EDITOR’S NOTE: Until this moment the acronym SRO meant Standing Room Only. But now, those three once-disappointing letters symbolize something desired, something people would joyously get in room without seats to be a part of; a Silverton Reichl Ochoa gastronomic adventure in search of the finest dining on Earth.

Last week, SRO - Nancy Silverton, Ruth Reichl and Laurie Ochoa - took two dozen intrepid - and high paying - diners on a Los Angeles Times sponsored trip to Modena, Bologna, Panzano and Florence in Italy and then finished up - without them - in Copenhagen for 45 hours. When the trip was over, so were several long standing gastronomic records including most “OMG”s, most “So good”s , most “this is fuckin’ delicious” uttered as the three ladies - aided by Italian stars Dario Cecchini and Massimo Bottura - enchanted on arguably the greatest food trip in modern recorded history.

However, this reporter accompanied the three legends only on the Copenhagen campaign, so my dispatch merely alludes to some Italian dining highlights while focusing on the Danish capital.


I arrived in Copenhagen on a Wednesday, 36 hours before SRO, (largely due to a $525 round trip, nonstop Norwegian Air flight) and did recon for Nancy, Ruth and Laurie. My time alone included two stops that were so delightful that I went back to them every day of the remainder of my trip.

The first of those was the Mexican restaurant of Chicago-born Rosio Sanchez. Twenty months ago, in February 2018, arriving - for the first time - in Copenhagen a day before Nancy, I went to Sanchez with Jonathan Gold and Laurie Ochoa. It was outstanding.


(EDITOR’ NOTE For the record, as good as Sanchez was, the most memorable thing about that night - and Laurie will back me up - was the walk back to the hotel when Jonathan tripped, went down fast, performed a roll for which Nadia Comaneci would have held up a 10, got to his feet and continued on with his walk like the tumble was part of the program. It would - unfortunately - not be the only fall of the trip. Read about Nancy and the Frightening Fall of Copenhagen here . http://www.krikorianwrites.com/blog/2018/2/23/7iegjqbaimvldegyd2l87ryvopc22i By the way, the day after Nancy’s fall, she wasn’t up to going out and I went to Sanchez and became the first - and still only person - ever to get take-out tacos there. I bragged about this Wednesday night to my adorable server Alisa at this dinner. “Of course you did,.” Kate Green will say.)


Anyway, after the octopus tostada, “dirty’ carnitas tacos and black currant and lemon paleta at Sanchez, I went back to my hotel, the Astoria, located next to the central Copenhagen Train Station. $80 a night.

The next morning I set out on foot to Hart Bageri (Bakery). This is the bakery of Richard Hart formerly of Tartine in San Francisco who I met and - with the pinpoint accuracy and timing of a Montana to Rice - dropped the names of SRO to him. “Of course, you did,” will say Kate Green. The result was a luscious loaf of sourdough bread, a stunning cardamon croissant, a blondie bar, chocolate cookies, a panettone and cappuccino. On the house. All i had to do was deliver SRO to the bakery the next day. I did.

The rest of Thursday was walking (12.6 miles in all) and eating at Hija de Sanchez, Rosio’s taco joint in the city’s meatpacking district and a “classic” at John’s Hog Dog’s nearby, a place recommended to me by legendary L.A. TImes copy editor Saji Mathai who learned of it from Anthony Bourdain.

SRO came in Friday, at around 2:!5 pm and they were all very hungry. After we all settle in to an Air B & B Laurie found, it is off to get something to eat. Nancy, Laurie and Ruth cannot wait to the 5 p.m. dinner reservation we have at a celebrated restaurant called Noma and demand to eat right now. In a cab we head to the meatpacking district. The taxi driver was an Iranian whose family had fled Khomeini.

First stop is a seafood place called Kodbyns Fiskebar. It’s fine. Oysters, mussels, sea urchin, some salad. I have a view of a clock and notice the time when we get there, 2:45 and when we leave, 3:48. Noma is only 72 minutes away. Still, SRO is SRO and they want to go to Rosio’s nearby taco joint, HIga de Sanchez.. But on the way, Nancy demands a “classic” from John’s Hot Dogs across the street. SRO eats this dog at 3:58, 62 minutes before our dinner at this Noma place.


