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Planning a Fun Wine-Centric Weekend in New York


Sip and savor at these restaurants, wineries and wine bars—fit for the enthusiastic oenophile—suggested by Jared Gullekson, chef concierge at The London NYC.



There are plenty of tasting rooms and wine bars that make for a great vino-centric weekend in New York. (Courtesy of Charlie Bird)


Sipping in Soho

Charlie Bird … [is a] small and charming spot in Soho [that] boasts a wonderful and thoughtful wine list,” which is currently being developed by Arvid Rosengren, who serves as the locale’s wine director and won the prestigious 2016 World’s Best Sommelier competition. The venue also touts a unique music angle: “Not many venues specialize in ‘90s hip-hop and an excellent wine list.” (5 King St.; 212-235-7133)


Italian Vino

“[Visit ] Dell’Anima—a quaint Italian restaurant with an amazing wine list of Italian wines from expert sommelier and partner Joe Campanale. Their wine bar, Anfora, is located next door and features excellent small plates to share while you wait for your table at dell’anima for the best pasta in NYC.” (38 8th Ave.; 212-366-6633)



Aldo Sohm Wine Bar’s sommelier also works at the renowned Le Bernardin. (Photo by Francesco Tonelli)


Music and Libations

City Winery is a great place to have a nice bottle [of wine] and listen to the music of some of the country’s best musicians as they play at this large yet intimate venue,” which boasts 300 seats and has the distinction of being Manhattan’s only working winery. (155 Varick St.; 212-608-0555)


Serious Sommelier

“[At] Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, [the] sommelier is … [also wine director/chef sommelier at renowned restaurant] Le Bernardin,” which means the midtown vino destination boasts a nearly unparalleled level of wine expertise, in addition to a tasting room and full restaurant. “What more can be said? Go and try it immediately.” (151 W. 51st St.; 212-554-1143)


Tastings and More

Corkbuzz [Wine Studio] features wine tastings, classes and events,” at its Union Square location—though it also boasts a second, smaller NYC iteration in Chelsea Market. “Corkbuzz offers expert education and spirits to novice [wine drinkers] and oenophiles,” in addition to an impressive menu that includes cheese and charcuterie plates. (13 E. 13th St.; 646-873-6071)


– Elizabeth Nutt

Must-see Stops for Solo Travelers Heading to Los Angeles


James Little, chef concierge at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, offers the best places for people discovering Los Angeles by themselves.



Museums are a great choice for solo travelers in the area. (Photo by OLOS)

Museum Musts

“Museums lend themselves to quiet contemplation whilst enjoying the niche art or pop culture of the particular museum you are visiting. Whether you are visiting The Getty, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Broad Museum or any of the obscure museums … you are always guaranteed a unique experience which can be best savored alone.” 


Communal in California

“A casual-style vinoteca in Beverly Hills that does not accept advance reservations and focuses on seating in a communal table style, Wally’s Beverly Hills loans itself to the solo diner, the atmosphere invites conversation and interaction with other diners and offers an amazing selection of wines and cocktails as well as a brilliant French … menu with California influences. The crowd tends to be a mix of locals and travelers visiting Beverly Hills from all over the world and caters to a slightly older clientele.”


Enjoy the View

“A favorite spot on the world-famous Sunset Strip, Pearl’s Rooftop is a 1920s themed bordello/speakeasy-style bar with two stunning rooftop bars. It is always a lively place for a drink where you can meet new friends while enjoying the view and the atmosphere.” 



Solo travelers should try out a surfing lesson via Learn to Surf LA. (Courtesy of Learn to Surf LA)

Surf Lessons

“Southern California has long been an icon of the surf community and provides a perfect opportunity for the solo traveler to experience the majesty of the ocean and the mystical Zen of the surf experience. Surfing is a solitary sport and after a private lesson,  you will be riding the waves to your hearts content.” For surf lessons, Little recommends Learn to Surf LA.

5 Must-see Romantic Spots Around New York City


Carmen da Silva, chef concierge at Soho Grand Hotel, lists her top picks for couples in the city looking for an amorous escape.



