Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

By Serene Yatch

on February 28th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton By Serene Yatch

Yesterday was Oscar day. Even though, the biggest night in Hollywood had not yet started, I decided to celebrate the winners while cruising on the Pacific Ocean.


There was only one way to do it for me: sabraging a bottle of Champagne with a backdrop that was worthy of the stars walking the red carpet. Yury Scheffler, the Russian vodka tycoon (Stolichnaya and Moskovskaya, among others), made it easy for me: his 134-meters (440-foot) yacht, Serene, was anchored in Santa Monica Bay.


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With Frédéric Lefèbvre

on February 26th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton With Frédéric Lefèbvre
sophie gayot frederic lefebvre 450x392 With Frédéric Lefèbvre
Frédéric Lefèbvre with Sophie Gayot

To celebrate the rich diversity of the French gastronomic tradition, Frédéric Lefebvre, French Secretary of State for Trade, SMEs, Services, Tourism, the Professions and Consumption, created La Fête de la Gastronomie last year. I had met Mr. Lefebvre last year at Les Etoiles de Mougins, during the 6th Festival International de la Gastronomie.


To promote the 2012 edition of La Fête de la Gastronomie (Sept. 22nd), that he wants to expand to the U.S., Mr. Lefebvre came to Los Angeles. Today, we had brunch at Alain Giraud’s Maison Giraud around pastry/baker chef Noubar Yessayan’s crispy croissants, delicious pains aux raisins and pains au chocolat, and Michel Blanchet’s smoked salmon.


You can click on each photo to enlarge. All photos by Sophie Gayot.

  • pinitbutton With Chefs Jeff Mahin & Francis Brennan
sophie gayot jeff mahin 450x355 With Chefs Jeff Mahin & Francis Brennan

Francis Brennan (left), Jeff Mahin with Sophie Gayot

While in Chicago last week, I run into Jeff Mahin. I had met the chef at Stella Rossa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica, CA, for which he has created a pizza dough so good that the restaurant is now on’s list of the Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in the US.


So when Mahin told me he was opening a donut store, Do-Rite Donuts & Coffee, I had to go try them for breakfast, which I did after enjoying an extraordinary dinner at Alinea the night before. Quite a change between the two places!

minilogo With Chefs Jeff Mahin & Francis Brennan

  • pinitbutton At Shizen restaurant, at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf
sophie gayot william siew 450x342 At Shizen restaurant, at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf

Chefs William Siew (left) & Maswin Sukotjo with Sophie Gayot

Many Vegas visitors never leave The Strip, and don’t realize what they’re missing. There are peaceful places to stay just a short distance away. One of these relaxing spots I got to experience recently was the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, Spa & Golf, located in Summerlin. The spa, the gardens and the golf courses, surrounding the property, are certainly a good way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip.
You don’t have to fight the traffic jams to eat well, either. I dined at Shizen, one of the four on-site restaurants. Chef William Siew oversees the menu while teppanyaki chefs handle the spatulas and fire at the grills. Sitting at one of those tables is for sure some Sin City excitement. And unlike sitting at a craps table, you can’t lose!
Visit the photo gallery of Shizen restaurant.


(Sophie’s hair & makeup by Hair by Violette. Photo by Joseph Switzer.)

With Julian Serrano

on February 15th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton With Julian Serrano
sophie gayot julian serrano 450x373 With Julian Serrano

Julian Serrano with Sophie Gayot

Some of the restaurants I have dined at in Los Angeles have appeared in movies. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I found myself at a restaurant where superstar Julia Roberts tells George Clooney that he is a thief and a liar in a movie scene. If you’re a fan of “Ocean’s Eleven,” you’ll want to visit Picasso restaurant by the fountains at the Bellagio. I asked chef Julian Serrano for some details, as he has been cooking there since it opened in 1999. The restaurant, filled with actual Picasso paintings, has been named one of’s Top 40 Restaurants in the US since 2004.


Here’s the scoop: if you want to sit at the actual table where the action went down, you still can. The table known as table 34 is still there; it has no official name, but if you ask for the “Ocean’s Eleven Table,” the staff will know what you mean. Since there are so many requests for the table, it is wise to reserve it well in advance. Visit the photo gallery of the restaurant if you can not get there…

(Sophie’s hair & makeup by Hair by Violette. Photo by Joseph Switzer.)

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