IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, MLB and NHL Network Studio Host Scott Braun

Happy 2017, FanCakes! Excited to kick off the new year with Special Guest, MLB and NHL Network Studio Host, AND SiriusXM talk show host, Scott Braun.

Prior to his big break with the big leagues, fellow East-Coaster Braun has made quite the impact in the world of sports-casting. During his time at the University of Miami, Braun worked for ESPN as a college basketball play-by-play announcer for ESPNU and ESPN3, and was the host of ESPN.com’s Heat Index, where he covered the Miami Heat. In addition to his work at ESPN, Braun anchored sports updates for CBS Sports Network and was a studio host for CBSSports.com, including Fantasy Football Today. Braun’s credits also include the play-by-play voice for the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League, the Cape League Insider on Sirius XM MLB Network Radio, as well as a talk show host of Sports Blitz Now on Huffington Post Radio. Braun then furthered his already busy career after graduation – I mean, look at this LinkedIn resume! Oh, and did I mention that he’s super cute?

When deciding where to go for our pancake review, Scott mentioned his allergies to gluten and dairy. Pssh no problem, we’re in New York City! Piece of cake – er, pancake. Or so I thought. Turns out, if you live in NYC and suffer from intolerance or allergies to both gluten and dairy, you’re basically SOOL! I mean, I hate knockin’ my hometown, but NYC has nothing on LA in terms of catering to food allergies. In fact, if you Google “gluten free, dairy free pancake restaurants in NYC,” while almost all of them might be gluten-free – they’re not necessarily dairy-free, as I vastly discovered after calling about 25 restaurants. Oh and – because I was lucky enough to catch Scott during the tiniest free window, simultaneously while I was home on vacation, the review had to be after 4pm on a Thursday. Not too many places serve pancakes during the week, let alone after 4pm. I think due to his competitive sports nature, Scott thoroughly enjoyed giving me quite the challenge. Challenge accepted, my friend.

Just as we were about to land on Cafe 82 – which by the way, checked all of the boxes: they serve pancakes after “normal hours,” AND with gluten-free and dairy-free ingredients – Scott called with a curveball and through word-of-mouth, suggested the grand-slam of a pancake spot, Sun in Bloom for our In The Mix review.

Now, you’re probably wondering how I didn’t find this spot from the beginning – because my search included “NYC” and “restaurant,” Sun In Bloom actually doesn’t fit this category; in fact, Scott and I went to their little shop in TriBeCa, whereas the actual restaurant resides in Brooklyn. Who knew.

The staff at Sun in Bloom explained that every item in both their restaurant and shop is vegan, and while the shop contains mainly bagged items, they actually cook their pancakes instantly in front of you on the griddle. Check it out!

Now, considering two crucial ingredients for a pancake to be delicious include gluten and dairy, let’s just say I expected this pancake to taste like air. I have reviewed vegan pancakes before, we can all remember (even though I’ve tried to forget) Bloom Cafe; while those pancakes tasted like cardboard, my hopes were a bit higher with this cute little mom-and-pop shop.

Overall, these strawberry, banana and blueberry vegan pancakes were actually quite tasty – in fact, you wouldn’t necessarily know they were vegan; healthier, yes. But not vegan. Not only did Scott agree, he then explained how he cooks his own pancakes at home. Breaking news for you FanCakes only: Scott’s secret homemade recipe is that he uses more egg white than yolk, as the egg whites make the batter fluffier. Scott, maybe next time we’ll save ourselves twenty phone calls and just dine at your place instead, thoughts?! Scott then mentioned his favorite pancakes are fruit-loaded with blueberries, bananas, strawberries, plus some pecans on top. And just like Ma’amCakes, Scott is a “fruit in the batter” (vs. on top) type of guy; that said, both of us agree the pancakes at Sun in Bloom are still great.

A huge thank you to Scott Braun for being a Guest Reviewer with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to check out Scott on MLB Network & NHL Network and his most recent venture, being a food influcencer on Menud. Follow Scott @ScottBraun on Twitter, Insta, and Facebook.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guests, E! Dating Coach Laurel House and IVY Members

This weekend I had an extra special brunch with E!’s “Famously Single” Dating Coach, Laurel House AND members of The Ivy!

