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The California Questionnaire: Julie Chen

The California Questionnaire: Julie Chen
The Emmy-winning TV host is so SoCal—she loves dolphins, convertibles, Malibu, Beverly Hills, and road trips up the coast

Given the fact that Julie Chen hosts a show called The Talk, it only follows that she has plenty to say about, well, everything. Does she have a favourite California food experience? Absolutely. And a favourite California song? Actually, she has four. And she doesn’t have a favourite ride at Disneyland Resort—she has 10.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Chen was born in New York City and attended college at the University of Southern California, where she studied broadcast journalism and English. After various high-profile stints as a TV producer, reporter, and anchor, Chen has settled in as host and moderator of The Talk, CBS' Daytime Emmy Award–w­inning talk show that examines topical events and contemporary issues through the eyes of five female hosts. A busy mom and devoted yogi who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, Chen somehow finds time to host the long-running hit reality show Big Brother as well—and she also sat down to take the California Questionnaire.

Where do you live? Beverly Hills

Why there? Because I loved when Lucille Ball visited Beverly Hills on I Love Lucy and saw William Holden and was star struck. Beverly Hills seemed to me like a magical place where stars live. But also, it’s so central and an easy commute to work and school and is beautiful. (I also loved Beverly Hills 90210 and am still looking for the Peach Pit!)

Who or what is your greatest California love? The Hollywood Bowl. And Malibu—seeing dolphins never gets old!

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That we are all Spicoli (Sean Penn’s character) from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

What is the stereotype that most holds true? That some of us are Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High

What is your favourite Golden State splurge? A convertible car—with the California sunshine and this weather, I just couldn’t resist.  

Time for a road trip—where are you going? Up Highway One to Big Sur. I made the beautiful drive when I was a kid with my family in the 1970s. But I was a passenger. I want to do the drive myself now—preferably in my convertible, and not with my parents in the front and me and my two sisters squished in the back. (Guess who got the middle seat? Me!) This time, I’d like it to be more of a romantic getaway with my husband. We’d stay at the Post Ranch Inn. I hear it’s amazing, and I’ve never been.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? Hands down, the French Laundry in Yountville. The food, the service, the setting—amazing. We went for my mom’s 80th-birthday celebration and are still talking about it five years later, for its California cuisine and healthy eating done in the most scrumptious way. Yum!

How do you define California style? Yoga pants, t-shirts, and hoodies with cool sneakers (think Yeezy, Kanye West’s line). Relaxed living. Open-air homes with an outside-inside feel. Lots of time being outside!

Best California song? “California Dreamin’,” by the Mamas and the Papas. It’s stood the test of time and is still good today. The harmony and the dreaminess of the sound lends itself to fantasizing about living free and easy and relaxed and happy. Also “Hotel California,” by the Eagles. Come on! You can just see the tall, skinny palm trees and the sun setting behind the Pacific Ocean as you hear it. It’s haunting—in a good way. Then there’s “California Love,” by 2Pac, with Dr. Dre. A modern-day feel, showing that California is not just all laid-back—we have an edge. Plus, I sang Dre’s portion on a dare on The Talk. I didn’t totally embarrass myself, and I even sent it to my friend Jimmy Iovine, who said he’d ask if Coachella had any openings. My phone hasn’t rung, by the way. Lastly, “California Girls.” Both the Beach Boys’ version and David Lee Roth’s. It’s a celebration of all kinds of beauty but with a special nod to California girls. Being a California girl myself now, I say “Yay!” whenever I hear it.

How would your California dream day unfold? I’d start with breakfast at the Malibu Farm Café. I’d order their fried-egg sandwich—it’s the best—and their surfrider coffee, which is basically their version of a Bulletproof coffee made with butter and coconut oil. This would be my fuel to start a day at Disneyland with my family, my sister and nephews, and my cousins and their kids. We’d start on the Radiator Springs Racers ride at California Adventure and end with the fireworks show and parade. But in between, we would have lots of churros, the yummy hot dogs on Main Street, and dinner at Steakhouse 55. And we’d go on all my favourite rides and attractions: the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Toy Story Midway Mania, Turtle Talk With Crush, It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Indiana Jones Adventure. We’d stay the night at the Montage Laguna Beach.

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Ryan Killackey

Southern California

Discover Los Angeles County

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January
Average (°C)
Dec - Feb
19°
High
8°
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Mar - May
22°
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10°
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June - Aug
28°
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15°
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Sept - Nov
27°
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See a movie star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. Play at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, explore world-class museums, or dance the night away in a starlet-filled club. Welcome to California’s liveliest city, entertainment capital of America, with megastar wattage and nonstop activities.

“You know, you’re really a nobody in L.A. unless you have a really big door.”  –comedian Steve Martin

The main hub is the City of Los Angeles, with legendary Hollywood northwest of downtown, the San Fernando Valley to the east, and the inviting beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu to the west.

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Spotlight: Los Angeles

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Bright lights, A-list celebrities & diverse culture

Welcome to the bright lights and big-city allure of California’s largest metropolis. Here, A-list celebrities really do walk the sidewalks, triple...

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All around L.A. County, shoppers can find today’s trends at amazing prices

Homegrown Los Angeles fashion runs the gamut from red-carpet-ready looks by Rodarte to slouchy, soft T-shirts by James Perse, which makes this county...

