Category: Long Beach Tastemakers

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Greg Tracy

Greg Tracy is the dad you don’t want to follow at your kids’ school career day.  That’s because he’s one of the leading stuntmen in Hollywood and has been a stunt double in such movies as The Avengers, Talladega Nights and The Fast and The Furious, just to name a few.  He captured a Guinness Book of World Records title when he performed the Hot Wheel Double Loop on a seven-story orange track that was telecast live during the 2012 X Games in Los Angeles.  He’s also a six-time champion of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where there are no guard rails and racers compete on one of the most treacherous terrains in the world.  No, you probably don’t want to follow Greg Tracy on career day but you might want to know where he likes to eat in The LBC.

How long have you been a resident of Long Beach?

I have lived here for 25 years and have loved every moment.

What are some of your favorite Long Beach restaurants?

I have so many favorites. I went to La Strada a lot when this one server worked there.  I kept asking her out until she said yes – she’s now my wife, so La Strada is definitely a favorite.  Open Sesame is another favorite, too.

How about a favorite chef?

Eddie at White Wasabi. A great personality and sushi wizard.

Long Beach’s dining scene has changed so much over the years. Is there a restaurant that no longer exists that you miss?

I do miss Northwoods Inn. It was at the end of my street, and it just had that special vibe that made you happy. A snow-covered roof in the middle of Belmont Shore – priceless.

What’s the one food you can’t live without?

We have a tradition of tacos every Sunday that always turns into a party. We’ve taken it to a pretty gourmet level.

Being a stuntman must be exciting. What’s been your favorite scene of job so far?

Probably the car chase in the Bourne Ultimatum. However, the craziest one, and one I will never forget, was going through the seven-story Hot Wheels loop at the X Games in L.A.  There were only two options: Make it or disaster!

What’s your favorite Long Beach neighborhood for dining?

I really love Belmont Shore. It’s got great restaurants, and we always run into so many friends.

They’re bringing you your last meal: What is it?

I hope I’m not aware of my last meal, but if I had to choose it would be my mom’s tacos.

If you could invite 3 people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be?

Evel Knievel, Steve Jobs and my Grandma Connie.

Tell us about your most memorable restaurant experience in Long Beach.

We could never figure out why we got such over-the-top service when dined at 555 Steakhouse – especially when we parked our car out front. It finally dawned on us – our license plate is 555fmly because 555 is my racing number and it’s also the number of people in our family. However, those that worked at the restaurant thought we belonged to the family that owned the 555!

What do you think of communal tables at restaurants? Enjoy sitting with strangers or no?

I love communal tables. We’ve made some new friends in such settings. But, please, don’t be the cell phone guy or girl who never looks up to enjoy the moment.

As far as settings, do you prefer sidewalk dining, a table with a view, or saddling up to the bar for a brew and a burger?

I prefer a table with a great view on the sidewalk with a beer and a burger.

Us, too! You buying? Greg? Greg?








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Nancy Foster

Former First Lady of Long Beach

Like the saying goes:  Behind every great man, is a great woman. Nancy Foster, the former First Lady of Long Beach, has always had husband Bob’s back.  But she also takes front and center on many issues dear to her heart. She’s a mental health advocate and a strong supporter of many causes, including the Ronald McDonald House right here in Long Beach.  She’s a mother to two grown sons and one pampered cat named Charlie.  We think this picture, taken on a recent trek to Alaska, captures Nancy’s personality.  How about you?

Much the past eight years has revolved around being the “First Lady” of Long Beach. What have you been up to since Mayor Foster left office?

It’s been refreshing spending more time at home without the pressure of being on the go constantly. I’ve been preparing to put our house up for sale – we’re going to downsize our residence in Long Beach. But we’ve been doing some fun things – we took the family on an Alaskan cruise last summer.

So, how long have Mr. & Mrs. Foster lived in Long Beach?

Wow – it’s been almost 20 years. Before that we lived in Sacramento for 24 years and still have many dear friends up north.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in town, and why?

Parkers’ Lighthouse has been a longtime favorite. La Strada is always on the list and we just love watching Lisa Ramelow, the owner, interacting with her guests. The Crooked Duck is another favorite.

Long Beach’s dining scene has changed so much over the years. Is there a restaurant that no longer exists that you miss?

