Part 2: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Today I am going to Cuernavaca to surprise my mom at tomorrow’s Mother’s Day luncheon at Las Mañanitas ( www.lasmananitas.com.mx ), she has no idea I’m in Mexico and no clue I’ll be spending Mother’s day with her. My brother is picking me up at Eugenio’s home for the 1:30 minute drive to the “City of eternal spring”; yes, that’s what they call Cuernavaca. I’m not quite sure why, since every time I go to this city, it is scorching hot, humid as hell and most definitely not what comes to mind when I think of spring! In order to succeed in my surprise, I can’t stay at my mother’s home, where I usually lodge; instead, I am spending the night at a local hotel in the center of the city that I found on the internet that looks really adorable and suitable for my 48 visit: Las Casas B + B Hotel (www.lascasasbb.com). It’s a converted private villa with a dozen rooms, 2 pools and what appears to be a “happening” restaurant and bar scene; maybe I can make a few new local friends.

Once I arrive at my destination I am pleased to discover that today is a lovely Spring day in Cuernavaca, clocking in at a mild 102 degrees, with a very comfortable 100% humidity…just screams Spring, doesn’t it? Being the world traveler that I am, I knew what weather I was walking into so I made sure to pick a hotel with AC in the bedrooms…don’t laugh; a lot of them don’t have it in these areas; you got to do your homework possums! The Hotel looks lovely; they did such a good job decorating it in a simple, yet chic colonial style. No surprise there…turns out the owners are a gay couple from NYC!!! I make a dash to my AC room and out of the elements to slip into a bathing suit and spend the rest of the afternoon poached in the swimming pool like a hippo at the Serengeti. There is nothing else one can do with this kind of heat…at least not this “Gringo”. Later in the evening one can venture out in the town for some drinks and snacks and a tour of the beautiful Palacio de Cortes and the charming center of town, with it’s open markets, cafes and Mariachis everywhere.

 

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Entrence to Las Casas B + B Hotel

 

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Lobby

 

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Pool area

 

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Another pool area

 

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Kass relaxing

 

By 8pm I’m ready for a little excursion around town; the heat has subsided a little and the world comes out to celebrate anything they can think about. My hotel is literally 1 block away from the center square where the impressive Cortes’s Palace holds reign in all its glory. The Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca is, at almost 500 years old; the oldest conserved colonial era civil structure in the continental Americas. The famous conquistador’s former residence is now a history museum with murals by Diego Rivera and the town’s center where all the locals hang out in the evenings, eating and drinking and listening to Mariachis.

After walking around for a few hours, I am famished and I think I’ll be checking out the “Happening” scene at my hotel’s restaurant and bar. The place is packed with a totally different crowd then from the outside walls; here the clientele is quite chic and obviously well off financially. I ask for a table for 1 and I’m told they are fully booked…wrong answer! 3 tantrums and 1 meltdown later, I get a lovely table by the pool and complimentary tequila on the rocks…SNAP!

The food is a modern interpretation of Mexican classic dishes and quite good, though I’m definitely not blown away. The crowd is very trendy and the place definitely has a great energy; I love the old black & white movies screened on the side of the building…nice touch! Having dinner with yourself has its limits, so after an hour of eating and drinking alone and NOT meeting anyone…I’m off to my freezing cold room for a good night sleep so I can be ready for tomorrow’s Mother’s day extravaganza.

 

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Restaurant is happening

 

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Restaurant

 

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Entrance at night


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Entrance

 

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Statue of Cortes

 

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Lively scene

 

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Restaurant filled streets

 

My morning starts with the most amazing interpretation of a Lox & Bagel I have seen in this country; such a beautiful presentation. The heat is starting to rise so I spend the next few hours back in the pool until it’s time to get dressed for the 3PM Mother’s day lunch (they eat lunch very late in Mexico). I was going to wear a suit for the occasion, but I will have to re-think my outfit due to the 100-degree weather….perhaps I’ll just go in my Speedos. I am pleased to learn that Uber service has started in Cuernavaca 3 weeks ago, so I go to my favorite App and low and behold, a white car, the size of a truffle, arrives with the most charming and kind driver I have ever experienced in Mexico. A very welcomed addition to this country if you have any idea how awful the Taxi drivers are in Mexico and how they rip you off as soon as they smell “foreigner” or Gringo.


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Just though this was pretty

 

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My very well presented Lox & Bagel dish at Las Casas B + B Hotel

 

I finally arrive at the famous Las Mañanitas, a favorite of my family for over 30 years. This Relais & Chateaux Property is one of Mexico’s best hotels and restaurants, not to mention the most amazing tropical garden I have ever seen, complete with flamingos, peacocks and other tropical birds roaming around freely in all their beauty. My mom and bother, along with a few friends, are already seated at the table, so I go around my mom, lean in and whisper in her ear: “Excuse me Ma’am, can I join you for lunch?” My mom turned around and practically jumped off her seat with surprise; for a moment there I thought she would have a heart attack!!! Note to myself: probably not a good idea surprising your 82-year-old mom in the future. Shock is followed by tears, hugs and kisses…I would say the surprise is a big success (also thanks to my brother who helped me arrange the whole thing). Lunch is amazing, as usual and goes on for hours, as they do in this country; no wonder you need a siesta after eating and drinking for 4 hours! After lunch we go back to my mom’s home and spend the rest of the day catching up and enjoying some well-deserved family time.
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Exterior of Las Mañanitas


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The stunning outdoor dining area at Las Mañanitas

 

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The tropical birds roaming around the property at Las Mañanitas

 

IMG_9148 My delicious Chile Relleno

 

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A very loud Flamingo visiting the dining area

 

I’m feeling very good about this trip and the successful Mother’s day surprise! Thank you so much to my darling brother David and my Mexican brother Eugenio Lopez for a wonderful stay in one of my favorite countries in the word. Tomorrow is back to LA and back to work…I feel so blessed!!!!

Last day on the Alps before the BIG change: From 0 degrees to 100 degrees in 10 hours

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Now that the scary first day of skiing is behind me, I’m feeling quite confident, so today Jonathan and I are gong for the highest peak in St. Moritz, the “Top of the world” Piz Nair at approx 4000 meters hight! Funny how after visiting Macchu Pichu, hight has become just another number! My entire body is aching from yesterday skiing, but I must suck it up and show my little brother that I’m still “The man”! it’s amazing to me how much effort goes into skiing, though you never realize until the next day when you are practically paralyzed! After the Kempinski’s amazing breakfast spread in their main ball room and my daily dose of Birchermüesli, a delicious Swiss breakfast icon, it’s back up the Alps for my last day of skiing (www.kempinski.com/en/st-moritz/grand-hotel-des-bains/welcome). I was very surprised to find out that on the way up the funicular to the Piz Nair, I am suddenly petrified by the dangling and sheer hight of the funicular; I am experiencing Vertigo and a bit of a panic attack. I have never been scared of heights and this is certainly not my first time on a scary, high-up dangling funicular, but today it’s a whole new experience…must be yet another damn present that comes with age!!! We finally get to the “The top of the world” where it’s customary to go up to the bronze statue of a goat that looks down on the world from its position and grab its balls for good luck! God knows I need all the luck I can get…so It’s a mad dash for the goat’s balls. Once again, I am very uncomfortable with the extreme height of this mountain top and I look at Jonathan, with panic on my face, and tell him:”Let’s get the hell down from this mountain!!!”.