There’s plenty to do in New York for a couple seeking an amorous getaway. (Courtesy of Virgola)


West Village Romance

“Enjoy an oyster happy hour at VIRGOLA’s very intimate West Village location—where lovers’ [padlocks] are strewn around the bar’s gated entrance, the chandeliers and even the legs of the tables—followed by a pre-sunset walk across the Brooklyn Bridge,” for the ultimate romantic date night. (28 Greenwich Ave.; virgolausa.com)


Couple’s Night Out

“Dinner at Brooklyn’s classic The River Café,” tucked away under the Brooklyn Bridge, offers an incredible setting and gourmet food—perfect for a couple’s night out. Take in the views of the city’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty while you enjoy nightly piano music with your glass of wine, meal and loved one. (1 Water St.; 718-522-5200)



Dear Irving offers a robust cocktail program. (Courtesy of Dear Irving)


Lovers’ Lounge

“[Visit ] The Raines Law Room, The Bennett or Dear Irving for the exquisite proper cocktail programs, beautifully designed and intimate nature of the spaces and the fun “doorbell-like” call buttons on the wall beside each lounge’s seating area for you to call your server as needed.” (The Raines Law Room: 48 W. 17th St.) (The Bennett: 134 W. Broadway) (Dear Irving: 55 Irving Place)


Creative Cocktails

Duane Park …  offers unique burlesque shows [and live music and entertainment] in a lovely dining room, though you can easily enjoy the show without a reservation from the lounge and bar space as well [with a $30 food/drink minimum],” which offers a full dinner menu, as well as desserts and creative cocktails alongside its shows Tuesday through Saturday. (308 Bowery; 212-732-5555)



There are many intimate cocktail lounges across the city. (Courtesy of Dear Irving)


Hip Hangout

“[Upscale modern French restaurant] Le Turtle’s fun and funky space … [offers] a more hip/downtown crowd … and the highly desirable tucked-away alcove table overlooking the restaurant and bar from a few steps up,” which is the perfect place to people-watch while you sip a drink with your date. (177 Chrystie St.; 646-918-7189)


– Elizabeth Nutt

4 Recommendations for a Girls’ Getaway in Los Angeles



Joyce Louie, chef concierge at Montage Beverly Hills, has the inside scoop on creating an unforgettable girls-only weekend in the City of Angels.



Roku is located in West Hollywood. (Photo by Wonho Frank Lee)

Sushi and Karaoke

“One of the best dining spots for a girls’ getaway is the red-hot Roku restaurant in West Hollywood. It’s modern Japanese cuisine with a trendy vibe and fun drinks, including Japanese whiskey-based cocktails. I’d recommend booking dinner at their upscale teppanyaki room, favored by celebrities. Then after dinner … head over next door to Blind Dragon and book one of their karaoke suites for a night of groovy sing-alongs.” 


Studying Hollywood

“… There are many iconic landmarks to explore during a visit to Los Angeles, but one I would recommend for a group of girls on vacation is The Hollywood Museum. Their extensive collection of authentic Hollywood memorabilia is breathtaking. … The building was originally purchased by legendary makeup artist to the stars, Max Factor, back in 1928. Inside The Hollywood Museum, one gets to explore his world famous makeup studios, which have been restored …” 



Warwick has a cocktail lounge and mixology program. (Photo by Rob Stark)


Marvelous Mixology

Warwick on Sunset Boulevard is one of the best cocktail lounges and clubs for a girl’s night out. [It has a] great mixology program and lavish ambiance. It’s one of our favorite clubs in Hollywood to send our guests.” 


Relax and Unwind

“For a group of girls that wanted to unwind after a night of partying, book the oriental massage treatment at Tomoko Spa in Beverly Hills. Tomoko Spa [is] a luxurious Zen paradise located on … Beverly Drive. Book a private suite that comes with private shower. Your massage starts off with a soothing warm foot soak followed by a deep, strong massage with acupressure and stretching techniques. … The service is so attentive and the space is so relaxing, you don’t want to leave.” 

10 Charming Spots in San Francisco’s Iconic Nob Hill


In the 1880s, famed writer Robert Louis Stevenson described Nob Hill as “the hill of palaces.” This was because it was home to the Big Four—Charles Crocker, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and Collis Huntingtonrailroad tycoons who helped build the West and constructed grand, extravagant mansions up the hill away from the bustle of San Francisco’s waterfront. They even had their own cable car line installed, helpful since the hill is at a nearly 25 percent grade in places.




Sadly, after the earthquake of 1906, the wooden mansions burned down. But the area is still a hill of palaces in the form of luxurious hotels that many of the original Nob Hill aristocrats would surely have enjoyed—from The Scarlet Huntington to the legendary 6,000-square-foot penthouse suite at the Fairmont San Francisco. You can also find their moniker at The Big 4 restaurant, a high-end eatery with regal dark wood and green leather interior stylings.