SRO wants more! We go to Rosio’s and get three tacos. It is 4:06 p.m., 54 minutes until Noma.


We grabbed a cab back our place to change .The taxi driver was a Chilean whose family had fled Pinochet He waits while we quickly freshen up and takes us to Noma.


Noma is the kingdom of Rene Redzepi and its previous incarnation a mile away had been named the world’s best restaurant in that Pellegrino guide four times, a feat also accomplished only by the now closed elBulli in Spain. It is usually called a New Nordic restaurant and is named after the distillation of two Danish words, Nordisc (Nordic) and Mad (Food). But, it turns out Rene, though born in Copenhagen, is half Albanian and since Albania gets a bum rap - or at least a rap - and most everyone Rene introduces to me and SRO in the kitchen is “a cousin from Albania”, I have taken to calling Noma the world’s greatest Albanian restaurant.

Whatever you call it, it turns out to be among the most memorable and wonderful experiences of my life. It wasn’t just because of the food. It was the whole thing, especially the company and the near disaster of last year. There was a moment when i was looking out of the window with this view of a puffing smoke stack and Nancy was framed in it and Laurie was across from me and Ruth to my left and whatever we were eating - probably reindeer offal - was delicious and i thought of all the world’s unfortunate people and how fortunate I was and I - without SRO noticing - got a little emotional. “Of course you did.,” will say Kate Green.

We went home The taxi driver was an Indian from the Punjab who I didn’t ask why his family came to Denmark.


The next morning, Saturday, Laurie, Ruth, Nancy and i walk across a bridge to get coffee at the Corner at 108. Good spot. Then we catch a cab to Hart Bakery. The taxi driver was from Turkey.. I, as I always do in this situation, fire back that I’m Armenian. “Of course you did,” says Kate Green. We don’t talk a whole lot at first, but then we find a common bond. Lewis Hamilton The cabbie had revved his taxi, a new Mercedes and I ask if he knows of Lewis Hamilton, the great Formula One driver. The cabbie does and Hamilton, an Englishman who drives a German race car called the Silver Arrow, unites us for a few Danish miles.

At Hart, the owner Richard has gone to New York, but his staff is waiting for SRO, primarily, and understandably, for Nancy. Her book “The Breads of the La Brea Bakery” is in the kitchen. It’s a first edition. and, to the delight of the staff. the book, Nancy informs them, is written by Laurie Ochoa and the forward is by Ruth Reichl. They all autograph this now very rare book.


And take a cab to lunch. The taxi driver is from Morocco, though he looks as Danish as Prince Hamlet himself.. Lunch is at Ralae, a one star Michelin place near the cemetery where Hans Christina Anderson is buried. I know that name, but can’t say for sure why.. Kirkergard is buried there, too. He’s in that story above “Nancy Silverton and the Frightening Fall of Copenhagen.” Something about “What’s the point?” The food is delicious, and has a slightly Asian bent which is right up Ruth’s wheelhouse. There’s superb lamb, noodles, various vegetables and the highlight, to me, is a pumpkin dish. Gee, I hope you weren’t expecting a restaurant review. In real life I’m a gang reporter.). Let’s just say it was outstanding and go there.

We walk home. Rest a few, and go to Sanchez for dinner. We are joined by Noma’s Tracy Page, and Melina Shannon DiPietro the executive director of MAD and Nadine Levy Redzepi, Rene’s wife. Good time. Rosio’s food satisfies immensely.

We get a cab ride to Dan Vandrette the wine bar next to our place. The cab driver is a Kurd who came to Copenhagen from Iraq to escape Saddam. I tell him I’m Armenian and was at a demonstration with L.A.’s Kurdish community at the Turkish Consulate. “Of course, you did.",” says Kate Green. The cabbie is thrilled to hear this. The light red wine offered is rejected twice by Nadine. Finally a darker wine is offered and we have a bright time.

