Book Launch and Cocktail Party at The Meadow


Join Natasha and friends at The Meadow “Book Launching Party” on Thursday, June 4, 6-8 p.m.  Sample vanilla dishes from the book, join in a memory tasting experiment, learn little known facts about vanilla, sip some bubbly, chat with the author and then please join us for a very special signing Cocktail Party from 8-9:30 p.m. A secret location will be provided at the launch. RSVP appreciated, questions welcomed:

Chicago Goings-On

Chicago_01_6442 chicago_02_6413Prepping for the Fox32 TV interview with host Darlene Hill.


Me and Malika Ameen after the Fox32 TV interview – she was there for help and support.


Visiting Chicago food biz icon locals Meme and Gary Hopmayer with an original Food TV host Curtis Aikens.


Chicago hosted the 2015 JB awards at the Lyric Opera House complete with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner coming to the party. First time in 20 years – such a celebration!

chicago_06_201513693 chicago_07_201513694

Long lines at Chefwear photo booth.  Me, Curtis Aikens and Rochelle Huppin.


Here we are with Chef Lynne Ryan.


Chef Jonathan Waxman and Rochelle.


Humanitarian award winner Rich Melman congratulations all round (L) with me and Michael Kornick. Straight to the phones with Daniel Boulud! (R)


Curtis, Daniel, Rochelle and me.


Gale Gand in exclusive Chefwear Jacket made just for the Beard Awards.


Chefs Suzanne Goin and her husband, chef David Lentz were on the same flight back to LA. We met at the bar of Rick Bayless, Tortas Frontera in Chicago O’Hare’s Terminal 1 and enjoyed delicious margarita’s before our delayed flight back home. Suzanne had been nominated for best chef West at the JB Awards.

Barbara-Jo’s Books To Cooks


Welcomed with open arms to Vancouver Canada, I discovered one of my favorite bookstores in the world! Three paces into Barbara-Jo’s magical cookbook shop, I was hugging the bookcases saying, “I want to live here!”
 Two days of events #vanillatabletour and had the most wonderful time, I’ve never laughed so hard talking about vanilla; there was a lot of vanilla love in the room. The amazing help from Chef Jen, Mark, Janice and #BarbaraJo made my visit so much sweeter.


Radio Hour – 
Live to tape interview while making Heirloom Tomato Bisque with Green Pea Pesto, the vanilla caramelized onions cooking in the skillet “sounded” great! The local Canadian Chefs Dominique and Cindy Duby of Wild Sweets and contributors to Vanilla Table book, joined the crowd as I was interviewed by the lovely Sheryl and producer Sheila of CBC for #North by Northwest, a Saturday morning radio show broadcast nationwide.


All copies of Vanilla Table sold out! Lovely friend and former neighbor Lillian flew all the way from Calgary to be there, so with Barbara-jo’s recommendation we had a beautiful small plates dinner at the newly opened Anna Lena starting with cocktails! Los Bravos was our fav and had the most beautiful Garlic confit lobster and speaking of bisque, a beautiful take on classic lobster bisque! The Waygu Short Rib with sunchoke puree, mushrooms and peppercorn jus, a divine dish I can’t stop thinking about!



Next morning stopped into the local culinary school – Pacific Institute of Culinary School to sample delicious baked goods and meet some of the students in Christine Beard’s class for a 10-minute vanilla total immersion talk…the students were speechless!

Barabajos_06 Barabajos_07 Barabajos_08 Granville Island tour, tasting #smokedsablefishcandy a local delicacy-so delicious! Spent the morning scouring the Granville Public Market for all sorts of delicious tastes from sausages and spices to berries. A beautiful visit to a beautiful and welcoming city; I can’t wait to return.

Barabajos_09Barbara-jo McIntosh, the store’s owner.

Milken Institute






I had the great privilege to be chosen to do a book signing for the Milken Institute Global Conference a few weeks ago. They had a gorgeous walk around “Wine Tasting Passport Night” at Two Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills. Copies of Vanilla Table, wine tastings and little tastes were offered at the iconic Jimmy Choo right there on Rodeo Drive – it was VERY tempting to try on a pair or two! Michael Aust from Barnes & Noble Santa Monica helps with books as I chat with Milken speakers and guests. An absolutely delightful evening!

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health. We do this through independent, data-driven research, action-oriented meetings and meaningful policy initiatives. 

