From gourmet cheese to artisan beef, from wine, beer, and cocktails to various types of cuisines, Menuism's got it all. In our Meet Our Experts columns, you'll get a look at the voices who contribute to the Menuism Dining Blog. These experts are leaders in their respective fields, and these interviews will demonstrate exactly why.

Duggan McDonnell, proprietor of Cantina and producer of Campo de Encanto pisco.

Duggan McDonnell is the kind of guy everyone wants to have a drink with. When he’s behind the bar, you’re in for a treat: he possesses all the craftsmanship, charm and wit you’d expect from a bartender of a bygone era, combined with a thoroughly modern–and creative–sensibility. Believe me when I say that watching him construct a cocktail is half the fun.

The passionate drinker and traveler has logged time at breweries, wineries and distilleries on five continents, but he makes his home in San Francisco, where he’s the proprietor of Cantina, one of the City’s hottest watering holes. Duggan also produces award-winning pisco in Peru with his business partner and master distiller, Carlos Romero. To say he’s well versed in booze and beverage would be an epic understatement. (more…)

Posted by on July 25th, 2011

Prerna Singh of Indian Simmer

I’m so excited to introduce you to Prerna Singh, the woman with the impeccable taste who’s responsible for one of our favorite food blogs of the last year: Indian Simmer. Prerna first caught our eye with her stunning food photos, but she captured our attention with her accessible, descriptive writing and her warm personality, which is impossible to resist. Seriously. Talking to Prerna, even for the first time, feels like chatting with an old chum.

Prerna’s specialty, which you might have guessed from her blog name, is Indian cuisine.  Her motto (if I may paraphrase): Indian food isn’t intimidating. She breaks it down like nobody’s business. So if you love Indian cuisine, you’re in the right place. Prerna’s kicking off her column with a short series on Indian spices later this week. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

So please, join me in welcoming Prerna as Menuism’s newest expert, and enjoy getting to know her with a little Q&A.


Describe your personal food philosophy.

Food is a very important part of everyone’s life. It helps bring families and people together. There is so much of history, traditions and culture involved in the type of food one eats. There is a popular saying in India—aisa khaye anna, waisa hove man—which means that the food you eat tells a lot about the kind of person you are. So my food philosophy is very simple: know what you are eating and where it comes from. If you know where it was grown and what went into bringing it from the farm to your table, then you will be able to make a better decision about what’s right and what’s not for your family’s health, and your own. (more…)

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

David Jensen of Beer 47

David Jensen is the blogger behind Beer 47, one of the funnest, freshest blogs about (you guessed it!) craft beer that we’ve come across in our virtual beer travels. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome David to our expert team.

So pull up a stool, open up a cold one (hey, it’s five o’clock somewhere) and get to know our newest expert with this beer-flavored Q & A. Got your own question for David? Don’t be shy! After all, even drinking buddies have to start somewhere. Pipe in below the post.

Describe your beer philosophy.

“The craft beer glass is half full.” In other words, I’m optimistic about the rising tide of craft beer in America and the world. I’ve served my time when I was younger and college age, drinking the flavorless, yellow fizzy stuff and now you will rarely, if ever, find me drinking anything but craft beer. And why not? It has never been a better time to drink craft beer in America. Craft brewers are making high quality beer, both by making traditional styles as well as by pushing the limits to create experimental and ultimately new styles of beer. Styles such as Double IPA or India Black Ale (aka Black IPA) have only been around for a few years and I’m willing to try any and all of these styles of beer. (more…)

Posted by on April 11th, 2011

Photo by grongar

Wine and cheese make the perfect pairing, don’t you agree? In this round of Ask the Experts, we’re featuring answers from two more of our knowledgeable experts: Annie Lehrer, our cheese guru, and Etty Lewensztain, our resident wine whiz. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at homemade chèvre, or wondered which wines pair best with Indian flavors, you’re in luck. Want more? Read on!

Kate Steffens: Can you recommend some Los Angeles wine bars and wine shops? I am a wine novice who would like to learn more but is slightly intimidated by it all.

Etty Lewensztain: My favorite wine bars in LA are Covell in Los Feliz and Mignon in downtown. They both have very eclectic selections. My favorite wine shops are Silverlake Wine if you’re looking for a small boutique-style shop or The Winehouse in West LA if you’re looking for a warehouse-style store that has a huge selection.


Posted by on March 21st, 2011

Photo by Michael Oh

You loved the Q&A with all of our experts, so we thought we’d make it even more interesting by having a roundtable conversation this time around. There were no rules other than keeping the focus on food and wine (not a tough prospect with this crowd!). This week we’re featuring answers from Kate Steffens, our chocolate maven, Amber Shea Ford, our resident raw foods authority, and Elena Rosemond Hoerr, our Southern food specialist. So here we have it, part 1 of Ask the Experts!

Etty Lewensztain: Besides mole, are there other great applications for chocolate in savory cooking?