Nob Hill has made its mark on the entertainment industry as well. In 1961 at the Fairmont Hotel’s  glamorous Venetian Room, Tony Bennett first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” And Alfred Hitchcock loved the area, featuring it in his 1958 film “Vertigo,” and the Argonaut Book Shop, specializing in rare and antique books about the American west, was a favorite Hitchcock destination.

Bordered by Chinatown to the east and Union Square to the south, this storied San Francisco neighborhood has a cozy, calm and charming feel. It is centered around Huntington Park, which in turn is centered around the iconic Roman inspired Fountain of the Tortoises.

The signature neighborhood exudes historic grandeur but still feels accessible, thanks in part to the diversity of restaurants, bars and shops that attract tourists and locals alike.

1. Clayton Bishop, director of guest experience at The Marker San Francisco, recommends Tratto, the comfortable, classy Italian restaurant. “You have to try their fritto misto (fried calamari, rock shrimp, fennel, and Calabrian chili aioli),” he says. For drinks, “the Tratto cocktail, which is house made limoncello, Four Roses Bourbon, dry vermouth and Angostura [bitters], is very tasty.”

2. Bishop recommends Nook, a charming cafe with “views of the cable car on Hyde Street and great coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and happy hour specials.” Stop by for a cup of coffee or lunch during the day, and then come back in the evening for wine by candle light. 




3. “The Crepe House is an amazing brunch spot,” Bishop says. The menu at this rustic spot includes savory crepes, like the Miami heat with chicken, avocado and the eatery’s own hot sauce, as well as dessert crepes, like the S.B.K with strawberry, banana, kiwi, cinnamon and brown sugar.

4. “The neighborhood is known for its picture-perfect vistas and streetscapes and the views of the city are worth the hike up Taylor, Mason and California [streets],” Bishop says. To get even higher and to enjoy a 360-panoramic-view and a tasty drink, try the Top of the Mark—the cocktail bar on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco hotel. 

5. Upcider is the city’s first bar specializing in hard cider, and as such, it has some of the “best ciders in the city,” as Bishop describes. You can try one from a menu of myriad diverse options from around the world while looking out over busy Polk Street. 

6. The Wreck Room is the “go-to San Francisco sports bar that locals love,” Bishop says. Along with a full bar and 12 beers on tap, the casual spot has old-school arcade games, shuffleboard, billiards, darts and flat-screen TVs broadcasting all types of sports. 



The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar is pleasantly kitschy. (Photo by Neekoh)

7. For a classic night of Nob Hill entertainment, Bishop says you “can’t miss the iconic Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar.” Delightfully kitschy, the tiki palace in the Fairmont San Francisco has a floating DJ booth on a pool along with simulated thunderstorms. 

8. Cable cars first started running in 1873 and are now an iconic part of San Francisco. Bishop considers the Cable Car Museum a can’t-miss attraction in Nob Hill. At this free museum in the Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse, you can see historic cable cars and even buy a cable car bell.

9. While you can’t actually go in the exclusive Pacific-Union Club unless you’re a member or have been invited, it’s impressive enough from the outside. Originally built for silver magnate James Flood, it “was considered the first brownstone constructed west of the Mississippi River; it’s the only Nob Hill mansion of the Big Four railroad tycoons that remains, having survived the 1906 earthquake,” Bishop says. 

10. Grace Cathedral is another “can’t-miss Nob Hill attraction,” Bishop notes. The largest Episcopal cathedral on the West Coast is a striking French Gothic landmark with more than 7,000 square feet of stained glass windows. Inside are two labyrinths, open for meditation and yoga classes, and the church has paired with artists for rotating exhibits using the soaring sanctuary as a backdrop. 


– Kristin Conard

Explore the Wonders of the Arts District in Los Angeles


You would be forgiven for thinking you’ve transported away from Los Angeles as you stroll through the Arts District. This downtown neighborhood is like no other in the city, with its buildings decorated in bright, towering works of art that catch your eye as you make your way through the area’s many bars, restaurants and galleries. The area has undergone a revitalization thanks to an influx of cool new businesses popping up along its streets: locally minded menswear boutique Apolis, the happening Angel City Brewery and down-home favorite The Pie Hole, to name just a few, as well as the artists who have flocked there over the years thanks to a combination of the cheap rents and hip atmosphere.



