By Laura Medina
Chef Nicole Votano of DIRT, from Miami.
Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival has set the bar and risen the stakes for all other food festivals. One, being the first food festival to have A-List musical acts as headliners on the Finale Night. Hip-Hop artist, Common, two years; Questlove last year; and the classic Hip-Hop Soul band, De La Soul headlining this Saturday night with Tyler Florence hosting.
Being invited to participate at this A-Level food and wine festival is a big deal for this Miami chef, Nicole Votano of DIRT.
What got this chef noticed is that she defies the trend and stereotype of a Miami chef. It's not the cliché Cuban/Latin American fare.
Her forte is pretty Los Angeles' taste for straight-forward, locally-sourced juices, broths, salads, straight-up sandwiches, and smoothies that cleanses the system while nourishing it, so people can radiate from within. Very Los Angeles. When it comes to service, she makes sure it's straight-forward swifty.
This is why Chef Nicole tags her restaurant as "fine food fast." She even calls her spot, a "wellness bar."
With all that partying, socializing, and posing on South Beach Miami, Miamians view Nicole's DIRT as a welcome relief to hydrate, nourish, and revitalize their hard-wired social system.
She's glad that Miami has took so well to her nourishing restaurant, that she gave this scribe an hint....She's planning to open a second DIRT in Downtown Miami and a pop-up but the location is still up in the air.
So, Chef Nicole is really, really excited about participating, working, chopping, whirring, and straining vegetables, fruits, and meat into delicious juices, broths, and smoothies that wine-swirling Los Angeles Food and Wine fans will be thirsty for, in-between the tapas nibble and wine-tasting.
In getting ready for the big festival weekend, Nicole was looking forward to the pampering and polish services at Ciel Spa at the SLS Hotel Los Angeles.
Paraphasing Chef Nicole, "Even in this day and age, women chef still feel they need to be "bad asses" in order to compete and to be accepted among the male chefs. I'm a girl. I enjoy girly things. I don't have to sacrifice my femininity in order to be a good chef. You can still be feminine and still be a chef."
While you're partying at Los Angeles Food and Wine, Chef Nicole will be there tonight at Eater Presents Night Market, from 7pm to 10pm then at Suday's Lexus Grand Tasting. While taking a breather from the wine-guzzling and the food feasting, digest and recover at Chef Nicole's DIRT booth, tonight and Sunday between 12pm to 3pm.
After the festival, she may have to return to Ciel Spa to recover...
This is the ladies locker room. No lockers but drawers and the lounge area where you can de-charge and a huge vanity mirror to either remove makeup or re-apply your own makeup.
This is the hair and makeup salon. This is where Chef Nicole might get prepped for her Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.
A reception lounge for those seeking facials, IV series, and massages.
Remember, Chef Nicole uses food as wellness. Ciel Spa isn't complete without a state-of-art gym.
After all that hard work...and partying, Ciel Spa offers IV Vitamin Therapy to replenish your exhausted system. Their menu ranges from basic Cold-Flue Buster to necessary Hangover Relief to the more important Tissue/Skin/Wound Healing, Post-Op and Pre-Op Formulas. This scribe's hard-charging producer/manager/event-planning girlfriends will appreciate the Headache/Migraine and Mega Vitamin B-12 IV Therapies.
You can even have a doctor's consultations beforehand to make you get the right IV Therapy.
If Ciel Spa at SLS Hotel LA is good enough for a chef, then it's great for Awards Season folks, who need the extra prep, pep, and primp for that hard-charging but glam season.