When Bianca Shah was young, she was amazed at her parents’ company, Chado Tea Room

When Bianca Shah was young, she was amazed at her parents’ company, Chado Tea Room.

Hundreds of teas and accessories line the walls of the tearoom, where she worked making tea for customers.

“It’s a super family business,” says Shaha, who now works as its chief marketing officer. “We have more than 300 types of teas that we sell online and in our stores, which also have soup, sandwiches and salads to full afternoon teas.”

Chado Tea Room recently reopened all four of its LA locations—Pasadena, Torrance, Downtown LA and Hollywood—and is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Through July 4, Chado is donating the proceeds of all in-store and online tea sales to the National Association of Minority Veterans, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of minority veteran communities across the United States by providing housing, counseling and employment programs.

While all tea sales will support the organization, Chado has also released two timely new summer tea blends in honor of July 4. Red, White & Blue Blend (available in-store) is a fragrant, herbal white tea with hibiscus, cornflower, rose hips, goji, lychee and cabernet flavor. Boston Tea Party (available in-store or online) is a blend of two light black teas: champagne Ceylon and Indian black tea.

Chado opened on West Third Street in 1990 as a small, almost quaint tearoom with few tables. In 1993, Reena Shah and her husband, Devan, acquired Chado. Six years later, Reena hired Tekeste (Tek) Mehreteab as cook. Mehreteab’s conscientious work, honesty and dedication to tea soon made him a manager, and in 2002 he became a partner with Devan and Reena in opening a second Chado location in Pasadena.

“My mom was born in the Fiji Islands and moved here when she was 2,” Shah says. “She was pretty much raised in LA. My dad immigrated from India in the late 1980s, and he was in New Jersey.

“He moved to LA once he married my mom. When he was in India, my dad worked for a tea broker. Tea was a lot further moving than America. He’s grown up on tea farms. When he moved to America, he decided we needed to have our own businesses. He brought over the first teas from south India.”

Devan, who died in 2016, is credited with bringing chai tea to the United States by the World Tea Academy.

“It was hugely flattering when they gave that to him,” Shah says. “Chai is a household item now.”

Mehreteab came to LA from Eritrea not knowing any English. But, Shah says, he’s come a long way—from cook, to server, to waiter, to manager to part owner.

“He’s one of the most educated men I know,” she says.

She says the pandemic is troubling to Chado Tea Room, which stayed open for takeout orders. Since reopening, all Chado’s tearooms have been reconfigured to offer comfortable social distancing between tables, hand sanitizer stations, and immediate sanitation systems upon the departure of each customer. Chado staff is well equipped with gloves and masks.

“Our online sales did jump a little bit,” she says about the pandemic. “We’ve just been waiting to open for months. If we had to go another couple of months, it would have been a different situation. We were closed on Mother’s Day, and that’s one of our busiest days.

“We got a lot of support from the community. We did a whole afternoon tea to go. It came with a two-tier rack that people could display. It’s a do-it-yourself kit for $175, and it came with tea for two, teapots, teacups, the rack and chocolate. We’re thinking about keeping it on hand.”

Each of the stores has a small selection of accessories, as well as English goodies like scones and cakes. Tastings are frequent to showcase new teas that have come in.

“We’re just looking forward to welcoming back our customers,” she says. “Rest assured, we’re taking proper precautions.”

• 79 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

• 1303 El Prado Avenue, Torrance

• Inside the Japanese American National Museum,

369 E. First Street, Downtown Los Angeles

• 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Suite 209, Hollywood

Its website is chadotearoom.com

Tribeca moves screen classics to drive-ins

As local economies attempt to return to some semblance of normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the film industry continues to take a hit, with theaters remaining closed, numerous tentpole summer blockbusters pushed back, and major film festivals attempting to compensate with alternate programming.

Tribeca Enterprises, behind Manhattan’s annual Tribeca Film Festival, is one such organization that has been looking to find new ways to connect with moviegoers. That includes a multi-state drive-in series.

The Tribeca Drive-In will bring classic films, comedy acts and more to venues around the country all summer, including the Rose Bowl Stadium every Thursday through Sunday July 2 to July 26.

“I think from the minute we all were told get back to your house in lockdown, we tried to figure out ways that we could engage the community, which is really the basis of Tribeca’s existence,” explains film and television producer Paula Weinstein, Tribeca Enterprises’ executive vice president, referring to the festival’s revitalization efforts in New York after 9/11.

Weinstein calls Tribeca’s long-running drive-in movies one of her favorite aspects. After deciding to expand it, Tribeca organizers brainstormed new locations, partnerships and films while also figuring out ways to ensure social distancing and sanitation. Weinstein says programming is different, in that the focus is now on beloved movies and classics as opposed to the festival’s usual discovery model.

“Festivals like Tribeca are mostly independent film, so we thought, ‘OK, this is a wider audience. So, what do you go to a drive-in to see? Fan favorites.’ And that’s what we did,” Weinstein explains, noting that a large part of curation went into refreshing audiences on previous entries in current franchises, exposing younger audiences to classics, and just choosing films that people may have never seen on the big screen. The schedule is extensive.