Back at our place. Nancy can’t find a book I ordered her on her Kindle. The title, she reminds me is “Chances Are.” We break into singing the Johnny Mathis classic. Ruth finds “Chances Are” on YouTube. It sounds old school beautiful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEH3uqbpsm8

The next morning, Nancy and Laurie get a early cab to the airport. Their cabbie is an Kurd, too. (Kurds win, 2-1) Ruth and I take a nice long walk , past Noma, to another good bakery called Lille. A couple hours later, Ruth leaves in a cabbie who I didn’t get a chance to ask where he was from.

I walk back to the Hotel Astoria, check in and go to Hart. My money is no good there, they tell me. That night I go to Sanchez.

The next morning, I walk from the Hotel Astoria 200 meters to the train station, pay $5 for a 12 minute ride to the airport and get on my non stop back to Los Angeles. On the flight I write some of this and watch “Casablanca”. Of course I did.

Guess you feel you’ll always be the one and only one for me

and if you think you could

Well chances are your chance are awfully goood.

The chances are your chances are………

Awfully good.


awfully good

To “Black Sam" A Letter to Nipsey Hussle's Brother From Imprisoned Rollin' 60s Peacemaker Mustafa, aka Li'l Cat

NOTE - About 25 years ago I met “Li’l Cat”, once aka Brian Long, now aka Mustafa. He was from Rollin’ 60s and he had realized the futility of black gang on black gang violence and began, with a few others, to start a movement to end the relentless cycle of bloodshed in Los Angeles, particularly on the black Westside.

I wrote about him in a 1998 L.A. Times story when he and community activist Malik Spellman - along with Mustafa’s older brother Kevin “Big Cat” Doucette - spoke to warring Blood factions who were battling each other in Inglewood. Here’s that story. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-apr-05-me-36267-story.html (And yes, that wasn’t a typo. it was Crips mediating a Bloods - Inglewood Family, Neighborhood Piru - battle.)

Two years earlier, writer David Ferrell wrote about him in a Times article entitled “A Dogged Pursuit of Peace on the Streets” Here’s is that piece https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1996-08-10-mn-32953-story.html

Mustafa stumbled many years later and wound up in prison for an attempted. The district attorney’s office went back to a 1979 barber shop robbery he was convicted of when 18 years old and struck him out. We’ve remained friends. I always thought an often pathetic trait of many gang members was how they forgot their imprisoned so-called homies. I’ve been to hoods from Watts to Compton to Southwest L.A. where gang members ask me about their owe homeboys locked up. I usually reply with “Why don’t you write him? I’m sure he’d appreciate that. ” If you’ve read this far,, LI’l Cat’s mailing address is at the bottom. of this piece.)

Anyway, I wrote to Li’l Cat recently and he sent me back a letter and also a letter to Nipsey Hussle’s brother, Black Sam. I asked him if it was okay to print some of it and he gave me the approval. Here it is, in part..

Sept. 14, 2019

Black Sam.

Peace & respect and my deepest condolences on the loss of our beloved Nipsey Hussle. My name from the turf is Li’l Cat. My brother is Big Cat. I’ve been locked behind enemy lines for the past 18 years. The young homie Nipsey was about 15 years old when I got locked up. However we have a lot in common. I, too was a community activist like Nips. I also grew up on 3rd Ave down the block from 59th Street School. My young comrade out there was Kev Mac who spends time up there at Marathon.

The reason and purpose I’m gettin at you, besides paying respects, is to let you know that your brother was a divine soul. sent with a spiritual purpose, which he accomplished.

I first heard of Nip when I was in Pelican Bay back in early 2007 or 2008. I was proud to hear a young homie speaking my turf language. Glad to hear someone speaking what we go through trying to survive. in these grimy cutthroat “Sixty NHC” streets.

However, when I left the streets, I had changed my thought process about our conditions and how much damage was attributed to the racial system and how much self perpetuated.