Over the past few months I’ve joined fellow young professionals across the country as a member of The Ivy. The Ivy, aka the world’s first Social University, was created to unite thoughtful individuals through inspiration and connections. The Ivy’s mission is “to trigger transformative ideas and collaborations that lead to unprecedented human unity, progress, and fulfillment.” As a member of the Ivy, there are various monthly social opportunities to attend, including discussions with distinguished leaders, art nights, cocktail and dinner parties, film screenings, theater and symphony performances, fitness and wellness activities, getaways, and more. Ivy Chapters are located in major cities across the country including LA, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC, and chapters are opening soon in Tokyo, Tel Aviv, South Africa, Sao Paolo, London, Paris, Dubai, and more!

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Photos from The Ivy Summer Soiree White Party

As part of my Ivy membership interview we discussed Ma’amCakes at length, and soon after being approved as a member, my concierge mentioned that we should throw a Ma’amCakes-specific event! In brainstorming the perfect Guest Reviewer for the brunch, I came across this super interesting interview with Dating Coach (and Ivy member) Laurel House (unfortunately, only Ivy members can read the interview), and decided Laurel would be the perfect candidate.

Laurel, best known for her “tough love” approach, is a Dating Coach on E!’s“Famously Single,” co-host of “The Great Love Debate” podcast on PodcastOne, a Dating Coach for Three Day Rule Matchmaking and CupidsPulse, and has been a featured expert on KTLA Morning News, E! News, Good Morning America, Nightline, Glamour, AskMen, Brides.com, Thrillist.com, and dozens of other print, online, and television outlets. Her FIFTH(!) book “Screwing The Rules: The No-Games Guide to Love” was recently published with Running Press. Laurel is an expert on how-to advice, specifically how to empower clients to move on from breakups, learn how to have successful first dates, and turn those dates into healthy, fulfilling relationships.

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In spite of the frequent city-wide “no reservations” brunch policy, Doughboys graciously allowed me to make a reservation, and the lucky first 15 Ivy members to sign up had a guaranteed seat. While it was originally suggested that this be a girls-only brunch, as the main topic was about the dos and donts of dating, I thought it was crucial that this be a diverse discussion; as a result, almost half the attendees were men.

After glancing at the brunch menu and drooling over all the pancake options, we landed on the Black & Whites, Malted Cornmeal, Rice Krispy, and the Blueberry Flax pancakes, which were all split among the table.

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As brunch was being served, our table sure had a hot conversation over those delicious hotcakes. The Ivy guests were definitely not shy around Laurel, as they kicked off brunch by asking “what would you say are the biggest mistakes/trends of dating these days?” “Defining gender roles,” said Laurel, “it’s important to let the man be the man and the woman be the woman. A man should always pay, unless the woman offered to take the guy out. And also, clearly stating your intentions from the beginning – uf you’re looking for a relationship, or you’re just looking for a hookup, that’s something you need to make clear on the first date.” After all, we’re not mind readers, people!

After one of the Ivy dudes mentioned how guys are in trouble from the get go, as they have to live up to Prince Charming, Laurel explained why you should screw Prince Charming – but not literally; Prince Charming swoops you up from the life that you know, locks you up in a castle and only sets you free on his terms. Um, well THAT’S an interesting way to look at it! Laurel went on to talk about how you should be open to meeting a spouse in any surrounding (i.e. airports, Starbucks, the grocery store and more), how dating apps have seriously affected dating (and, unless you app-date with a strategy, it’s hard to find love), and how imperative it is to keep an open mind.

Overall, we shared funny stories, interesting relationship lessons, and most importantly, DELICIOUS pancakes! Laurel’s favorite were the Blueberry Flaxseed while mine, of course, were the Rice Krispy pancakes – look at those melted marshmallows! Doughboys’ Pumpkin Pancakes are some of my favorite in LA, but keep in mind, they are only served seasonally.

Thank you so much to Laurel House for being a Guest Reviewer with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to check out Laurel’s website for more tips and tricks – and especially if you’re looking for a dating coach!