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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

La Brea Tar Pits

Find fossils and family-friendly fun at this prehistoric excavation site

Your idea of old may be 100, but that will undoubtedly change after you spend several hours at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. You will learn...

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"The Squaw Man" was filmed in 1913, and was the first feature-length film made in Hollywood.
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Neil Kremer/ Flickr

Spotlight: Hollywood

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Showbiz, celebrities, & endless possibilities

Tinseltown, where starlets are discovered on every street corner (or at least we like to think they are), and the tinted windows of that stretch...

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Celebrity Spotting

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Where to see stars in Hollywood

Stargazing takes on a different meaning in Tinseltown. While there’s no guarantee you’ll spy a familiar face when you’re here, there are some...

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Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood

West Hollywood

A designer’s dream with shops, architecture, and style

West Hollywood has been dubbed “The Creative City,” and for good reason. Bordering Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, “Weho” is where fashion and the...

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Courtesy of West Hollywood

Sunset Strip Nightlife

Welcome to L.A.’s home of rock ‘n’ roll

Few roads have as much history as this 2-mile-/3.2-km-long section of Sunset Boulevard, bounded by Havenhurst Drive and Doheny Drive. In the 1960s...

For me, returning to Los Angeles annihilates the memories of where I have just been with an astonishing speed.
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The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Courtesy of Chris Burden/Museum Associates/LACMA

LA Museums

See masterpieces and innovative contemporary works

With its diverse collection of museums, Los Angeles has grown into one of the world’s great cities for art lovers. From the dramatically modern...

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Sharon Mollerus/ Flickr

Los Angeles County Shopping

Go boutique to bargain in one of the world’s fashion (and shopping) capitals

You’ll definitely want to leave room in your suitcase for L.A. shopping.

If you’re ready to whip out the platinum card, head to Rodeo Drive...

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Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

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Alex Farnum
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Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Spotlight: Santa Monica

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Visit the perfect sunny strip for sand, surf, and shopping

This oceanfront city, bounded by a 3½-mi/5½-km-long beach, feels like a weekend getaway spot even though it’s only 15 miles/24 kilometers west of...

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini Ufos. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Laura Flippen
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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Michael Saechang/Flickr
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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

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Lynn Gately/Flickr
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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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SPECIAL FEATURE
Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Jen Judge

Venice

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Surfers, skateboarders, and stars

Venice is the ultimate L.A. neighborhood where the surf meets the human circus. Spend a day along Venice’s palm-lined, beachfront boardwalk and...

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Discover quintessential sun and fun at these coastal charmers

Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you’ve got the recipe for some of California’s most appealing destinations. The Golden State’s beach towns stand out for...

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Lucas Himovitz
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Long Beach

Experience the many sides of a dynamic coastal city

With beaches and marinas along its waterfront and a busy dining and shopping scene on downtown’s Pine Avenue, Long Beach blends big city...

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Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles

L.A.'s Poshest Spas

Champagne tastes and caviar treatments

In Tinseltown, one would expect an abundance of extravagant spas, and the city does not disappoint. Treat yourself to an experience of ultimate...

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Jen Judge

L.A. Architecture

See eye-catching icons and stately landmarks

While Los Angeles is still a young city when compared to places like, say, Rome, it still boasts a unique architectural tradition that spans a...

The California Questionnaire: Julie Chen VCW_D_T12-LA_Venice_Judge_0
Lancaster's Civic Musical Road is the only "musical" or "singing" road in the United States.
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Hands-on fun for all at farms, ranches, and fields statewide

From almonds and olives up north to avocados, oranges, and dates in South, the Golden State has a crop (or 10) for nearly every stretch of terrain. After all, ...

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Tai Power Seeff
February or March

You certainly won’t be the only one celebrating the Lunar New Year at this colorful event in L.A.’s Chinatown. Join thousands of revelers lining the parade route as lion dancers and giant dragons...

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Jorge Gonzalez/Flickr
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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate playgrounds

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

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Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

La Brea Tar Pits

Find fossils and family-friendly fun at this prehistoric excavation site

Your idea of old may be 100, but that will undoubtedly change after you spend several hours at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. You will learn...

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Courtesy of MasterChef Australia

Great L.A. Food Trucks

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Tacos, grilled cheese, and health food all live in harmony on the streets of Los Angeles

From gourmet chefs experimenting with tacos to funky ice cream sandwiches, you might be surprised what you can find on the streets of L.A. Food...

The Gamble House in Pasadena, California
Carol M. Highsmith/Getty Images

Pasadena

Tour an Arts and Crafts masterpiece and more, in the home of the Rose Bowl

Set at the base of the towering San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena is best known as the home of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and the...

Watch celebrity chefs in action at this annual event in downtown Los Angeles

If you’re a foodie, your definition of “celebrity sighting” in Los Angeles has little to do with movie stars. Instead, the annual All-...

A delicious snack prepared at the All-Star Chef Classic in Los Angeles
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
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The California Questionnaire: Julie Chen VC_AntelopeValleyPoppyPreserve_Breaker_Stock_RF_134975816_1280x640
The genus of the state’s official flower, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is named in honor of Dr. J. F. von Eschscholtz, a surgeon and naturalist who explored the California coast with Russian expeditions from 1815 to 1818.