I’m sure there are, but I’m really excited to try some of the new restaurants that have opened, such as Panxa Cocina on Broadway.

Is there a restaurant that you and Bob go for special occasions?

We love Queensview Steakhouse for entertaining out of town guests. It’s always perfect, and has a great view.

If you could invite 3 people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?

That’s easy. First, my dad who passed away three years ago on January 18th.  Bob’s father who we also miss. And, of course, Bob.  This would make for an incredible reunion!

Can you share your most memorable Long Beach restaurant experience?

There have been so many great memories at so many different restaurants around town. What stand out are those unplanned dinners that took place after the State of the City address with close friends.

Communal tables. What’s your thought on dining with complete strangers?

I think they make for an engaging setting and for me, personally, I enjoy meeting new people.

You and Bob seem to be enjoying post political life. What’s on the agenda next?

Who knows, but the past eight years were fantastic and ones that I will always cherish. And, for that, I’m forever grateful. Thanks Long Beach!

Thank you, Nancy. You have our vote for the most interesting interview!


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Russ Parsons

Los Angeles Times Food Editor and Wrigley resident

If you want to know how to make perfect paella or need some guidance on choosing the most flavorful tomatoes, then Russ Parsons is your go-to guy.  He has been writing about food for more than three decades, including some 25 years at the LA Times.  As the paper’s Food Editor, Russ has his pulse on everything edible.  We asked the Wrigley resident about Long Beach, its dining scene, and breaking bread with strangers.

How long have you lived in Long Beach?

Since 1992. I used to refer to my wife as Mrs. Long Beach because she was the public information officer for the city for many years and knows almost everybody.

You’re the food editor of one of the nation’s leading newspapers. Have you always been interested in the culinary arts?

Kind of. I was a sportswriter for 10 years and a music writer. But I now realize I was always abnormally interested in food.

What are some of your favorite Long Beach restaurants, and why?

I have lots of favorite restaurants. Probably the two that I go to the most are Jongewaard’s Bake ‘n’ Broil and Lola’s Mexican Cuisine. I love them because the food is very good, but more importantly, because they make me happy to be there.

What restaurant or restaurants might you stop by at during Eat LBC?

Definitely Berlin Bistro. I love the owner, Kerstin!

 Is there a place restaurant that you tend to reserve for special occasions?

For special occasion meals in Long Beach, we have always gone to 555.

If you could invite 3 people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Excluding family, of course, it would probably be three of my favorite people, with whom I’ve enjoyed so many dinners and from whom I’ve learned so much about cooking, the table and life: Julia Child, Thomas Keller and Michel Richard. What a dinner that would be.

 Hole-in-the-wall taqueria or a table at the hottest new restaurant, what’s your preference?

Without a question, without a moment’s hesitation: hole-in-the-wall. And though you didn’t ask, my favorite hole-in-the-wall taqueria is Taco Loco No. 3 on Magnolia between PCH and Anaheim. Seriously delicious.

Are you a fan of the communal table?

I do enjoy sitting with strangers and listening to what they think about food.

 We’d love to join you at a communal table for tacos! Russ…Russ???



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Tom Dumont

Guitarist for No Doubt

He’s known around the neighborhood simply as Tom, but to millions of fans across the globe Long Beach resident Tom Dumont is a rock star – literally.  That’s because when he isn’t doing double duty as husband and dad, he’s on stage playing guitar with No Doubt (yes, that No Doubt!).   You’ve probably sat next to Tom at a local restaurant or bellied up beside him at a neighborhood bar, yet didn’t even know it.  We discovered that man cannot survive on a diet of rock and roll alone, so Tom shared with us some of his favorite places to break bread with his wife Mieke and three kiddos in his hometown.

How long have you been a resident of Long Beach?

I moved to Long Beach in 1997, although I started coming here in the late 80s playing shows with No Doubt at Fenders Ballroom in downtown, and also at Bogart’s which was located in what is now the Marina Pacifica shopping center on PCH.

Who could forget Fenders Ballroom and Bogart’s! Ah, the good ol’ days. So what are some of your favorite Long Beach restaurants now?  

I love White Wasabi on PCH, it’s my fave LB sushi place, hands down. The decor is modern and casual, and the menu is inventive, yet light and clean.

What restaurants or restaurants might we see you at during Eat LBC?