 

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The very scary Piz Nair funicular

 

6cdc9b6f87The famous goat at the top of Piz Nair


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Incredible  views from Piz Nair

 

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Love my iPhone Panorama shot from Piz Nair

 

We continue skiing all morning until it’s time to meet up with my oldest BFF, Fabrizio at one of St. Moritz’s top places for lunch: Salastrains Restaurant (www.salastrains.ch). Salastrains is a beautiful, typical Engadin style building with the most amazing terrace on the slopes overlooking the Alpine mountain range. If you are lucky enough to get that perfect sunny day, you can sit outside on the terrace and have one of the most memorable lunches in your life! Today, we have that kind of luck and we sit on the terrace for some great views, great company and some St. Moritz specialties: like Onion soup and Carne del Grigioni.

 

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St. Moritz’s ski-in, ski-out top lunch spot: Salastrains Restaurant

 

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Salastrains’s Menu

 

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The amazing outdoor dining terrace

 

IMG_7635Robert Kass, Jonathan Kass and my Swiss BFF Fabrizio Malfanti

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Another Engadina classic: Carne Secca del Grigioni

 

After a few more slopes, the rest of the afternoon is spent walking around the old town and a visit to one of my favorite hotels in the world: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel                                   (www.badruttspalace.com). This place has more stories than you can imagine; it’s been a mecca for the jet-set, super stars and billionaires for over 100 years! Not only it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but it’s also a place that I have frequented since I was a little kid; I have to many memories here to count, especially at the infamous King’s Night Club in the basement of the hotel where more parties, scandal and debauchery have been going on for so many years. My dad used to bring talent to the Palace in the 60′ to perform and I spend countless New Year’s here at my late friend Christina Onassis’ NYE parties. The founder of this iconic hotel is pretty much responsible for creating St. Mortiz when he built the first hotel in the area, now the Kulm Hotel (www.kulm.com), and later  the Palace with its famous “Torretta”, once occupied by the famous German playboy and billionaire Gunter Sachs. To date, I am still friend’s with the grandson: Johannes Badrutt Jr.

 

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The legendary and super-chic Badrutt’s Palace Hotel

 

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The famous billionaire Günter Sachs’s green roof Torretta at the Palace Hotel

 

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Torretta detail

 

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Palace Hotel entrance

 

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The stunning mountain/chic interior at the Palace



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The amazing carved wood ceilings at the Palace Hotel

 

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More amazing details at the Palace Hotel

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The 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Spur for guests at the Palace Hotel

 

Alright, I better get back to the hotel for a siesta before tonight’s big event at the Kempinski: The 2016 St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, featuring only Top Japanese chefs from around the world, including my buddy from LA, Nobu Matsuhisa. Reto has arranged a few tickets for this famous yearly gala held in St.Moritz featuring a different cuisine every year; it’s going to be a bonanza of food tasting of one of my favorite cuisines. Most presenting chefs have 1 or 2 Michelin stars restaurants around the world, so you can imagine the kind of foodie experience this will be. It’s a black tie event and I only have a sport jacket and jeans (Clearly, I wasn’t planning on attending elegant events on this trip. But it goes to tell you what my dad always said: A gentleman always carries a suit in his luggage…you never know!). Apparently I am not a gentleman and I definitely stood out like a sore thumb; all this means is that I have to turn up the charm to make up for my inappropriate appearance. After a few sakes, no one cared, least of all, me! After inhaling about 20 incredible Japanese nibbles with equally amazing paired wines, I am literally falling a sleep on my feet! It’s bed time for this aching, out of shape, old ski bunny!

 

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The Japanese Chef delegation at the 2016 St. Moritz Gourmet Festival

 

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Preparations before the big event

 

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The Gala is in full swing

 

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Look who is also here showcasing his amazing food? My friend Nobu from LA

 

Tomorrow I will spend my last half day in this winter paradise before driving to Zurich, where I will spend the night for my early departure the next day to Tanzania; in other words, I will go from 10 degrees to 110 degrees in one day! Sayonara!!!

 

 

 

First day of skiing…God help me!

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Waking up in St. Moritz is truly a dream; especially in my beautiful, comfortable and spacious suite at The Kempinski Hotel (www.kempinski.com/en/st-moritz/grand-hotel-des-bains/welcome) that my childhood friend and Hotel GM Reto Stockenius has arranged for me. Looking out the window and seeing the enchanting town with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop is medicine to your soul and puts you immediately in the best mood possible. I guess I have the same connection and awe with the mountains as other people have with the ocean back in California; the shear size, presence and overwhelming beauty, takes over you and you are suddenly part of the miracle that is NATURE!

St. Moritz is an alpine resort town in the Engadin, a valley in Switzerland. Twice a host of the Winter Olympics, St. Moritz is mostly know for its jet set and aristocrat clientele that has been part of the fabric of this town since its inception. Winter in St. Moritz is as good as it gets, and the infrastructure is second to none: great skiing, amazing hotels and restaurants, sassy night clubs and more glamour than you can handle! A mecca for billionaires, celebrities, royals and sports figure, St. Moritz always seems to deliver with flying colors!

 

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My fabulous suite at The Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

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My sitting room

 

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View from my window

 

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View from my window

 

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The stunning 19 century facade of the Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains

 

Today is my first day skiing in 6 years since I broke my shoulder in Whistler, Canada, when an 18 year old drunken hooligan, ran me over with a snow mobile!!!! Yes…a snow mobile, that threw me up in the air 15 feet to land on my shoulder; I passed out on impact and woke up in the emergency room of the local hospital with my deranged friends laughing at me…equally as drunk as the criminal that ran me over!!!! That was my dear friend Jeff Bartlett’s bachelor party, so it’s not a surprise that multiple injuries, to multiple people happened during the trip.

So back to St. Moritz; today I will ski after 6 years and I’m really exited and nervous at the same time…I don’t want to brake anything else!!!!! The fact that I am soooo out of shape now will not help either. So it’s me and my brother Jonathan off to the slopes today at a comfortable 8 degrees weather; if I don’t brake my neck, I’ll probably freeze to death anyway…no positive outcome here! Surprisingly, the day goes really well, the weather is amazing, not a cloud in the ski, the snow is fluffy and dry and I just got back into the swing of things like a champ! The best part is realizing that I’m a better skier than my little brother…HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Brotherly competition never dies…

 

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Amazing Coffee Shop on the slopes

 

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Ready and gorgeous…

 

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Corviglia sceenery

 

IMG_7587A very happy Robert ready for lunch

 

After 3 hours of skiing, I can’t feel my legs or body for that matter, so it’s time for my favorite pastime on the mountains: Gluhwein…and lunch!!!! Gluhwein is the equivalent of Mulled Wine in the US and a staple in the European mountain resorts to keep warm (at least that’s the excuse we use). Jonathan and I stop at one of our favorite mountain eateries for lunch, or more specifically, the Swiss staple: Bratwurst with Rösti and mustard. It’s amazing to me how the simplest little things in life make me soooo happy; I don’t need a Bentley or a Hermes leather Jacket…give me a Bratwurst or cheese fondue and I’m truly fulfilled…literally!