The Arts District is known for its unique restaurants. (Photo by Paul Sun)

The reinvention of the Arts District as a hangout spot has been coming for a long time, starting in the 1970s when empty commercial and industrial spaces were transformed into studios and lofts and LA-based artists made their way into the neighborhood. But before that, it was put on the map in the mid-1800s thanks to a man named Jean-Louis Vignes, who actually used the area to create his own vineyard, becoming the largest producer of wine in California. There’s even a street named after Vignes to honor the forefather of the Arts District.

But these swaths of vineyards soon gave way to railroads, which account for the trapezoid-like shape of the neighborhood, as well as its many industrial-looking buildings. Long afterwards, the artists moved in, creating the neighborhood as we know it now, along with the architects, entertainers and green-technology entrepreneurs that now call this slice of the city their home.

For those looking for a little history and culture as they revel throughout the night, look no further than Downtown’s Arts District. In a city full of must-see neighborhoods, this one is a true masterpiece.


1. “Hammer and Spear is founded by a husband and wife duo whose space is more showroom than shop. Hammer and Spear showcases some of Downtown LA’s best designers and craftspeople of the Arts District.” 


2. “If only all hand-me-downs were as cool as what’s curated at Lot, Stock and Barrel—think vintage tees, refurbished lettermen jackets and embroidered outerwear … [with] colorful patches.”



The Springs is part wellness center, kitchen and juice bar. (Photo by Edward Sczudlo)


3. “With just two locations in Los Angeles, Poketo’s flagship store was founded in 2003 by a husband and wife duo in the Arts District of downtown. Poketo has definitely established itself as a go-to shop for cool and cute gifts downtown as well as a hub for the local creative community.” 


4. “Bestia is arguably one of the hippest restaurants in the city—which also makes it one of the most difficult reservations to obtain. This rustic Italian eatery serves up more than just dinner, it serves you an experience.” 



A charcuterie plate from Bestia (Photo by Sierra Prescott)


5. “Church & State … [was] one of the first restaurants to welcome patrons in the downtown LA Arts District. This traditional French bistro dishes out all of the classics: escargot, steak frites, roasted bone marrow—you name it.” 


6. “Sometimes you just need a great beer and a great brat. Look no further than the Art District’s Wurstkuche.” 


7. “Most people come to LA and think a great way to break a sweat is to hike Runyon Canyon. One rarely thinks of rock climbing in sunny Southern California, but at [Touchstone Climbing’s] LA Boulders, tucked in the Arts District, you can climb to your hearts content in this 12,000-square-foot indoor climbing playground.” 



The dining room of Church + State (Courtesy of Church + State)


8. “For the big kid in all of us, there’s EightyTwo—a classic arcade games bar located downtown. With … [50] arcade games, pinball and a full service bar, EightyTwo is a destination for true gamers and for any Angeleno looking for an ice-cold beer and a game of Pac-Man.” 


9. “The Springs is one part yoga studio, one part wellness center, one part kitchen and juice bar, and all parts treat yourself. Make sure to check out their monthly calendar for workshops on essential oils, yoga teacher trainings, and all things kombucha for the beginner looking to brew right at home.” (608 Mateo St.; 213-223-6226; thespringsla.com)


10. “You can’t visit the downtown LA Arts District and not step into at least one gallery—so why stop at one when you can visit … [over 45 galleries] in a day. Downtown LA’s Gallery Row spans Main and Spring Streets for 7 blocks (between 2nd and 9th Street) and hosts the Downtown Art Walk every second Thursday of the month.” (galleryrow.org)


– Ashley Burnett

11 Great Activewear Shops Around Los Angeles


Stroll along any popular boulevard in Los Angeles—like Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard or Santa Monica Boulevard—and you won’t find too many Angelenos dressed in their 9 to 5 or weekend best. Rather, you’ll notice denizens of LA going about their everyday lives in their workout best. The health-conscious city is at the heart of the ubiquitous athleisure trend, which takes the form of casual, gym-inspired clothing intended just as much for exercising as it is for strolling around town. From trendy boutiques to larger retailers, you can find shelves filled with designer, high-end athletic apparel in shops throughout LA.



