Stinging nettle, lambsquarters, and mugwort: as ubiquitous weeds around the LA area, it’s a rare sight to see them celebrated as elements of gourmet cuisine. But the duo behind Transitional Gastronomy, Pascal Baudar and Mia Wasilevich, are changing that with their inventive approach to foraged food. Baudar combines his background in French and Belgian country cuisine with more than a decade of experience teaching survivalist classes and studying wild food in Southern California. On the other hand, Wasilevich’s own diverse heritage informs her more modern approach to the culinary arts, which incorporates molecular gastronomy as well as more traditional methods. Each dish they create depends on whatever seasonal botany they come across, in addition to careful research on how each ingredient was used through history.
The pair has been celebrated in local and national media for their educational excursions and culinary innovation, from mentions in Time and the Los Angeles Times to features on NBC and ABC. Their experiments have yielded dishes as diverse as lambsquarters bisque and mousse to flatbreads topped with acorn, nettle pesto, and homemade preserved lemons. Transitional Gastronomy’s team shares their passions through small-group foraging hikes and cooking classes, which also include Baudar’s expertise in Old World styles of preservation and fermentation. Elderberry wine and mugwort beer make frequent appearances at each workshop, proving that you can even celebrate happy hour if you were stranded in the forest or on a spaceship that harvests elderberries and mugwort.
The Sylvester family had bartending in its blood. Whether it was Uncle Mickey holding court with 40 years' worth of regulars or Tony Sr. mixing one of his signature Skip and Go Nakeds, they exemplified the easy grace and no-nonsense craftsmanship found in a true barman's barman. That dedication to well-poured drinks carried over to Tony Jr., who has spent the last 35 years training mixologists nationwide through the curriculum of his ABC Bartending Schools. Taught behind fully functional bars, his courses educate students in topics ranging from drink recipes and equipment setup to flair moves and alcohol awareness. His schools also emphasize employment; after graduation, students can take advantage of a nationwide job placement service to land gigs in Miami nightclubs, Las Vegas casinos, or the bar cars of Chicago's El trains.