SO FRESH: Actor Bill Pullman appears in a new documentary named ‘The Fruit Hunters.'
SO FRESH: Actor Bill Pullman appears in a new documentary named ‘The Fruit Hunters.’

Food’s a focus this week as “The Fruit Hunters” documentary opens in Santa Monica, and a story night called “Meanwhile Back at Caf√© Du Monde” takes a bow in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

On Monday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex, actor Bill Pullman (“Independence Day”) will be on hand to answer audience questions at the premiere of “The Fruit Hunters,” a documentary that will screen twice in Santa Monica and at other Laemmle venues, on May 16 at 7:30 p.m. and May 18 at 11 a.m.

Why Pullman? Because he’s spearheading a campaign to create a community fruit orchard on an untouched parcel of land in the hills below the Hollywood sign. A prolific backyard orchardist himself, Pullman is just one of several fruit-obsessed figures featured in this film.

From Bali and Borneo to Honduras and Umbria, director Yung Chang travels across culture, history and geography to show how intertwined we are with the fruits we eat. The ranks of the fruit-obsessed include adventurers, scientists and fruit detectives — all dedicating themselves to searching for and saving rare and exotic fruit, and to creating a Garden of Eden in a world increasingly dominated by industrialized monoculture.

The film is inspired by Adam Leith Gollner’s best-selling book “The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession,” which comes out in a new paperback edition on June 11.


Truffle love


Erika Kerekes is a Santa Monica mom with a full-time job and a popular food blog (In Erika’s Kitchen, Former actress turned event producer Peggy Sweeney-McDonald discovered that her life’s most significant moments connected through the legendary Caf√© du Monde in New Orleans.

That caf√© connection led Sweeney to create both a book, “Meanwhile Back at Caf√© du Monde,” and a nomadic, food-related storytelling series of the same name that’s had a successful run at different restaurants across the city. Kerekes is featured at the Pacific Palisades debut of the series tonight (Thursday, May 9).

Kerekes will tell the tale of the truffle that ate her world. Among other things, she is renowned for — and finally had to take a breather from —Trufflepalooza, a one-off event that mushroomed into an annual foodie-world phenomenon. She will share her obsession with the pungent mushroom and how it grew to consume her.

Other storytellers include Chance Batcheller of Santa Monica Seafood, Norwood Clark of Uncle Darrow’s Cajun Restaurant in Marina del Rey, Calif. and more. Dessert and coffee are included, and you can purchase the book, featuring true tales of friends, family and recipes representing life’s links through food.

Live onstage tonight (Thursday) at 7:15 p.m. in The Oak Room at Steve’s Deli, 1035 Swarthmore Road in Pacific Palisades. Tickets are $25 and seating is limited so call (310) 709-2851 for your reservation.


Beethoven by way of YouTube


You’ve heard it a million times, the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” Now you have the opportunity to hear four soloists, selected by way of a YouTube contest, performing the renowned melody in beautiful Barnum Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High School Sunday, May 12 at 4 p.m.

New West Symphony, led by music director Marcelo Lehninger, and iCadenza, a consulting and career development company, co-created the SymphoNet Young Artist Competition, a YouTube challenge for classical singers.

This Sunday, the winners of that contest will perform in the final concert of New West Symphony’s Masterpiece Series: soprano Emily Dyer, mezzo-soprano Grace Newberry, tenor Casey Candebat and bassist Steve Pence.

“The Ninth Symphony” was Beethoven’s final complete symphony. It was also his greatest work and is considered by many critics to be the greatest piece of music ever written. It is also the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony. Beethoven’s rousing “Leonore Overture No. 3” opens the program.

Learn more at or call (866) 776-8400.


In motion


Barnum Hall also hosts a performance by Santa Monica College’s resident contemporary dance ensemble, Synapse Dance Theatre, Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11.

The program features new repertory by professional guest artists, award-winning faculty artists and up-and-coming student choreographers. Jae Lee and Roberta Wolin-Tupas co-direct the company, which will showcase modern dance, contemporary, hip-hop, lyrical jazz, jazz funk and other styles of movement.

The program features works by Wolin-Tupas; guest artists Brian Moe and Laura Smyth; and faculty choreographers Sean Green, Mark Tomasic, Karen McDonald, Angela Jordan and Denise Leitner. Of special note, student choreographers whose repertory will be performed include Alberta Keyes, Kardale Holland, Mario Bayo and Mawiyah Dowd. For tickets call (310) 434-3005 or visit


Real sisters in ‘Cinderella’


Three sisters — Beau, Ashleigh and Brook Dawson — will play Cinderella and her two evil stepsisters, as Los Angeles Children’s Theatre presents the beloved fairy tale at The Little Theater in West Los Angeles. It opens at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 11.

The production boasts magical effects, song and dance, extravagant costumes and props and memorable characters as portrayed by professional actors.

The prince, played by Victor Andres, is debonair and humble. The mother, played by Sheila Guerrero, is obnoxious and plays favorites with her two “natural” daughters. And the godmother, played by Manette Antill, is as wise as she is majestic.

Cinderella dances a memorable dance with the prince, but then is discovered as a ragamuffin in a ragged dress. Will the prince love her when he finds her? Was she the thief who stole the glass slipper for her own or the soon-to-be princess? Will the prince even let her try on the glass slipper in such a state as she is?

“Cinderella” is suitable for all audiences, ages 3 and up and runs from May 11 to June 2 at The Little Theater, 12420 Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A.; more info at, or call (310) 622-4482.


Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for

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