My change in outlook occurred when I was doing a violation from my first state prison term. I had paroled in 87, went back for a violation in ‘88. I was in San Quentin and got word that two of my closest road dogs, “Big Fee” and Li’L Looney” were killed. I prepared to come out on a homicidal murder spree. But, I was devastated to learn that the homicides were committed by so-called “homies”. That was the beginning of the Front hood-Overhill wars. in which several lives had been lost. I had to do a lot of soul searching at that point. Murdering my so-called own homies was not what I signed up for. Burying loved ones who were killed by loved ones was an oxymoronic thing that had no future for anyone.

I became discontented with the hood politics and went on some Black militant type shit, complete with black fatigues, boots and working out., running with pit bulls, fully strapped for anybody.

Then the Rodney King beating and not -guilty verdict and the riots of ‘92 had me on the re-build the black community trip, had me on the pro blackness trip. .I spoke in front of the City Council about the lack of justice for Blacks, the lack of programs for the youth, the lack of job opportunities which would cut down on drug dealing and gang activities.

Then Jim Brown called me to his compound in the Hollywood Hills about a business opportunity. They wanted to put a shoe store/community center in the Sixties on Florence. Two brothers from Grape Street, Ray Ray and High T, were involved, but the location in the Sixties would need some reputable Sixies involved. That’s how we started the Playground Sportswear and Community Center. Myself and the homie Kieta Rock hosted Bill Clinton there.

Then I started doing the Westside version of the Truce they had in Watts. we started getting recognition for that and was bringing homicide rates down on the Westside. Reporters were doing stories ( see above ) about our desire to stop the black-on-black killings. The police was at odds with us cause they wanted credit for saving the lives, when they were the ones instigating the feuds.

I started studying and learning that Blacks are not natural enemies of one another, but we are a spiritual Godly people. ( John 10- 32-35) “Ye are Gods”, ( {Psalms 82-6) “God came among the Assembly of Gods.”

Nipsel Hussle came among among the Assembly of Gods, but they had no knowledge of self. Still he remained to show and prove by example the power of redemption and transformation. Black Sam, your brother was a shining example of building bridges and focusing on taking care of the community and those in it. He accomplished what I was attempting to do for the hood. I thank the universe for the God “Nips the Great”.

Nipsey’s music will continue to inspire all those who desire to “RISE” up from the cutthroat grimy conditions. (R.I.S.E. was the name of my organization, Raising Intelligent Strong Economics), He showed that those of us misunderstood and labeled Hoodstas and Thugs,all have a spiritual purpose in this brief life, Like he so introspectively stated “You can walk on water, just don’t look at your feet.” Basically, we are a strong spiritual people and can do whatever we set our mind to Just don’t doubt yourself.”

One of the most poignant songs that made me realize his divine spirit is “Who Detached Us”

Black Sam,

Thank you for your time, with love & respect. Long live the spirit of Nipsey Hussle,

Your big homie, Cat2, aka Mustafa Nakhi Allah


There is more to this letter, but I’ll get it to Black Sam

This link has the lyrics to Who Detached Us” - https://genius.com/Nipsey-hussle-who-detached-us-lyrics

To write to Brian Li’l Cat Mustafa Long address letters like this:

Brian Long T-72027, North Kern State Prison , Facility A, Bldg 1, P.O. Box 5000 Delano California. 93216

Money can be sent through jpay.com


Mustafa aka Li’l Cat

Five Other Battles The Kurds Were Not With The United States Army

Wednesday, as President Don Trump defended his call to let Turks attack the very Kurds who had aided the U.S. tremendously against ISIS in Syria. As part of his rational, Trump stated that Kurds “are fighting for their land. They didn’t help us in the second World War. They didn’t help us in Normandy, for example.”

A rapid investigation by Krikorian Writes revealed shocking news that the Kurds, in addition to being suspiciously absent at Omaha Beach in Normandy, were also not fighting along side U.S. forces at nearly a a half dozen of the most important battles in America’s history. Here is a brief summary of battles where the Kurds were NOT fighting along side American forces, both Special and Regular. .

