s very interesting the way it begins and where it begins and how it follows through into The Great Escape. 

Find Thaao Penghlis’ new book on Amazon at  Seducing Celebrities: One Meal at a Time

 

Kit Connor, Rachel Zegler are Romeo + Juliet on Broadway Fall 2024

Kit Connor, Rachel Zegler are Romeo + Juliet on Broadway Fall 2024

Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy now belongs to a new generation on the edge.

Seaview is thrilled to announce that Emmy Award winner Kit Connor (“Heartstopper”) and Golden Globe Award winner Rachel Zegler (Spielberg’s West Side Story) will star in the new Broadway production of William Shakespeare’s ROMEO + JULIET, directed by Tony Award winner Sam Gold, with music by Grammy Award winner Jack Antonoff and movement by Tony Award winner Sonya Tayeh 

 

“With the presidential election coming up in November,

I felt like making a show this fall that celebrates youth and hope,

and unleashes the anger young people feel about the world they are inheriting.”

Director Sam Gold 

 

Tickets for ROMEO + JULIET will go on sale to the public in May 2024. To sign up for early access and to be the first to receive updates, sign up at www.romeoandjulietnyc.com 

Romeo + Juliet on Broadway

Romeo + Juliet on Broadway

The youth are fucked. Left to their own devices in their parents’ world of violent ends, an impulsive pair of star-crossed lovers hurtle towards their inescapable fate. The intoxicating high of passion quickly descends into a brutal chaos that can only end one way.

 ROMEO + JULIET will open on Broadway in Fall 2024 and will mark the Broadway debuts of Kit Connor, Rachel Zegler and Jack Antonoff, who in February won his third consecutive Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, becoming only the second producer in history to win three years running. More information including theatre, dates, design team and additional casting will be announced at a later date.

ROMEO + JULIET is produced on Broadway by Seaview. 101 Productions, Ltd will serve as general manager. Casting is by Taylor Williams, CSA.

For more information visit www.romeoandjulietnyc.com

Kit Connor as Romeo

Kit Connor (Romeo). Screen International Star of Tomorrow actor Kit Connor landed his first film role aged eight in the lead role of Tom in Warner Bros. Pictures’ Get Santa (2014). Since then, he has had roles in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) and The Mercy (2018). Notably, he played Older Reggie in Rocketman (2019), taking on the role of young Elton John. He also appeared in Little Joe (2019) as Joe. Kit is well-known for voicing Pantalaimon in “His Dark Materials” (2019 -2020) and his TV work also includes “War & Peace” (2016). His theatre credits include Welcome Home, Captain Fox! at the Donmar Warehouse and Fanny & Alexander, where he played Alexander at The Old Vic. Kit is best known for his lead role of Nick Nelson in the global hit TV adaptation of Alice Oseman’s “Heartstopper,” with the third season set to launch this October on Netflix. For season 1, Kit won the Children’s and Family Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Performance in 2022 and the RTS Award for Leading Actor Male in 2023. Kit voices a role in The Wild Robot for DreamWorks alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Pedro Pascal and Bill Nighy out in September 2024. Kit will also lead the mystery-horror film One of Us and also star in Ace Entertainment’s film A Cuban Girl’s Guide To Tea And Tomorrow opposite Maia Reffico. He will film a leading role in Ray Mendoza and Alex Garland’s new film for A24, Warfare alongside Charles Melton and Joseph Quinn. Kit Connor is represented by Independent Talent Group and WME.