Yogasmoga is known for its innovative athletic wear. (Courtesy of Yogasmoga)


As Emily Gallagher, communications manager at Yogasmoga, puts it: “Consumers are looking for fashionable and functional apparel to wear for their on-the-go lifestyles … .” If you are looking to add some sophisticated athletic wear to your wardrobe, check out brands like Splits59, Alala, Nesh and Ultracor. LA-based labels such as Beyond Yoga and LVR Fashion will also help you look effortlessly stylish while sporting eco-friendly looks made in the U.S. So run, jog, walk, sprint or skip to the nearest athleisure retailer, which, in LA, is probably only a block or two away.


1. ALO Yoga

At the Beverly Hills Flagship store, visitors to ALO Yoga can shop for yoga clothes and enjoy healthy refreshments at the in-store cafe. This LA-based company provides modern yoga wear in vibrant textiles and flattering performance fabrics. 


2. Yogasmoga

At Yogasmoga in Malibu, men and women can find innovative and functionally elegant athletic wear. All of the company’s clothes are manufactured in the U.S. and intended for wear in the gym, the yoga studio or even for a casual outing. 



Speir Pilates boasts several Carbon38 spandex styles. (Photo by Eric Kaufman)


3. Speir Pilates

Best-known for founder Andrea Speir’s fresh take on traditional Pilates, at Speir Pilates in Santa Monica, clients can enjoy an intense mix of Pilates and cardio after they peruse the carefully selected items at the studio’s boutique. Here, customers will find the most concentrated selection of Carbon38 spandex styles in the LA area. 


4. Frontrunners

Frontrunners in West Hollywood provides the latest styles from top athletic brands including LA-based Sol Angeles and Cotton Citizen. Customers can receive a thorough analysis of their feet, balance and skeletal alignment, ensuring the best shoe fit for their athletic pursuits. 


5. Sweat NSK

Customers can find a variety of fashion-forward accessories and apparel for their active lifestyles at Sweat NSK in Brentwood. The store carries carefully curated brands including Splits59, Koral Activewear and Onzie. Shop for Pilates socks, headbands or a gym kit among other chic items.



Sweat NSK offers cool brands like Koral Activewear and Onzie. (Photo by Zhejia Dai)


6. The Shop at Equinox

The Shop at Equinox in Westwood has the season’s best active gear and high-performance gadgets for runners, cyclists, yogis and every athlete in between. Stocked with a wide variety of brands, such as Spiritual Gangster, you can find anything from a hat to a swimsuit, yoga leggings, a jump rope and more. 


More to Shop

7. Athleta (189 The Grove Drive; 323-937-0329; athleta.net)

8. Sweaty Betty (1308 Montana Ave.; 310-752-4634; sweatybetty.com)

9. A Runner’s Circle (745 N. La Brea Ave.; 323-857-1832; arunnerscircle.com)

10. Lululemon  (105 S. Robertson Blvd.; 310-550-6239; lululemon.com)

11. Maitri Yoga Store (11160 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310-730-6168; maitriyogastore.com)


– Liz Morton

A Musical Itinerary for Los Angeles


The London West Hollywood concierge Sarah Dandashy provides great tips for audiophiles wanting to experience the most of LA’s music scene.



The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic outdoor venue. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association)


Musical Venues

“My favorite places to catch a show are at the Hollywood Bowl and The Wiltern. The Hollywood [Bowl] is a classic outdoor music venue. … It is one of the best ways to see a concert—under the stars and in the balmy Los Angeles evening weather. Most … guests arrive a few hours before the show to enjoy a picnic and make an experience out of the evening. The Wiltern Theatre is an intimate concert hall in a historic art deco building. Concerts are usually standing room only, and since the space is limited, you feel as though you are jamming in a living room with your favorite artists. I suggest to arrive early for shows so that you can stand as close to the stage as possible.” 



The Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard has a RockWalk, their version of the Walk of Fame. (Courtesy of Guitar Center)


Instrument Shopping

“Hands down, the best place in LA to spot musicians is at Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard. This music store is legendary and … chock-full of musical equipment. It’s not uncommon to walk inside and see a famous musician testing out a guitar. A cool feature of this specific store is the RockWalk, their version of the Walk of Fame dedicated solely to musicians. See the handprints of some of the world’s best musicians from Aerosmith to Jimi Hendrix to Hall & Oates.”


Iconic Landmark

“The Sunset Strip in West Hollywood is the heart of music history in LA. It’s home to the famous Whiskey A Go Go, The Viper Room, The Roxy and even the Rainbow Room [officially known as the Rainbow Bar and Grill]. So much rock ’n’ roll history started on The Strip and continues to this day. Even the famous Tower Records used to have its flagship store on the Sunset Strip. For any music lover, the Strip is the place to visit.” 