Fourth of July will celebrate “The Wizard of Oz,” “Apollo 13” and “Field of Dreams.” The latter is sold out.

Some Sundays will include sports movies, like “Creed” (July 5) and “Friday Night Lights” (July 19).

Early-afternoon films for kids include “Inside Out” (July 11), “Spy Kids” (July 12) and “The Lego Movie” (July 25).

High school comedies “Mean Girls” and “Superbad” will be shown on July 17. The latter is sold out.

The N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” will hit the screen July 18.

“Meet the Parents” and its sequel “Meet the Fockers” will play July 23.

Ladies’ Night, July 24, will feature “Girls Trip” and “Bridesmaids.”

Spike Lee’s “Inside Man” and “Do the Right Thing” will screen July 25.

Other classics include “The Goonies” (July 18) and “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (July 26), while some modern hits include “John Wick” (July 16) and “Wonder Woman” (July 19).

The new romantic comedy “Palm Springs,” starring Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti and J.K. Simmons, will also screen, on July 9.

Planners also looked for anniversaries, a major one being the 45th year of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” which Weinstein calls “the ultimate summer scary great movie.” That will screen July 2 but is sold out. “Apollo 13” is also celebrating 25 years.

While Weinstein wouldn’t reveal any details, some filmmakers and others are slated to introduce movies. Upcoming film teasers are planned, too.

“We all have very good relationships with the studios, and the studios have been great because it’s very clear we cannot wait for the movie theaters to open and for everybody to be able to go back to see a movie,” Weinstein says. “We’re not in competition with that. We are supportive of that. And, it also I think gives the studios a chance to know that people are out there experiencing movies together in a safe way.”

Films aside, Tribeca has partnered with Comedy Dynamics to host four standup shows at the Rose Bowl the weekend of July 9 through July 12: Dave Helem, Ester Steinberg, Daniel Webb and Erica Rhodes. The shows will be taped for a wider release down the road, which Weinstein says “should be a fun experience.”

Tribeca will also support the community. According to a press release, a portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to Black Lives Matter. Additionally, essential workers will be offered complimentary access and reserved parking the first night at each venue.

“It’s our way of saying thank you,” Weinstein says of supporting essential workers, adding that the events will employ hundreds of people at each site and look to partner with local food trucks on concessions. “This is, in our minds, also an economic development revitalization plan, just the way it was when Jane (Rosenthal) and Bob (De Niro) started the festival.”

As event partners, Tribeca announced AT&T will provide other on-site entertainment, like photo ops, film trivia and giveaways, while IMAX will lead on the technology front with its Digital Re-Mastering process, technological support and equipment for venues, and film curation assistance.

“The hope is that the audience comes and has a wonderful time, and that the essential workers and the people in Pasadena and the local other areas around find enjoyment, employment, putting some people back to work or helping them restart their businesses in some way—if we can help, that’s what we want to do,” Weinstein says. “That will give us great joy.”

 

tribecafilm.com
For a full schedule and tickets, visit tribecafilm.com/drive-in/rosebowl.

The lights haven’t gone out at the Pasadena Playhouse

Beth Fernandez calls the history of Pasadena Playhouse “interesting and fun.”

Fernandez, the Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse’s president, is celebrating a continuation of that—the renovation of the historic neon sign at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and El Molina Avenue.

The Pasadena Playhouse neon sign is the last remaining example of a historic neon sign in Playhouse Village. It directs audiences and the community to the Playhouse and, as such, is a part of the neighborhood’s identity. “It was originally installed to tie all of the Spanish buildings on El Molina together,” Fernandez says.

In 1935 this freestanding neon sign, on a metal pole, was placed on Green Street. When Green became a one-way street, it was set into the sidewalk on the east side of the Symes Cadillac building (now Jacob Maarse Florist). It was moved to its present location by the city in 1993 and is now on Route 66. The Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse, a volunteer corporation that provides priceless support for the Playhouse, recently paid for some much-needed repairs to bring this sign into working order.

“The electrical work had gone dead,” Fernandez says. “It’s wonderful now. You drive down Colorado Avenue in the evenings and it’s brightly lit. The playhouse is bright, even though it’s not open. There’s a library above the theater entrance. The library was for the students when it was a drama academy.

“Now we use it for meetings. They always keep a light in that window that says, ‘Yes, we are always open.’”

As for when the Pasadena Playhouse is officially open, Fernandez says she’s hoping the Holland Taylor play “Ann,” which was scheduled for May 27 to July 28, will be on stage in January,

“It just depends on everybody’s schedules,” Fernandez says, “It’s very difficult right now with social distancing. Like all small theaters, we’re having problems. We’re a professional theater and we have to pay union rates. It’s expensive to launch any production.”

This time of year, the Friends of the Pasadena Playhouse are gearing up for the street fair, which has been canceled. Instead, the Friends have made online and mail appeals to keep supporting the playhouse. Online classes are another form of raising money.

“We have a wonderful class about Broadway and American theater,” she says. “I think we have close to 400 people signed up for it. It’s an eight-week course. I think that’s going to be ongoing as we go through the summer and fall.

