An afternoon with Fabrizia Lanza

IMG 5160 An afternoon with Fabrizia Lanza Talented Sicilian chef Fabrizia Lanza set up shop in the Wine & Spirits Pavilion where she cooked up a delicious contemporary Sicilian meal for an already captivated audience.

Today’s event was a preview of what is to come tomorrow night at Fairplex’s traditional Table to Farm dinner.

Charming, sassy and an excellent multi-tasker (as all chefs are), Fabrizia regaled us with stories of her time spent traveling the world and her experiences in teaching culinary school, all the while stirring, frying and creating a Sicilian master piece. Items on the menu included stewed lamb with a hint of fresh peppermint Spezzatino di Agnello con L’Erbe di Case Vecchie), eggplant paremesana and almond pudding with the Queen’s cookies (biancomangiare with biscotti regina).

food3 300x199 An afternoon with Fabrizia Lanza Within two hours Fabrizia cooked up a delicious lunch that would have even the pickiest kitten purring. Guests paired their meal with delicious wine, some imported directly from Fabrizia’s family estate back in Italy.

We can’t wait to see what a full-on dinner looks like with her talents and palette of expertise.


The art of wining and dining

winephoto 300x300 The art of wining and dining

Photo taken from FriendsEat

Contrary to what commercials would have you believe, beer isn’t the alcohol that brings people together. In my opinion it’s wine.

Fancy dinner? Wine. Date night? Wine. Girls night in? Wine. Pizza and football? Wine. Okay, maybe that last one is just me. The point is… wine is perfect for most occasions. In the words of Martin Luther, “Beer is made by men. Wine by God.” Just sayin’.

In just a few months, the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition is coming back to Fairplex for it’s 75th run. The competition is one of the most prestigious wine-tasting events in the United States.

The best part of the whole thing? All the award-winning wines are showcased at the L.A. County Fair as part of the wine education program which means some of the finest in wine and spirits are available to the public. Industry experts lead classes shedding light on wine and food pairings as wine tasting techniques.

Clearly we are all for the wine and dine deal here. But an article from the Washington Street Journal begs to differ. In fact, the author questions the necessity of studying food pairings so intricately at all. Read the article here.

Whether you agree with the article or not, you can’t deny the pleasures of eating a deliciously cooked meal and sipping a glass of the wine of your choice. Of course, it’s up to you how much research you want to put into your choice of food and beverage icon smile The art of wining and dining

As for me? I am looking forward to the end of the week when I can recline by my fireplace with a glass of Merlot in hand, as rain patters on the windows and Death Cab For Cutie plays softly inside. But again, maybe that’s just me.

What’s your favorite time to drink wine? And what’s your take on wine and food pairings?


Thank you, Huell Howser

heull Thank you, Huell Howser

Earlier this week news broke that Huell Howser will be retiring from his beloved show “Calfornia’s Gold” at the end of 2012.

For 19 years Huell has taken viewers up, down and throughout California, taking the time to showcase people and places that might be overlooked otherwise.

He has even come to Fairplex a couple times, most notably to check out the Fairplex Garden Railroad and the Railroad Museum. We are honored to have been featured on the genuine, fun show that captured the eyes and hearts of many in California and beyond.

Thank you Huell! We were happy to be a part of California’s Gold we will definitely miss you! We wish you a happy retirement.

Tis’ the season (Part Two!)

IMG 5025 Tis the season (Part Two!) A couple weeks ago we showed you some of our Christmas and holiday preparations. As December gets closer and closer Fairplex gets merrier and merrier. We may not have that fresh powdered snow (we are in Southern California, after all) but that doesn’t stop us from decking the expo halls from head to toe. A Charlie Brown Christmas tree affair we are not.

Check out what’s new in Building 8!

IMG 5020 Tis the season (Part Two!) Does this old-fashioned Ford look familiar? You might have seen him and his brothers hanging out in the GENIUS exhibit during the Fair.

IMG 5022 Tis the season (Part Two!) Christmas presents rest on the car’s front seats. Are they for decoration or are there some real goodies inside?

IMG 5009 Tis the season (Part Two!) Those who visited the GENIUS exhibit during Fairtime will remember that it was Benjamin Franklin who helped develop the United States Postal Service. As the heat of summer is long gone, the exhibit has transformed into a bit of a Winter Wonderland.

