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Bi-weekly podcast

California's Delicious Diversity

Explore the myriad flavors of the Golden State with longtime locals who know them best

In this episode of the California Now Podcast, host Soterios Johnson chats with three culinary insiders who represent different aspects of the state’s abundance. He first talks to chef Tanya Holland, owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen (Ed. note: Brown Sugar Kitchen closed permanently in January of 2022) in Oakland, and a Top Chef alum. Known for her mouthwatering soul food, Holland has been expanding her culinary horizons via her new OWN TV show, Tanya's Kitchen Table, as well as her podcast, Tanya's Table. The multifaceted East Bay icon also shared details about her new projects with the James Beard Foundation and the Oakland Museum of California.

Next, Johnson checks in with chef Claudette Zepeda, who's embarking on her own culinary adventure with her new Encinitas restaurant at the Alila Marea Beach Resort, Vaga. Drawing on her Mexican heritage but also incorporating the many cuisines she enjoyed growing up in Southern California, Zepeda revealed that she is on a mission to capture the essence of San Diego County’s eclectic culture.

After that Johnson chats with food tour guide Lauren Herpich, who runs Local Food Adventures out of Oakland. From Jack London Square to the Rockridge neighborhood, she says you can eat your way across a whole world's worth of different cuisines, styles, and culinary experiences.


Tanya Holland, chef, author, and former owner of Brown Sugar Kitchen

Claudette Zepeda, executive chef at Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Lauren Herpich, owner of Local Food Adventures


When Tanya Holland isn't busy with her restaurant, TV show, or podcast, she’s likely exploring some new culinary venture.


Tanya's Table Podcast

Tanya's Kitchen Table

James Beard Foundation

Oakland Museum of California

Chef Claudette Zepeda is bringing her curiosity and culture to a new eco-friendly resort in San Diego’s North County.

San Diego


Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

Vaga Restaurant & Bar

Convoy District

North County

South Bay

Cyclops Farms

Chino Farms

Girl and Dug Farm


Pasturebird Farm

Tacos El Gordo

Sushi Ota (permanently closed)

Lauren Herpich believes that guided food tours are the perfect way to get to know a neighborhood—even if you already live there.




La Farine

Jack London Square

Everett & Jones BBQ

Original Pattern Brewing Company

Market Hall Foods

Point Reyes Farmstead Toma

Edible Excursions

Temescal District

Local Tastes of the City Tours

Gourmet Food and Wine Tours

Sactown Bites

Taste Santa Barbara Food Tours

About the host

Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis in 2016. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson will use the California Now Podcast platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.

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