“I’ve been sitting in on it, too. It began with ‘Oklahoma’ and it talks about how the musical changes over the years to become more socially relevant. It’s basically an overview of Broadway and theater, especially how musicals have changed.”

The Pasadena Playhouse also hosts online student classes.

“They’re online, too. They’ve been very successful as families try to keep their kids busy during the quarantine and pandemic,” Fernandez says.

Fernandez grew up in theater. She attended classes at the Pasadena Playhouse when she was a teenager. As an adult, she worked as a puppeteer for 20 years.

“It was a great thing to be doing while my kids were growing up,” Fernandez says. “It was easy to be home when they were home. It was a wonderful career. At 42, I got my degree.”

She has high hopes that the Pasadena Playhouse will follow the light of its recently renovated sign.

“Every theater in town is like we are—suffering,” she says. “We know we’ll make it. Our artistic director is working hard with the board to make sure we stay afloat.

“In January, we hope to go back to putting on great shows and bringing theater to the people of the San Gabriel Valley.”

Hasblady Guzman vows safety first at Bokaos Aveda Salon

The business of beauty is in Hasblady Guzman’s DNA. As a child in Colombia, she grew up watching her mother make women feel beautiful and confident in her salon.

“Seeing my mother help women feel better than when they came in was awe-inspiring. At a young age I saw how powerful it was to provide a great service—making someone feel uplifted,” Guzman says.

And quickly learned responsibility in her formative years.

“At 12, I was taking deposits on my bicycle and making change for her,” Guzman says. “She would give me hundreds of pesos and I would get her change. Nobody ever bothered me or questioned it.”

Guzman was offered a full-ride scholarship to UC Santa Barbara but gave in to her mother and joined the family business. She never looked back.

Now she’s at the helm of her successful 4,000-square-foot salon, Pasadena’s Bokaos Aveda Salon, where the staff goes above and beyond to make sure their clients stay healthy.

“I want my clients to feel really comfortable at Bokaos,” Guzman says. “My stylists want to give guests the best experience and provide the safest environment. We are taking every precaution to do so. We’re spaced 6 feet apart. We’re disinfecting. No one with a fever is allowed to enter the building. I’m protecting my business. I’ve given a lot of my life to it—29 years of myself to it.”

Coming to America

In 1982, Guzman and her family had to escape the dangers of Pablo Escobar’s reign, so they fled their native Colombia to find a better life in the United States. She learned English by watching American television, and at the age of 21 she opened her first hair salon, Renaissance Hair Studio in Glendale.

“Being in the business this long, it’s much more normal,” says Guzman, about being a female business owner.

“At the beginning, when I was 21, people would say, ‘Where’s the owner? Where is he?’ It’s been nice to show that a woman and an immigrant can make it if you stay focused. I don’t take no for an answer.”

In 2002, she expanded by opening a second salon, Bokaos Aveda Pasadena, and eventually a third location followed in Glendale in 2008. In 2009, she moved all three businesses to one beautiful loft location with hardwood floors and a soaring chandelier in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.

At the salon she is joined by her brother, Alfred Guzman. Her mother still owns her own salon.

“She’s been incredibly supportive and loving,” Guzman says. “She won’t stop working at 72. She has a shop in Glendale and shows up every day.”

Guzman has worked with many celebrity clients for print and TV projects, but it’s a special love for the styling, extensions and updos that feed her creative soul.

“I love doing extensions and wedding parties,” she says. “It’s so much fun. It’s so creative, and everyone is incredibly excited and loving. It’s like you’re part of an intimate moment of happiness. You see your work and it’s amazing how it all comes together.”

With bridal parties of 10 or more, they drink champagne and have a little celebration. Guzman has been invited to style brides in England, New York and Mexico.

“I’m not limited to Pasadena,” she says.

Guzman does three methods of extensions—keratin, I-tip and tape.

“When you take a woman who feels she doesn’t look as soft or young as she used to and put hair on her, it takes 10 years off. When she has shiny hair and it’s thick, it’s always a sign of youth. It really helps a woman come to life when she has hair like that.”

She is also a blond specialist and knows how to take someone safely to blonde with the right tones.

“We use Aveda color. It is 98% natural and all the packaging is 100% recyclable, which is incredible,” Guzman says. “They spend a lot of money in the way they package and are very honest as a brand. Right now, we have Nutriplenish, a moisturizing line that Aveda just came out with. It helps dry, stressed hair and makes it soft. It’s a great line for hair in California.”

What it all comes down to is her customers’ happiness.

“You have to have a lot of heart to be a small-business owner,” she says. “In my business, it’s important to remember the value of great relationships with your guests and staff.”

Guzman is a dedicated member of the Pasadena community, supporting Hillsides. She fundraises for their gala every year with cut-athons, service donations and clothing donations for the kids.

One Colorado Square
52 Hugus Alley, Pasadena
626-304-0007, bokaos.com
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

Donald Schweitzer honors partners with firm’s name change

When Donald Schweitzer worked for the Santa Ana Police Department as a gang homicide detective, he saw plenty of attorneys in action.