Rachel Zegler as Juliet

Rachel Zegler (Juliet) is a dynamic actress and singer who has already established herself as a trailblazer of her generation. At only 17 years old, Rachel earned the role of María Vasquez for Steven Spielberg’s new adaptation of West Side Story out of 30,000 auditions. The film captured Rachel’s motion picture debut alongside Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose, and earned her an NBR Award for Best Actress along with a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. Rachel then starred alongside Zachary Levi, Helen Mirren, and Lucy Liu in D.C. Comics’ Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the sequel to the successful predecessor, Shazam! She can currently be seen leading the highly anticipated prequel The Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes as Lucy Gray Baird, the girl tribute from impoverished District 12. Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Hunter Schafer also star. In 2025, Rachel will be seen as Snow White in Disney’s live-action remake of the classic story, making her one of the first Latina actresses to star in a live-action Disney film. Director Marc Webb said, “Rachel’s extraordinary vocal abilities are just the beginning of her gifts. Her strength, intelligence and optimism will become an integral part of rediscovering the joy in this classic Disney fairy-tale.” She will also be seen in the A24 disaster comedy Y2K, directed by SNL alum Kyle Mooney. In the film penned by Evan Winter, which is set on New Year’s Eve 1999, two high school nobodies decide to crash the last big party before the new millennium. When the clock strikes midnight, the night gets more insane than they ever could have imagined. Rachel stars alongside Mason Gooding, The Kid Laroi and Alicia Silverstone. Rachel has been featured on the covers of Elle, Town & Country, Who What Wear and The Hollywood Reporter and has been profiled by Vogue, Allure, and VMagazine. She is a Forbes “30 Under 30” recipient and has been recognized by Time magazine with inclusion in their Time100Next list, by Variety in their annual “Power of Young Hollywood Impact“ list, and by The Hollywood Reporter with their “Next Generation” list. She was also named one of “Nine Latinx Women in Hollywood Currently Changing the World” by Elle magazine. On Latin representation in entertainment, a subject she is passionate about, Rachel says, “We are not just the quirky side character who occasionally says a word in Spanish, we are the main character.“

Directed by Sam Gold 

Sam Gold (Director). Broadway credits include this season’s An Enemy of the People with Jeremy Strong and Michael Imperioli, Macbeth with Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga, King Lear with Glenda Jackson, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Tony Award Nomination), The Glass Menagerie, Fun Home(Tony Award), The Real Thing, The Realistic Joneses, Seminar. Recent credits: Hamlet (The Public Theatre), Othello (New York Theatre Workshop), The Flick (Playwrights Horizons, Barrow Street Theatre, National Theatre; Lucille Lortel Award nomination), The Glass Menagerie(Toneelgroep, Amsterdam), John (Signature Theatre; Obie Award, Lortel and Drama Desk Award nomination), The Village Bike (MCC Theatre), and Uncle Vanya (Soho Repertory Theatre; Drama Desk nomination), among others.

 Music by Jack Antonoff

Jack Antonoff (Music). Described as “anthemic, life affirming pop rock” by the New York Times, Bleachers are fronted by globally celebrated, eleven-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and producer, Jack Antonoff. Both with Bleachers and as a songwriter and producer, Antonoff, who, in 2021, was credited by the BBC for having “redefined pop music”, has collaborated with the likes of Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, The 1975, Diana Ross, Lorde, St. Vincent, Florence + The Machine, Kevin Abstract and many more. In February 2024, Antonoff won Producer of the Year at the Grammy Awards for an incredible third consecutive year, becoming only the second producer in history to win three years running. Releasing their debut album Strange Desire in 2014, Bleachers have built a huge, passionate following across three studio albums, becoming renowned for their impressive live show and infectious camaraderie. The band’s last album, Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night took them to new heights, showcasing Antonoff’s immersive songwriting and, as Variety testified, his innate skill at “supersizing personal stories into larger-than-life pop anthems”. Bleachers, the band’s fourth studio album, was released Friday, March 8th, 2024 via Dirty Hit and features singles “Modern Girl,” “Alma Mater,” “Tiny Moves” and “Me Before You.” There’s a rich depth to the band’s sound on Bleachers: it is laid out in bright, soulful technicolor. The album is frontman Antonoff’s distinctly New Jersey take on the bizarre sensory contradictions of modern life, on his position in culture, and on the things he cares about. Sonically, it’s sad, it’s joyful, it’s music for driving on the highway to, for crying to and for dancing to at weddings. There’s something reassuringly touchable and concrete about its sentiment: exist in crazy times but remember what counts.

 

Ella Beatty makes her Broadway debut Appropriate on Broadway March 25

Ella Beatty makes her Broadway debut Appropriate on Broadway March 25

Ella Beatty (“Feud: Capote vs. The Swans”) will make her Broadway debut as “River” in the critically acclaimed hit play, APPROPRIATE, written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Lila Neugebauer. Ms. Beatty will begin performances on March 25, when the production begins its limited extended engagement at the Belasco Theater (111 West 44th Street). 

Ella Beatty joins the “blistering cast” (Jesse Green, New York Times), which also includes original company members Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story”), Corey Stoll (“Billions,” “House of Cards”), Michael Esper(The Last Ship), Natalie Gold (“Succession”), Graham Campbell (Broadway debut), Alyssa Emily Marvin (Grey House), Lincoln Cohen (Broadway debut), and Everett Sobers (Broadway debut). Ms. Beatty is replacing Elle Fanning, who is not transferring with the production.