Special shout out to The Ivy for helping me put this together, and a huge thank you to the guests who came to dine with Ma’amCakes and Laurel. If you’re interested in learning more about the Ivy, email teresa@ivy.com so that she can personally make sure you are guided through the membership process.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Singer/Songwriter Skylar Grey

Last weekend I was incredibly fortunate to spend Sundance 2016 with singer/songwriter Skylar Grey, AND have her join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Holly Brook Hafermann, aka Skylar Grey, is originally from Mazomanie, Wisconsin – yep, you read that right – and first signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group along with a recording contract with Linkin Park’s Machine Shop Recordings imprint, all at the age of 17. In 2010, Grey co-wrote Eminem and Rihanna’s hit single “Love the Way You Lie” with Eminem and British record producer Alex da Kid. Some of Grey’s best known guest vocals include Diddy’s “Coming Home,” Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor,” T.I.’s “New National Anthem,” Nicki Minaj’s “Bed of Lies,” and Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go.” In 2011 and 2012, Grey was nominated for multiple Grammy Awards, including “Love the Way You Lie” for Song of the Year, and “I Need a Doctor” (with Eminem & Dr. Dre) for Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Song Collaboration.

In February 2015, Grey released a song from the FIFTY SHADES OF GREY soundtrack called, “I Know You,” as well as the FURIOUS 7 soundtrack with, “I Will Return.” The following month in March, Grey appeared at her third WrestleMania event, performing a medley of “Rise” and “Money and the Power” alongside Travis Barker and Kid Ink. On September 25, 2015 Grey released the first single from her sophomore album, a collaboration with indie rock artists X Ambassadors titled “Cannonball.”

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After spending the weekend with her in Utah, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek into the every day life of this uber talented woman, and see the real fifty shades of Skylar Grey for myself.

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Not only is she musically gifted, she’s another type of artist as well; I happened to ask who drew this massive bear mural that hangs in the stairway, and sure enough, it was none other than Skylar herself.

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While all of the musical pieces were insanely impressive, the most effective way for any house guest to get acquainted with its owner is to chat over a stove while cooking pancakes. “This is my secret family recipe,” said Skylar, “it’s been in the family for years.” Skylar continued as she said “I like to make my pancakes small – not silver dollar small, slightly bigger. So I make (4) small and thin pancakes, maybe about a 1/4 size per pancake.” While I was carefully noting the importance of size and girth to Skylar, little did I know it was in fact the drizzled topping that’s most important. “I got this syrup as a gift one year, and now it’s the only thing I will put on my pancakes.” Well folks, that’s because it’s aged in Whiskey Barrels. Slopeside Syrup is organic pure Vermont maple syrup, with one line of syrup that’s aged in High West Whiskey. And yes, in those mountains of Park City, it tasted as delicious as it sounds.

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When pouring the syrup over my pancakes, I felt like Buddy the Elf pouring out his travel bottle of syrup. Interestingly enough, while you can taste a hint of the aged whiskey, the syrup is actually incredibly lite and sugary; this gives the pancakes enough of a kick to keep them moist, and simultaneously, you wanting more bites. Skylar’s pancakes were simple yet delicious, and considering they come from a traditional family recipe, “homey” would be the perfect way to describe their taste and smell.

After asking Skylar what her favorite type of pancakes are to eat, naturally I figured she would say pancakes with Eminems; but to my surprise, her favorite pancakes are Buttermilk with “lots of butter on top and extra salt.” I think Skylar’s fans would agree that her creativity is better served over a piano than a plate of pancakes anyway.

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Thank you so much to Skylar Grey for her warm hospitality and Ma’amCakes Guest Review during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival weekend!

Be sure to check out Skylar’s clothing line Woodrat, and check out her website for exciting new stuff coming up this spring.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake review with special guest, SVP of Talent & Brands at ID-PR, Bebe Lerner

When parking my car on S. Corning St. one summer Sunday morning, never did I think the Guest Review I was about to embark on would be so sweetly serendipitous.

Upon choosing a restaurant to bring my co-worker, Senior Vice President of Talent & Brands at ID-PR, Bebe Lerner, I thought it would be ironically adorbs to introduce Bebe to my favorite pancake spot in LA, Bea Bea’s. However, as I’ve reviewed half the pancakes there already (and after discovering Bebe & I are Miracle Mile neighbors), I took my fellow blogger Beauty Frosting‘s suggestion and hit up local diner Nick’s Coffee Shop & Deli.