5. “Battle of The Alamo”, San Antonio, Texas, 1836. In the battle of The Alamo - made famous in movies, songs and books, - as roughly 200, mainly Texans, soldiers fought off vastly larger Mexican forces for 13 days,, no Kurdish soldiers joined Davy Crockett and other Americans in the battle.

4. Battle of the Bulge - from Dec. 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945, the United States aided by World War Two allies, fought and defeated the Germans in their last major offensive on the Western Front. The Kurdish Army did not participate. Nor did the Kurdish Air Force.

3. Battle of South Central Los Angeles, - April 29 to May;3, 2004. Starting at Florence and Normandie, the brutal street war of Los Angeles left not only the city, but the entire United States in shock. Once again. the Kurdish Army was not there. A war expert later stated “Maybe they were afraid to go south of Slauson.”

2. Battle of Iwo Jima. - American forces landed on this Pacific Island on Feb.19. 1945 fought for it brutally until March 26, 1945. More than 6,800 soldiers died there. None of them were in the Kurdish Army. Why? Well, the Kurds sat his one out, even though the battle was less than 13,000 kilometers away from their territory.

1. Battle of Baltimore - This five day battle during the War of 1812 saw British Forces attempt to take land and sea strongholds from the American forces . Notice I wrote “American forces”, not American and Kurdish forces because they weren’t there. Big surprise. A Kurdish statesman stated that his army would have been there, but got confused by the name of the war and the dates of the battle. The War was the “War of 1812”, but the Battle of Baltimore was actually fought in 1814.

A ,much more famous was the 2nd Battle of Baltimore which was depicted in the show “The Wire” and featured Stringer Bell, Omar, Avon and Marlo, among others.

SF and Kurds.jpg


Osteria Mozza Staff Lunch Of Russian Vodka Fried Chicken By New Cook Sets Off Controversy


For veterans of Mozza, the daily staff lunch at Osteria is lovingly referred to as “Chicken Time”, a usually refreshing midday break that that marks an unofficial “half time” for the day crew.

But, Monday, that lunch turned into an political firestorm  when the meal - fried chicken prepared by newly hired pasta room employee  Jennifer Velasquez -  was lauded by Nancy Silverton as “maybe the best fried chicken ever served at the Corner”.

That statement was issued to the Mozza Tribune – and the Washington Post - in a press release before  it was leaked by a whistleblower that the fried chicken contained Russian Vodka.

Almost immediately the “Chicken time” became national political news.

 Seeking to diffuse his involvement in the “Ukraine” controversy, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden went on the offensive, calling the chicken not only a threat to national security but “a slap to the kisser” to American vodka makers.

 But, it wasn’t just politicians slamming Jennifer’s fried chicken. Just as shocking - perhaps even more so - was the reaction of several Mozza employees, some of who were clearly upset that Velasquez, who has only worked on the Corner since Sept. 5, 2019 - a mere 34 days - was getting so much publicity.

 “When I made my fried chicken, I did it for the love of serving my co-workers a delicious meal,” said Chi Spacca sous chef Hayley Porter. “I didn’t do it for the publicity. For the fuckin’ headlines. Who the hell is Jennifer What’s Her Name anyway?”

Lost in the controversy was the later staff meal of fried chicken prepared by Kirby “Dr. K” Shaw.  Many thought it was just as good as the Russian Vodka version, but lacked the obvious ingredient of controversy.   


 Senate hearings will begin Friday.

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Transformation of Mozza Ping Pong Room Hailed As "Miracle" By Pope Francis

  • Reprinted from the Mozza Tribune


Mozza’s Ping Pong Room was for many years an exclusive penthouse retreat for the privileged, a peaceful respite from the craziness that is prevalent below.

But, for the last several years, it has become a No Man’s Land, a dumping ground for hoarders, a place for the unwanted. If the Mozza Corner had an Aleppo, the Ping Pong Room was it.