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The outdoor bar at the Alpina Hütte

 

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More

 

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Alpina Hütte’s amazing terrace overlooking the Swiss Alps

 

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Menu

 

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A swiss mountain classic: Bratwurst with Rösti

 

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My little brother Jonathan Kass

 

After a great lunch on the terrace of the Alpina Hütte (www.alpinahuette.ch) looking at the Swiss mountain range, both myself and Jonathan decide that we had enough for the first day and that it’s time for a nice walk around St. Moritz and a hot chocolate at the legendary Hanselmann Bakery (www.hanselmann.ch), a staple in St. Moritz and a must after a long day of skiing. Once back at the hotel we go for yet more indulgence with an hour of SPA action at the Kempinski. Now I am literally paralyzed with exhaustion…I need a serious disco nap before dinner.


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Classic Engiadina style architecture

 

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The iconic Chesa Veglia restaurant, also part of the Palace Hotel

 

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One of Switzerland’s most famous bakeries and a St. Moritz institution: Hanselmann


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The beautiful Laurent Perrier ice bar for the après-ski Bolli

 

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Hanselmann Bakery at dusk


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View from my suite at dusk

 

IMG_7597View from my suite at dusk with full moon

 

Tonight I’m having dinner with 3 of my oldest friends in the world: Reto and Simona Stockenius and Fabrizio Malfanti, whom I’ve known since I was 3 years old along with my brother Jonathan Kass. It’s not often these days that you can sit at a dinner table with people you love so much and have known for all your life. Catching up over a period of 40 years is no small feat and will require multiple bottles of amazing Swiss wine to do the job. We are eating at the fairly new Dal Mulin Restaurant (www.dalmulin.ch), which I picked on the Internet because of its stellar reviews; all the other top restaurants were just way too expensive for my little “Jet setting on a dime” wallet. Expensive in Switzerland is NOT the same as the US; “expensive” in St. Moritz is $300-400 per person without an expensive wine; so I’m hoping this more reasonable eatery with great reviews, will impress us, for we all are pretty demanding customers!

As expected, dinner goes on for hours and laughter is in abundance, in fact, we close the place down after midnight. Dinner is really good; the boys share a massive Stinco di Vitello, cooked to perfection, while the rest seem very happy with their dishes. Reto picks a Swiss Charbertin red wine that is truly out-of-this-world for a medium priced wine.

 

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Tonight’s restaurant choice

 

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The very Swiss warm and cozy dining room at Dal Mulin

 

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Our round table at Dal Mulin



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Steak Tartare at Dal Mulin

 

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Stinco di Vitello al forno



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Amazing local wine that Reto Stockenius picked for us

 

We are all so tired now but as they say: “No rest for the wicked”…one more stop before hitting my very comfortable bed. Reto and Simona want us to see one of the hottest bars in St. Mortiz, where their kids usually hang out when in town. Contrary to all the other hot night spots in St. Mortiz like The King’s Club at the Palace Hotel or Dracula at the Kulm Hotel that are ûber exclusive, super expensive and difficult to get in; Baracca is an old barn where poor workers used to gather after work for some cheap booze. Now, of course, it’s no such place; though it’s still the old barn, it’s now a favorite with the young ones visiting St. Moritz. It’s loud and packed to the tilt and people often end up dancing on tables to the same old European favorite tunes like the Gypsy King and yes…Crystal Water’s “She’s homeless”! We last just about 30 minutes before we all realize that we are a little to old to hang with the kiddies, so we finally head back to the Kempisnki and hit the sack!!!!

Good night from heaven…or as the locals call it: The top of the world!!!

 

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The infamous Baracca restaurant and bar

 

labaracca_20150201_212025The very simple interior of Baracca



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My brother Jonathan Kass with my gorgeous childhood friend Simona Stockenius

 

 

My Hotel project is finished and I definitely need a brake…off to Switzerland for some great skiing

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After five months of hard work, I have finally finished designing my first Hotel in my long and multifaceted career. Interior design has always been one of my favorite interests in life, and though I never pursued it professionally, I have designed dozens of restaurants and bars through the years along with some other projects for fiends of mine, but this project was quite special; not only it’s my first hotel, but also the first time I work for a proper client, beside my projects and my friends. I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to take on a project of this kind and visibility on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and to really show my work at a whole different level! None of this would have happened if not for my beloved BFF Ilona Margolis who promoted me and my talents to the right people with more passion and conviction than I would ever be able to do. I have now been entrusted with designing my clients’ next hotel in Brentwood; but in true Kass fashion, before I dive into my second hotel, I need a little brake and I can’t think of anything more extreme than a week in the Swiss Alps for some skiing in freezing weather and another week in scorching hot Tanzania, Africa!

 

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Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel Entrance


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New Club sign

 

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New reception area


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New Lobby

 

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New Lobby

 

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Library detail with Salvador Dali print

 

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One of the many beautiful pieces of art at the new hotel

 

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The dramatic Lacquered wood paneled hallway at the new Luxe Hotel

 

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The new outside patio on Rodeo Drive

 

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The new Bar at The Luxe Hotel

 

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Bar detail

 

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New bar and dining room

 

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New dining room

 

To celebrate my latest achievement and my last night in LA, I decide to spend the night at home alone with a bowl of Beluga caviar, a bottle of Tattinger Champagne, toasted Pain de Mie and Leonardo di Caprio’s latest epic movie: The Revenant…my kind of BLISS!!! The next day is a whole different thing…I spend most of the morning agonizing on how to pack for such an extreme combination of climates; finally I go for a larger suitcase packed with as many cashmeres I can get my hands on, all my sky gear and any warm clothing item I can find and a smaller suitcase with flip flops, bathing suit, t-shirts and two large cans of mosquito repellent…a must when traveling in Africa!!! Perfect, it’s time to Uber myself to LAX for my long haul to Zurich, Switzerland where my brother will pick me up and drive me to the most beautiful winter wonderland in the world: St. Moritz!!! Of course, I fly my beloved Swiss Airlines, who surprised me this time with a better than usual dinner menu that I thoroughly enjoyed before popping my sleeping pill for the twelve hour beauty-sleep to Zurich.

 

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My idea of a perfect night!

 

I was having dreams of mosquitos attacking me in Africa when I get a tap on my shoulder and awake to find out we are arriving in Zurich! After a short layover I board the small propeller plane to Lugano where my brother is waiting for me for the 2 hour drive to St. Mortiz. The drive is beyond amazing from Lugano through the Swiss alps, covered in snow to our final destination, the super chic Kempinski Hotel.

