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Inside Look: The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills’ Chef Sasha

Last week kicked off the second season of Food Network’s racy reality show The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  At Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere private chef placement agency, the only question is who is crazier: the chefs or the clientele? This group of talented chefs is on call 24-7 to cater to the exceedingly over-the-top, wacky, ridiculous and sometimes truly bizarre culinary clientele living the high-life in LA’s poshest neighborhood.

Chef Sasha from Private Chefs of Beverly HillsLast spring Chef Sasha Perl-Raver dropped by WTVC to answer 7 Questions (HERE) and thus gave us our first taste of the gang at Big City Chefs.  We learned that Chef Sasha at age 16 no less started her own catering business.  Since then she has graduated from USC with a minor in cinema, guest starred on the Lifetime drama Strong Medicine, was crowned Miss San Francisco, baked Lindsay Lohan’s 18th birthday cupcakes, been a senior writer for a Hollywood gossip web site and been named “funniest in LA” by a newspaper in New York.

So with season two under way there’s no telling what trouble our heroes will get themselves into.  To help give us an idea of life in the Big City (Chefs) the ginger goddess returns to provide us with an inside look at The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.

1. What emotions did you experience the first time you saw the camera crew at one of your catering assignments.

Abject fear. Then horror. Then fear. Then panic. Then excitement. And then fear again.

Cooking is such a delicate art. Having someone there to document the vicissitudes can be really tricky. One of the most important parts of cooking is failure, because that’s when you learn or are forced to be the most creative. But when you’re on TV, who wants to look bad? And then there’s just the fact that you’re being filmed, period. I still can’t watch the show to be totally honest. Whenever I see myself on TV, all I can think is, “Is that really me? Do I really look like that and sound like that? Yeesh!”

2. Can you contrast the demands of a regular catering client and the catering that Big City Chefs’ clients request?

They’re one in the same. The only thing I’ve noticed is that occasionally people will tone down their bad behavior on the show because they know they’re on TV and they don’t want to make a bad impression on the audience. So you’re catching people on a good day. How scary is that? Hahah!

3. Have you been “glamping” lately?

Oh hell no! I hate camping. Always have, always will. The happiest moment of my year was driving away from that camp ground and toward civilization. I’m not a “Roughing It” kind of girl.

4. Last season was quite successful, how is life different today than it was 12 months ago?

Nothing’s changed to be totally honest. I’m still cooking, still writing, still working hard. I do, however, get nervous when I head into a grocery store to buy something crappy like Marshmallow Fluff or Lucky Charms. I’m always afraid that’s the moment someone will recognize me. The shame. The shame of my Marshmallow Fluff habit.

5. Because of your duties with Big City Chefs you get to weave in and out of the Tinsel Town glitterati – who have you met that you never thought you would and who would you still like to meet?

Between my writing work and cooking work, I’ve been very lucky when it comes to that kind of stuff. I’ve interviewed everyone from Meryl Streep to John Malkovich, I’m friends with a few folks in the biz, and every now and again I’ll have a totally random but really rad celebrity experience thanks to an assignment, like last month I got to go to New York for The Social Network premiere and this morning I got to work out with Dan Clark who was Nitro on American Gladiators. That was awesome! I’ve also cooked and done parties for tons of big names. I remember once seeing Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Jeremy Piven and Jon Voight all chowing down on my food in one room. It was like Night of a Thousand Stars with J Names. I guess I’d love to cook a very private dinner party, if you get my drift, for Keanu Reeves or Alexander Skarsgard from True Blood. But probably the only celebrity I’d do just about anything to meet is J.J. Abrams. That guy rocks my world. Felicity and Lost?!?! I mean, are there even words for that level of genius?

6. So what’s a typical Private Chef’s shoot like?

When you were a kid, did you walk up to Santa Claus at the mall and pull his beard off? If I answer that question, it would be like seeing Dolly Parton before she gets her face on in the morning. Sometimes a bit of mystery is a good thing.

7. I know Manoushka has designs on her own stand-and-stir show.  Would you be interested in doing an old fashioned cooking show?

Not only do I want my own show, I want cookbooks, a magazine, pots and pans, knives with my name on them, a line of packed foods, my own Girl Scout cookie; I want to be the next Martha or Mario. Obviously. We all do. I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school to say that it’s safe to assume all the chefs on PCOBH would love to have their own cooking show. Duh. Who doesn’t? Look at the people who compete on Next Food Network Star or Next Iron Chef. Having your own cooking show and becoming the next Rachel Ray is the new American dream it seems.