Inside Celebrity Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s World

Geoffrey Zakarian and his wife

If Geoffrey Zakarian had not become a chef, he might have been an economist, or channeled his creativity into music to become a concert pianist. The renowned chef—who still plays piano in his downtime—studied economics at Worcester State College, but a fateful trip sent him on a different career path. After graduation, Zakarian journeyed to France, where he spent a year falling in love with food and the culinary lifestyle.


Geoffrey Zakarian and his wife

Geoffrey Zakarian and his wife, Margaret, manage the Zakarian brand together. (Photo by Rick Lew)

“That travel through France opened my eyes to hospitality and I knew that food and cooking was for me,” Zakarian says. “I knew I had a little bit of talent with the cooking, but I loved seeing the drama unfold in the front of the house with diners coming in, the ambience, the experience. That is really what I fell in love with.”

Throughout his long and varied career, the chef, restaurateur and cookbook author has worked in some of New York’s finest restaurants, including Le Cirque, 44 and Patroon, in addition to opening a number of his own, with one of them, Country, earning a Michelin star. His latest dining establishments are both located at Montage Beverly Hills: Georgie and The Garden Bar.

Beyond his restaurant reputation, he’s also recognizable for his frequent appearances on Food Network. He keeps viewers guessing as the host of “Cooks vs. Cons,” offers advice and critiques as a judge on “Chopped” and was the season four champion of “The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs.”


Into the Fire

Zakarian didn’t achieve celebrity-chef status overnight. He started as many chefs do: as an apprentice. When he returned from France in 1982, he began his career at Le Cirque, developing his technical skills under the tutelage of French Master Chef Alain Sailhac. Zakarian apprenticed for free at the restaurant while studying at the Culinary Institute of America, working his way up from pastry sous chef (while creating 150 souffles a day) to chef de cuisine. His career skyrocketed from there, as Zakarian became synonymous with the New York restaurant scene.

By the late 1990s, Zakarian had already served as executive chef of the legendary 21 Club, as executive chef of 44 at the Royalton Hotel and helped launch Blue Door at The Delano Hotel, Miami. In 1997, Zakarian became executive chef of Patroon, where he won rave reviews from well-known critics such as The New York Times’ Eric Asimov and Ruth Reichl.

In 2001 Zakarian opened his own restaurant, Town, which garnered a three-star review from the Times, and in 2005 Country followed, earning another three-star review. This made Zakarian the first New York chef to earn three straight three-star reviews from The New York Times. A a companion cookbook followed later: “Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town/Country,” which was called one of the best new cookbooks.

2005 was also a major year for Zakarian’s personal life: He tied the knot with his now-wife, Margaret. A former marketing executive, she is currently president of Zakarian Hospitality LLC and plays an important role in building the Zakarian brand. She spends much of her time marketing both Geoffrey and the restaurants while also contributing to restaurant concept development, contracts and the day-to-day running of the business. She played a critical role in developing and launching their new line product line—Zakarian Pro For Home—which debuted on the Home Shopping Network and HSN.com in September, as well as other Zakarian Hospitality products. “[Zakarian Pro for Home] is a line of food storage containers that is so beautiful and provides so many benefits,” Margaret says. “It actually keeps your food fresher longer. I am amazed every time I use one.” On top of everything, Margaret is also co-author of “My Perfect Pantry: 150 Easy Recipes from 50 Essential Ingredients,” along with her husband.

In 2010, Geoffrey and Margaret opened the wildly popular The Lambs Club at the Chatwal Hotel and The National at The Benjamin Hotel. Geoffrey also continued expanding outside of New York, with Tudor House in Miami and a second location of The National in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Geoffrey says he finds inspiration for new concepts and recipes wherever he goes. “I get ideas walking down the street, reading an article on politics, visiting a museum … honestly, it’s all the time.”


The Lambs Club is located in the Chatwal Hotel.


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Geoffrey knows a thing or two about throwing together delicious dishes using only the ingredients he has on hand. “One time I was cooking cauliflower and had added some Parmesan because those were pretty much the only two things I had in the fridge,” he says. “I turned for a moment and it burned. [Yet] it was so good that it went straight on the menu at The Lambs Club.”