Until Wednesday.. By Friday, even the Vatican had taken notice.

Spurred on by Nancy Silverton, Natasha Behrens and Alan Birnbaum led the charge and the “transformation” of the “PPR” begun.

 Natasha, who is no stranger to transformation as evident by her occasional change into Natalie, was lauded by Nancy as “instrumental’ in the cleansing process. After a sluggish start, Behrens, who has something to do with Events, tore into the clutter with a gusto normally associated with methamphetamine.

“I ain’t seen Natasha move so fast since, well, since ever,” said a Mozza employee  speaking to the condition of anonymity.

 Alan, who had just completed a “Triple Double” earlier in the week, made over 74 trips to the trash cans. After filling up the Corner’s bins, he filled up the bins at Auburn, Trois Mec and Providence.

 Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles Mayor WhatsHisFirstName Garcetti toured the reborn Ping Pong Room. Clearly stunned, he turned to the Mozza team and asked “Can you people please come and  take a look at Skid Row?”

Although the ping pong table is no longer in the Ping Pong Room, the name will remain. And the PPR is now, with its open space in the middle, available for private events. “Dancing With The Stars” announced today that their 2020 season finale will be filmed in the PPR.

 Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis compared the ‘transformation” of the PPR to the time when the Roman Empire  began its conversion to Christianity in 313 A.D..

 “Like in Roman times, the transformation of the PPR was something the non-believers said would never happen,” Francis said. “But, miracles do happen for the believers.”



Kirby "Dr. K" Shaw Named Best Guest of the Mozza Staff Party



When oddsmakers in Las Vegas were laying bets on who would be drunkest at the annual Mozza Worker’s Party held on Labor Day, there were two favorites; Michael Krikorian and Kirby Shaw, the Corner’s version of Seabiscuit and Secretariat when it comes to drinking.

But, come Labor Day at Nancy Silverton’s home in Windsor Square, Osteria Mozza sous chef Kirby Shaw stepped up and - instead of being drunk - was the one taking care of the several drunks in attendance. He took away car keys, stopped a DJ from electrocuting himself, checked the pulse of at least four inebriated party goers, talked and guided three people  - who were about to drown - out of the pool.

 For these actions,  Kirby Shaw has been named Guest of the Labor Party aka GOLP.

 “Kirby saved several lives that day,” said LAPD Commander Cory Palka who heads the West Bureau. “If Shaw wasn’t there, our officers would have been all over that party.”

While this may not be stunning to those who know Shaw well, it comes as a shock to the scores whose knowledge of him is simply from parties and after-shift gatherings.

That’s understandable. Let’s examine the facts. He’s Irish. He’s 25. He talks almost as much about drinking as he does his beloved Dodgers. He’s Irish. He often takes the subway. In Los Angeles. Who takes the subway in Los Angeles if they are sober? Plus, he’s Irish.

Lia Shaw, Kirby’s mother, perhaps best known in the Osteria Mozza kitchen for her chocolate chip cookies, was thrilled to hear her son had been honored as GOLP. “For a quarter of a century I have dreamed of Kirby winning something, anything. And for him to be honored at Nancy’s house, well, it means it was all worth it. I mean he’s been known to gulp, so it’s nice to have him win the GOLP.”

Kirby’s father, reached in London via cell phone, did not believe the news at first, “What?”, Kevin Shaw yelled. “We must have a bad connection. Can you hear me?  It sounds like you said Kirby was the sober one and helped the drunks? You’re breaking up. Can you hear me? “


 As for Krikorian, well, something was clearly off with him. He was nice to a Turk











Russian Men Living In L.A. Who Fought At The Battle of Stalingrad


The days are quiet now for several Russian men who live modestly in West Hollywood and Santa Monica. Little excitement passes their way. But once in a while they get together and talk about what they did more than 60 years ago near the Volga River in Russia.

These rare men fought and survived in what many historians consider to be the greatest and bloodiest combat in all of history - The Battle of Stalingrad.