Ella Beatty

Ella Beatty

Ella Beatty is a Juilliard-trained actress who can currently be seen starring in the role of “Kerry O’Shea” in the Gus Van Sant-directed, Ryan Murphy-produced FX series, “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans.”  Ella will next be seen in the A24 film, If I Had Legs I’d Kick You, alongside Rose Byrne and A$AP Rocky. Ms. Beatty is represented by CAA and Entertainment 360.

Joining the production as co-producers are Elizabeth Armstrong, Burnt Umber Productions, Eric Christian, Eastern Standard Time, Edgewood Entertainment, Nicole Eisenberg, FutureHome Demar, Marcia Goldberg, Haffner-Wright Theatricals, Kim & Alan Hartman, Nathaniel Hill, HSN Newport, HudsonMann, Hal Luftig Productions, Gabrielle Palitz, Robertson Turchin, Daryl Roth, Ken & Janet Schur, Corey Steinfast, Arielle Tepper, and Barbara Whitman.

Tickets for the limited engagement are currently available at Telecharge.com. The box office at the Belasco Theater will open on March 11th.

APPROPRIATE opened to rave reviews on December 18th and sold out its initial run, adding a three-week extension due to popular demand.  The best-reviewed and best-selling play on Broadway, APPROPRIATE has broken Second Stage’s box office record at the Hayes Theater and is on track to be Second Stage’s most successful Hayes production ever. The production will conclude its run at the Hayes on March 3rd.

APPROPRIATE is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group, Amanda Dubois, Annapurna Theatre, Bad Robot Live, Runyonland, Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson and Bee Carrozzini in association with Second Stage Theater (Carole Rothman, President and Artistic Director; Lisa Lawer Post, Executive Director).

APPROPRIATE features scenic design by dots, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Jane Cox, sound design by Bray Poor and Will Pickens. The Production Stage Manager is Barclay Stiff. Casting is by Jim Carnahan Casting.  General Management by 101 Productions, Ltd.

APPROPRIATE will be performed on the following schedule at the Belasco Theater: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7pm, Wednesday at 1pm and 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, Sunday at 3pm. NOTE: The performance schedule for the week of March 25th is as follows: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday at 7pm, Friday at 8pm, Wednesday at 1pm and 7pm, and Saturday at 2pm and 8pm. NOTE: the performance on Sunday, June 16th will be at 1pm.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and Obie Award winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (An Octoroon) and Drama Desk Award winner Lila Neugebauer (The Waverly Gallery, invite you to one helluva reunion in the darkly comic American family drama, APPROPRIATE.

It’s summer, the cicadas are singing, and the Lafayette family has returned to their late patriarch’s Arkansas home to deal with the remains of his estate. Toni (Paulson), the eldest daughter, hopes they’ll spend the weekend remembering and reconnecting over their beloved father. Bo (Stoll), her brother, wants to recoup some of the funds he spent caring for Dad at the end of his life. But things take a turn when their estranged brother, Franz (Esper), appears late one night, and mysterious objects are discovered among the clutter. Suddenly, long-hidden secrets and buried resentments can’t be contained, and the family is forced to face the ghosts of their past.

For more information please visit: AppropriatePlay.com

Jeremy Jordan and Eva Noblezada: ‘The Great Gatsby’ Sets Spring Broadway Opening

‘The Great Gatsby’ Musical With Jeremy Jordan And Eva Noblezada Sets Spring Broadway Opening

A new musical adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Smash‘s Jeremy Jordan and Hadestown‘s Eva Noblezada will open on Broadway this spring, producers announced today.

The musical begins previews on Friday, March 29, at The Broadway Theatre, with an opening night set for Thursday, April 25. The announcement was made by lead producer Chunsoo Shin.

Direct from a record-breaking, sold-out world premiere at Paper Mill Playhouse last fall, the show features music and lyrics by Tony Award nominees Nathan Tysen (Paradise Square) & Jason Howland (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), a book by Kait Kerrigan (The Mad Ones), and is staged by award-winning director Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) and choreographer Dominique Kelley (Mariah’s Magical Christmas Special).

The Broadway premiere of The Great Gatsby will feature scenic and projection design by Paul Tate de Poo III, costume design by Linda Cho, lighting design by Cory Pattak, sound design by Brian Ronan, hair & wig design by Charles G. LaPointe & Rachael Geier. Arrangements are by Jason Howland, and Orchestrations are by Jason Howland and Kim Scharnberg. The Music Director is Daniel Edmonds and the music producer is Billy Jay Stein for Strike Audio. Mark Shacket of Foresight Theatrical serves as Executive Producer.