“I enjoyed the energy and the drama of the courtroom,” Schweitzer says. 

In the early 1990s, he decided to join the ranks of great attorneys and entered law school, leaving the PD behind. Eighteen years ago, he founded the Pasadena family law practice of Law Offices of Donald P. Schweitzer, soon to be renamed Schweitzer Law Partners. 

“I graduated and went to the DA’s office,” he recalls. “In law school, my favorite topic was family law. I took all the specialized classes. When I went to the DA’s office after graduating law school, I prosecuted deadbeat dads and paternity cases. In seven years, I worked my way to the top as a senior trial attorney. I left the DA’s office to start my own family law firm.”

His goal was to put together a team of “really good people.” He didn’t want to be a solo practitioner, because he realized he needed colleagues next to him who could help handle complex cases. 

“I needed excellent folks and a team behind me who could handle intense litigated cases,” he says. “Family law cases involve a lot of paperwork, planning and negotiation. My dream has been to pursue excellence in that way. We recruit the very best people we can.”

Changing the firm’s name is an organic move for Schweitzer.

“The name needs to match the firm,” he says. “This was not just built by me. Good, quality people have contributed. It’s a partnership. I don’t manage from the top down. Nobody here calls me ‘Mr. Schweitzer.’ 

“I purposely spent a lot of years grooming people and putting together the best team I could. We’re partners without a doubt.”

Education and development are key

Schweitzer Law Partners boasts an extensive law clerk program. As a matter of fact, most of the attorneys in its office started as clerks for the practice.

Schweitzer says the office is certified to provide licensed, mandatory continuing education. There’s training every Friday, and the attorneys take full advantage of it.

Partner Casey Marticorena, who also started with the firm as a law clerk in 2007, says the team is passionate about education and promoting from within.

“Don is someone who focuses on developing the people he has on his team,” Marticorena says. “This is a place where you walk in the door and start as a filing clerk and end up being an office manager, which is a true story. Or, you can start as a receptionist and end up being a senior managing paralegal, also a true story. He develops people. He’s not ego driven.”

The highlight of her career was becoming a certified family law specialist, as she’s on the younger side of her colleagues. 

“I’m passionate about the art of negotiation and efficacy, which means I’m very successful in settling cases. I have a strong presence in the courtroom.”

Empathetic staff

Partner Alexandra Smyser lost both of her parents within two days when she was 30. She poured over bank statements and related paperwork to settle her parents’ estates. She parlayed that knowledge into her career as a certified trust and estates attorney with Schweitzer. 

“One of these things is not like the other,” she says with a laugh about her role within the firm. “I handle the trust and estates practice. We do planning for people and anything that’s in probate court. This means conservatorships, guardianships and trust administrations. It’s definitely different from the family law side.”

This is a second career for Smyser. After graduating college, she entered the entertainment industry. When her parents passed away—her mom of breast cancer and her father of a heart attack two days later—she decided to leave her field of 10 years. 

“You don’t go through that without a big reexamination of your life,” says Smyser, who graduated magna cum laude from Southwestern Law School. 

“I started to get interested in estates, and I wanted to bring that experience to help other people. I entered law school at 34 with two little kids and graduated when I was 38. I love what I do and helping people through the things I went through. I get to know their families really in-depth. It’s a crisis when somebody dies or somebody’s very ill. I do feel like I’m helping people.”

Her experiences have made her more empathetic and a better attorney. She experienced probate court from the other side and knows what happens. 

“When you’re grieving and you’re trying to figure out things, that makes the grief 10 times worse,” she says. “When my mom died, she hadn’t done anything. She had bank accounts everywhere. I spent a year at my dining room table covered with her statements. I just waited for the mail to come. It wasn’t a good way to go through that.”

With a team that includes Smyser and Marticorena, Schweitzer says his firm is a “good, fun place to work.”

“It sounds very cliché, but I want this to be a place I’d want to work,” he adds. “I would love to work for our practice. Everyone here has a career opportunity. You feel like you’re helping others and growing individually in this profession.”

The new name reflects this upward trajectory and a genuine commitment to excellence. Schweitzer Law Partners boasts four certified specialists and five rising attorneys; the firm financially supports its attorneys during the certification program and offers time off to study for the test. Each attorney is encouraged to become a certified specialist. 

Schweitzer says his office is filled with great leaders who are innovative and trustworthy. 

“I’m thrilled I get to work next to them,” he says. “I get a kick out of working here. The spirits in the office are very high. It took time to cultivate. I had a lot of learning to do along the way. People have come and gone, but I stayed focused on excellence. The people who didn’t like that would eventually leave. I’m very, very proud of my awesome partners, office manager, paralegals and staff. Everyone in this office is cherished.”

Triple Threat

Kelvin Harrison Jr. is hitting the ‘high note’ of his career

When Kelvin Harrison Jr. was growing up in New Orleans, he dreamed of starring on a Disney TV show. That way, he could blend his talents of acting and singing.     

“I always thought to myself that I could be like Hannah Montana and have the best of both worlds,” Harrison says with a laugh. “I get to have a sitcom, sing, do an album and tour.”

