After striking up a conversation at a stroller fitness class, Shelby Mirrotto and Tracy Cecola realized that with their combined education and fitness backgrounds, they, as parents themselves, could create a unique fitness experience for other parents. What came of the conversation is Move it Momma Fitness, a safe haven where moms (and dads, too) stay active and healthy without having to stress over finding childcare in order for them to workout. While parents are sculpting and toning muscles in group fitness classes such as Zumba or boot camp, the educated staff provides age-appropriate, educational, and interactive childcare services. Homework clubs, tutoring, arts, crafts & emerging reading/writing experiences are offered while parents and/or grandparents are participating in results-driven group exercise classes.
Award-winning chefs can be found at Prep Kitchen Essentials, sharing knowledge to small groups of students. The cooking-supply retailer and culinary school enlists world-class kitchen artists to teach its introductory cooking courses. This level of access to acclaimed chefs is a rarity in the cooking-school world, and the newcomers who populate these beginner-level classes are immediately inspired as they learn the basics of preparation and the art of elegant presentation. Prep Kitchen's curriculum attracts a diversity of students, including professional chefs-in-training. In addition to adult courses, instructors kindle the talents of budding chefs with children's cooking classes and a summer camp where campers engage in string cheese tug-of-war and tell ghost stories about over-cooked risotto.
The confectioners at Christopher Michael Chocolates challenge the palate's expectations with inventive flavor combinations, often balancing a sweet base with savory accents. The complex treats begin their lives as simple, preservative-free ingredients, including fair-trade Venezuelan cacao beans, organic dairy from local farms, and homegrown herbs and citrus fruits.
Christopher Michael's renowned creations, which stole hearts from their position in the 51st Grammy Awards's gift baskets in 2009, include the Sizzling Bacon bar, which marries smoky bacon with sweet milk chocolate, and the Aztec Spiced bar, sizzling with chilies and cinnamon. Handcrafted and painted truffles burst on tongues with traditional and nontraditional flavor infusions, including chipotle and honey, rosemary and grapefruit, and caramelized banana.
In addition to slinging premade candies, the team shares its expertise by hosting regular classes, including truffle-making sessions, where students learn to temper chocolate and lick ganache out of the bowl while the instructor isn't looking, as well as courses in caramel and ice-cream creation.
The Deluca family has always had seawater in its veins. In 1898, Naples native John Deluca settled in the port city of San Pedro and began to support his family as a fisherman. His oldest son, Jack, soon acquired a similar passion for the ocean—as a young boy he pulled lines at the docks and learned to fillet fish. By the age of 21, Jack co-owned State Fish Company with his friend and future brother-in-law, Gerald Cigliano. Jack went on to work for a decade at L.A. Fish & Oyster. He decided to branch out on his own in 1939 and set up a shop at the end of the Santa Monica Pier with his younger brother, Frank. Santa Monica Seafood Company was born.
Jack and Frank would grow the company for more than four decades, selling fish to famished tourists before selling fish to some of the top area restaurants, moving to a larger location to match their success. Their cousins and nephews would eventually purchase the company and expand it to new facilities in Orange County, Costa Mesa, and Las Vegas, with a corporate headquarters in Rancho Dominguez. The headquarters boasts a marine tank system that holds 12,000 pounds of live crustaceans, or one bodybuilding mermaid and all her weights.
Today, the four-generation family tradition continues at retail stores with cafés and oyster bars in Santa Monica and Costa Mesa. As part of their commitment to quality and respect for the sea, they work closely with organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium and FishWise to help develop their research and educational programs.