The musical’s world premiere engagement was the highest grossing show in Paper Mill Playhouse history. The production, which ran October 12–November 12, 2023, also broke the theater’s record for ticket sales in a single day, and sold out the entire run before its very first performance.

This production is not to be confused with a Gatsby stage musical announced in 2021 with Florence Welch and Thomas Bartlett attached.

Charlotte St. Martin To Retire As President Of Broadway League After 18 Years

Charlotte St. Martin To Retire As President Of Broadway League After 18 Years

Charlotte St. Martin, whose 18-year leadership of the Broadway League has included both good times – record-setting revenue – and bad – the historic 18-month Covid shutdown – will step down from her role as President effective February 16.

In its announcement today, the League said St. Martin has “decided to retire” from the organization, but will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for special events through the 2024 Tony Awards.

Jason Laks, The League’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, will serve as Acting President while the Board conducts an official search.

“While there is never a good moment for an executive who has spent a great deal of time in their role to resign, it is the appropriate time for me,” St. Martin said in a statement.

“It is truly the most difficult decision as I love the League, the staff, and of course, the industry that we have supported. I am very proud of our League team and the successes we have shared and know they will continue to provide the League with the highest level of commitment for which they are known. It has been the honor of my career to lead this organization, and I am grateful for all that we have accomplished together.”

During her tenure at The Broadway League, Ms. St. Martin has successfully grown the League and steered the organization through government relations successes, economic shifts, labor challenges and a global pandemic.

Also under her tenure, as the League notes, the trade organization representing theater owners and producers, has created numerous development, mentorship, and educational programs.

In addition to presenting the annual Tony Awards with the American Theatre Wing, the League manages the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.

Prior to joining the League, St. Martin was one of the highest-ranking women in the hospitality industry, holding a variety of positions including Executive Vice President of Operations and Marketing, and President and CEO of Loews Anatole Hotel. She served as Chair of the New York Society of Association Executives and also served as Chair of both Meeting Planners International and the Professional Convention Management Association Foundations.

She currently serves on the board of NYC Tourism+ Conventions. She was named to Grain’s New York Business 2019 Hall of Fame.

In a statement, Kristin Caskey, Current Chair, Board of Governors, The Broadway League, said, “Charlotte’s remarkable leadership over these past 18 years will have a lasting impact on the League and the Broadway industry. She championed many of the League’s remarkable initiatives, including Broadway Bridges and Viva! Broadway, as well as expanded critical programs like the Jimmy Awards and Broadway Membership Fellows, among many others.

“When Broadway shut down for two years during the pandemic,” Caskey continued, “it was under Charlotte’s steadfast leadership that the League helped create the Shuttered Venues Operations Grant and the New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit, two vitally important initiatives that ensured the successful return of our industry. We are immensely grateful for her tireless efforts and deep devotion to our community. I know I speak on behalf of our membership when we celebrate her indelible legacy and wish her great happiness in this next chapter.”

The League was founded in 1930, and currently represents more than 700 members from nearly 200 national and international markets including theatre owners and operators, producers, presenters, and general managers as well as suppliers of goods and services to the commercial theatre industry.

Broadway Hit ‘Kimberly Akimbo’ Tony-Winning Musical Annc’s Spring Closing

Broadway Hit ‘Kimberly Akimbo’ Tony-Winning Musical Annc’s Spring Closing

Kimberly Akimbo, winner of five 2023 Tony Awards including Best Musical, will play its final Broadway performance on Sunday, April 28, producers announced today.

Remarkably for Broadway, the entire original company, which has been performing together since the musical’s Off Broadway world premiere in 2021, has continued, and will continue, with the production through its final performance.

The universally acclaimed musical, which finds humor, heartbreak and hope in the tale of a teenage girl with a rare (and fictional) rapid-aging genetic condition that likely will take her life before she finishes her adolescence, opened on Broadway November 10, 2022, following its world premiere at the Atlantic Theater Company in November 2021.

Upon closing, Kimberly Akimbo will have played 32 previews and 612 performances on Broadway. The musical will kick off a 75-week, 60-city national tour at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts this September. (The touring cast has not been announced.)

Though the production grossed a big $720,330 for the holiday week ending December 31, figures have been up and down in recent months as the show began to lose some of its original Broadway steam: While once routinely filling more than 90% of seats at the Booth Theatre, more recent figures hover in the 70%-80% range.