8. If someone wanted to cyber-stalk you where should they go?

They should check out my blog, www.myhollywoodbites.blogspot.com, my website, www.sashaperlraver.com, read my writing on NBC.com or SheKnows.com, or go to old-faithfuls like Facebook and Twitter. But I highly doubt anyone wants to stalk me. I can’t even get a boy to ask me out on a date. Sad face…and cheap ploy for more date invites. Ha!

Be sure to check it out as fellow PCO90210 chef Manouschka Guerrier answers 7 Questions HERE.

7 Questions with Manouschka Guerrier

7 Questions is a series of interviews with the culinary movers and shakers you want or ought to know better.

This week kicks off the second season of Food Network’s racy reality show The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  At Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere private chef placement agency, the only question is who is crazier: the chefs or the clientele? This group of talented chefs is on call 24-7 to cater to the exceedingly over-the-top, wacky, ridiculous and sometimes truly bizarre culinary clientele living the high-life in LA’s poshest neighborhood.

Manouschka Guerrier is the curvy, sultry femme fatale of the group. Her beauty blurs the line between classic and exotic.  Perhaps too sexy to be a real chef?  Not true.  Though Manouschka is a former model, she is all about the food, oh and the single life.  Chef Guerrier is chronicling her voyage from private to celebrity chef on her blog Single Serving.  There you’ll also find some of Manouschka’s cooking videos to help you put that diva-spin on your next party.

Recently Manouschka was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.  Ain’t she a doll?

1.How old were you when you first started to cook?

Manouschka Guerrier of Private Chefs of Beverly HillsI started experimenting with flavors when I was 10, my poor brother was my first guinea pig & he still brings up my first attempt at making Chinese food when I was that age ev-ER-y chance he gets… terrible!

2. When did you decide that you could make food your career?

Food has always been my life but my career focus had always been in performing. Here’s the thing, as an Actor you don’t just get to come straight off a plane & land on a set. You work as a waiter, a bartender or for a catering service… something service industry related until you catch your big break.

Luckily, I worked as a bartender in this Hollywood hotspot & we catered A LOT of private events. I would sneak out from behind the bar & hang in the kitchen & the Chefs Brian Vaccarella & Keven Alan Lee would have me taste things & ask for my input & really nurtured me in understanding food preparation & presentation. They loved that I was like this sponge & we all benefited from me cruising by the kitchen & it was like an invaluable crash course in cooking school, those two changed my life. Using all this new food knowledge I started to cater intimate events for my wealthy & famous friends with my first company called “To Serve With Love” just to make extra money. I have a shoe & French cookware fetish… Mama needed some new babies, but I took it all really seriously about 2 1/2 years ago after I went through a craptastic breakup, lost my job of 9 years & a film I was supposed to star in fell through the week I was supposed to start shooting. At that time Oprah was touting this new book called “A New Earth”, I have ADHD so reading anything other than what’s on the Internet or bills is super hard for me. I’m the girl that waits for the movie to come out… HA!

Anywho, my friends were off to Honduras to chase whale sharks, I had a $1,000 weave & I’m Black… we’re not really into swimming with sharks, so I decided to join them to read the book sans distraction & regroup. 10 days later, I joined a girlfriend who was dancing for Cher. Cooked my butt off every day on this sick Wolf stove we had in our condo, everyone told me I should have my own show….

I started watching Food Network religiously for the first time while I was there. I really didn’t understand the allure of watching food on TV that you can’t eat?!?!? At that time, they were airing a Chefography marathon and THAT WAS IT! I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Cook on TV. Long story, short, days into my 3 week Vegas adventure I got to meet Oprah Winfrey when she came to town to interview Cher & Tina & I got to thank her personally for getting me to read that book because I found my life’s calling. She wished me well on my journey & said “how cool is, it?” *swoon*. I came back home with this new purpose & immediately, playing on the newly single theme & just attacking this business venture on my own. I started a new catering company, shot a cooking show pilot with my friends Mike Kallio & Shannon Pope & launched a blog all under the name of “Single Serving”. I created a brand & the rest is history… well herstory!



3. Which chefs have influenced you the most?

When it comes to kitchen prowess, my Grandmother Olga & my Mother Jacqueline are who have influenced me the most & it wasn’t until my Grandmother passed 3 years ago did I find out she wasn’t just the best cook in the world, she was actually an accredited Chef who gave it all up to raise her six children & brought them all to this country by herself from Haiti. She put every single one of them into College & Universities like Cornell & Syracuse. She is my hero & I miss her madly. When it comes to kitchen savvy: Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain & Tyler Florence keep me motivated & hungry for success in food & food TV.

