Lajollacooks4u Explores Food and Wine Scene Around Europe

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New recipes and food ideas offered at LaJollacooks4u

Chef Jodi with Chef Massimo and family

Cooking her way around the world, Chef Jodi Abel has returned from her four-week tour through the global food scene. Making stops in France, Italy and Israel, she has gained a number of delicious recipes and new techniques to share with guests of Lajollacooks4u.

Chef Jodi’s culinary adventure began in the Loire Valley, about an hour outside Paris, where she spent the day learning about food and wine with Cathy and Nigel Henson, owners of “Le Tasting Room.” Cathy, a wine specialist with over 30 years of experience, showed Chef Jodi the finer aspects of wine pairing, while also introducing her to authentic French cuisine. Dining in their beautiful candlelit wine cellar, lunch consisted of smoked chicken cooked with roasted root vegetables and a curry, mustard and coconut milk dressing, and was followed by Cremet d’Anjou, a French dessert. In addition to the delicious lunch, Chef Jodi enjoyed the extremely welcoming company of Maryse Tugendhat, the owner and winemaker of Chateau de Pimpean, a nearby Chateau built in 1435.

Chef Jodi was then off to the enchanting Auberge la Sansonniere, a lovely family-run 17th century French hotel located in the middle of the Loire Valley countryside. Chef Jodi had the pleasure of cooking with the hotel’s owner and chef, Frank Fuchs, a wonderfully kind man with am artist’s touch for food presentation. Together, they whipped up Mint-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Braised Artichokes, a mouthwatering recipe she can’t wait to re-create for her guests at Lajollacooks4u! She spent the rest of her time in France strolling the streets of Paris and savoring the culinary delights she encountered during her week’s stay.

Chef Jodi’s culinary adventure then took her to Sicily and the charming town of Taormina, where she experienced a Sicilian cooking class with Massimo Tomarchio, a self-taught chef who was passionate about showcasing Sicily’s colorful foods. Together, they prepared fresh pasta maccheroni, Sicilian eggplant and cauliflower and a delicious rolled chicken breast and calamari. Afterward, she spent the rest of her time visiting the Gambino Winery, touring the area’s active volcano, Mt. Etna, and soaking in the breathtaking views of the region with her family.

Chef Jodi’s last stop on her European Tour was Israel, where she spent the first few days on Moshav Sde Nitzan in the southern part of Israel. She was introduced to Chef Avi Farhi, a passionate home cook and family man, who lives on Moshav Sde Nitzan. a moshav, is an Israeli cooperative community of farmers. He taught Chef Jodi all about Israeli culture and cuisine; cooking delicious dishes, such as homemade falafel, Thai string beans (there is a large Thai population in Israel that works in the farming industry), tahini and stuffed Swiss chard and grape leaves.

In honor of Shavuot, a Jewish holiday celebrated in Israel, Chef Jodi prepared one of her signature cheesecakes, which was enjoyed by all! The final leg on her tour concluded with Chef Chino Ruben, a wonderful chef who’s been in the restaurant and catering industry for many years. Chef Jodi could not get enough of his food: Orange Duck with rice, Village Potato Salad, and Moroccan fish, all were to die for!

Chef Jodi considers the latest of her culinary excursions abroad her absolute favorite, having been able to meet and interact with so many passionate individuals. She has been inspired by the cuisine, particularly the complexity of the dishes that make it satisfying to any palate, and can’t wait to share all she’s learned with her guests at Lajollacooks4u!

About Lajollacooks4u:
Lajollacooks4u, founded in 2008, provides an ideal activity for corporate team building, couples and any foodie looking for a unique cooking and culinary experience in a magnificent setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Based in La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego, CA, Lajollacooks4u has enjoyed record growth since its inception and has been ranked as one of the area's top attractions on the popular travel review site, Trip Advisor. Chef Jodi Abel also recently released her cookbook, Lajollacooks4u: California Cuisine, an accumulation of the favorite recipes her clients have been raving about. For more information, contact: [email protected] or visit the company’s website at

For more information on Le Tasting Room, visit or contact cathy(at)letastingroom(dot)com.

For more information on Auberge la Sansonniere, visit

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Jodi Abel
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