Among its many accolades, Kimberly Akimbo scored a Best Actress/Musical Tony for star Victoria Clark, who delivers one of the great stage musical performances in recent memory. As Kimberly, Clark, who began playing the 15-year-old character when she was 62, captures, simultaneously, the nuances of both adolescence and middle age in one astonishing achievement.

In addition to the Best Musical and Leading Actress wins, the production also took Tonys for Bonnie Milligan (Featured Actress/Musical), David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori (score) and, for Lindsay-Abaire, Best Book. The show made Tony history with Tesori’s win, the first time a female has won two Tonys for Best Score (she won with Lisa Kron in 2015 for Fun Home).

In addition to Clark and Milligan, the cast includes Tony nominees Justin Cooley and Steven Boyer, Alli Mauzey, Olivia Elease Hardy, Fernell Hogan, Michael Iskander and Nina White.

The musical is produced by David Stone, The Atlantic Theater Company, James L. Nederlander, LaChanze, John Gore, Patrick Catullo, and Aaron Glick.

92NY presents Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Richard Egarr and Reginald Mobley: Garden of Good & Evil Jan 25 2024

92NY presents Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Richard Egarr and Reginald Mobley: Garden of Good & Evil Jan 25 2024

The 92nd Street Y, New York (92NY), one of New York’s leading cultural venues, presents Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Richard Egarr and Reginald Mobley: Garden of Good & Evil on Thursday, January 25, at 7:30 pm at the Kaufmann Concert Hall. Tickets start at $30 and are available at https://www.92ny.org/event/philharmonia-baroque-orchestra.

America’s premier Baroque ensemble joins with music director and harpsichordist Richard Egarr and countertenor Reginald Mobley, bringing their compelling program performed to acclaim in the UK. Centered on the creation story, Garden of Good & Evil pairs Handel arias with modern works for Baroque forces by celebrated composers Errollyn Wallen and Tarik O’Regan – jointly commissioned to write new music exploring an aspect of the Biblical creation story. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s blend of authenticity and innovation and juxtaposition of old and new is beautifully illuminated in this musical examination of the most profound of themes.

Handel, Overture to Orlando

Handel, “Al lampo dell’armi” from Giulio Cesare

Handel, “Orride larve … Chiudetevi miei lumi” from Admeto

Handel, Concerto Grosso in A Minor, Op. 6, No. 4, HWV 322

Errollyn Wallen, The Forms (New York premiere)

Tarik O’Regan, The Golden Measure (New York premiere)

Handel, Concerto Grosso in B-flat Major, Op. 6, No. 7, HWV 325

Handel, “O sacred oracles of truth” from Belshazzar

Handel, “Se in fiorito ameno prato” from Giulio Cesare

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, inquiring mind to all his music-making—whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber music, or indeed talking about music at every opportunity. After a successful career as Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music for 15 years, where he succeeded founding director Christopher Hogwood, he joins Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale as Music Director.

Richard also holds responsibilities as Principal Guest Conductor of Residentie Orkest The Hague and Artistic Partner at The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota, after having served as Associate Artist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. As a conductor, Richard straddles the worlds of historically-informed and modern symphonic performance, making him an ideal fit for PBO’s parallel commitments to early and new music. Richard is already well-known to the musicians and patrons of PBO, having guest conducted the orchestra four times since 2012 in both regular season offerings and the PBO SESSIONS series. In addition to his conducting genius, he is a brilliant harpsichordist and is equally skilled on the organ and fortepiano.

Richard is a beloved teacher and has been on the faculty of The Juilliard School for eight years in their Historical Performance division, has conducted major symphonic orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center Festival Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and regularly gives solo harpsichord recitals at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian, and elsewhere.

Born in Lincoln, England, Richard trained as a choirboy at York Minster, was organ scholar at Clare College Cambridge, and later studied with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt in Amsterdam, where he makes his home.

Under the musical direction of Richard Egarr in his second season as Music Director, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is recognized as “America’s leading historically informed ensemble” (The New York Times). Considered the most versatile ensemble of its kind, and performing on period instruments, PBO presents repertoire ranging from early Baroque to late Romantic, as well as new works and major operatic productions. The ensemble engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national and international tours, recordings, commissions, and education programs. Having celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, PBO was founded by Laurette Goldberg and led by Music Director Laureate Nicholas McGegan for the past 35 years. Philharmonia is the largest ensemble of its kind in the United States.