Kate Steffens: I think chocolate works well with all meals! Use it sparingly to accent savory dishes from breakfast oatmeal to rice pilaf. Cocoa powder can be sprinkled onto mushroom risotto to add richness to the woodsy flavor, and while I don’t eat meat, I have heard that chocolate works well with lamb. A chunk of dark chocolate has also been a long-standing “secret” ingredient in many award-winning chilis and bbq sauces. See my post on pairing chocolate with savory foods for more ideas. (more…)

Posted by on March 14th, 2011

Amber Shea Ford of Almost Vegan

First things first: Amber Shea Ford is a classically trained raw vegan chef who attended the prestigious 105degrees Academy. A practicing vegan and raw foodist who has a refreshingly inclusive perspective (and some serious good taste), Amber is joining our dynamic team of experts and will be bringing you monthly exclusives on her delicious brand of culinary delights.

We know what you may be thinking. You can’t give up your decadent indulgences. You don’t want to read about salads. Well, we’ve got a secret to share: Amber happens to be anti-salad herself. Problem solved. And lest you think she’s all about radishes and watercress, here’s a peek of Amber in action–don’t forget to vote for her and her decadent Caramel-Fudge Brownies at Hot Raw Chef’s 2011 Sweet Valentine Contest. Oh, and those caramel-fudge brownies? They’re raw. And vegan.

Describe your personal food philosophy.

My whole approach to food and diet is one of flexibility. I am a health-driven vegan, pure and simple, and I feel that allowing my veganism and raw foodism to have slightly blurred edges is actually healthier for me (physically AND mentally) in the long run. I’m pretty much 100% vegan at home (although I don’t scour labels or ingredient lists for microscopic bits of hidden animal products). When I travel or eat out, I give myself more leeway. For example, if I go out to a restaurant with friends, I might have a few bites of their dessert, even if it has butter in it. I’m not a fan of dogmatism or strict “rules” about food—I prefer to be flexible and focus on enjoying what I eat! Basically, although 99.5% of my diet is vegan (and largely raw!), as long as I feel happy, healthy, and vibrantly nourished at the end of the day, I have no problem making little exceptions here and there. (more…)

Posted by on February 7th, 2011

Dale Yasunaga

Dale Yasunaga joins our expert team from the glorious tropics of Hawaii (we’re not jealous or anything). He’s the brains and personality behind The Hawaii Life and he’s serious about Hawaiian cuisine. Stick around, won’t you? Dale’s due to deliver the lowdown on delicious Hawaiian fare.

Describe your personal food philosophy.

Food is more than just sustenance. Food is a pillar of culture and a gateway to broadening your horizons to the shores of distance places. So few things can help you to experience the world beyond your immediate surroundings in the way that food does. But at the same time, food can be a powerful reminder of home and of good times past. The emotional depth of food is, in many ways, like music on a plate. (more…)

Posted by on November 15th, 2010

Etty Lewensztain

You met her in September, during her stint as a guest blogger, and you couldn’t get enough. We heard your pleas–and we’re thrilled to welcome Etty Lewensztain, owner of Plonk Wine Merchants, as our newest expert. Etty’s already given us the scoop on esoteric wine descriptors, essential wine geek terms and how to make sense of wine labels. Stick around for more wine wisdom straight from the source! We recently sat down with Etty to learn what makes her tick (OK, we also really wanted to ask her about wine!).

Describe your personal wine philosophy.

I think wine is meant to be drunk every day and shouldn’t be reserved only for special occasions. To that end, I seek out wines that are fresh (ready to be drunk now as opposed to needing time in the cellar) and that deliver great value for the money. If I’m going to drink inspiring wine every day, it needs to be affordable. (more…)

Posted by on November 8th, 2010

Photo by Dan Hoerr

Meet Elena Rosemond-Hoerr, the most recent addition to our expert team. She’s got a sharp sense of humor and she doesn’t mess around when it comes to Southern food. We can’t wait for her to teach us about all kinds of down-home goodies. Want more Elena? Check out her Southern food blog, Biscuits and Such, and stay tuned for her saucy contributions.

Describe your personal food philosophy.

I believe that food should be fresh and local and prepared with love. I try to eat organically, humanely and sustainably. I think the best thing we can do for ourselves and the world is to know and understand what our food is and where it comes from. (more…)

Posted by on November 1st, 2010

Kanako Noda

As huge fans of Japanese food, we’re excited to announce our newest expert — Kanako Noda of Kanako’s Kitchen!  It’s easy to equate Japanese cuisine with just sushi, but Kanako is here to teach us how to appreciate the full spectrum of Japanese cuisine.

Describe your personal food philosophy.

Food is more than just fuel for your body. Food is culture. Food locates you in space and time; it configures your here and now. Meals set the rhythm of the day; seasonal cooking sets the rhythm of the year. No special occasion is special without its feast foods. Food demands your attention. Food doesn’t have to be very elaborate, but even when it’s simple, food has to be thought about, fussed over, and always, always taken seriously.


Posted by on September 7th, 2010

Dave Jensen

Dave Jensen
Craft Beer

David R. Chan

David R. Chan
Chinese Restaurant

Nevin Barich

Nevin Barich
Fast Food

Justin Chen

Justin Chen
Menuism Co-Founder

John Li

John Li
Menuism Co-Founder

Kim Kohatsu

Kim Kohatsu
Managing Editor