They are all well versed in food knowledge & are dang sexy & super passionate while still being tangible. That is such an incredible gift to posses. What I also adore about them is their authenticity. Media is just bombarded with fakes & frauds but with them what you see is what you get & they make their audience feel lucky that they are sharing their lives with them & that’s why their audience welcomes them into their home, buys their books, cooks their food & eat at the places they recommend…. they’re amazing!

4. If you hadn’t followed this career path, what other career could you see yourself in?

Definitely something in the Arts. I’ve worked as a model, dancer, actor, music video girl, writer (I’ve sold 3 scripts), host… performing, like food, has always been a great love affair. The fact I get to combine both is amazing. I’m a very lucky girl.

5. What’s the highlight of your career so far?

There have been so many! Working for Big City Chefs & having our adventures documented for Food Network is pretty epic. The opportunities that have been awarded to me from this experience have been endless. We work like crazy & Tom Stieber is a fantastic boss. He’s super funny, supportive & honestly, I think of him as a dear friend. He really invested in me a lot this year. Another dear friend, Justin Howard, hooked me up with some super cool gigs like cooking for Selena Gomez’s 18th birthday, I absolutely fell in love with her Grandparents. They just hung with me by the grill all day to make sure I was ok… OH & her Mom makes this cheesy potato casserole dish that’s so ding dang good you might hurt your own mother if you ate it… HA!

He also got me a gig for Garnier hosted by Audrina Patridge & yes Miss Sexy Thang ate my burgers… awesome sauce! Thanks to Chef Stuart who’s also a Spokeschef (HA I love making up words) for Tupperware hooked me up with a gig to work alongside a woman I admire tremendously, superstar caterer & cookbook author Lulu Powers for a Bloomingdale’s event that was attended by Barbara Streisand, Donna Karan & James Brolin.

Manouschka Guerrier6. Of all the crazy things you’ve seen at Big City Chefs what’s the craziest?

Working for a White Witch was definitely the most bizarre experience I have EVER had both in & out of the workplace…. I tried to joke about it & told her I was a Black Witch, but I’m telling you I almost peed my pants the entire time!

7. What’s next for Chef Manouschka Guerrier?

The sky’s the limit, I tell ya. Tuesday, October 12th at 9 pm on the Food Network is the premiere of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills second season. I’m telling you this season is spectacular! The clients are definitely off the chain as opposed to last season & our culinary skills are pushed to the limits. I can’t thank the clients this season enough for what they inspired us to do & all those who are watching will not only be laughing their butts off but will be inspired as well. It really is a stellar season & I am so PROUD of everyone involved & kudos to Food Network for showcasing this side of our business. I am also launching a store on my blog with Opensky where you can buy all of my favourite things I always talk about directly from my blog JUST in time for this Holiday season. I am so thrilled with this partnership with Opensky & I’m honored that they would have me. I will be having a soft opening soon, but you can catch a sneak peek now on www.shopopensky.com.

I am also starting a Single’s cooking class which takes online dating, offline & brings you face to face as I teach you how to cook while you rotate on several dates called “Plate Dates”, It’s fun & sexy & takes the pressure off of online dating or even worse speed dating, where you have mere seconds to impress someone & you learn how to make a meal & possibly connect with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have thought you would have. I am also working on a project with my bestie & Single Serving cohort Shannon Pope, I swear without that guy I am NOTHING.

We are shooting a series for Single Serving that plays on the 7 Deadly Sins called 7 Single Servings. It chronicles 7 different aspects of one single character set in 7 sinful scenes with food. The first 3 letters in single is SIN & I’m not going to be made to feel like being single is a curse or a sin… it’s a lifestyle choice that I make no qualms about flaunting & I LOVE it! With Single Serving I want to empower other single women who are not single because someone left them, but because they chose to be allowing them opportunities to be incredible, powerful individuals that achieved all of their goals & wishes before they partnered up with the one they’re meant to share the rest of their life with. I’ll be releasing the series on my youtube channel & Facebook in less than 2 weeks. The images are amazing & shot by 3 super talented artists Diana Zollicoffer, Leyna Juliet Weber & Zak Zwerin… this thing is going to POP baby, get ready!