In addition to sharing his expertise as a judge on “Chopped” and competing in (and winning) “The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs,” he now hosts his own show, “Cooks vs. Cons.” It features two professional cooks and two amateurs who create dishes using a mystery special ingredient, while judges and viewers try to guess which contestants are professionals and which ones are amateurs. The chef also co-hosts “The Kitchen” on Saturday mornings, where he shares recipes and tricks of the trade.

Geoffrey credits Food Network with changing the food and restaurant industry. “The amount of education that people get from watching is unbelievable,” he says. “It has made food lovers out of millions of people. That raises all boats in the world of restaurants—more people are eating out, more people are willing to try new things and diners want different experiences. This is a huge shift from 20 years ago. As a chef, it is wonderful to be able to take some chances on the menu with ingredients knowing that the customers will order and try new things. Decades ago, a restaurant menu was handcuffed a bit. If your ingredients were too esoteric, the dishes wouldn’t sell. Now, it is almost the opposite.”



The dining area at The Lambs Club


Food and Family

Offscreen, food plays just as significant a role in his and Margaret’s personal life. The family loves to watch episodes of “The Kitchen” together on the weekend and the couple’s children usually want to make a few things that were featured in the episode. That’s not a surprise, though, since the pair say food is a huge part of their family. “As soon as I wake up, I race to the kitchen to start breakfast for the family,” Geoffrey says. “There is nothing better than being able to just cook for fun and to feed my family.”

“At breakfast we talk about lunch and at lunch we talk about dinner,” Margaret adds. “The children love to cook—they read cookbooks, try their own recipes out and want to always be in the kitchen. Our oldest is [even] a counselor in training at a food school for children.”

In fact, all of their three young children are working to develop their own sophisticated palates. “They really can tell quality,” Margaret says of their tastes. “They like all kinds of food—fancy and casual—but they want to have a delicious pizza, or fresh chicken fingers. They love to tell us when they think things are not seasoned properly or a place may not be clean enough. Kids are smart—you can’t fool them.”

Even houseguests are not immune to the family’s robust food culture. Their most recent guest was friend Jaret Keller, president and managing partner of Key Group Worldwide, who made peach cobbler side-by-side with Geoffrey. “Geoffrey announced that Jaret was not ‘chopped,’ ” Margaret says. “Whew, because it really would have been awkward to ask him to leave the house.”



Abruzzo linguine alle vongole is available at The National in Greenwich. (Courtesy of The National in Greenwich)


Looking Forward

Despite his success, Zakarian still says he’s waiting for that ‘aha’ moment where he knows he has definitely made it. “I’m still looking … I’ll let you know when I find it,” he says.

Though the Zakarians just opened Georgie at the Montage Hotel Beverly Hills, which serves Geoffrey’s signature modern American cuisine, and recently launched the new product line, they show no signs of slowing down. There are still plenty more TV appearances to come, especially with “Cooks vs. Cons” currently in its third season, as well as his radio show, “Food Talk,” currently on the air, in which he speaks with industry experts and delivers a behind-the-scenes look at the culinary world, among other new ideas the Zakarians are cooking up.

“There is so much coming next, and I feel so blessed to have all of these fun projects to work on,” he says. “Stay tuned.”

– Tiffanie Wen

New Year’s Eve Celebrations Around the United States


The New Year is a time for celebrating the future while also honoring the past, as reflected in the holiday’s many festive traditions. Whether it’s a dazzling firework display followed by a countdown at midnight on New Year’s Eve, or a community parade that celebrates love and life on New Year’s Day, crowds gather to commemorate the annual change through a wide variety of special events. With major cities across the country throwing their own unique celebrations, it’s easy to ring in the New Year in your own neighborhood—but don’t rule out traveling to some of the nation’s biggest bashes to celebrate in style.





While it may be only in its fifth year, Chicago’s Annual Resolution Gala has quickly made a name for itself as a spectacular, upscale way to ring in the New Year. Located right on Lake Michigan, the gala is held in the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom, where guests can enjoy incredible panoramic views of the fireworks show over the lake from the ballroom’s oversized glass windows. The stunning Lakeview Terrace, just outside of the ballroom, also provides sweeping views of the Chicago skyline and a chance to take a ride on the pier’s famous Ferris wheel. With food, champagne and a dance floor, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another site in Chicago offering such a luxury experience.

A new option in the city, Chi-Town Rising is the Windy City’s first outdoor New Year’s Eve bash. The celebration offers an opportunity to be a part of a tradition in the making, and features live bands and a fireworks display launched over the Chicago River.



