Shauna Aminzadeh is one of the several public relations people that helped organize the “Culinary College” in Santa Monica, where aspiring chefs had the opportunity to learn cooking techniques and food and wine parings from culinary experts like Patrick Healy, executive chef and co-owner of The Buffalo Club. Shauna was nice enough to invite me. I went to the opening event on June 17 and it was a lot of fun.

I was surprised at the layout at Snyder Diamond at Olympic Boulevard and 14th Street. Amongst the incredible display of stoves, wine coolers, and a stainless steel outdoor BBQ grill that I still covet, they’ve set up a cooking kitchen for events like this. And in the next, very spacious room they had set up another display kitchen for teaching, with comfortable tables and chairs so you can enjoy the results of your labor.

The night I showed up we were treated to little mushroom and shrimp snacks prepared right in front of us (on a Wolf stove) by chef Bridget Bueche, the national market manager for Wolf products, and herself an accomplished chef. After an hour or so, plied with wines from Ian Blackburn, one of the leading wine educators in town, we retired to the next room where Chef Healy put on a demonstration in which he prepared a delicious corn pudding with rock shrimp salsa, tomatillo sauce, and vanilla pudding for desert. He was very entertaining.

Of the one hundred or so people I saw there, some were employees of Snyder Diamond, some were on the Los Angeles Magazine mailing list, a few were followers of Ian Blackburn from his extensive courses and singles get-togethers, and many were followers of Chef Healy, and on the Buffalo Club mailing list. PR people from all these groups were there, and a good time was had by all!

Cullinary College is a series of events created by Los Angeles magazine. The next event is scheduled for Wednesday, July 15 at the Wilshire Restaurant where executive chef Andrew Kirschner will host. The third event, scheduled for Aug. 19, features Jason Travi, executive chef of Riva and Fraich.

Tickets are $50 per class, reservations and schedule available by calling (323) 801-0034 (ask for Esther).


WHAT: Looking for something to do before a late dinner, or looking for a quick bite before a movie on the Third Street Promenade? Anisette Brasserie now offers a special early evening menu with plates of hors d’oeuvres, charcuterie, cheese, and specially priced wine and drinks.

WHEN: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

WHERE: 225 Santa Monica Blvd. (310) 395-3200

WHY: For about $15 you can get a beer and a couple of plates, or a plate of oysters. As the French might say: “What a deal!”

Merv Hecht, the food and wine critic for the Santa Monica Daily Press, is a wine buyer and consultant to a number of national and international food and wine companies. He can be reached at

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