IMG 5018 Tis the season (Part Two!) Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one Santa Clauses gracing the Fairplex grounds. We plan to count exactly how many are bringing the holiday spirit to all the buildings. (We’ve counted at least 4 so far!)

IMG 5028 Tis the season (Part Two!) Lining the walls of the building are Christmas trees, toys, books, snowmen, reindeer and lots of snow. Lights are being strung up and the last of the Christmas boxes are lined up, ready to be unpacked. Check in next week to see the final product!


Thanksgiving has ended, but the feast has just begun!

email fabrizia Thanksgiving has ended, but the feast has just begun! Our annual Table to Farm Dinner is this weekend and preparations are almost completed. We are excited to welcome guest chef Fabrizia Lanza to Fairplex. Fabrizia is a professional chef at the world-famous Anna Tasca-Lanza cooking school in Sicily, Italy.

The evening includes cocktail hour meet & greet with Ms. Lanza,
a family-style dinner celebrating recipes from Ms. Lanza’s new
cookbook paired with wines from the Regaleali estate, Tasca d’Almerita, and medal winners from the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.


We are eager to “travel” to Sicily and experience her fine dishes for ourselves!

A little holiday magic in Los Angeles

1 icerinksamo A little holiday magic in Los Angeles

Photo by

Well, “winter” is fast approaching in Southern California. We might even see some drizzle or something. While some L.A. lokes are lucky enough to escape to the mountains for a couple weeks of White Christmas, the rest of us are stuck in the smog-covered glory we like to call Los Angeles. And that means traffic. And crowds of people in every mall, restaurant, grocery store and other places we need to be to throw our holiday parties.

Don’t think this is a negative blog post though! In fact, our friends at LAist just released their top three picks on where to find a little winter fun with their top ice skating spots in the city. Parties don’t have to be confined to ballrooms, bars and homes. Why not move your guests to the ice?

Follow the jump to check out some prime locations for a little winter fun. Click.

Also from LAist: Up your holiday hosting game with one of their suggested classes. No one will accuse you of making bad food or decorating poorly. Start being awesome.

Event News: Holiday parties are back on, social media is still popular and Los Angeles caviar has a new flair

IMG 4931 300x199 Event News: Holiday parties are back on, social media is still popular and Los Angeles caviar has a new flairThe holiday season is officially in motion with the celebration of Thanksgiving ending and Christmas music playing on the radio. While some may be looking forward to a couple weeks off work the event industry is busier than ever, from corporate parties to New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Regarding the holidays: According to an article from BizBash, holiday corporate parties are on the rise again, thanks to a more stable economy. However, over-the-top events are going out of style as many businesses focus on community and charity rather than topping the flashiest event.

Social Media: Use of social media in the event industry has nearly doubled within a two-year time frame according to a recent world-wide survey by the Site International Foundation. BizBash just wrote about Moment Studio, a “newsroom” used to create Facebook posts that go viral based on real-time online happenings. Pepsi is one of the first companies to jump on this train.

Keeping it local: Earlier this year Sprinkles Cupcake made headlines with their bright pink ATM machine at their Beverly Hills location. Following in the “order-to-go” trend is Beverly Hills Caviar, offering their dishes in vending machines.  A couple weeks ago we touched on the extravagant premiere parties and preparations made for the Breaking Dawn screenings… here’s what happened.

Thanksgiving Party Ideas

244390717249190813 HTTWprB3 c Thanksgiving Party Ideas Before you start busting out the Christmas music and brace yourselves for Black Friday insanity there comes a day of thankfulness, family and friends, and more than anything else, food.

Whether you are planning a formal dinner for every family member you have or hosting a small get-together with friends, there are tons of fun and creative ways to be the perfect host (or hostess) and make next Thursday one for the books.

Greet your guests with a Thanksgiving tree and have them write a couple things they are thankful for on paper leaves to hang Christmas-tree style. After everyone is in a food coma you can gather the leaves and read a few. Sound cheesy? Maybe, but it beats the standard “everyone go around and say one thing [thattakes10minutestosay] they are thankful for.”

thanksgivingtree 200x300 Thanksgiving Party Ideas

The Simply Vintage Tree blog shows a creative way to make your tree.

