Six Taste Takes Autistic Young Chef Chase Behind the Scenes

On our most recent Six Taste Santa Monica public food tour, we met an autistic aspiring young chef and blogger named Chase ( 

As a middle school educator and owner of Six Taste, it was such a joy to see Chase highly engaged on our food tour. He was able to learn about organic and local produce from farmers at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, meet and greet with chefs at Locanda del Lago, Taberna Arros y Vi, and Border Grill with a hands-on tour of their bustling kitchens, and sample a variety of different foods at each stop. 

It was wonderful to see Chase take photos of his food and devour every bite with no reservations.  Kids these days can be picky (and unhealthy) eaters.  My students definitely prefer chips for breakfast and pizza and cupcakes for lunch.  However, Chase showed such an appreciation for all the diverse foods that he sampled on his Six Taste tour. 

We encourage everyone to check out his blog and YouTube cooking show.  Get ready to be inspired! 

Lesson of the Day: Learning is more fun and memorable when you get to experience it (and in this case taste it!)

Going Gourmet For Kids

Why do kids’ menus often consist of plain cheese or pepperoni pizza, French fries, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, or spaghetti with red sauce?  Do we assume that kids like to eat this kind of processed, “fast” food?  Let’s spice up the kids’ menu and offer some healthy, honest food!  At Daily Dose, I ordered “The Farmer” ($11) sandwich, which has roasted squash, heirloom potatoes, avocado, heirloom tomatoes, house veggie patty, buratta, pesto & ancho chili jam on olive bread.  

While this sophisticated stack of vegetarian delight was for Mommy, what did MJ get?  The menu here was a bit fancy for a toddler; however, MJ can still support family farmers and eat healthy.  You just gotta ask!  The owner Sarkis was kind enough to accommodate a child’s palate while still keeping the food fresh and healthy.  MJ had a children’s “Jive Turkey” with Fra’mani turkey—a company that sources from small family farms that use only sustainable sources and safe and natural methods of raising animals—and a hint of ancho chili jam on warm olive bread.

Lesson of the Day:  Expose your children to healthy, gourmet food, so they get accustomed to other options aside from the regular kids’ menus.  They might like it after a few tries!

Grade: B for value (sandwiches are reasonably priced given the hearty portion, but a side salad would be a nice accompaniment).  A for food (great selection of unique sandwiches.  They also have daily specials, such as the juicy and tender pork belly sandwich).  A for ambiance (Daily Dose is truly a hidden gem in an alleyway in Arts District.  You feel like you discovered a secret garden with urban geodes fashionably stuffed in the cracks of the brick walls.

Budget-friendly for teachers: When compared to the usual Subway sandwiches for lunch, no.

Kid-friendly for mommies: Unless you ask, there aren’t many simple, kid-friendly sandwiches.  However, this can be a great opportunity to expose your children to new gourmet sandwiches and leave the bologna and white Wonder bread at home. The alleyway is also a great outdoor space for little walkers.

Couple’s Prix Fixe Test

Jonathan and I have always been fans of the prix fixe menu.  We like having different options for one price.   It just seems like a better deal!  Our most recent prix fixe meal happened at Upstairs 2 in West LA—a hidden gem located on top of the largest wine store in LA called “The Wine House.” There’s also plenty of self-parking, which is always a bonus when dining in LA!   We ordered the Wine and Dine menu, which included a three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairing.  So here’s the couple’s test: Guess your significant other’s menu choices to test how well you know your boo…or how fast you will be booted to the curb.  Jonathan and I base our guesses on each other’s preferences, but also on what we’d like to taste from each other’s plates of course!  So, from the menu, I confidently stated that Jonathan would order the lobster bisque (he loves his lobster and seasonal soups!), hanger steak, and chocolate molten cake (hoping that it tastes similar to the one served on Carnival Cruises). 

Test results: 100% correct.  Next, Jonathan, with no hesitation, pointed to duck spring rolls (I love duck!), cod (he knows I like to pick the more expensive seafood item vs. a chicken or vegetarian dish), and ricotta cheesecake with ginger snap crust (while most cheeses are too “cheesy” for me, Jonathan knows I love ginger and wouldn’t choose the sorbet because that’s too simple).  

Test results: 100% correct.  With the three wine pairings, we had a fabulous and reasonably priced prix fixe menu at $55 per person!

Lesson of the Day: Try a prix fixe meal and learn more about your loved ones through food! 

Grade: A for value (excellent prix fixe deal), B for food (nice portions, but chocolate molten cake and cod could use improvement in preparation), A for wine (delicious pairings), and B for ambiance (comfortable leather booths, modern and minimalist design, but low ceilings make the space look a bit cramped).  

Comments: Upstairs 2 is only open WED & THURS 5:30pm to 10:00pm
FRI & SAT 5:30pm to 11:00pm, so plan accordingly.

Budget-friendly for teachers: Yes.  It’s a wonderful date spot!

Kid-friendly for mommies: Sorry, you should leave the little ones home, unless they can sleep through the whole night in the stroller/ carseat so that you can enjoy your candlelight dinner. 

Vietnamese New Year: Lucky and Delicious Traditions

Vietnamese New Year (Tet) has always been a fond tradition for me.  As a child, I would be dressed in a lucky red ao dai (a Vietnamese gown) and look forward to the red envelopes filled with lucky money, often crisp bills that ranged from $1 to $50.  Many people don’t know much about our Vietnamese New Year, so here are a few traditions: 1) We pray with incense to our ancestors and offer them food.  Some believe that we must wait until the incense burns all the way as a sign that our ancestors had time to enjoy their meal.  Now it’s our turn to eat. 