 

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View from my seat

 

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Delicious dinner on Swiss Airlines

 

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Abord the small propellor plane to Lugano


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Zurich at dusk from my plane

 

IMG_7411Amazing views of the Swiss Alps at dusk

 

We are staying at the beautiful Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Mortiz, the historical ski resort that had its first winter season in 1814-15;  it’s charismatic director is my childhood friend Reto Stockenius, one of Switzerland’s best Hotel General Managers and long time friend of mine from my early days in Lugano Switzerland. Reto is the kindest and most generous soul and he is married to yet another childhood friend of mine from school: Simona Stockenius. It’s a real treat to be able to stay at his hotel and share some time together after soooo many years knowing each other. Reto’s class-act style is evident form the first minute I enter my room with a welcome bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a delicious almond tart, typical of this region and more goodies in toe. What was supposed to be a standard room, was upgraded to a one bedroom stunning suite with the most incredible view of St. Mortiz and the Swiss alps skyline. I’m in Heaven!!!!


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The stunning Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St. Moritz

 

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The best welcome treats in my suite from my dear friend and Director Reto Stockenius



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The Stunning vIew from my suite with full moon

 

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More images form my room

 

After settling in Jonathan and I make our way to one of the oldest and most renowned eateries in St. Moritz: Veltlinerkeller. This place has been around for generations and we’ve been going here since I was a kid; they are famous for their Pizzoccheri, which is whole-wheat pasta with potatoes, Spinach smothered with a local melted cheese…divine!!!! I was a little apprehensive about dining under a huge head of a Moose, but after a few glasses of wine, he turned out to be quite interesting! I have the best time catching up with my little brother, but j between my main course and dessert, jet lag kicks in and I’m ready to go back to my fancy suite and turn in!

 

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One of my favorite restaurants: Feltlinerkeller

 

IMG_7457The very Swiss interior at Feltlinerkeller


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Their signature dish: Pizzoccheri della Valtellina



IMG_7470My brother Jonathan Kass and someone we picked up along the way…


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Being naughty with our new friend

 

Oh…by the way, did I mention it’s 18 degrees below zero in St. Moritz? I am quickly reminded how thin my blood has become living in LA for so many years; the frost is truly unbearable!!!! Once back at the hotel, I can’t help feeling so nostalgic, overwhelmed by so many memories from my past in this place: from my late father, to my many friends from my youth I lost touch with and so many glamorous events I was so lucky to attend in St. Moritz. I can’t wait to be back on the slopes tomorrow for the first time in 20 years. I hope this old carcass of mine will make it though the day without braking anything!

Good night everybody from this enchanting place…bloody freezing too!!!

 

Jetting to the South of Turkey for a week of “Yachting”, on a dime…of course!

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Good morning everyone!!!! I’m so ready for a little boat action in the beautiful South of Turkey (actually, more like a big boat action). After the waterfront breakfast ritual…this time with the house pet: the totally “Bonkers” Lillie the Kitty, who today decided to join me for breakfast…more specifically, decided to wrap herself around my neck, like a Stole. One last scrambled eggs with Sukuk (the lethal Turkish sausage) and it’s time to pack…BTW I have no idea who’s cigarettes are those by my side…bad kitty! By late morning a caravan of sedans with myself, Raphael and Nibbles’ family make way to the airport for the fairly short flight to the South of Turkey, specifically: Göcek. Göcek is a stunning ocean village that has not yet suffered the claws of tourism and over development, as it’s neighbor Bodrum has. The natural layout of islands and coves in this large and secluded bay makes it a perfect place for the yacht set. Furthermore, in 1988, Göcek was declared a Registered Area of Special Protection, so multi-story buildings are not allowed, this has literally killed all plans to over-build and develop, making it renowned as a much more peaceful and exclusive settlement than some other tourism areas.

 

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Last Turkish breakfast on the Bosphorus…with Lillie the Kitty

 

After a delightful flight on a Falcon 900 private jet, we arrive in Dalamal Airport and into a new caravan for our final destination. At the marina, our dingy is waiting for us to take us to our fabulous yacht where we will be spending the next week, cruising up and down the Turkish coast and across the Mediterranean to a few Greek Islands. At the boat, the fabulous staff, lead by the charismatic head steward Paolo, greets us with cocktails and nibbles; It’s really hot in Göcek and both Raffi and I can’t wait to get in the water. After settling in our guest suites we all meet on the deck for more drinks and to visit with our dear friend Burçak, who is herself, on her boat a few bays away. I’ve known Burçak for many years and it’s always such a pleasure to see her and her husband Selim. One of the features of these Yacht populated micro systems, is that you make friends with neighboring yachts and before you now it, you become part of this exclusive posse; you are going from party to party, to dinner to dinner, cocktail to cocktail…all on yachts of course. If you suffer of seasickness…well, then you should consider another glamorous form of transportation. The thing about yacht life is that there are only three things to do: eat, drink and, for the more industrious: water activities. I happen to enjoy all three equally, so after a few welcoming cocktails, a few local raw nuts and 3 glasses of Ornellaia, I’m jumping in!!!!!

 

 

IMG_4722Boarding the Falcon 900 for our trip to Göcek

 

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Someone is very tired…

 

The water is warm and crystal clear and the view of the untouched, natural plush landscape is riveting; after a few Esther Williams laps around the boat, it’s time for toys! This boat happens to have all the toys a kid or a immature, adult as I am, could hope for; it’s Disneyland on the water and between me, Raffi and Nibbles’ kids, it’s a never ending race on who can out due the other. I’m into the new See-Bob, a submergible that propels you under water like a submarine; all you have to do is press a button and hold on for dear life and this thing will drag you under water for as long as you can stand it. There is a lot of seawater drinking at the beginning until you get the hang of it. Raffi, on the other hand, is going for Fly-boarding, a very popular contraption that you wear on your feet and with the help of an altered jet sky; it will lift you out of the water through water jets. Last time I tried this I fell on my face 23 times until I finally raised from the waters like a water angel…so I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Nibbles opts for a good old classic waterskiing session behind a very powerful See-Doo. After swallowing half the bay of Gocek behind my See-bob, I decide to go back and have a Leonardo moment: “King of the world” at the front of the boat before joining the rest of the gang for cocktail hour #3.

 

 

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The Russians have arrived. They always have the biggest boats…Hummm

 

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Grandma’s spectacular 1920′ steamer yacht

 

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The head steward on the boat, the lovely Paolo

 

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The beautiful Burçak Sayilgan with Robert Kass

 

IMG_4896A very traditional Turkish snack: raw almonds and walnuts on ice

 

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Jesus juice…Ornellaia

 

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The Canadian getting psiched-up for “Fly boarding”

 

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And he’s up…


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Robert Kass channeling Leonardo di Caprio

 

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This one never takes a bad photo…we will call her “Cover girl”

 

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“Cover girl” mono-skying in Göçek

 

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Raphael Tessier enjoying the warm waters of the Mediterranean

 

One of the many unique things about Gocek is their amazing restaurants on the sea that you can only reach by boat; tonight we are going to one of my favorites that specializes in Mediterranean foods who’s name escapes me…I know, ridiculous! I spent 1 hour on the internet looking for the name of this restaurant but that’s how exclusive it is…You can’t find it!!! You can only get here by boat and the food is fresh and delicious with the usual Turkish specialties and my favorite: Linguini with fresh lobster. There is not a sound around you but the restaurant activities, the water is now flat as a mirror and there is this sense of peace that i can’t describe. Looking out form out special table on the sand, you can see the many little green islands disappearing into the night and the silhouettes of the yachts anchored for the night. It’s time to go back to the boat for a late movie on the top deck under the stars and Paolo’s bed-e-buys nightcap before I hit the bed: Grappa and black cherries…when in Rome!