Up to two million people died there from August, 1942 to Feb. 2, 1943. When it was over, the once proud and mighty 6th Army of Germany - as well as the Nazi aura of invincibility - was like the city of Stalingrand itself; in ruins.

Some of the veterans, brought to America decades ago by sons and daughters. sat recently in the Hollywood Boulevard offices of the Russian newspaper “Panorama” and talked about the ferocity that was Stalingrad.

West Hollywood resident Vladimir Barkon was not quite 17 when his military training was cut short and he received orders to “get on a train.”

“At first we didn’t know where we were going, so we weren’t scared,” said Barkon, 79, a short, stocky man with the dour look of a Brezhnev-era politburo member. Then one September night, Barkon and about 800 others were told they were being sent to the front. “There was no fear. Absolutely nyet.”

The fear would come later.

On, Sept. 29, 1942 Vladimir Barkon crossed the Volga.

““The river was on fire,” said Barkon who is vice president of the Association of Russian Veterans. “We crossed as fast as we could. Many people died on the boat.”

After crossing the river and entering the shattered city, the Russians cowered from German Stuka dive bombers whose engine’s screaming howl was utterly terrifying.

“They made such a horrible noise,” said Moysev Duginsky, 81. “The Germans were blowing up everything. What was left to defend was already destroyed.”

They defended the infamous Tractor Factory, scene of the most horrific close quarters fighting. For these Russians life was, as stated in Anthony Beevor’s book “Stalingrad - The Fateful Siege”- “an endless hell of automatic fire, sniper shots, artillery explosions, Stuka dive bombers, Russian Katyusha rockers, heavy smoke, rubble, hunger, sleepless nights and the stench of death.”

Many consider the battle to be the “turning point” of the war, including the United States President at the time. The Russians proudly show off a copy of a proclamation.

“In the name of the people of the United States of America I present this scroll to the city of Stalingrad to commemorate our admiration for the gallant defender whose courage, fortitude and devotion during the siege in 1942 and ‘1943 will inspire forever the hearts and minds of free people. Their glorious victory stemmed the tide of the invasion and marked the turning point of the war of the Allied Nations against the force of aggression.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 19, 1944.

“You see,” said Barkon, who was wounded in the tractor factory and later worked as a construction manager, “The Americans know all about Stalingrad. But, they pretend they don’t. Here, all you hear about is Normandy and how they beat the Germans there.”

Attempts to find German survivors of the battle were unsuccessful. “I don’t know anyone who survived Stalingrad who lives here,” said Michael Wolff, press attache of the German Consulate of Los Angeles.

Mikail Volman thinks back on the German enemy.

“I remember the German soldiers were so full of pride when they were attacking,” said Volman, 80, who has lived with his wife in Santa Monica since 1992. “And I remember how pitiful they looked when they were captured.”

During the United States’ march toward Baghdad, Volman heard reports how the city might be “defended like Stalingrad.”

Volamn and Barkon laugh at that thought.

“Only people who have no idea of what Stalingrand was could make such a comparison,” said Volman. who became an electrical engineer after the war. “Don’t even ask me about the weather. I still get shivers.”

One of the Russians brought his proof. Like the Burgess Meredith character Mickey in “Rocky” who carries around an old newspaper clipping of his glory days, Makail Lembersriy removes a folded piece of paper from his worn brown wallet. With a nod and the barest crack of a smile, he hands the yellowed paper to a translator. It is a certificate stating that Lembersriy, a sergeant in the 62nd Army of Russia fought at Stalingrad. The old soldier retrieves the paper, folds it carefully and works it back into the wallet.

Some of the men showed off medals they had earned during World War II. Irene Parker, the editor of Panorama, deeply admires them. “These men are rare,” said Parker. “Nine out of 10 of our fighters were killed in Stalingrad. It is not common to see men such as these. It wasn’t hard for the government to give them medals. There weren’t many medals to give out because there weren’t many men who survived.”