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As we were walking down the street at the same pace, a man approached me and asked if I was going to Nick’s. “Yes,” I replied, “…are you?” “Why yes I am,” said the man, “in fact, I own it!” To my surprise, owner Alan Love then proceeded to walk me in to Nick’s, introduced me to the staff (including his granddaughter, also named Vanessa!), and seated me at a primo table. Alan informed me that while the space has been there since 1946, he purchased the diner in 1996, and his children & grandchildren all work there; in fact, the slogan on Alan’s business card reads “Love at First Bite!” As a pancake-blogger, I can certainly attest, you can’t go wrong with that phrase.

After then introducing Bebe to Alan, Bebe and I were finally ready to take a gander at the menu, and catch up.

Having worked in the Industry for over 20 years, Bebe Lerner has made quite an ID for herself in the world of entertainment. Prior to joining the publicity realm, Bebe was a feature film and television packaging agent at ICM, where she worked with many of the industry’s top producers, writers, and publishing houses. Working at ID-PR for over 10 years, Bebe’s current client roster includes Cameron Crowe, Chris Columbus, Emily Blunt, Kevin Williamson, Wes Anderson, Michel Gondry, Veronica Roth, Rian Johnson and many, many more. In fact, just sitting at the breakfast table learning from Bebe, hearing Industry tales and discussing creative pitching, I realized that perhaps for the sake of this review MY last name should be hyphenated to Fine-Lerner, and hers should just be: Sensei.

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Bebe with Writer, Director, and Producer Zack Snyder (of Man of Steel, 300, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) and wife Deb Snyder, also a Producer of Man of Steel.

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Bebe doing an Oscar Victory Walk with Gravity Writer and Director Alfonso Cuarón.

As Bebe and I finally put in our pancake order, I suddenly heard a “Hey Vanessa!” from across the room – and it wasn’t for the Chef Vanessa. Sure enough, in walked an old colleague of mine from Columbia Pictures, Haley Anderson, who has apparently also worked with Bebe as well! After the three of us caught up for a few minutes, our pancakes finally arrived; continuing the theme of the morning, we’ll just call this moment “sweetly syrupdipitous.”

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Bebe and I ended up ordering the Corn Bread Pancakes, Honey Wheat Pancakes with added bananas, and the M&M Pancakes, all to share. Figured we’d try as many as we could, all in one shot; although you’d think it was our Last Breakfast! While Bebe liked the Honey Wheat Banana Pancakes, her favorite were the Corn Bread as it’s a rather unusual menu option, and she enjoyed the texture. My personal favorite were the M&M Pancakes, although they were a bit dry, and could use another egg.

When asking Bebe for her final thoughts, Bebe mentioned that the pancakes would have been better with something like homemade strawberry syrup – something with more flavor. She would also like smaller pancakes, with more flavored-options. Think samples. Alan Love, you listening? Turns out, Bebe actually makes her own delicious chocolate chip pancakes (my favorite kind), and she’s experienced eating pancakes from all over the world! “Brazil had really good pancakes. Kenya, amazing.” I guess Ma’amCakes might need to go global… Madame Pancakes, perhaps?

Thank you so much Bebe for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to look for Bebe, and all of her uber talented clients, during the 2014 Awards Season!

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Bebe with Actor, Director, Producer Kenneth Branagh of Frankenstein, Hamlet, and Thor.

IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with special guest, Co-Founder of Tinder, Jonathan Badeen

This weekend I was very fortunate to have Co-Founder of Tinder Jonathan Badeen join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

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Tinder, created in 2012 by Jonathan, Justin Mateen and Sean Rad, is a popular dating app that facilitates communication between mutually interested users. The app encourages users to either swipe right (or press the heart) if you’re interested, or swipe left (or press the “x”) if you’re uninterested; the only way you can message a user is if you are both a mutual match. While this feature is beneficial to prevent communication with any crazies, one of the best components of the app is that it requires a Facebook account in order for you to register. Although Tinder has received some complaints about this, Jonathan informed me that the Facebook requirement was actually created to make its female users feel somewhat safer about using the app (i.e. perhaps you might be more inclined to meet a dude when you see that you have four Facebook friends in common).

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On that note, I should mention that I actually met Jonathan because… we matched!