Thanksgiving Dinner can be as simple or elaborate as the host wants. Fairplex executive chef David Teig gave us one of his favorite holiday recipes for those of you who want to try it out:

Grandma Carol’s Cornbread Pecan Stuffing

  • 2 lb. cornbread
  • 12 oz. 1”diced fennel
  • 12 oz. 1” diced onion
  • 3 oz. chopped garlic
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups toasted pecans
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup ground fennel seed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dice cornbread into 1.5” cubes.  Sweat fennel, onion and Garlic in olive oil until translucent.  Mix cornbread with fennel, onion, and garlic.  Mix in remaining ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stuff in turkey and Roast or put in medium roasting pan and bake covered at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.

For the munchies: For a fun snack try creating turkeys using Oreos, candy corn, mini-Reese’s peanut butter cups and other candy. From personal experience I can vouch that these babies meet your sugar fix and then some. has a great recipe for this:

gobble 300x213 Thanksgiving Party Ideas


Let’s talk decorating. Every set-up is different but Thanksgiving usually involves sitting around a table covered in food at some point.

  • decor2 225x300 Thanksgiving Party Ideas

  • To create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, try lighting different types of candles. Opt for glass or patterned jars filled with almonds, pinecones, sand and other textures.
  • Choose your centerpiece, whether it’s the beautifully dressed turkey or an elaborate piece of decor.
  • Miniature pumpkins, pine cones and scattered autumn leaves creates an outdoorsy fall look.
  • Clinking glasses of wine, plates of food being devoured, the sound of Turkey Day football in the background, chatter and banter across the table… you know your guests and the atmosphere that will suit them best. The decorations are the backdrop of that, not the centerpiece.

At the end of the day, whether you’re running an event center or hosting at home it is all about your guests. Delicious food, good conversation, a glass of wine, tasty desserts and maybe a little bit of chaos and you have yourself a Thanksgiving party. Just remember to be a gracious host and leave room to relax a bit yourself.

And whatever you do, make sure you’re not like Marney.

Happy Thanksgiving from Fairplex!


Tis’ the season!

IMG 4913 300x200 Tis the season!It seems that as soon as the skeletons get put back in the closet, the holiday season explodes in the malls, Disneyland, Walmart and yes… here at Fairplex as well.

Preparations are well under way to welcome in Santa, “snow” and holiday parties both at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center as well as on grounds. What was once a massive playground of rides, games and food is being transformed into a winter wonderland. Every year the creative team outdoes themselves in decorating our spacious exhibit halls and the hotel into festive, wintery venues of holiday cheer. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what we have going:

IMG 4921 300x198 Tis the season!

Bins of holiday decor await their fate

IMG 4944 200x300 Tis the season!

Bins of holiday decor await their fate

IMG 4920 300x200 Tis the season!

Which tree will these ornaments go on?

IMG 4899 200x300 Tis the season!

Frosty the Snowman -- minus the face, hat, scarf and arms... and buttons

IMG 49557 300x200 Tis the season!I can’t wait to take a full tour of the grounds and show you exactly what is going on behind all the closed doors. Just walking through the Tapestry building, with the creative team bustling with their preparations, a Michael Buble Christmas tune in the air and dozens upon dozen of decorations filling every nook and cranny, it’s hard not to get in the holiday spirit.

Looking forward to what Fairplex will look like in December!

Event News: Cvent makes life easier, Hurricane Sandy hotel aftermath and Election Events

As President Obama begins his second term at the White House, efforts to repair damages from Hurricane Sandy continue and life in the event industry goes on.

Technology: Event planners will benefit most from the improvements made by Cvent, the largest cloud-based event management platform. On Monday the company announced the launch of more than 100 enhancements to their technology including integration into mobile devices. Upgrades include the ability to manage multiple schedules and integrate real-time data, databases and other systems with Cvent.

Hurricane Sandy Update: According to an article from Hospitality Net, many hoteliers on the East Coast will not recover from lost revenue. Little if any of the costs of damages can be reclaimed through insurance claims. Those in the New York hotel business are still weighing out the losses vs gains with cancelled flights leading to more hotel bookings while at the same time dealing with many cancelled business events, including holiday festivities.

Election Events: McCormick Place had a field day earlier this month with President Obama’s campaign choosing to set up shop at the convention center. Between hosting the President, preparing for a crowd of 15,000 for one night and juggling several executive sales meetings, a large annual conference and other events the event facility was booked and came out with flying colors. Likewise, the Boston Convention Center opened their doors to former governor Mitt Romney, thousands of media and even more supporters. They executed a flawless technological circus act as they became the focus of millions.