IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, Celebrity Makeup Artist & Groomer, Elie Maalouf

Last weekend I was stoked to grab some Saturday pancakes with celebrity Makeup Artist & Groomer, Elie Maalouf.

Elie (pronounced Eli), who moved from Detroit, to NYC, and then finally made his way over to LA, has worked with quite the diverse roster, including: Mariah Carey, Pamela Anderson, Charlie Hunnam, Jason Mraz, Ashley Benson, Courtney Love, Madelaine Petsch, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Sasha Lane, Camila Mendes, Dylan Penn, Angelique Cabral, Simon Helberg and many more. Not only is Elie uber popular in the celeb world, his editorials include Vogue, Interview, InStyle, Elle, Flaunt, Glamour, Tatler, Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Nylon & Paper, and he has completed glam for advertising shoots such as Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Buckle, Top Shop, Kipling, Dita, Rebecca Taylor, Levis and more. Whew that’s a lot!

As an Agent for hair, makeup, and styling at Tracey Mattingly, you can now understand why I just HAD to sign to sign Elie. And fun fact, in case the last name sounded familiar – Elie is brothers with celebrity Makeup Artist, Joey Maalouf!

As Elie is Vegan, we decided to check out Cafe Gratitude on Larchmont; considering my last Vegan experience, I didn’t have high hopes. But, as with life, the key to happiness is low expectations!

Because there was only one pancake option (I mean, how many vegan pancake options – that are edible – could there really be?), we went with the “Open Hearted,” with fresh fruit & cashew coconut whipped butter.

“These pancakes are major,” said Elie. “I’ve never had Vegan pancakes before, but I would definitely order these again.” I would order them again as well, but not exactly for the same reason. As a pancake connoisseur, I will never LOVE Vegan pancakes – pancakes are meant to have milk & eggs! That said, if I am going to eat Vegan pancakes, I would get them at Cafe Gratitude. There is something to say about eating pancakes where you don’t feel like you’re in a food coma after! Not to mention, the fresh fruit and cashew coconut whipped butter was quite literally, the icing on the cake.

A huge thank you to Elie for introducing me to these fabulous Vegan pancakes, and being a Guest Reviewer for Ma’amCakes! When exiting the restaurant, we noticed the famous Cafe Gratitude sign “What Are you Grateful For?” Well Elie, you better say your agent!

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 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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“Sunday Worthy” Gluten-Free Pancake Recipe

Check out Gluten Free Goddess’ DIY Sunday morning pancake recipe!

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For more of her Gluten-Free recipes, click here.