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Although Tinder was originally popular with students between the ages of 18-23, the demographic is slowly shifting to upper 20s-early 30s. In fact, because of these original demo statistics, the speculation began that the app was meant for just “hooking up.” Yes folks, the idea that Tinder is meant to be a straight version of Grindr is just a RUMOR! Jonathan mentioned that because college students have a (somewhat) easier time meeting their relationship candidates, students typically use Tinder strictly for hooking up, thus the rumor began. Like I suspected, Tinder can be meant for everything: finding new friends, relationships, or even a special someone you can share pancakes with. So there you have it people; calm down in those initial messages, and maybe keep it in your pants a little longer!

By definition, Tinder is “dry, flammable material, such as wood or paper, used for lighting a fire,” hence the origin of its name. As a result, when choosing a spot for this pancake review, I thought we’d keep it thematic, and visit 3rd St. hotspot Toast!

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Upon choosing our pancakes, I decided to go with the Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes (btw, it should be noted that the chocolate chips are sprinkled into the batter, while the bananas are on top of the pancakes):

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These pancakes were delicious, and considering they were filled with chocolate chips, they actually tasted rather lite. I will admit I did use syrup (which, as you can recall, Ma’amCakes’ motto is that a truly delicious pancake doesn’t need syrup) BUT, what can I say, I like chocolate chip pancakes with syrup! It’s my go-to. The cherry on the cake of this pancake were the bananas on top. De-lish!

After asking the waitress which pancakes she recommended, Jonathan decided to go with the Multigrain Pancakes topped with fresh berries, bananas, and candied pecans:

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“These are definitely healthier pancakes,” said Jonathan, “they don’t feel too heavy.” Jonathan needed some syrup on his pancakes as “the fruit is a little tart,” but he otherwise enjoyed the meal. “I really liked the candied pecans- I’ve never had pecans in pancakes before.” I guess when you’re developing a super popular app, you don’t have time to get out much! “These definitely don’t feel gluttonous, so I won’t feel bad after.” Agreed – in fact, that’s the best part about (well-made) Multigrain Pancakes!

Thank you so much Jonathan, for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! When I suggested there be a “back button” feature to the app, Jonathan said Tinder is working on it, and that while he is sworn to secrecy, we should “stay tuned for exciting new features that will allow you to engage with your matches to a new level!” Swipe right.

IN THE MIX: Pancake review with special guest, Singer/Songwriter, Victoria Shaw

During my time in New York, I was incredibly fortunate to have Singer/Songwriter Victoria Shaw join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Victoria, a two time Emmy-award winning Songwriter, has written many hits such as “The River” for Garth Brooks, and “Nobody Wants to Be Lonely” for Ricky Martin & Christina Aguilera. In addition to these artists, Victoria’s songs have been recorded by Billy Ray Cyrus, Faith Hill, Olivia Newton-John, LeAnn Rimes, Reba McEntire, Tricia Yearwood, Michael McDonald and many more, and have collectively sold more than 65 million albums! In fact, last February, I was lucky enough to be Victoria’s date for a 2013 Grammy Event!

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Victoria and I at the 2013 Grammy Event at the Elbell Theater

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Victoria and new artist Lacy Cavalier at the CMA Awards

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Bob Locknar, Victoria, and Garth Brooks

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While Victoria currently resides in Nashville with her husband Bob Locknar and their two fabulously talented daughters, Victoria also happens to be my parents’ neighbor! When in NYC for work (and sometimes for fun!), Victoria lives down the hall from my parents. Our families have spent a lot of time together, but the funniest memory I have with the Locknars (which wasn’t so funny at the time), was the night we had to stay at Victoria’s apartment due to construction in our apartment, while Victoria was simultaneously going into labor with Ruby. Needless to say, we’re not known for our timing!

When Victoria is home in Nashville, my family keeps an eye on her apartment, and as you can see from the photo below, she’s very appreciative (particularly in the “PS!”):

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When Victoria and I finally got to sit down for pancakes, it was quite a treat! As The Flame is one of Victoria’s (as well as her daughters’, and my grandfather’s) favorite diners in New York, we went as a group on the last Friday of 2013.

