I just returned from LA where I went to cover the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo. There, I was lucky enough to snag a seat at the event below. Talk about a sizzling cook-off!

That Mike Midgley (middle photo) is one funny dude, and the chemistry between Oh-So-Sexy Sam Talbot (top left) and bombshell Marisa Churchill (below) was thick enough to cut with the proverbial Chef’s Knife.

Top Chef: Top Trio
Enjoy an exclusive culinary demo featuring chefs from Bravo’s hit series “Top Chef.” Meet New York’s “sexiest chef,” Executive Chef, Sam Talbot, the adorable and always entertaining Mike Midgley and San Francisco’s own “hotty,” Executive Pastry Chef, Marisa Churchill. Learn their culinary secrets, taste their cutting edge dishes and hear what it’s really like to battle for “Top Chef.”

Avalon Hotel
The best part was my overnight the night before at the hip and happenin’ Avalon Hotel, where all the cool kids hang out. The location is perfect… it’s hidden behind some palm trees in a quiet residential corner in Beverly Hills, but just minutes away from the best galleries and restaurants in town — and only a 10-minute walk to Rodeo Drive. (My fav shop here was the spectacular Prada boutique with clear glass dressing rooms that magically turn opaque when in use!)

The hotel is styled out in a retro-fifties manner, with lots of geometrics in lucite, plastics and leather. It’s easy to imagine Marilyn Monroe (a former resident) lounging poolside; as a matter of fact, I wonder if she was the inspiration for the hourglass-shaped pool? However, the supremely comfy beds, Molton Brown toiletries, and high-speed hook-ups were definitely from this era.

There’s always a good people-watching crowd poolside, day or night, hoping to score one of the cabana’s where they for dinner al fresco, although the plush couches inside the restaurant offer choice intimate dinner surroundings. We were amazed that such a “see and be seen” hotel that could just sit on its cool rep.

Would go all out by hiring Executive Chef Gabriel Gabreski, for their restaurant /bar, Blue on Blue. He brings some serious street creds to the kitchen and although many of the guests were happy just to chow down on one of his amazing burgers with a mix and Match Mojito, we decided to put him to the test.

Two hours later, after sharing superb housemade summer corn ravioli with lobster and summer truffles; an interesting salad toss of apricots, blue cheese, with a haunting wildflower honey/hazelnut vinaigrette (too bad apricot season was a little past its prime); an earthy version of Beef Tartare using wagyu beef, onion marmalade, and violet mustard; a lamb dish with goat cheese gnocchi; and a creative cheese platter-perfect with our dessert wine; we concluded that burger crowd had no clue what they have been missing.

Avalon Hotel
9400 West Olympic, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
T 310 277 5221
F 310 277 4928
W: www.avalonbeverlyhills.com