Las Vegas plays host to one of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the U.S. (Photo by Mark Damon)

Las Vegas

Known as a hot spot for partying year-round, it’s no wonder that Las Vegas hosts one of the most massive New Year’s Eve bashes in the country. Known as America’s Party, the celebration is held both on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown on Fremont Street.

“Everything is always bigger in Las Vegas, especially New Year’s Eve,” says Amanda Arentsen, communications manager for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Each year, America’s Party proves to be one of the biggest and best celebrations in the world with incredible fireworks displays and world-class entertainment.”

Now in its 17th year, the event draws a crowd of over 300,000. The fireworks on the Strip are the highlight of the night, firing off this year from Aria, Caesar’s Palace, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, the Stratosphere, Treasure Island, The Venetian and Rio in an over-the-top extravaganza that is sure to impress.


Los Angeles

People around the country tune in annually to watch live broadcasts of the Rose Parade in Los Angeles, but there’s nothing like seeing the event in person. Members of the Pasadena community come together at the end of each year to help decorate the parade floats, incorporating millions of flowers. The result is a beautifully colored parade filled with daisies, roses, marigolds and more—a truly unique experience to celebrate life in the New Year. Each event also features its own theme; the 2017 Rose Parade theme will be “Echoes of Success.”

Typically held on New Year’s Day, the parade will take place on Jan. 2 in 2017 in keeping with the Tournament of Roses’ “Never on Sunday” tradition, which began in 1893 as a way to avoid frightening the horses that used to be hitched outside churches on Sunday. Now in its 128th year, there’s no doubt that the tradition of the Rose Parade will be sticking around for a while, although horses are no longer a worry.



Experience a New Year’s celebration aboard one of New Orleans’ famous paddle-wheeler boats. (Photo by Purpura Photography)

New Orleans

Celebrate the New Year with Southern style in New Orleans. The city hosts a variety of events for the holiday, including a fireworks show over the Mississippi River. For a unique way to watch and an authentic NOLA experience, take a ride one of the city’s famous paddle-wheeler boats, like the Creole Queen.

In addition to the unparalleled view of the fireworks display, the evening includes a variety of delicious hors d’oeuvres with cocktails and Champagne from the open bar, as well as the opportunity to dance your way into the next year.

Fireworks cruises have steadily gained popularity in Louisiana as a dazzling way to ring in the New Year. Hop on board a couple of hours before midnight and grab a front-row seat to the show on the boat’s upper deck for the clearest look at the sky. Live entertainment will continue beyond midnight before the ship makes its way back to the dock.


New York City

The famed ball drop in New York City is possibly the most well-known New Year’s Eve tradition in the world. Around a million people gather in Times Square each year to watch the 11,875-pound, Waterford crystal-covered ball drop—a remarkable number considering that its journey lasts for only a minute. “At a time when the world often seems more angry and divided than ever, the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is notable for the way in which it is a singular moment of joy when the world truly celebrates together at the crossroads of the world,” says Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

The first Times Square celebration, held in 1904, featured an all-day street fair and a fireworks display, but the ball didn’t come until three years later. After the city banned the fireworks show, the event organizer decided to drop a 700-pound, illuminated ball crafted out of wood and iron. New York’s tradition has gone on to inspire similar events across the county, including a peach drop in Atlanta, a lone star drop in Houston, an orange drop in Miami and an Indy car drop in Indianapolis. Because the ball is such a prominent symbol of the annual celebration, it is now displayed over the city year-round.


San Francisco

San Francisco’s waterfront fireworks tradition is a classic as far as New Year’s Eve celebrations go, and continues to draw massive crowds from all around the Bay Area and beyond.

“I love starting the New Year with a bang and the city of San Francisco does that every year with a spectacular show that showers the northern waterfront with fireworks framed by the Bay Bridge and the lights of the East Bay twinkling in the distance,” says Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “It’s a non-alcoholic event, which also makes it very family-friendly, and a lot more exciting than the pop of a Champagne cork in my opinion. It draws thousands of people from all over the Bay Area and for many families, including mine, it’s a tradition that is carried on from one generation to another.”

Kicking off just before midnight, the sparkling display launches from a boat between the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge. Reflecting in the water of the bay with the bridges illuminated in the background, it’s a beautiful sight coupled with the festive music playing over the speakers near Pier 14.

Ashley Ryan