In an unprecedented move, California Now Podcast host Soterios Johnson does not introduce listeners to one of his guests during this episode. That’s because Johnson’s first interview is with a Michelin inspector—an anonymous restaurant critic who goes undercover to determine which establishments receive one, two, or three stars. It’s a fascinating look behind the scenes at a revered restaurant establishment, and the timing couldn’t be better since Michelin recently released its 2019 California Michelin Guide, the first statewide collection of restaurant reviews in its long history. Our guest—we call him “Mr. Inspector”—shares all sorts of insights about what it takes to make the grade, and why California is such a dynamic dining destination.
Food is a focal point for his second guest, too. Aida Mollenkamp, the host of Food Network’s Ask Aida and the editorial director of Salt & Wind Travel, leads listeners on a Central Coast road trip that begins in Los Angeles, stops in Ventura and Santa Barbara, and ends in Paso Robles. Along the way she points out the best places to grab strawberries, oysters, Pinot Noir, tri-tip, and much more.
The episode also includes an insightful conversation about LGBTQ travel in California. Scott Gatz, the CEO and founder of the travel site Gay Cities, discusses the Golden State’s long history as a welcoming destination. He and Johnson talk about some of California’s most popular gay-friendly cities—including the Castro in San Francisco, West Hollywood, and Palm Springs—as well as some lesser-known locales.
“Mr. Inspector,” Michelin restaurant evaluator
Aida Mollenkamp, Founder and Editor in Chief, Salt & Wind Travel
Scott Gatz, Founder and CEO, Q.Digital
Our anonymous Michelin inspector shares insights about he and his colleagues evaluate restaurants—including all 657 honored restaurants in California.
Food writer and travel expert Aida Mollenkamp takes us on one of her favorite food-forward excursions, from Los Angeles to Paso Robles.
Scott Gatz, who created Gay Cities, Queerty, and other media brands, discusses why California deserves its reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly destination.
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, Calif., in 2016 and is just getting to know his surroundings. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson will use the California Now platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.