His latest project, the film “The High Note,” is a “beautiful combination of the two.” Set in the LA music scene, “The High Note” is the story of Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), a superstar who must choose between playing it safe or listening to her heart in a life-changing decision.

Maggie (Dakota Johnson) is Davis’ overworked personal assistant who’s stuck running errands but aspires to be a music producer. Things come to a head when Davis’ long-time manager (Ice Cube) presents the singer with a choice that could alter the course of her career. Harrison plays aspiring musician David Cliff, who befriends Maggie.

The movie, which was set to debut in theaters, instead premiered as video on demand on May 29. The soundtrack, on Republic Records, includes a handful of songs by Harrison, like the pivotal “Let’s Stay Together.”

“We were worried,” he says. “Would the movie come out? Would it be shelved? Would it go through the Netflix shuffle? Instead, we’re doing the proper release and found the ‘new normal’ style.”

Working with Ross—the daughter of Diana Ross—was “wonderful,” he says. First and foremost, she was “so much fun.”

“She’s a big personality,” he says. “It just adds to the energy that’s always in the room. If you’re feeling down or nervous or scared, Tracee has a way of just brightening up the room and the day. We really needed her expertise and wisdom for this movie.”

Harrison—who appeared in “Ender’s Game” and “12 Years a Slave”—says “The High Note” is an important film to him.

“I really wanted to be in a space where I got to play a romantic lead in a movie,” Harrison says.

“That was exciting, especially being a person of color who gets the girl at the end. We don’t get the girl. I thought the elements were fascinating. The music industry felt honest and brought back some of the magic to Hollywood and LA—the artistry behind it all. I love the story of following a dream and persevering despite our own blocks and insecurities. It’s up to us to create the universe we want to live in.”

Harrison did that. He grew up in a family of musicians, all of whom went to the NOLA School of Music in New Orleans. His father trained with Ellis Marsalis and grew up with Harry Connick Jr.

“He introduced me to Ellis, and I went to NOLA,” he says. “Jason Marsalis was one of my teachers. I met Wynton. I also worked with Delfeayo. I recorded tracks with him for a kids’ album when I was about 12 to 15.”

At the time, Harrison didn’t grasp what he had.

“I’d come home from school and say, ‘Mr. Marsalis told me to do this,’” he recalls with a laugh. “It was such a beautiful experience that a lot of people wish they had.”

For a bit, he put his music aside to act. In 2019, Harrison gained wider recognition for his critically acclaimed portrayals of Luce Edgar in “Luce” and Tyler Williams in “Waves,” for which he received nominations for the Best Male Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards for the former and the Rising Star Award at the British Academy Film Awards for the latter.

His next film is “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” the story of seven people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Later this year, he’ll join season two of HBO’s “Euphoria.”

“That’s going to be my thing for the next few years,” he says.

Harrison enjoys the variety of films he has released. It keeps him excited and on his toes.

“The language we learn from different genres helps the other genres,” he says. “I can understand fear and apply that or neurosis in a character’s head and put it in a drama and blend it really well with comedy to figure out how to drive those funnier moments. Trying different things ultimately helps you become a more well-rounded human performer. It gives us a variety of tools in our bag.”

Harrison has been keeping busy during the quarantine—reading books by James Baldwin and Maya Angelou, as well as “Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance” and “Sister Outsider.” He’s also perfected his go-to dish: lemony salmon with garlic roasted potatoes and spinach. He serves it with a side dish of white macaroni and cheese and broccolini.

“It’s a lot of food, but I like to eat,” he says with a chuckle.

As for “The High Note,” he hopes it’s the treat that everyone needs during the pandemic.

“What’s so beautiful about Tracee’s character is she’s a woman who knows what she has to offer, and he’s not interested in anyone telling her she can’t,” Harrison says.

“It’s what David needed to learn and what Maggie saw and learned from Grace as well. They learned not to get in the way of their own opportunity. I hope people who see this film learn not to give up until they get what they want. I absolutely believe that.”

Made for a Sunny Day

This piña colada tart is fruity and crisp

Springtime gives us playful glimpses of summer. Now that it’s almost here, I am longing for the bold and refreshing flavors of fruity, crisp and light desserts. Inspired by the classic piña colada drink, this tart has an effortless crust that does not require the use of a hot oven. Additionally, it is dairy free and instead uses coconut oil to marry piquancy and a silky texture. For those who enjoy a true piña colada flavor, this tart would hold up well to a drizzling of a rum reduction sauce. Want to intensify the sharp fruit flavors? The blueberries are here to provide an enticing visual and textural variation.

Dairy-Free Piña Colada Tart
Hands-on time: 30 Minutes
Ready in: 90 Minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 Fresh pineapple, cubed
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
3 tbsp coconut oil
1 to 2 gelatin packets, unflavored
1 1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut
13 to 15 sheets of graham crackers
Optional garnishes: blueberries and dried pineapples slices

1. In a food processor, purée the fresh cut pineapple until it is a smooth liquid.
2. Add the liquefied pineapple, sugar, salt, eggs and coconut oil into a medium pot.
3. While continuously stirring, cook the mixture on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until thick.
4. Remove mixture from heat and strain to remove solids.
5. Stir into mixture the gelatin amount according to firmness preference and set aside.
6. Begin to make the base by pulsing the coconut in a food processor to release the oils. Continue until it forms an oily, mealy texture.
7. Add in the graham crackers and continue pulsing in the food processor until it starts to come together to hold its shape when pressed.
8. Press the crust base into the tart pan bottom and sides.
9. Pour in the pineapple filling and place in the refrigerator to set, approximately 1 hour for a soft set.