I’m looking forward to going back to Panxa Cocina, and La Strada has been a long-time neighborhood favorite of ours. And Fuego at the Maya has the best view in the city; the perfect spot for Margaritas!

When you’re on the road with No Doubt, what’s a typical meal consist of? 

In the old days, when we toured in vans, it was Denny’s and fast food all day every day. And of course we always took advantage of the free beer & booze! As we got more popular, a great benefit of traveling with the band is eating at insane restaurants all around the world. Everyone in the band loves Asian food in particular, so we’ve been spoiled with amazing meals in India, Singapore, Japan, Bali & Thailand. However during tours in the USA we usually spend our show days at the venue so we eat all day at catering. We all try to eat healthy so lots of veggies, fruit and organic whenever possible.

So, having traveled the world, what’s the one food you can’t live without? And please don’t say the Grand Slam!

Avocados! I think of it as nature’s butter!

Now that you’re a dad with three boys, do you find yourself gravitating to restaurants that offer kid menus and crayons?

Yes! We realized that restaurant dining with kids is a totally different scene. Our boys are good but they’re still boys, they’re loud and make a mess, so we do gravitate towards restaurants that deal well with that. We try to get them to be adventurous but they have their favorites- Rubio’s, Wahoo’s etc.

What’s your favorite Long Beach neighborhood for dining?

I like them all. We’re lucky to live in such a diverse city with new gems as well as the mom and pop places, which are creative and dedicated to being great.

How about the communal table and sitting with strangers. What do you think of that concept?

It’s one of the things I like about Simmzy’s in particular. It’s great bumping into friends and chatting with neighbors.

As far as settings, do you prefer sidewalk dining, a table with a view, or saddling up to the bar for a brew and a burger?

All of the above! We’re spoiled in Long Beach to have so many options and great dining experiences. Food and restaurants are like music in some ways, there is so much creativity in the whole experience- with decor, lighting, vibe, food, etc.

Have you ever been sitting in a restaurant and a No Doubt song is playing? What must that feel like?

I love it when I’m out and about and a No Doubt song comes on. I live such a normal suburban life in Long Beach that it’s a nice reminder to me – “Oh yeah- I’m in a band!” I rarely get recognized when I’m out so when a No Doubt song comes on I wonder if it’s just a coincidence or did someone put it on cause I’m there?

One of my go-to karaoke songs is “Just a Girl.” Can I sing it for you now?

Is that really necessary?





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Ilan Mitchell-Smith

Former Teen Actor

If you grew up in the ‘80s you were likely raised on a diet of teen angst and John Hughes films.  Who could forget Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club or Weird Science, a tale of two nerdy teenage boys who create a woman of their own after failed attempts to connect with girls their own age.  Well, one of those “nerdy teens” is all grown up, has done rather well with the ladies (he’s been married for some 20 years and has two kids), and is an English professor at our very own Long Beach State.  Long Beach resident Ilan Mitchell-Smith also starred in Daniel, The Wild Life, The Chocolate Wars and other notable films before making the exodus from the soundstage to the classroom.  We chatted with this New York transplant to see what his post Hollywood life is like these days.

How long have you been a resident of Long Beach?

I’ve lived here about six years. My wife and I met in Southern California about 20 years ago, and we moved around a bit.  We finally made it back when I became a professor in the English department at Cal State Long Beach.

Long Beach’s dining scene has changed so much over the years. Is there a restaurant that no longer exists that you miss?

My wife and I used to go to Bono’s for anniversary and birthday dinners, and I do find myself wishing that we could still go there.

Got a favorite Long Beach restaurant now?

I have also really enjoyed The Attic on Broadway.  The menu has a range of dishes that all seem to be really tasty, and they have some whimsical offerings that I am a sucker for.  The best Mac and Cheese ever, with Cheetos crunched up on top?  Shut up and take my money.  A Bloody Mary, garnished with a whole mini cheeseburger or a meatball?  Yes, yes, thousand times yes.

What’s the one food you can’t live without?

As a New Yorker, the three foods I can’t do without are good pizza, good Chinese and good bagels. I don’t mean high-end places either – just simple, good and affordable food.

As a former actor what was your favorite thing to eat from Craft Services?

Oy! I guess I don’t remember Craft Services all that fondly, but I do remember that, somehow, the first time I ever had ranch dressing was at a Craft Services table. I think it was when I was filming The Wild Life, I was about 14, and not even that into salads at that point.  I was a little embarrassed that everyon else seemed to know what it was.  I remember saying the name a couple of times in my head so I would remember it for the future.