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To ring in 2014 with a healthy start, Victoria and I decided to split the Multi-Grain pancakes, served with fresh bananas and strawberries.

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I have to say, for typical “Diner Pancakes,” these tasted pretty good, and surprisingly fresh. Victoria agreed, as she said “these are meaty, but not doughy.” Between the multi-grain batter, and the deliciousness of the bananas and strawberries, we definitely felt like we were eating a healthier breakfast – not something you can frequently say for a diner! “I’m not really a pancake snob,” said Victoria (ahem, like some people!), “but these taste like my mom’s kitchen comfort food – that is, if my mom cooked!” Well, maybe after that comment she’ll start cooking! When asking Victoria which pancakes she would order next time, her reply was “Whole Wheat.” Keeping it healthy, I like it!

Thanks so much Victoria, for being a part of Friday brunch with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to check out Victoria’s latest artist whom she’s taking under her wing, singer Lacy Cavalier.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Comedian and Actress, Kim Coles

Right before the holidays, I was incredibly honored to have Comedian and Actress Kim Coles join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Kim, best known for her work on In Living Color, and Living Single, has also appeared on many television shows including Frasier, Six Feet Under, Celebrity Fit Club, and The View.

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Although I typically don’t mention how I meet my Guest Reviewers, Kim and I have a rather cosmic connection, as I actually met her on a night that I lost my job. That evening, I happened to be partaking in part-time promotional work for one of the studios, and my assignment was at The Comedy Union on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA. Kim, who was performing that night, along with the owner, took me under their wings, fed me drinks, and helped me figure out a plan of action. Of all the nights to lose your job, but still have to work an additional gig, I couldn’t have asked to be around more caring, positive, and hilarious people. For that, she should maybe consider changing her name to Kim Cools.

As fate would have it, a few weeks later I happened to spot Kim at JFK Airport in New York City(!), and to make sure it was really her, I Tweeted her just to confirm. Next thing I knew, I was in a three-way Tweet convo between Kim and Sherri Shepherd that unfolded like this:

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And finally, as I’ve locked myself in my apartment to write this review on a Saturday night (that makes me a serious writer, by the way), low and behold I discovered that today is Kim’s birthday. Coincidence? I think not!

Upon choosing a restaurant for our review, Kim informed me she was eating gluten-free, so I took her to… any guesses?? Bea Bea’s! Not only do they have some of the best pancakes in Los Angeles, but they have the largest amount of gluten-free breakfast options I’ve ever seen; I mean, check out this extensive menu!

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Kim mentioned she had many fond memories in that part of Burbank, as Living Single was shot down the street at Warner Brothers.

When repeating restaurant locations for a review, I typically try to order pancakes I’ve yet to experience from the menu, and Bea Bea’s is no exception. So, during this outing, I went with the Pink Ribbon.

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Talk about In Living Color! The freshness of the strawberries, blueberries, and bananas is making my mouth water all over again; throw in the pancakes, and I might start licking my laptop screen! The Pink Ribbon pancakes at Bea Bea’s are everything you’d imagine them to be, and more. But what’s the best part about these pancakes, you ask? The fact that they don’t need a drop syrup. After all, Ma’amCakes’ is motto is: that a truly delicious pancake doesn’t need syrup.

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Kim decided to go with the Pooh’s Sunrise (which, FYI, is on the back of the menu), so that she could incorporate bacon and eggs into her meal, and also asked to switch the maple syrup for agave. Kim definitely enjoyed her food. “These are amazing,” said Kim. “And the best part is that they don’t make my tummy hurt, like typical pancakes can do.” When asking Kim which pancakes she would try next time, Kim replied “Either the Chocolate Tuxedo or the Chocolate Fantasy.” With those choices, I’d be perfectly happy to be her partner, er, pancake in crime for the next outing!