 

The Violympics

LA Philharmonic violinist’s lessons go virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced musicians to quickly digitize their professions and supplement their incomes.

For some, it’s new. For Los Angeles Philharmonic First Associate Concertmaster Nathan Cole, the digital transformation is underway.

On June 1, Cole will launch the Violympics, a series of six two-week training events that will give advanced violinists and violists the tools to advance their craft.

A Pasadena resident, Cole will mentor participants in the program, which will explore crucial fundamentals in a fun format while building an online global community of musicians. Violympics will culminate in a challenge piece that will bring everyone together through performance (virtually).

“It started as a way to help professional violinists and violists organize and practice during the summer,” he says. “Our seasons tend to go like the school year. In the summer, it’s difficult to find and keep that same routine, either because you have fewer performances or you’re spread out in different places.

“I came up with the Violympics to run alongside the real Olympics in Tokyo,” says Cole, who’s married to the LA Philharmonic’s assistant concert master, Akiko Tarumoto. “When everything went nuts in March, including the cancellation of the Olympics, I thought I’d still keep these going.”

The Lexington, Kentucky, native comes from a family of musicians and educators. His parents were flute teachers, as was his paternal grandfather. Cole picked up the violin at age 4; he’s 42 now.

“I can’t really remember a time before I was playing violin,” he says. “I love performing. That’s what I grew up wanting to do, but I did find starting about 20 years ago, that I loved teaching, too. I used to teach at a few different schools.

“I left all of them except the Colburn Conservatory, which is across from Disney Concert Hall, where I work with the LA Philharmonic. I stopped all the other teaching. I wanted to make time for my online program.”

The Violympics is an extension of an online teaching platform that began over a decade ago, when Cole started posting instructional videos on YouTube.

Expecting to attract maybe 25 to 50 people, he instead quickly had an online student base in the thousands. He realized there were not many solutions for advanced training online, so he refined his offerings over the years to focus on this niche. More than 3,000 violinists and violists of all ages and capabilities from all over the world, from Argentina to Israel, registered for the Violympic Trials, a one-week introductory experience that preceded the Violympics.

This 12-week program costs $797. Cole called it a nice alternative to summer schools or festivals that have been shuttered due to COVID-19. For more information, visit natesviolin.com.

“I found the best way to help people is online and in person,” he says. “When people think about or talk about teaching online or learning online, they’re focused on the negatives, what they’re missing out on.

“There are some limitations and drawbacks. In my high-level virtuoso master course, I can start everyone with videos I’ve already made and learning material. This way, we don’t have to waste a lot of that valuable one-on-one time going over things they could have learned on their own time. You save that one-one-one time—which is the hardest to schedule—to really just work on the issues that that person has.”

Cole adds his program is a nice way to fill the time during the pandemic.

“I miss performing for sure,” he says. “I have that fear if I don’t do it for a while, my skills are going to go away. This is as much motivation for me to keep me sharp for when we do return to the stage.”

Celebrate Dad

Father’s Day specials aplenty in Pasadena

Father’s Day will take on a different feel this year, as we’re all trying to protect ourselves from COVID-19. Many of Pasadena’s restaurants, however, are still trying to make the day special.       

Check out our list of treats to help honor dad on Sunday, June 21.

Celestino Ristorante

141 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena

626-795-4006, celestinopasadena.com

Celestino Ristorante’s executive chef, Calogero Drago, is celebrating Father’s Day by introducing a new summer takeout menu; Father’s Day family packages; a special chef menu; delectable Italian wines; and an open bar to go featuring aperitifs, digestives, cocktails, spirits, grappa and limoncello.

The summer takeout menu at the recently reopened restaurant features a signature selection of favorite Italian soups, salads, appetizers, traditional Italian pastas and risottos, meats and desserts.

The Father’s Day family package for four ($90) includes a family-style salad, choice of pasta or fish, a special side, and dessert.

For dads who want something special this Father’s Day, the chef menu for two or more guests ($38 per person) features a specially curated salad, pasta or risotto, special fish dish, special meat dish, and dessert.

To ensure dad has a proper Italian experience when ordering from Celestino Ristorante this Father’s Day, Drago is offering a sublime selection of daily special Italian wines, including a red, white and sparkling wine. And, for fathers who prefer something a little stronger, Celestino Ristorante steps it up a notch by offering its open bar to go, which features daily aperitifs, digestives, spirits, grappa, limoncello and Celestino cocktails to go to complement a fabulous Father’s Day celebration at home.