 

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Arriving at one of my favorite restaurants on the beach

 

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Our table…right on the water

 

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“Cover girl” strikes again

 

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The charming “Al fresco” dining

 

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Dusk in Göçek



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Our floating home at Dusk

 

IMG_4842 Paolo’s idea of a night cap: black cherries and Grappa

 

Yacht life is exhausting!!! I know…shoot me!



Hitting the Grand Bazaar with Cher and Loree Rodkin, dinner at Zuma and party at Soho House, Istanbul

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Starting the day in Istanbul, or more specifically at Nibbles’ house, is quite an experience; breakfast is served on the outside veranda, right on the Bosphorus and it’s an eclectic feast of local fruits and vegetables, a variety of breads, home made jams, feta cheese-cucumbers and peeled tomatoes, olives, omelets, and more!!!! It’s so much food, but all so delicious you can’t stop! Today we are going to the famous Grand Bazaar, an Istanbul institution and a must-do when visiting this city.

The Grand Bazaar, built in the 15th century, is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops, which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. 

It’s not for the faint hearted, in fact it’s a hustle and bustle of the craziest kind; it’s the art of buying and selling at it’s best. If you don’t know how to haggle…you will be taken advantage here with no mercy! I’ve been going here for years and sharpened my skills with every passing year to the point of perfection!!! Everyone shops here: locals and tourists alike, there are western prices and local ones and the trick is to get closest to the local price as you can. However, today’s visit will be a whole new experience for me; why you ask? Because CHER is going with us! I cannot even imagine how it will be like visiting the Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of thousands of visitors, with one of the most famous and iconic figures of our century…I’m breathless with anticipation!

We are off to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas: Cher & Loree Rodkin with entourage. It’s a quick boat ride across the waters and under a few bridges on the Bosporus and here we are here. Loree is already waiting in the lobby, as she is always on time; unfortunately you cannot say the same of lady” C”… one hour and a half later, HRH makes it to the lobby. With us is a pair of a Turkish version of a Navy Seals, who look more like Manchurian assassins than body guards…they are terrifying!! It was four of them to begin with , but Cher felt it would warrant unwanted attention, so cut it down to 2…thankfully!


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Raffi and myself on the way to the Four Season Hotel to pick up the divas

 

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Going under one of Istanbul famous bridges

 

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At the Four Season Hotel waiting for the Divas

 

After a 45 minutes van ride to the old center of town we are ready to rumble. Your first time at this 600 year old market is truly breathtaking; the energy around here is intoxicating and the thousands of stands selling everything and anything your heart desires make your head spin. We walk through the grand entrance into one of the main streets of the bazaar; people are staring the entire time, but can’t quite make out if it’s really Cher, a “Look-a-like” or a drag queen. What are the chances of her walking around one of the busiest markets in the world with just two bodyguards and a few friends; It’s the foreigners that recognize her immediately, but have no doubt, NO one is getting through the Manchurian Assassins!!! We shop and shop and shop till we can’t feel our feet anymore; I’m the chosen “Haggler” for the whole group, so after 3 hours of wheeling and dealing; I’m literally spent!!!! It’s time for a swim, a massage and a nap back home before getting ready for dinner at one of my favorite restaurant in Istanbul: Zuma.

 

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The newly restored Beyazit Mosque by the Grand Bazaar

 

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Entrance to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

 

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One of the many covered streets in the Grand Bazaar

 

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Shops and more shops

 

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Looking like a total tourist at the Grand Bazaar


IMG_4617 2One of the many Cafés inside the Grand Bazaar



IMG_4616The amazing painted 15th century arched ceilings inside the Grand Bazaar



IMG_4619Café life at the Grand Bazaar



P1010158The amazing 15th century vaulted ceilings in the Old Grand Bazaar

 

10PM, time to pick up the gang again for dinner at Zuma (www.zumarestaurant.com). Yes, dinner in Istanbul starts at 10PM and continues till the wee hours of the morning…no Blue Light Special here! It takes a while to get used to eating so late, but when in Rome. Zuma’s cosmopolitan twist on traditional Japanese Izakaya cuisine, sits well with the Turkish elite. Like Las Vegas in the 90′, Istanbul is attracting all the big names in the culinary world: like Nobu, Cipriani, Spago, Ciccone’s, etc. Zuma, however, has one of the most beautiful terraces on the Bosphorus and sitting here for dinner overlooking the water, the lit mosques and the colorful bridges is truly spectacular! The food is delicious and reminiscent of Nobu’s cuisine; the miso marinated black cod wrapped in hobs leaf, the roasted lobster with chilli ponzu butter and the chili marinated lamb chops and homemade pickles, take the cake! A lovely lady from the table next to us, courageously comes over to our table and tells Cher how honored they are that she is in Istanbul and extended a big welcome on behalf of the Turkish people…dramatic but heartwarming. What an amazing group tonight: Loree Rodkin, Cher, Raphael Tessier, Jen, Endar, Paulette Howell and myself; we are all having the best time and all thanks to the best hostess in Turkey, our own, wonderful Nibbles. Once again, before you know it, it’s 2am and time for the ladies to retire and for the boys to go hunting!


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Dusk on the Bosforus

 

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Arriving at the Four Season Hotel to pick up the gang

 

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Me and the beautiful Nibbles

 

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The stunning terrace on the Bosforus at Zuma Restaurant

 

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Another view from Zuma restaurant

 

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Jenn, Endar and Paulette Howell at Zuma

 

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Loree Rodkin and Jen

 

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Cher and Robert Kass at Zuma

 

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Exotic fruit platter with tropical sorbet at Zuma

 

IMG_4594 2Turkish balls on ice…couldn’t help myself.

 

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The beautiful mosque on the Bosphorus


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One of the many changing colors of Istanbul’s bridges

 

Endar, Raphael and myself are going to the newly opened, member’s only, Soho House Istanbul (www.sohohouseistanbul.com), for a few nightcaps and a mingle with Istanbul’s elite…or so I’m told. The building, built in 1873, is absolutely spectacular; prior to Soho House takeover, Palazzo Corpi, as it is named, used to be the home of the US ambassador. In 2014, Soho House bought the building and began extensive restoration work on the Palazzo, returning it to its former glory. We are greeted with open arms by Soho’s charming manager who takes us for a tour of the Palazzo before we join a few of Endar’s friends on the rooftop bar. The place is beyond beautiful and without doubt, the most beautiful Soho House of all. The view of the Bosphorus and the city skyline from here is just amazing, not to mention, the rooftop pool looks very inviting and available to guests for a swim anytime. The crowd is definitely über chic and a testament to the growing, young Turkish society that is hungry for the best the West has to offer! It’s now 3AM and I am ready for my gorgeous bedroom on the water; tomorrow it’s sightseeing and a marvelous sit-down dinner on an old steamer boat, up and down the Bosphorus with best friends from both the US and Turkey…cannot wait!