Thank you so much, Kim, for being a part of Saturday brunch with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to check out Kim’s Gratitude Journal, and for those of you in the LA area, you can see Kim in her one-woman show at the Pasadena Fremont theater on February 21st and 22nd, as well as her performances at The Comedy Union.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Talent Manager Rebecca Lambrecht

Last week I was very fortunate to have Rebecca Lambrecht join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Rebecca, whom I actually met through one of her clients, manages famous talent such as Dancing With The Stars’ Mark Ballas and Lindsay Arnold, Alexis Bellino (OC Housewives), Kelly Bensimon (TV Personality/Model/Author), up and coming pop artist, T. Bright, along with DJ London Thomas, and previous Ma’amCakes Guest Reviewer, Jeff Margolis. Before working with these artists and starting her own management & artist development company, The Chicane Group, Rebecca spent three years and two album cycles on Britney Spears’ management team, under the direction of Larry Rudolph. Through all of her entertainment endeavors, The Chicane Group’s success is rapidly climbing, and Rebecca also serves as one of the Talent Executives for the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants (NBC/ dick clark productions/Donald Trump), among other LIVE TV specials and music festivals.

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For our review, Rebecca chose Manhattan Beach hotcakes hotspot, Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, which I have been wanting to review for over a year!

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Based on the abundance of pancake options from this menu, it’s no wonder everyone in South Bay has recommended Uncle Bill’s! After taking a few minutes to decide on my order, I went with the Cinnamon Apple pancakes, a treat I’ve never had before!

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Each bite of this delicious breakfast was just as good as I thought it would be. Between the amazing consistency of the cinnamon, apple, and the pancake batter itself, this meal from Uncle Bill’s tasted like a Sunday morning with your family. Although typically found in pies and muffins, the combination of the cinnamon and apple spice is what made this pancake meal one for the records! Can we say, “hit me baby one more time?!”

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Rebecca chose her meal almost immediately, ordering the Pumpkin Spice pancakes, with an extra topping of strawberries. While I wasn’t so sure about the pumpkin/strawberry combination, after tasting a bite, I now give props to Rebecca for this concoction – and suggest that this option be included in the menu! “These are delicious,” said Rebecca while savoring her meal. “The pumpkin spice tastes like pumpkin bread.” On that note, you don’t often find seasonal pancakes out of season; keeping this option on the menu year-round is definitely something that makes Uncle Bill’s stand out! And the girl in the background clearly agrees…I can almost see her saying, “these are so good!” Rebecca laughed as she realized, “I’m gonna eat my whole plate!” When asking Rebecca which pancakes she plans on ordering next time, she replied, “I would get the Banana Nut!”

Overall, the pancakes at Uncle Bill’s are just as delicious as they are creative. Perhaps if I review with more of The Chicane Group’s clients in the future, I should create a blog category called Pancakes with the Stars!

Thanks so much, Rebecca, for being a part of Monday afternoon brunch with Ma’amCakes! Be sure to look out for Rebecca’s latest endeavor called Proven Talent, with partner and seasoned talent producer, Colleen Grillo.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, LA Kings’ Dustin Penner

This weekend I was incredibly honored to have pro hockey star Dustin Penner, join me as a guest reviewer for Ma’amCakes.

In 2007 during his first full season with the Anaheim Ducks, Dustin and his team brought home the Stanley Cup. After getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings a few years later, Dustin scored a game winning goal in 2012 which landed his team in the Stanley Cup finals; on June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils, awarding Dustin his second Stanley Cup victory.

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Now, those of you who know me well are probably wondering why I have a sudden interest in hockey. I’ll admit, the last Ducks coach I knew of was Gordon Bombay; however, right around Ma’amCakes’ one-month birthday, a little fiasco known as “Pancake-Gate” was brought to my attention, starring none other than…Dustin! Take a look:

LA Kings left winger Dustin Penner serves up pacake breakfast to fans who gathered in Westchester for the "Pancakes for Penner" event. Photo by Brad Graverson 2-13-12

Needless to say, this was a hockey player with whom I had to get my puck on.

Flash forward more than one year later, I took a Sunday morning drive down south to Costa Mesa, California to brunch with Dustin over some good ol’ fashioned pancakes.

At the request of Dustin (and considering I’d never been to Costa Mesa), we visited local spot, Side Street Cafe, located on Newport Boulevard and 18th Street. Based on its door-verbiage, and Yelp and CitySearch love, I knew I was going to like this place even before viewing the menu.