Celestino Ristorante will be open on Father’s Day and Celestino Ristorante is open for takeout and curbside pickup from 5 to 8 p.m. every Monday to Sunday. For more information or to order directly, call Celestino Ristorante at 626-795-4006, and to view the new Celestino Ristorante takeout menu, visit celestinopasadena.com.

Gus’ Barbecue

808 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena

626-799-3251, gussbbq.com

This Father’s Day there is no better way to celebrate than with Gus’ Barbecue in South Pasadena.

Gus’ Barbecue will offer its barbecue takeout menu all weekend for dad and the entire family—featuring appetizers; Gus’ combos; Southern fried chicken; burgers; sandwiches; and Gus’ Real Pit barbecue offerings, which include Memphis baby back ribs, barbecue brick chicken, Texas beef brisket, St. Louis spare ribs, peppercorn-crusted tri-tip, smoked sausage and the Carolina-style pulled pork.

Each is seasoned overnight and then smoked low and slow for up to 14 hours over whole pecan logs to create Gus’ signature smoke flavor, along with signature sides, greens, kids menu (10 and younger) and drinks, shakes and malts. Don’t forget Gus’ cast iron cornbread served with jalapeño jelly and honey butter, Gus’ deviled eggs with crispy smoked ham and sweet chipotle seasoning, barbecue baked beans or its braised Southern greens.

Gus’ Barbecue South Pasadena will be open on Father’s Day, and it offers takeout, delivery and curbside pickup from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

Krafted Spirits

Krafted Spirits kicks off Father’s Day weekend with two celebratory DIY Krafted Spirits “Father’s Day” LA Staycation Cocktail Boxes that can be preordered and delivered.

It features a full bottle of Krafted Spirits premium rum which has been triple distilled from raw sugarcane from the island of St. Croix, then developed and aged in American charred oak bourbon barrels.

The DIY Krafted “Father’s Day” LA Staycation Small Batch White Rum Box (makes up to 16 cocktails for $55) includes a full 750 ml bottle of Krafted white rum, two mixers featuring its Krafted LA rum punch and Krafted DTLA daiquiri mixes, along with one mini can of Coke and one lime for garnish.

The DIY Krafted “Father’s Day” LA Staycation Premium Dark Rum Box or Krafted Pineapple-Infused Rum Box (makes up to 16 cocktails for $55) offers a choice of a full 750 ml bottle of Krafted Premium Dark Rum or Krafted Pineapple-Infused Rum, two mixers featuring its Krafted Hollywood hurricane and Krafted Venice Beach painkiller mixes, along with one mini can of Coke and one lime for garnish.

To preorder, visit kraftedrum.com or email, before Friday, June 19, to cheers@kraftedspirits.com.

Mi Piace

25 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

626-795-3131 mipiace.com

Old Town Pasadena’s Mi Piace is offering its signature menu featuring calamari fritti, caprese burrata and bruschetta.

The insalate section offers the insalata mi piace, a Caesar, and baby kale salad, while the pasta section offers 12 options, including Mi Piace’s pappardelle bolognese, ravioli della casa, linguine pesto and fettuccine alfredo tartufo. The carne e pollo section surprises dad with selections such as the pollo al sesamo, piccata di pollo, and bistecca, while seafood-loving fathers will enjoy scampi, the fra diavolo and the filetto di salmone in the pesce section. Fathers and families can also enjoy their favorite pizza—including the margherita, classica and Old Town Speciale—or marinated chicken, New York pastrami or handmade meatball panino. Finally, for dads craving decadent comfort, the Mi Piace black label burger prepared with a special prime rib eye and brisket “exclusive” mix will also be available.

Mi Piace will offer wine, beer, spirits and cocktails for takeout, delivery and curbside pickup for Father’s Day. Mi Piace offers wines by the bottle, which include specials that rotate “daily” and include a red wine, white wine and a rosé.

Beers will be offered individually ($4 each) or by the six pack ($15), including Heineken, Modelo, Amstel Light or a rotating IPA. Mi Piace is also featuring Father’s Day cocktails ($10 each), including Mi Piace’s signature Old Forester barrel-aged Manhattan, Tito’s Handmade Vodka & Q Soda, and Hendrick’s Gin & Q Tonic.

Mi Piace will offer spirits by the bottle featuring Hendrick’s gin ($45), Tito’s Handmade Vodka ($32), and Old Forester bourbon ($22).

Mi Piace will be open on Father’s Day and offers takeout and delivery from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every Monday to Sunday.

The Original Tops

3838 E. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

626-449-4412, TheOriginalTops.com

A true Pasadena institution, The Original Tops is celebrating Father’s Day with takeout and drive-thru pickup for dad.

The Original Tops will offer breakfast takeout until noon for dad and the entire family, including signature steak and egg burrito made with carne asada, scrambled eggs, homestyle potatoes, and jack and cheddar cheese.

For lunch takeout, dad can enjoy the pastrami with a slowly marinated special au jus, piled high on a French roll, mustard and pickles. For something festive, fathers, family and friends can indulge in the chili bowl made with The Original Tops’ signature chili and diced onions, zucchini sticks or French fries. And, for something sweet, save room for a classic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry old-fashioned shake topped with a cherry.