Well, ranch dressing is an important condiment. We’ll testify to that! Got a favorite Long Beach neighborhood for dining?

I really like walking before and/or after eating. I think the best combination of restaurants and nice walking is Belmont Heights.  One of my best friends lives in that neighborhood, and I often ride my bike to his house and we’ll walk to various places to grab lunch or coffee.

They’re bringing you your last meal: What is it?

It would have to be something I’ve never tried before, although it’s hard to imagine enjoying anything when you know it’s your last meal.

Very true. We almost wince to ask you this question, but what three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner and why?

I love this question. I’m tempted of course to go with some of the obvious and well-known folks who have had an influence on me:  Chaucer, the anonymous writer of Beowulf.  But , as cheesy as it might sound, I would want to invite my wife as I always love a date night with her.  My sister, who I haven’t seen in a long time and we’ve always gotten along well – she also loves a good meal.  And, finally, it would be Sidney Lumet, the first director I worked with and who passed away in 2011.  He was one of the sweetest, smartest people I have known.  I was 11 when we worked together on Daniel, and I have often wished I had the chance to have a conversation with him after I had grown up.  Like my wife and sister, he loved good food.

Tell us about your most memorable restaurant experience in Long Beach (it can be funny, sentimental, awkward).

When I was interviewing for the job at CSULB, I was taken to Open Sesame on 2nd I was coming from a somewhat rural town where I was working in Texas where there was very little variety of food and the restaurants were often just not at all good.  It had been a long time since I had had Mediterranean food, and the food itself was so well spiced and tasty that I pretty much made a hog of myself, letting all pretense of professionalism or good manners fall to the wayside.  Luckily, I guess it didn’t hurt my interview too much, and now I get to go to Open Sesame whenever I like!

When we were undergrads at Long Beach State we spent a lot of time in the campus pub, The Nugget. How about you?

I find the University Student Union a really great place to hang out. I am continually impressed with the spaces, activities, and services available there. The campus is beautiful, and a perfect palace to enjoy how diverse, smart and interesting our student body is.

Do you mind if we sing a few lines from Oingo Boingo’s hit Weird Science?

If you must.

Okay then, here we go: Not what teacher said to do, Makin’ dreams come true, Living tissue; warm flesh. Weird Science

Done yet?

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Governor George Deukmejian

35th Governor of California (1983 – 1991)

In 1957, as Wham-O introduced the Frisbee and Buddy Holly recorded “That’ll Be the Day,” newlyweds George and Gloria Deukmejian we putting down roots sin Long Beach. The two have lived in the same house ever since, except for an eight-year hiatus in Sacramento when he served as Governor of California from 1983 to 1991 and she was the state’s First Lady.  In 2013 a new state-of-the-art courthouse was opened in Downtown Long Beach and was named the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse.  An honor well-deserved if we do say so ourselves!

So, you lived in Long Beach since 1957. That’s 58 years! What originally brought you to the city?

My wife was born and raised in Long Beach. So after we married we decided to settle in her hometown.

For the eight years you were Governor of California, what did you miss most about Long Beach?

I probably missed our friends the most and, of course, the ocean.

What are some of your favorite restaurants in town?

I’m going to have to pass on this one. Once in politics always in politics! There are so many, I don’t want to leave anyone out.

Well, we can understand that. Here’s a more neutral question: Is there a restaurant that no longer exists that you really miss?

That one I’ll answer. We really enjoyed going to The Captain’s Table, which was over in the marina close to where The Crab Pot is today.

Is there a restaurant that you and Gloria go to for special occasions?

Again, I plead the fifth. Actually, we go to different restaurants for different occasions.

Can you share your most memorable Long Beach restaurant experience?

When I was first starting out in politics and ran for the State Assembly, Gloria and I were dining with our friends at The Captain’s Table on the night of the election. We were there when we learned I had won.

No wonder you have such fond memories of that restaurant. Besides that bit of trivia, what is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

Princess Diana once fainted after meeting me.

Seriously? With a story like that, do you ever miss politics or ponder the thought of running for another office?

No – after 28 years in politics I was ready to have a private life.

Thanks, Governor, we’ll let you get back to it!