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Reading a menu which looked like the chef’s notes from the corner of a napkin, was actually a breath of fresh air. The casual ambiance of the restaurant made me feel at home, as opposed to dining at a stuffy upscale brunch spot. I’m guessing this is why they call it Side Street? In the end, both Dustin & I settled on the short stack of Banana Pancakes:

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Just like its menu, the Banana Pancakes from Side Street Cafe felt like home. The bananas were super fresh, and the pancakes were baked to perfection. “The Banana Pancakes are excellent,” said Dustin. “I love that they have great banana dispersion. Also, because the bananas are evenly sliced, they don’t overwhelm the rest of the pancake, and you get the same consistency.” Good point, Dustin!

When asking Dustin if there were any additional pancakes he’d like to see on the menu, his number one choice was Peanut Butter Pancakes. Hey Side Street, new menu item perhaps? As we were wrapping up breakfast, Dustin suddenly had one more thing to add. “Oh, I also really like the texture. The pancakes are soft enough to eat, even with my fake tooth.” Hearing this did make me giggle. But, then I remembered that we are in LA – most people here are sporting something that’s fake!

Overall, the pancakes at Side Street Cafe were delicious; some might even say, they’re fit for a King.

Thank you so much, Dustin, for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! For more information about the Kings’ charity, The Kings Care Foundation, click here.

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IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Renowned Television Director and Producer, Jeff Margolis

Last weekend I was extremely fortunate to have Jeff Margolis join me as a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes!

Although Jeff recently (two weeks ago, to be exact) directed AND produced the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, (to which he proudly mentioned, “we finished one second under!”), his resume is richly compiled of popular television shows ranging from “The Sonny and Cher Show,” to HBO’s “Michael Jackson: One Night Only,” “President Clinton’s 50th Birthday Celebration,” and ABC’s “Quincy Jones…The First 50 Years.” While Jeff has worked in television for over 40 years, his award show credits include The Oscars, American Music Awards, The Golden Globes, The Emmy Awards, The Miss America Pageant, and The Academy of Country Music Awards. With that said, as we are right in the heart of Awards Season, you can imagine my astonishment when Jeff agreed to join me as a Guest Reviewer!

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MJJMThrowback to the “Michael Jackson: One Night Only,” special.

As Jeff announced that he wanted to dine at Mel’s Drive-In on Ventura Blvd. and Kester Avenue in Sherman Oaks, CA, I quickly realized this choice was somewhat ironic. Throughout that weekend my dad was back home in NYC celebrating his 60th birthday, and his father (my grandfather, who passed away years ago) was actually named Mel. So, needless to say, this restaurant suggestion was quite sentimental for me. Ok ok, let’s all say a collective “awwww,” it’s alright!

To be honest, Mel’s Drive-In is a spot in which I’ve only visited late-night, so I was looking forward to trying their pancakes for the first time!

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In spite of the above choices, I decided to ask the waitress if there were any other pancake options just to double check – sure enough, not listed on the menu were Whole Wheat Granola Pancakes!

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While I honestly was expecting diner-pancakes that were trying to be “healthy,” I was pleasantly surprised just how good these pancakes were! Not only were they cooked to perfection but they tasted lite, and I didn’t feel disgustingly full after. I then asked the manager how these pancakes tasted so good while still tasting so healthy, and guess what their secret ingredient is? Cinnamon! The Whole Wheat Granola Pancakes might just be the best thing on Mel’s menu – that is, if they ever get added to the menu!

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For Jeff’s breakfast, he chose the classic Buttermilk Pancakes with bacon on the side. “These are really good,” said Jeff, “I’m really enjoying the flavor, and the syrup!” Although Jeff liked his pancakes, I think after seeing just how much I enjoyed mine, we quickly Sonny and Shared so he could do a pancake comparison. “Oh yea, these are great. I do enjoy the Whole Wheat Granola Pancakes more. Both pancakes are good though – mine are very fluffy, and yours have a fluffy inside with a crispy outside. Yeah, both of these are great!” It was only after we both cleared our plates that Jeff informed me he normally doesn’t eat pancakes – he ordered them just for our review. Now that’s a true FanCake right there!

Overall, the pancakes at Mel’s Drive-In were much better than I anticipated. To the Manager, (or Mel): ya might want to think about adding the best meal on your menu to your menu! And speaking of menus, “American Food at Its Best?” You can say that again!

Thank you so much, Jeff, for being a part of Saturday brunch with Ma’amCakes!

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