 

IMG_4719Arriving at the stunning Soho House Istanbul

 

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Stairwell at Soho House

 

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One of the Grand Bars at Soho House

 

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Soho House Lobby

 

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Rooftop restaurant at Soho House

 

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A tired Robert Kass leaving the Soho House

A quick flight over the Swiss Alps and off to one of my favorite countries: Turkey.

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I could hardly sleep last night from the excitement of today’s trip to one of my favorite cities: Istanbul. It has become a yearly pilgrimage of sort, an event that I look forward too the entire year: a time to visit my beloved, adopted Turkish family. It’s a time of raw fun, beauty, drama-free-unconditional love from the most unassuming, generous and loving people one could hope to have in their life’s…a really hard thing to find in my neck of the woods. This time around, my friend Raphael is flying in from Montreal and joining me in Istanbul for a 3-week journey all around Europe.

It’s always hard to leave my family, but after the usual chaotic, screaming children, food flying, back talking breakfast at the Kass’s, I’m ready for the next chapter. My brother Jonathan drives me to Lugano’s own tiny airport; an Airport that surprisingly has gone in and out of business 10 times in the last 40 years, so you never know if you can fly into it or out of it! Thankfully, it’s in business today, so I can catch my flight to Zurich for my connection to Istanbul. After a teary goodbye with my little brother, it’s time to board this tiny Austrian Airlines propeller plane…not exactly my cup of tea, in fact, I hate small propeller planes, this little “Suiso” needs “Jets”; but the alternative is a 3 hour train or car ride to Zurich…so suck it up! The flight to Zurich is only 30 minutes but absolutely spectacular; flying over the Swiss Alps mountain range is truly an amazing sight. I couldn’t help but notice that the amount of snow on the mountains is the lowest I have ever seen in my life; As far as I can remember, it was always totally white, year round. Now, it’s hard to find the snow; they say climate change is to blame…sounds really scary to me!

 

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Lugano’s own small airport

 

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Austrian Airlines propellor plane to Zurich Airport…God help me!

 

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The Swiss alps with surprisingly little snow to show for

 

Once arrived in Istanbul airport, my hosts “Welcoming’ agent is awaiting at the end of the ramp to escort me through Visa lines, Passport lines and just about every other line in this very busy airport. He’s been welcoming me for years now and we still cannot communicate one word to one another: him no English…me no Turkish. He’s an ex cop in charge of Airport security who looks more like a Manchurian assassin than a greeter; the first time I saw him I ran the opposite way, fearing for my life. That’s until I found out he worked for my hosts and is, in fact, the biggest Teddy bear ever!!! Once at the baggage claim, I reunite with my friend Raffi who arrived just about an hour earlier and was waiting for me to go to our final destination on the Bosporus.

Traffic is a big problem in Istanbul; a lot like Mexico City, so the fastest way to Nibbles’s house is driving to the nearest ocean point on the Bosporus and then have a speedboat meet you there and take you the rest of the way to the house on the water (certainly NOT an option if you’re on a budget). After a 45 minutes drive we reach the water where Nibbles’s captain is waiting for us; the boat ride to the house is breathtaking no matter how many times you do it. You go by so many monuments along these old waters; palaces after palaces from the old Ottoman Empire, built by the very lavish Sultans. You go under the new, modern bridges that link the European continent to the Asian one; the contrast between old and new is striking.

Finally we are home! Seeing Nibbles, dad and the kiddies is always an enormous pleasure; after lots of kisses and hugs we make our way to the guest suites to settle in and prepare for tonight’s “Welcome” traditional Turkish dinner party at the house. We have a special treat this summer: after trying for years to get the one and only Cher to visit this amazing country, she finally agreed and has arrived today in Istanbul along with BFF (and my wifey) Loree Rodkin and will be joining us for dinner tonight and for the next 3 days. After a much-needed nap, it’s time to get dressed and meet my fab friends Mr. and Mrs. K, Omer Karajan, Alasdair Dundas and sweet Endar for drinks at the fabulous, Roman columned veranda overlooking the Bosporus. Catching up with everyone over fresh watermelon and vodka martinis is always a favorite of mine and watching the boats going back and forth in front of you, with beautifully lit medieval castles and bridges is truly magical…never gets old!

 

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On the boat and on our way to Nibbles house

 

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I think Raffi is happy to see me

 

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Çiragan Palace from our boat

 

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View of the medieval castle from my bedroom

 

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View of the pool and the bridge from my bedroom

 

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View from the bridge from the gardens

 

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Amazing night view of the bridge linking both European and Asian continents

 

At last, my darling Loree Rodkin, Cher, Paulette Howell (who’s husband is the producer of South Park) and her long time assistant Jennifer, arrive via boat from the Four Season Hotel; it’s time for an amazing Turkish dinner with all it’s Mediterranean influenced dishes…and more watermelon martinis. It’s a really fun group and such an intimate delightful gathering; before you know it, we laugh our way to 2am in no time.

Tomorrow is a BIG day, so it’s off to bed for a relatively early night; I cannot wait to show “newbies” Cher and Raphael the Grand Bazaar tomorrow…God help us!

 

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Two of my favorite people: Loree Rodkin and Raphael Tessier

 

IMG_4546Three of my favorite people: Nibbles, Raffi and Loree

 

IMG_4539Nibbles, the “dashing” Omer Karajan and Paulette Howell

 

Here Kitty Kitty… “Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation”, Mexico City, Mexico

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After an easy, quick flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City on a much-improved United Airlines (www.united.com) I’m finally here! Mexico is a real paradox and a bag of mixed emotions; It’s chaotic and extremely disorganized, everything seems to be an afterthought. Buildings and freeways seem to raise as they go with no specific engineering or planning of any sort; a real opposite from the many gorgeous 17-18th century Spanish and Colonial towns that pepper the entire country. And yet, this urban jungle is on of the most vibrant cities in the world, not to mention the biggest. If you can look beyond the chaos and the brutal traffic, you will find a true metropolis filled with amazing energy, stunning neighborhoods, top notch museums, incredible history, restaurants of every kind, amazing artisan markets, more history and shopping galore. It’s not for everyone…but I love it!!!!

I’m staying at my dear friend’s Eugenio’s spectacular penthouse in Polanco, overlooking the Woods of Chapultepek (which is Mexico City’s version of NYC’s central park). I’ll be staying here for a few weeks, including a visit at my mom’s house in Cuernavaca, which is just 1 hour outside the city. There are several museums I want to see on this trip, most of all, Eugenio’s Jumex Museo that I followed through all of it’s stages: it’s inception and design, construction and the spectacular opening weekend just about one years ago, which I will report on as a “Throwback” post at some point.