Osteria Bar Back Oswaldo Lara Named Mozza Employee Of The Month

If you’re a worker in the front of the house of Osteria Mozza and drop something, chances are you won’t have to pick it up if barback Oswaldo Lara is anywhere around. He’ll snatch it up so quickly you might wonder if you ever even dropped anything. It’s that type of fast action and teamwork that has propelled Oswaldo to be selected as the newest Employee of the Month.

Bartender Bradley Sanford compares Oswaldo to an absurd character in the movie “Don’t Mess With Zohan” where Adam Sandler plays someone so intent on being part of a team he just waits for someone to spill something so he can clean it up. “Oswalkdo is the Zohan of Mozza,” Bradley said.

 Born in Guadalajara, Oswaldo began his Mozza career on  Dec. 2, 2014, full of energy and eager to please.  With his easy going personality and sense of humor, he quickly established friendships.

 One of his closest friends is Nacho who spoke in awe of Oswaldo fascination with “extreme sports”. “Like what?” everyone in the Osteria kitchen asked in surprise.  Nacho proceeded to show a video of Oswald competing in something called the “Spartan Competition” in Big Bear, a wild combo race like the Iron Man that includes  “running” through five feet of mud. 

 But, it was another bartender, Costa Giannakopoulos, who offered the kindest side of Oswaldo.   “If,” Costa said. “Oswaldo goes to get himself, say, Brazilian food, he will make sure he gets extra for us.”

 Then Costa goes behind the bar and appears with a “Go-Pro”, a small camera that mounts on a car or bike and allows the filming of your ride. “He got one for himself and he saw I liked it so he went back to the store and got one for my motorcycle.”

 That’s called being “Team Player”. And that’s why Oswaldo Lara is the newest Mozza Employee of the Month.   Next time your near him just drop or spill something. You’ll see what I mean.

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Top 10 Reasons Chi Spacca Did Not Received A Michelin Star

Saturday afternoon at Chi Spacca, during the preview of Pizzette, Nancy Silverton and Kirsten Mayell’s new venture in a Culver City food court set to open late Fall, legendary local wine professional Gary Alan - or is that Alan Gary? - came up to me and said “This is the best restaurant in Los Angeles.”

He was, of course, referring to Chi - or chi - Spacca. He is not alone in that opinion. Many people, including - occasionally - Nancy Silverton herself, have told me that.

Then why, when the Michelin Guide returned in June after a decade long absence, was Spacca shut out? Nothing. No stars. The reasons, officailly, are not being released. However, a joint investigative team from the Washinton Post ;and Krikorain Writes has just unveiled the top 10 reasons Spacca did not receive a Michelin star.

10. Michelin inspectors could not get a reservation.

9. One of the inspectors, Francois Geronimo, a descendant of the legendary Apache chief, felt extreme nervousnes by “Tomahawk” menu offering.

8. Another inspector, about to award a star, took it away in the confusion over “chi” or “Chi”.  “Is it capped or not? Is it Spacca or SPACCA? Get your name spelling together and maybe get the star.”

7. An inspector felt sous chef Joe Tagorda was “Hurtful”  

6. Michelin inspectors too busy staring at Eva to notice the food.

5. One inspector said “Food was clearly two Michelin stars, but view of Circle K bummed me out.”

4. Another inspector said “About to award a star, but was seated at table 33 and homeless man urinating outside revolted my taste buds..”

3. Inspector Jamal Adid Mohammad said “I didn’t like the fact some guy named Jesus was cooking my food.”

2. Chief Michelin Inspector Pierre SuSway told the Post and Writes “Truth? I called Nancy up to tell her we were going to award Chi SPACCA  with the first ever three stars in L.A . And you know what she said? She said ‘Don’t do that. Don’t give me any stars for Spacca. If Spacca got three stars, Ryan’s head would get so big he’d go back to wearing that damn Dodgers cap in the dining room.”

 1. And the number one reason Chi Spacca did not get a Michelin star?

Michelin Guide was paid  $600,000 by Chad Colby and his wife NOT to give Spacca star.