Coral Tree Cafe’s Panini-Off: My Debut On the Morning News

By Tsz on January 14, 2010

It all started with a food coma following a particularly filling Christmas dinner. In attempts to get over the monumental hump, I started browsing food blogs while licking the corners of my lips for any last remaining traces of pineapple ham glaze.
As I was living vicariously through a few jetsetters’ reviews of exotic restaurants, I came across a post by FoodGPS. As it turns out, Josh will be judging a Panini-Off hosted by Coral Tree Cafe. Interesting…

Better yet, the contest was still open, score! Because the deadline were mere days away, I hastily scribbled down what I considered to be the perfect sandwich—an easy task as I was recovering from one of the best meals to date.

I started out with a nice rustic bread (buttered of course). Then I added a earthly saute of crimini mushrooms scented with garlic. Next came the black forrest ham and a sprinkle of rosemary needles from my parent’s herb garden (you won’t find them buying overpriced herbs at the local grocery store). Then a “glaze” sauce (secret recipe, shh) to simulate the complex, crackly sugar jacket worn by our family’s holiday ham. Lastly, some mild swiss to hold all the components together.

Not thinking much about it, I submitted my recipe and promptly forgot about the contest. That is, until I got an unknown call from the friendly people representing Coral Tree. He congratulated me on making to the finals and asked if I wanted to make a panini—on the KTLA Morning Show as a promo for the real competition on the 19th.

How do you say no to that?

And so, I woke up at an ungodly hour, 5:30a last Thursday and drove over to Hollywood for my close up. Two other finalists arrived shortly after and we met the judges of the day: Los Angeles Fire Chief and several other fire fighters. Before long, the cameras came and we had a little KTLA Panini-Off.

The experience went by in a blur, but I did get to see the behind-the-scenes and learned a few lessons along the way. Number one is to never trim your own bangs the night before the show. I made the mistake and had to go bang-less for the day. Next, is to ham it up for the camera (no pun intended). Finally, it’s all about the garnishes as observed from the day’s winner and veteran of cooking competitions, Cecelia.

With these lessons in my pocket, I am ready for the real deal. So, if you are in need of dinner plans on January 19th, swing by Coral Tree Cafe up in Brentwood and let me and the other finalists feed you!

More information from FoodGPS. Hope to see you next week!

Comments (5)

Ah, so that's you how pronounce your name!

In any case, congrats and thanks for the shout out; might wanna check that link though. ;)

Regardless of your bang trim you still looked good on TV, congratulations, I'm proud of you! I wish I still lived in LA so I could reap the rewards of your culinary experiments. :)

KevinEats: Yep, T with a silent S and Z ;D And yes, good catch—the link works now. Sorry 'bout that.

Leilani: That is exactly why you need to move back… or visit at least!

Dear Gastrophoria, the image you have at the top of your site is just gorgeous, what is it of? I just loved reading about the Panini-off, but more about what you made. I like the added touch of your secret glaze and using mild swiss to hold it all together! I felt like I had stepped into Gourmet Magazine. It was so well presented, clean, photos clear and professionally positioned. I shall return for another bite of this wonderful blog. Thank you for sharing.
Cheers, Gaby
You can always visit me at

Thanks Gaby, you flatter me so! The image up top is a stock photo from Stock Exchange of plastic spoons in water that I thought embodied what gastrophoria is.

Love your blog too—it's a interesting angle you took to write about food… very thought-provoking. Thanks and can't wait to read more!


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