But today I’m doing something totally different from my usual comfort zone, something I’ve never done before and I’m soooooo exited!!!!!! A dear friend of mine: Eduardo Serio, started a foundation some time ago in Mexico that dedicates itself to saving, healing and providing shelter to felines of all types that are left behind by private people, circuses and zoo’s. The operation is divided in two parts: the baby felines, from birth to a few months old, are hosted at his own home in Pedregal de San Angel; once grown, they are moved to the larger sanctuary for more space, protection and supervision.

I’ve been salivating over Eduardo’s Instagram page for a while (@blackjaguarwhitetiger), watching all his posts of the cutes panthers, lions and tigers I’ve ever seen and videos of the amazing relation he has with these animals. I promised myself that on my next trip to Mexico I would beg him to give me the grand tour; So here I am and after a few texts later, Eduardo has agreed to show me his fascinating new world. Our super cool driver: Jose Luis, picks us up in the morning for the 30 minute drive to Pedregal de San Angel, a wealthy suburb of Mexico City, to go to Eduardo’s own home to visit the baby felines. There is really nothing I can say to describe the amazement you experience once I am taken in a room with three baby tigers; I guess the photos will do more justice than anything I can say.

I am so happy with these little fluff balls that they have to drag me out by force. We move to the gardens where they keep the adolescent cats, one month to 6 months old, depending on the breed. Here that cats are definitely larger and very playful, I’m shocked at the strength they have at such a young age. It’s rough and painful some times, specially when one of the lions though my ankles was a lamp chop and pounced on it…teeth and all!!! It’s extraordinary how these cats have such different personalities from one another.

 

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Driving to Eduardo’s “Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation” sanctuary with Raphael Tessier, our driver Jose Luis and Coronas

 

IMG_2080The new love of my life

 

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Being viciously attacked by two white lions and a tiger

 

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Adolescent tiger

 

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Panther hug…literally

 

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Trying to hang with the Puma but the jealous Panther won’t have it!

 

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The time has come to drive to the actual sanctuary hosting all the big cats, just 45 minutes away. Eduardo has purchased over a 100 acres of land in an area just off the highway to Acapulco and has built a state of the art sanctuary for his growing number of adult cats. There are no cages just fenced areas to separate the different animals; each one has plenty of space to roam around, they have pools to swim and cool down and they are fed individually according to their health needs. Here I see fully-grown panthers, white tigers, tiger, lions, jaguars and more. They all arrived at the sanctuary sick, diseased and bone-thin, but you would never know, because they have all been treated and brought back to a healthy life.

We are all mesmerized by the beauty of these animals and the incredible efforts made to built this oasis and give these felines a second chance; suddenly Eduardo asks me if I want to play with two adult lions…before I could even think it through, he opens a gate to one of the enclosures and two fully grown lions come charging in our area and plop themselves just next to my feet. The combination of sheer terror and adrenaline was paralyzing, but I after a few moments I am compelled to pet the 500 Lbs. beasts and finally relax enough to start taking photos with my mates…equally terrified. That, of course, is until one of the lions decided that, yet again, my leg looks like a delicious snack and in a split-second movement, the lion turns around and locks his jaws on my ankle (in a playful way of course, if the cat was serious he could snap my leg apart with no effort at all). Eduardo, who consistently keeps a watchful eye on all of us and the animals, doesn’t miss a beat and quickly grabs the lions jaws and pry them open releasing my skinny and now dented ankle. I’ll take that as a sign that it’s time to leave before I turn into a meal; but not before watching Eduardo lying on the ground playing with 1-2-3 lions on top of him as if they were house cats!! It’s definitely not for the light hearted and things can easily go south in a split-moment; I am so impressed by Eduardo’s work, his courage and dedication to these animals.

After spending 5 hours with the kitties, it’s time to go back to the city. Thank you Eduardo for such an amazing experience…I’ll never look at a cat the same way from now on. Now it’s time to get ready for tonight’s opening of Becco restaurant at the newly redone Four Season Hotel in Mexico City.

Meow!


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In the cage with two full grown lioness

 

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Stunning white tigers

 

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White tiger sucking Eduardo’s finger

 

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Lion sticking his tongue out at us

 

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Cielo the Panther

 

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Robert Kass, Raphael Tessier and Raul Olivo in the cage with two lions

 

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Having a screaming match with the white tiger

 

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Eduardo playing with two full grown lions…insanity!

 

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Robert Kass and Eduardo Serio at his sanctuary in Mexico City

I’M BAAAAACK!!!!!!

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Hello possums!!!!

I cannot believe it has been almost two years since my last post…It is amazing to me how time flies; once you hit 40 it’s like an oil patch…before you know it you’re a senior!!!!

I guess I should start this post with an explanation: What happened, is that just about two years ago I decided to go back to my old career and open a new restaurant; so myself and my two partners went off to buy the old crusty Larchmont Grill in Larchmont Village. After a complete re-do, designed by yours truly, on March of 2013 we opened the doors to The Larchmont restaurant (www.thelarchmont.com), a casual chic, New American cuisine eatery that has quickly become one of LA’s favorite hot spots. Needless to say, having chosen to operate the joint, life, as I knew it, came to a dramatic halt! If you know anything about the restaurant business, you’ll know that it absorbs you completely without leaving you any time for anything else!!!! I haven’t seen anyone, done anything, traveled anywhere; all I’ve been doing is working 14 hours a day, 6 days a week for the last 19 months. Am I crazy??? YES…You have to be to want to own a restaurant. Sadly, this has come at the expense of my beloved blog: “Jet setting on a dime”; in fact, there has been no jet setting at all (give or take a few short escapades in Mexico, Turkey, Greece, Canada, France and Switzerland…but who’s counting?).

My passion for restaurants and food has long been part of the very fabric of my being; but it really all started on March 1990 when myself and my best friend Ilona Margolis, opened the first coffee shop in Los Angeles: The Living Room. It was way before the invasion of Starbucks and Coffee Bean and all the other independent coffee shops; the success was instant and overwhelming, we couldn’t believe how popular this place became with the who’s who of LA society. We were printing money and sadly, spending it just as fast on absolute nonsense. The Coffee shop was on La Brea Avenue and 1st Street, which at the time was as dangerous as opening in South Central (for those who don’t know, it’s a very scary and dangerous area in LA)! Clearly, being held up at gunpoint and robbed silly, became a weekly event; though that didn’t seem to bother anyone; least of all Ilona and myself who thought the robbers were cute. We were featured on all the top newspaper and magazines, including: Wall Street Journal, Vogue, LA Style and the LA Times (Where they misspelled my name with Robert Krass!!! Imagine…my first big review on a main stream newspaper and they call me Mr. KRASS…I was mortified!!! Nothing Krass about me sister…).

