CHEF AND OWNER, SĀMBĀR AKASHA RICHMOND WILL BE PARTICIPATING IN THE LA FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL FRIDAY LEXUS GRAND AVENUE NIGHT MARKET HOSTED BY TYLER FLORENCE
Sāmbār was recently opened in June from prominent chef and owner Akasha Richmond who has owned her eponymous restaurant in Culver City, CA for seven years (she caters to Hollywood industry power players and agenda given AKASHA restaurant is located just a few miles from Sony Studios). Having been open for just over a few months, Sāmbār has quickly become the spot of choice among respected chefs such as Roy Choi, Sherry Yard, Walter Manzke, and Kris Morningstar, and Indiaphiles who have come in to experience fellow chef Akasha Richmond’s take on modern Indian fare. LA Times critic Jonathan Gold recently reviewed Sāmbār describing it as “an enlightened plane of Indian cuisine..” The country is seeing a wave of more progressive Indian concepts that are opening across the country, whether chef-driven, or with attention on distinct ingredients which are very much changing the perception of what Indian cuisine is all about. Akasha has witnessed the full spectrum of Indian cuisine on the west coast having come to L.A. in the 80s working in the kitchen at The Golden Temple restaurant which catered to health-conscious Hollywood elite and has been patiently working towards opening her first Indian concept dating back to her trips to India having paid a visit to The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
The Sāmbār Menu is a modern take on Indian cuisine emphasizing an Indian inspired collection of dishes from small plates and snacks such as Pakoras and Papadoms, and housemade Turmeric Naan, to traditional yet progressive items as interpreted through this California-based chef including Sevpuri Chaat, Black Quinoa Uttapam and Sāmbār, to Tandoori dishes (British Raj Chicken), Curries and New School Masala like her Roasted Vindaloo Masala Pork Shoulder along with an array of seasonal chutneys. Sāmbār Cocktails: Mixologist Clare Ward oversees the cocktail program introducing spice-forward drinks using exotic ingredients such as Kokum (sour fruit from Southern India), Indian cardamom bitters, as well as fermented ingredients to name a few. Stand-out cocktails on the menu include: The Maharaja, Smuggling Monk with coffee infused scotch, Vegetable Wallah or Bangalore Blues using a turmeric infused gin.
Using robust ingredients inspired by Indian regional fare, Chef/Owner Akasha Richmond creates a menu that is seasonally attuned for a one-of-a-kind guest experience at Sāmbār, opening in May 2015. “I want people to have fun trying something new,” says Richmond, who opens her Culver City, CA, restaurant next door to her flagship AKASHA. “The menu gives guests reimagined takes on dishes they love, as well as selections that they’ve never experienced before.” With the help of her business partner and husband, Alan Schulman, Richmond creates dishes inspired by her travels throughout the country as well as extensive studies on Indian cuisine that she has been fine-tuning for more than a decade, including Westernized Indian interpretations in burger and salad form, as well as traditional dishes, such as the restaurant’s namesake sambar with dosa and uttapam. “Sāmbār will be all inclusive of the varied dishes and real-life experiences you would find from the food cooked at home among Indian families, to the street foods and food carts, as well as those dishes that might be found on an ashram.”
Richmond has long had an interest in Indian cuisine, ever since her first visit to India as a young adult. When she first moved to California to attend college as well as to partially immerse herself in the yoga scene and culture of Los Angeles, she also worked at The Golden Temple, a vegetarian restaurant at which she discovered her passion for cooking. At the time, many celebrities frequently dined at The Golden Temple, including Michael Jackson, who took a liking to Richmond’s health-conscious dishes. She soon began cooking at Jackson’s house and became his personal chef when he traveled the world for the HIStory and Bad tours. Upon taking her second trip to India while cooking for Jackson, the breadth of the cuisine intrigued her from the curative ingredients to the health conscious approach and diversity of dishes and recipes. “There’s a very happening food scene in India,” she says, “I’ve had my mind set on opening a restaurant with an ‘Indianish’ menu that incorporates Indian spices and flavors from India as well as utilizing the abundance of fruits and vegetables grown in California. While traveling, I learned about the variety of Indian dishes in the northern and southern regions, and I channel that into Sāmbār’s menu.”
After making a name for herself as a personal chef to the stars with a successful catering company, which provided her the opportunity to experience a multitude of food cultures that inspire her dishes today, Richmond decided to open her own kitchen. In 2008, she welcomed L.A. to AKASHA, a seasonal American restaurant that features California and New American cuisine created with cultural influences taken from her many travels around the world.
Richmond, a Playa Vista resident, enjoys spending her free time traveling with her husband in both the U.S. and internationally. Even if the trip is only a couple days, Richmond loves experiencing new dining communities and sightseeing. Although most of her travels center on food, she also seeks out art museums ̶ she focused on various artistic mediums during her academic studies. She is also author of Hollywood Dish: More than 150 delicious, healthy recipes from Hollywood's chef to the stars (Avery, 2006) and has consulted on numerous natural food product lines while continuing to explore new methods and practices for living a healthier life through food and cooking.
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DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WITH BEN LYONS
Ben Lyons is a Television, Radio, and Online host and producer who covers pop culture like nobody else. Each month with his DEN (Digital Entertainment News) segment, Ben highlights the latest Blu-ray and Digital HD releases and the best ways to watch them. Ben will offer the latest in video technology, whether you are watching from the comfort of your own home with the latest 4K UHD or Smart TV's or on the go with a tablet or smartphone. Ben’s next DEN segment is Friday, August 28th.
Ben is a special correspondent on EXTRA and regular contributor for ESPN LA radio. He is also the host of The Sidebar on Yahoo, an in-depth interview series featuring the biggest names in Movies, TV, Music, and Fashion. Ben is the lead host on Yahoo's LIVE movie premiere and awards show coverage. He reviews movies on Mario Lopez’s national radio show and has recently, been on The View, Wendy Williams, ESPN's SportsNation, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Good Morning America, and The Artie Lange Show. Previously he appeared on the E! Network and E! News as their lead film correspondent and movie critic. Ben’s latest venture is as chief correspondent and “voice of the fans” at Derek Jeter’s theplayerstribune.com and host of The Players Tribune on SiriusXM radio. Born and raised in New York City, Ben is the grandson of legendary New York Post columnist Leonard Lyons, and is the son of film and theater critic Jeffrey Lyons. The Lyons family has been covering pop culture in American media for more than 80 years.
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