Top valley Chefs From Tube to Table

We caught up with a few of our favorites to share a little expertise with our Ventura Blvd foodies.

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  • Written by
    Bonnie Graves

Who: Jeffrey Saad

The Show:

United Tastes of America on the Cooking Channel, and The Spice Smuggler on

The Angle: Fans of Jeffrey Saad saw his potential early on when he was the runner-up on season 5 of The Next Food Network Star, a gig that has opened the door to many televised adventures for this warm and engaging chef. He’s an expert in cross-cultural cuisine, but did you know he’s also an Encino-based husband and father and a black belt in tae kwon do too? Check out Jeffrey’s show on the Cooking Channel on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. and watch for his new cookbook, Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders, which is being released in March.  

The Dish: 

Grilled Corn on the Cob with Cilantro Pesto
(serves 8)

The Recipe:

8 ears of corn
2 cups cilantro, washed, large stems removed
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup roasted green pumpkin seeds, 
recipe below
½ cup Cotija cheese, grated
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
½ cup green shelled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Roasted green pumpkin seeds: Preheat oven to 450º. In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin seeds, canola oil, chili powder and salt. Spread pumpkin seeds out evenly on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Place in oven. Stir the seeds every few minutes until golden brown, about 10 minutes. When they crackle and you smell the mouth-watering aroma, they are done. Set aside until cool. 

Cilantro pesto: In a food processor, combine the cilantro, canola oil, roasted green pumpkin seeds, Cotija cheese and garlic. Pulse chop until evenly combined but still slightly chunky. Taste for seasonings. (Usually you do not need salt because of the salt in the roasted pumpkin seeds and cheese.) Set aside. (Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a week if covered tightly.)

Grilled corn: Peel the corn and place on a hot grill. Turn the corn every two minutes to evenly roast the corn all the way around. It will take about 10 minutes. You will see random char marks, which is perfect. Take the corn off the grill and put onto a platter.

Using a pastry brush or butter knife, slather the pesto onto each ear liberally. Roll the corn around to make sure it is completely covered. Sprinkle with a little more Cotija if you like. 




Who: Fabio Viviani

The Show:

Top Chef , and Top Chef: All-Stars on Bravo and Chow Ciao! on

The Angle:

Fan favorite Fabio is handsome, Italian and talented—a deadly combination that has diners lining up outside his two Valley-based restaurants, Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake and Café Firenze in Moorpark. With lucrative deals from companies like Bertolli and Domino’s Pizza, Fabio is poised to become the next big chef-meets-brand. We’re just glad to call him a local in the neighborhood.  

The Dish:  

Grilled Lamb Chops with Figs (serves 4)

The Recipe:

4 lamb loin chops, trimmed
1 teaspoon extra light olive oil 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced 
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste 
8 figs, halved
1 tablespoon melted butter 
2 teaspoons brown sugar 
zest from 1 lemon 
1 lemon 

Rub the lamb chops with olive oil and sprinkle generously with rosemary and some salt and pepper on both sides. Preheat your grill to high heat and cook the lamb for 6 minutes on each side or to desired doneness. Transfer to a platter and allow it to rest for a few minutes. 

Meanwhile, brush the cut side of the figs with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Grill on both sides, cut side down first, for a couple of minutes until the brown sugar starts to caramelize. 

Serve each lamb chop with 4 halves of the grilled figs on the side, sprinkled with the lemon zest and a good squeeze of lemon juice over the top.



Who: Susan Feniger & Mary Sue Milliken

The Show:

Too Hot Tamales on the Food Network and Top Chef Masters on Bravo

The Angle:

Beloved evangelists of authentic Mexican cooking and business partners for more than 25 years, what keeps this duo dynamic going is their continuing evolution as chefs. Fans of Border Grill and Ciudad can now experience the legendary cuisine of this TV team via the Border Grill Truck, which rolls into the Valley on select dates— check that Twitter feed @bordergrill. You can also book the BG Truck for a private event, so let the party roll to you the next time you’re entertaining. Caliente!

The Dish: 

Peruvian Ceviche in Tortilla Cones (serves 4)

The Recipe:  

1 pound skinless, boneless sustainable fish (like wild Alaskan halibut), cut in ¼-inch dice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
½ red onion, diced
1 aji amarillo chile, stem and seeds removed, minced 
1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed, diced
½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated 
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
1½ teaspoons aji amarillo paste salt, to taste
plantain chips or tortilla chips, for garnish
Pickled Red Onions (see recipe below), for garnish
sliced California avocado, for garnish

In a large bowl, combine fish and enough lime juice to cover. Marinate for 20 minutes. Drain fish, reserving ¼ cup of lime juice. Combine fish with remaining ingredients and reserved lime juice to taste and stir gently to combine. Chill thoroughly. Serve in a chilled martini glass, garnished with plantain chips or tortilla chips, Pickled Red Onions and slices of avocado.

Pickled Red Onions (makes 5½ cups)

1 pound red onions, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon roughly chopped cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1 beet, trimmed, peeled and cut into 8 wedges

Place the onions in a medium saucepan and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Strain and set the onions aside. 

Combine all remaining ingredients in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Add the blanched onions and simmer an additional 10 minutes. 

Transfer the mixture to a container, cover and refrigerate at least a day before serving. Pickled onions will keep in the refrigerator up to a month.