East Coast Vanilla Adventures




Finale bow of all the Gala Dinner Chefs, assistants and support staff. Much applause to the very entertaining hosts Carla Hall of The Chew and Gail Simmons of Top Chef. Three team secret ingredient chef throw down. Anita Lo’s team won first two and Sherry Yard’s team won hands down making 2 cooked dessert dishes in 20 minutes! The lovely Chef Lynne Ryan serves.


Beautiful ladies Rochelle Huppin and Barbara Lazaroff pose for the camera at #WRC2015. Surbhi Sahni of Bittersweet serves her modern Indian inspired dishes.


Two inspiring pastry chefs Claudia Fleming and Sherry Yard. Michael Crowell and Lesley Hill from Hawaii. They provided fresh heart of palm for the Hearts of Palm & Papaya Salad I was preparing for the appearance later today at the Time Warner cable channel – The Woman’s Connection.


The lucky person Natasha getting the last copy of Vanilla Table Book signed by Chef Natasha.


Post taping tasting with Barrie-Louise Switzen from The Women’s Connection.


Penn Station. Training up the coast next stop Boston.


Gill and I dine at Back Bay’s Mistral – yes that is actually a pizza!


First of the season pea ravioli in roasted chicken broth and divine salmon!




Off to the Coop at Harvard and VT is in the front window! A warm intro in this most hallowed hall that is Harvard … had a few piano and singing lessons in this most revered University! Harvard grad student Alexa all grown up sits in on the vanilla talk.



I always wanted to go to MIT – and here we are Vittorio Paone and I surrounded by vanilla, lavender and books in the café bon appétit at MIT. NormanVan Aken’s Spicy Pineapple – Vanilla Marinated Fish and my Crispy Cornflake Chicken from VT are a hit!




Exciting buzz at Volante Farms in Needham where I teamed up with Meagan McNeill of Nashoba Valley Extract Co. who makes local bespoke pure vanilla extracts. Resisted the scratch donuts and bakery treats but had to take a photo! Head chef Todd gave us a tour and taste of the 80 local cheeses, handcrafted cider syrup and countless local products at Volante. Gill and I finished our visit with a few hero sandwiches so worth the wait!

The NYC Bakery Crawl

Breads Bakery, Baker/Pastry Chef and Owner Uri Scheft, Pichet Ong and Sherry Yard.

“Breads Bakery”, Baker/Pastry Chef and Owner Uri Scheft,
Pichet Ong and Sherry Yard.

During the WCR Conference this past weekend Sherry Yard had a mission, so joined by myself and Pichet Ong we left the lights of Times Square and headed on our bakery crawl, first quick stop FIKA NYC to look at the Swedish cardamom buns, chocolates and coffee. Next stop Dough Brooklyn for a dozen donuts for her WCR cooking team in tasty flavors including passion fruit, hibiscus and lemon meringue. Then to the beautiful mecca of Breads Bakery – eyes lit up gazing at cases of Danish inspired breads, sweet and savory pastries, sandwiches and more! Talented and gracious Baker/Pastry Chef and Owner Uri Scheft shared some of his delicious perfectly crafted creations including not too sweet poppy seed danish, swiss muesli rolls and spinach and feta-filled burekas. This palace of perfection pastries and breads must be visited again and again.



Omnivore Books on Food


A clear crisp San Francisco day. Looking for a latte I wandered into Samovar Tea – had the most gorgeous handmade Chai warmed in large beaten copper pots. Daniel explained the nuances of each blend of tea and sampling the turmeric, pepper and licorice blend I was invigorated!


Lunch at the iconic Zuni Cafe on Market Street – each dish perfectly served, seasoned and eaten, I cannot wait to return!


“Vanilla Table” book signing at Omnivore Books here with Chef Jim Dodge (one of the VT Chefs) and owner Celia.

Omnivore bookstore originally a butcher shop in the 40s still has the massive scale overhead and the redwood lined cold room which is truly 10 degrees cooler than the shop. Now a cookbook treasure trove  tucked into every nook and cranny, Omnivore celebrates new and antique food books from the Pitcairn Islands to New York, Iceland and London! A foodie must visit destination!

Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

Thanks to all who visited the Vanilla Table at Santa Monica Farmers Market on April 8, including Heilala Vanilla who had vanilla beans displayed. Special thanks to Laura Avery and her super assistant Ben!


Top Left (clockwise): With good friend and Chef Malika Ameen visiting all the way from Chicago – Here with Chef Josiah Citrin, Chef/Owner of the two Michelin Star Award winning restaurant, Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica. You can find his recipe in Vanilla Table as one of the legendary chefs who contributed to the book that is all about Vanilla! – Here with Rochelle Huppin who decorated with her vintage tablecloths! A Chef contributor to Vanilla Table.