PBO’s musicians are leaders in historical performance and serve on the faculties of The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Harvard, and Stanford. It welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, and maestros Jonathan Cohen and Jeannette Sorrell. PBO enjoys longstanding artistic collaborations with The Juilliard School, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), and appears regularly at Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Norfolk Chamber Festival and Tanglewood. In collaboration with Cal Performances in 2017, PBO produced a fully-staged period opera, Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire, and produced a fully-staged, reimagined production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo directed by Christopher Alden and featuring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and soprano Lauren Snouffer in eight sold out performances in January 2020. “Aci” was named Best Operatic Performance in the Bay Area by San Francisco Classical Voice in 2020. PBO also co-produced “Aci” with National Sawdust in Brooklyn, Cath Brittan and Anthony Roth Costanzo in 2017.

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 recordings, including a coveted archival performance of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in Berlioz’s Les Nuits D’été, and a GRAMMY®-nominated recording of Haydn symphonies. The orchestra released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in 2018. In 2020, PBO released three groundbreaking recordings: a full collection of commissioned works by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, a selection of arias sung by rising star contralto Avery Amereau, and Handel’s Saul with countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen.

Noted for his ‘shimmering voice’ (BachTrack), GRAMMY-nominated American countertenor Reginald Mobley is globally renowned for his interpretation of baroque, classical and modern repertoire, and leads a prolific career on both sides of the Atlantic.

An advocate for diversity in music and its programming, Reginald became the first ever Programming Consultant for the Handel & Haydn Society following several years of leading H&H in its community engaging Every Voice concerts. He holds the position of Visiting Artist for Diversity Outreach with the Baroque ensemble Apollo’s Fire, and is also leading a research project in the UK funded by the AHRC to uncover music by composers from diverse backgrounds.

His American concert schedule includes solos recitals (New York at the Miller Theatre, Chicago (Collaborative Arts Institute)), concerts with orchestras performing Handel’s Messiah with, this year, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras and Carmina Burana with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as well as regular appearances with the most prestigious baroque ensembles: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Early Music Vancouver, Collegium San Diego, Seraphic Fire, to name but a few. Recent and future highlights include his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Festival (Andris Nelson), with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and with Orchestre Métropolitain de Montreal, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki.

In Europe, Reginald has been invited to perform with Orchester Wiener Akademie, Balthasar Neumann Chor & Ensemble, Freiburger Barockorchester, I Barocchisti, Bach Society in Stuttgart, Holland Baroque Orchestra, Dutch Bach Society, Monteverdi Choir and English baroque soloists, as well as the City of Birmingham Orchestra and the Budapest Festival Orchestra for a series of performances as Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea. He has also engaged in a few projects together with the Academy of Ancient Music in Cambridge, singing the role or Disinganno in Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno and devising a new programme, Sons of England, supported by UKAHRC, which reflects his research under their umbrella, which will be touring in April 2024. Reginald gave a Purcell, Handel and Sancho programme for his solo debut recital in Paris, which he repeated as part of the Bayreuth baroque opera festival in September 2023.

His first solo album with ALPHA Classics was released to great acclaim in June 2023 to coincide with a major series of concerts with pianist Baptiste Trotignon in Paris, York and Liverpool as well as part of both the Aix-en-Provence and BBC PROMS festivals. In addition, Reginald features on several albums with the Monteverdi Choir, Agave Baroque and Stuttgart Bach Society.

Highlights of the 2023/24 Tisch Music Season include:

  • Joshua Redman Group release concert of where are we featuring Gabrielle Cavassa
  • NY premieres of new work by Tyshawn Sorey and COTTON by composer Damien Geter
  • New York concert debuts of the Isidore String Quartet and pianist Tony Siqi Yun
  • Pianist Conrad Tao returns to 92NY as part of the global celebration of Rachmaninoff at 150
  • Ongoing partnerships continue with concerts from the Curtis Institute of Music, the New York Philharmonic, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with special guest artists
  • Art of the Guitar Series with Beijing Guitar Duo, David Russell and Manuel Barrueco
  • 2023/24 Lyrics & Lyricists series celebrating Howard Ashman, Laura Nyro, Stevie Wonder, andSheldon Harnick in a special event led by Ted Sperling honoring the legacy of three-time Tony Award winner, and Broadway legend, Jason Robert Brown, featuring a one-night-only appearance.
  • Expanded American Songbook offerings including exclusive concerts by Audra McDonald, Joshua Henry and Stephanie J. Block

For more information, please visit 92NY.org/Concerts.

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