Just keep in mind, we are talking about a 300 sq. ft. coffee shop, serving coffee, cakes and sandwiches; though there where rumors running around that Ms. Ilona was serving cheap vodka in tea cups after hours to some customers in our VIP room (yes!!! We had a VIP room in the coffee shop)…just saying. The joint was a favorite hang-out with everyone from Prince to Julia Roberts, Charlie Sheen, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christine Turlington, Mel Gibson, Iggy Pop, Baldazarre Getty, just to name a few. Our own “Barista” was Drew Barrymore (who I love dearly), who didn’t care much about serving customers and more about reading the latest gossip on Vanity Fair, sitting on a milk crate behind the barista bar!

I was hocked!

This was the beginning of a long career in the restaurant industry that continues till present! My first proper restaurant was The Kass Bah on Melrose Avenue, that too became a huge success and a mecca to the likes of George Clooney, Jerry Seinfeld, Elton John, the late Whitney Huston, the Clinton’s, Madonna, Fergie, Gary Oldman and just about every pretty thing in a 15-mile radius. I still cringe thinking about all the crazy nights I had at the KassBah, where it seemed to be a party every night of the week, starting with my Monday Mambo night with live bands straight out of the 50’s Habana Club in Habana Cuba. I sometimes wonder how I am still standing! Thank God I am all grown up now… I opt for more subdued and elegant qualities in life; I’ve replaced swinging from chandeliers drunk like a sailor with pollinating a dining room in a gorgeous Lanvin suit, chatting about food and wines with my new “Foodie” customers…YEAH RIGHT!!!!

 

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The Larchmont: street view

 

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The Larchmont Bar

 

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The Larchmont: front view

 

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Main dining room

 

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Patio

 

The grand opening of The Larchmont was in March 2013 and since my birthday was soon after that, I decided to combine the restaurant opening and my 35th birthday…yes, 35th once again!!!!!! Of course, a party is not a party without my homies: Virginia Madsen with her lovely boyfriend Nick Holmes; my wife Lady “EW” AKA Loree Rodkin, the super talented Monique Lhuillier and her handsome husband Tom Bugbee, Suzanne Saperstein, Alexandra von Furstenberg and the hot Dax Miller, Dan and Justine Joelson, the hilarious Michael Weatherly and his very smart wife Doctor Bojana MD, the uber-charming hotelier Jeff Klein and Richard Appel…just to name a few!

 

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Michael Weatherly with his wife Bojana and Robert Kass

 

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Dax Miller, Alexandra von Furstenberg, Jeff Klein and Robert Kass

 

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The talented Anastacia and Robert Kass

 

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Me and Raquel being our usual silly self.

 

“Forward to present”: Today the restaurant is a big success and the time has come for me to leave it! I know…it sounds crazy, but that’s what I do! My life is about constant change and growth, it’s about waking up in the morning exited for the day to come; when a job becomes routine to me, it’s time to go! So here I am, once again, ready to jump head first into the unknown; ready to be surprised, inspired, challenged and reassured that there is more for me to learn and discover about myself and the world at large. So expect nothing less than super tasty tales coming your way…Stay tuned!

Peace…out!

P.S. And please ignore all the typos and dodgy grammar…I’m European!

 

Globe Trotting with Loree Rodkin, Summer 2011 (Part 1)

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Besides being one of the coolest and most successful jewelers in the world, Loree Rodkin has been my close friend for almost 27 years! The way we met is right out of a fairy tale book: it was in Monte Carlo at a Gala dinner hosted by, non other than, Prince Ranieri and Grace Kelly at the Palace! It was 1987 and I was in Monaco with Joan who was filming her mini-series for ABC named, of all things, Monte Carlo, while on hiatus from Dynasty.

We were invited to one of Monaco’s most prestigious yearly events: the Monte Carlo Celebrity Tennis Tournament, benefitting the Princess  Grace Foundation for the Arts, and after a week of hilarious tennis matches between celebrities from all around the globe, most of whom had never held a tennis racket before, the event comes to a close with an over-the-top, black tie, sit-down dinner at the Palace.

Just imagine sitting at a grand table in a royal palace with Prince Ranieri & Prince Albert as our hosts, along with Sean Connery, George Hamilton, Rob Lowe, Catherine Oxenberg, Roger Moore, Malcolm McDowell, Robert Wagner, Dudley Moore, Sherry Lansing, Linda Evans, Sophia Loren, just to name a few of the 200 guests; it was magic!!!! I was seated between 2 ladies whom I never met before: Loree Rodkin and Virginia Madsen…it was love at first sight! Loree, or as we lovingly call her: “The Dark One”, was with her then boyfriend Judd Nelson; along with her was this young, stunning blonde, with piercing blue eyes: Virginia Madsen. Loree at that time , was a very successful manager whose clients included: Brad Pitt, Robert Downey Jr., Virginia Madsen and Lauren Holly. I instantly fell in love with Virginia, whom I thought was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen; though, sadly, at that time I was so shy that all I did was blush…and I mean red as a pepper! Regardless, I knew, right there and then, that I would be friends with these 2 ladies forever. That night we all went on to get in serious trouble for stealing Sean Connery’s limo on our way out of the Palace for a quick dash over to the Casino, where one of the funniest man alive: George Hamilton, was waiting for us in the private Black-Jack room, for an all nighter of gambling, cocktails and laughing hysterically…the croupier was NOT amused!

So back to the present! Traveling with Loree is a very unique experience; you see: ” she’s a germaphobe, she only eats sweets, she gets bored very quickly, and she will leave a hotel room at the slightest sign of any type of odor, a hair in the bathroom, an ant in the floor, a speck of dust, bad linens, bad Feng Shui, undesirable location, ugly staff and the list goes on and on…”. So I’ve learned how to maneuver around these small hurdles by not unpacking immediately after entering my hotel room, instead waiting a half an hour until the coast is clear; I choose restaurants with large dessert menus, I try to pick only really fun parties, the ones she won’t want to leave within the first 15 minutes and I carry a bottle of anti-bacterial gel and a can of Raid in my bag in case the unthinkable happens: like running into a spider or touching something dirty, which is usually followed by a resounding: “Eew”.

Nonetheless, traveling with Loree is a total pleasure; we are 2 peas in a pod and seem to like all the same things! She’s hilarious (unless she’s bored), she will stay out till the sun comes up (only if the party is beyond amazing or a young, tattooed super model is flirting with her), she’s generous to a fault, charismatic (in a dark sort of way) and has an endless amount of fabulous stories, involving huge celebrities, that are always a crowd pleaser…or shocker.

We are both “life-lovers”, hopeless romantics and never pass up the opportunity to meet new people, visit new places, wear a new outfit or act like two 16 year olds, always getting into trouble and loving every minute of it!

The next several posts will chronicle a 6 week summer marathon with Loree through Paris, St. Tropez, Cap d’Antibes, Barcelona, Istanbul, Mykonos and London…fasten your seat belts!

Loree and I in Istanbul

 

On our way from St. Tropez to the Hotel du Cap in Cap d’Antibes for lunch…