2) Usually the children receive the lucky money and must give a proper greeting with bowed heads to show respect and gratitude to their elders.  3) Banh chung (sticky rice cake) is one of the main holiday foods offered.  I remember helping my mom make them, which is a very complex process.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and love to precisely pack in the ingredients of glutinous rice, mung bean, and fatty pork, wrap it perfectly in banana leaves, and bind the cake securely with string.

Photo credit: pmquan

4) Children get to gamble!  We play a game called bầu cua cá cọp (squash-crab-fish-tiger). Players place wagers on a board that has six pictures, betting on which pictures will appear. A person rolls three die and if the item shows up, you have the chance of doubling or tripling your money.   Like me growing up, MJ is a lucky little girl—she has two New Year celebrations!  I can’t wait to continue these traditions with her. 

Subtle Stripes

Growing up, my parents would often dress my sister and me in identical dresses.  This may be acceptable for twins, but we are three years apart.   Not cool.  However, this doesn’t mean I am opposed to the idea of matching.   I actually love it.  In fact, my husband and I usually try to wear similar colors when we go out to a special event or simply to explore the city together.  Some may think it’s a bit strange, but we like to have fun with our outfits and create a subtle difference that still unites us in some way.  Now that we’ve been married, style becomes more about looking good together, not so much for ourselves.  Although, there are still occasions when I like to dress up and go out with the girls!  Don’t get me wrong.  This fun tradition of matching continues with Madelyn June! 

Madelyn is wearing a striped summer dress (love how this can still be worn in the wintertime!) from Gymboree that makes her look like a delicately layered fruit and sponge cake cutie pie!  I am wearing a simple black and tan striped long dress that allows MJ’s dress to really shine when I hold her next to me.  Madelyn’s dress is playful while mine is more sophisticated, but we still match with the stripes!  Mission accomplished.   

A Happy Meal al Fresco

Where else can you soak up the sun and eat al fresco in the wintertime? Southern California, of course.  We are enjoying lunch at Los Angeles Brewing Company on Broadway, just a couple of blocks from our loft.   Knowing my husband for over 10 years now, here are some dining etiquette to a successful meal (and marriage):  1) Order something different from your significant other.  Why? So you can share and taste something new.   For us, the only exception would be lobster.  We can’t possibly share just one tail of buttery heaven!  2) Sit next to your loved one.  How else would you be able to take bites from each other’s plates while holding hands?  3) Spend at least one meal a week where your child is either asleep or in childcare.  I get too caught up in feeding Madelyn June and making sure she gets all her nourishment that I find myself eating half of my normal portion and squeezing in only a few words to my husband related to something other than baby talk like, “I think Madelyn is finished eating.  Wipe her hands and mouth” or “I’ll play with MJ while you eat first.”     

Today, JT and I were able to follow these three rules!  We had a relaxed husband-wife lunch with our sleeping angel dreaming away in her stroller (usually getting comfortable with either her shoes off or one leg propped up).   We got the chicken waffle sandwich plate (compliments of the Bringing Back Broadway event today) and a danger dog.  People are definitely trying to pimp up the hot dog and wrap it in all sorts of sweet and spicy bling.  However, we asked for no chili, so it was more like a “dainty dog.”  And who knew that fried chicken and waffles would be soulmates?  Overall, the dog was average (Costco still wins); however, the fried chicken waffle sandwich was something new and delicious!  The waffles were buttery and perfectly crisp and moist.  The sweet and savory combination of the syrup, waffles, cheese, and chicken was excellent.   We then washed it off with some fruit-infused beer and Firestone.   Cheers to a yummy weekend with family and loved ones!   


Sally and Celeste from Six Taste went to Chado Tea Room to learn more about their diverse selection of teas. Many thanks to Alvaro and the Chado Tea-m for their hospitality and expertise! Check out the video!

Is it lunchtime yet? This $5 Downtown Dog from Umamicatessen says it is. #happyhour #dtla #food #sixtaste (at Umami Burger)

Is it lunchtime yet? This $5 Downtown Dog from Umamicatessen says it is. #happyhour #dtla #food #sixtaste (at Umami Burger)

The BEST hummus in #DTLA is from Masis Mediterranean, one of our tour partners! Hidden away in the #jewelrydistrict, Masis has been in business for 50 years! #food #lafoodie #laeats #sixtaste (at Masis)

The BEST hummus in #DTLA is from Masis Mediterranean, one of our tour partners! Hidden away in the #jewelrydistrict, Masis has been in business for 50 years! #food #lafoodie #laeats #sixtaste (at Masis)


12 California Cheeses that Everyone Should Know

One may think of Europe when one thinks of great cheese, but over the past few years California dairy farmers have been stepping up their game, and the Golden State is now home to a wide range of truly excellent cheeses, from cows, sheep and goats. Some of the best are listed below — what are you favorite California cheeses?

Foggy MorningNicasio Valley
Tangy and sharp, this spreadable cream cheese-like cow cheese is especially nice on toast with a drizzle of honey or your favorite jam. Its texture is slightly crumbly, but melts on the tongue.

Bandage CheddarFiscalini Farms
For those who like a distinct cheddar, this is a gem. Its geode-like interior has all of the flavor you would expect in a small production farmhouse cheddar. The best part? Finding an occasional pocket of blue mold among the craggles and crannies.

Mezzo Seco JackVella Cheese Co.
This is the godfather of California cheese. A staple among cheese stores up and down California, Vella’s Mezzo Seco is coated in cocoa powder before being sealed in wax. Its firm body is similar in density to a young parmesan and makes for an excellent grating cheese over soup, salad or pasta.

See more here!

(Source: kcetliving, via katherinespiers)