The Original Tops will be open on Father’s Day, and it offers takeout and drive-thru from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday.

The Raymond 1886

1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

626-441-3136, theraymond.com

Celebrate this Father’s Day and let The Raymond 1886 prepare and pack the perfect meal to eat and enjoy at home.

The Raymond 1886 takes care of all the prep with its Father’s Day Grill Boxes for Four ($120), available for preorder only. It offers two T-bone steaks; four spiced fennel sausages; potato salad prepared with scallions, sesame oil, Old Bay and Kewpie Japanese-style mayo; and arugula salad for four with cherry tomatoes, red onion, sunflower seeds and lemon vinaigrette.

To celebrate dad properly, The Raymond 1886 is also serving four special 1886 Father’s Day cocktails to go (8-ounce serves two, $25; 16-ounce serves four, $45) served in Mason jars, including the old fashioned made of bourbon, sugar, Angostura bitters and orange oil; Brown Derby, prepared with bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice and honey syrup; the Medicina Latina made with tequila, lime juice, ginger syrup and spritz of mezcal; and the Don Lockwood, a spirit-forward old fashioned-style cocktail made with scotch, bourbon and maple syrup.

The Raymond 1886 also offers three signature 1886 cocktails to go (four services, $45) created by the 1886 Bar Team and served in Mason jars. Featuring the 1886 Negroni prepared with gin, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Campari and orange oil; the Remember the Maine comprised of rye whiskey, Dolin sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and absinthe; and the Fair and Warmer, a blend of rums, Dolin sweet vermouth, house curacao and lemon oil, cocktails are aplenty.

Wine and beer will also be offered for Father’s Day takeout, delivery and curbside pickup. Wines by the bottle ($30 each) feature one white wine—including The White Queen, chardonnay, Sonoma, 2017—and red wines by the bottle, including the Chateau Tournefeuille, Bordeaux, 2015. Beer is offered by the six pack ($12.50), including Day Beer Lager—brewed with Czech Sass, Hallertauer Mittlefruch Hops, 4.5% ABV—or the Stone Delicious IPA with Lemondrop and El Dorado Hops, 7.7% ABV.

The Raymond 1886 will be open on Father’s Day and is offering its signature takeout menu for takeout, delivery and curbside pickup from 4 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday to Sunday. The deadline to preorder is 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 18.

Blooming Business

The Garden Natives have landscape in their blood

Native Southern Californians Sydney Harrington and Amanda Claverie are passionate about plants and nature.      

Harrington grew up gardening, while Claverie was raised by a horticulturist mom and farmer father. The two ladies came together through a love of flowers and six years ago formed Garden Natives, a landscape design and maintenance business that specializes in California native plants.

“It’s very important to us to create ecosystems for the native birds and bees of the San Gabriel Valley,” Claverie says. “We’re trying to help sustain native flora and fauna of the area.”

Claverie and Harrington began this career performing landscape maintenance, which gives them a different outlook on design. They frequently arrive at yards to fix things that other landscapers have done incorrectly—maybe there’s a plant in the wrong spot, or a shrub that is too big for the space.

“A lot of landscapers are not really used to working with the plants,” Claverie says. “We had the experience.”

The transition from maintenance to design was a subtle one. It mainly came from their clients’ needs.

“The more we worked with clients doing maintenance, the more they asked for help with designing and planting,” Harrington says. “That turned into what we’re doing now. It was a snowball effect.”

Garden Natives provides drafting and design, California native and drought-tolerant landscaping, hardscaping and installation.

“Installation is just as important to us as the design,” adds Claverie, whose team is exceptionally trained in irrigation, lighting and design implementation.

The women serve Alhambra, Altadena, Arcadia, Azusa, Bradbury, Covina, Duarte, East Pasadena, Glendora, La Canada Flintridge, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, San Marino, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

The two adore perennials and “things that bloom throughout the seasons.” Claverie and Harrington want to create a garden that has longevity and blooms throughout the year to attract hummingbirds, for instance. They take inspiration from the local foothills to create gardens that are welcoming.

“We bring a lot of sages and poppies,” Claverie says. “Just fun things like that. We’re also really into water features. We’re big on taking out grass and installing blooming gardens. Local butterflies, bees and birds not only need food, they need water. We try and incorporate the water features for the birds and bees so they can cool down. Plus, it’s fun to see the visitors.”

Harrington fell in love with yardwork as a child, when she would help her parents garden. She worked at floral shops in college and ended up employed by the Fullerton Arboretum for five years.

“I got a lot of my training on California native plants,” Harrington says. “I worked with a lot of plants I had never experienced before. From there, Amanda and I met doing flowers and we took off from there.”

Claverie has a background in floral design, having owned a floral business, Rosebud Floral Design, for 15 years.

“That’s where we get our floral inspiration and colors,” Claverie adds. “My mom was a horticulturist and my dad’s a farmer. He’s always in the dirt.”

Harrington says the design work inspires her, especially because she’s an artist on the side.

“I really enjoy watching something go from an idea or concept to the installation,” she says. “I love the plants and thinking about how things are going to look over time. I think that’s my favorite thing we do.”