Can’t get enough of the folks at Big City Chefs?  Check out my exclusive interviews with Chef Brook Peterson (HERE) and Chef Sasha Perl-Raver (HERE).  The New Season of The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills Premieres Tuesday, October 12 at 9pm/8c.

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Private Chefs of Beverly Hills – the Drinking Game

So those of you caught up in the over the top shenanigans of Private Chefs of Beverly Hills are only getting half of the thrill.  Apparently Chef Manoushka has spiced things up by turning the show into a drinking game.

Each week the sassy saucier provides a list of shot game rules based on elements of the upcoming episode.  According to Manoushcka take a shot EVERY TIME:

  • Client walks into the kitchen, Stuart says “really”
  • I pause myself in order not to “go all Black girl”
  • She calls Stuart’s food “stew”
  • You see any of Stuart’s Tupperware stuff
  • See any of my pink crap
  • You feel like yelling at the TV
  • If our client turns you …on
  • Whenever I say “Mollywop”

Be sure to check Manouschka’s Facebook Page each week for the new rules.  “CHEERS!”

shot game rules

Review: Private Chefs of Beverly Hills

So after months of hype and buzz Food Network finally rolled out it’s newest reality show (“non-scripted” in LA-ese) Private Chefs of Beverly Hills.  I’ve chatted with some of the cast members (even did a few interviews) and I think after watching the first episode I’m ready to render some thoughts.

The chefs were paired off on three different catering events: Jesse and Manouschka  did a dinner for 40-odd dog lovers AND THEIR DOGS.  Just before the party was to start the hostess hands them a menu that was different than the one she had contracted.  After a brief meltdown, Manouschka and Jesse rally to provide all of the guests and their pet humans a fantastic dining experience.

Chef Stuart (no relation) and Chef Brooke catered a Botox party thrown by another hostess who changes the menu just before party time.  For no apparent reason she 86’s the first three courses, a soup shooter sampler and she wants each remaining dish given a “spa name.”  Brooke and Stuart handle the changes with style.  At one point the hostess (who is quite thick) suggests that Chef Brooke could use some Botox.  Then the dim-witted hostess informs them that one of the party guests got Botox in her lips and can’t chew and so she needs something that can be sipped or slurped.  To which Brooke asks, like soup?

Brian and Sasha went glamping.  Apparently glamping is roughing it without giving up the creature comforts – glamorous camping.  One of the glampers, Mark, a successful chef and restaurateur was in their hip pocket the entire time.  He just couldn’t leave them alone with questions and pointers and elevendymillion mentions that he’s a chef, too.  For a kitchen Sasha and Brian have a water spicket and a camp fire; that is if they can get the fire lit, which of course they do.

Again a last minute menu alteration.  Actually an augmentation, the glampers have caught two trout and want them added to the menu.  No problem.  In the end all of the glampers were thrilled with the meal.  Especially Mark, who as it turns out is just a very passionate foodie.

NOTE:  just because you see people making last minute menu changes and the chefs making it happen on the show does not mean it is acceptable.  In fact, many caterers will (and should) charge an extreme amount of money for last minute changes like these.  You must remember that for these clients, money is no object.

As for the circumstances, these are the real issues that confront all of us who have made preparing food our lives.  I have had more than my share of last minute changes and ridiculous requests.  I too have had a meltdown because a customer has asked for something goofy that is outside the agreed upon service.

The catch is if you refuse to do it your reputation takes a hit.  They won’t tell their friends about the 5000 things you were contracted to do that were done perfectly they’ll only mention the one thing you refused to do.  So here’s how the balance is struck – yes we can do that and here’s how much extra it will cost you.  Being a narcissist ain’t cheap.  America at its best.

I believe this show is bound for good things.  Unlike Food Network’s first shot at a reality show based on the Tinsel Town catering industry, the deplorable 2 Dudes Catering, PCO90120 follows the same formula that has made Ace of Cakes a hit.  They don’t try to force the action, no more contrived drama and clever schtick.  Just find an interesting scenario and let the cameras catch the action.

Prior to the premiere many were predicting Chef Brooke to be the break out star of the show.  I do not concur, I think the person that gets the most fan mail will not be any of the chefs but rather the general manager of Big City Chefs, Samantha Martz.  The BCC web site describes her as an, “overachieving twenty-something prodigy with a sweet and sassy personality.”  She’s got a serious Mary Alice-thing going on plus she’s cute as a bug.  As far as the chefs go, they are all talented professionals and I wouldn’t mind sharing a kitchen with any of them.  In fact I’ll give them the best compliment I can think of – I’d let them barrow my knife.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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