Talking With Master Chef Alex Stratta – March 27, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Alex Stratta

This week, Ira spoke with Master Chef Alex Stratta . To listen to the interview click below.

Alex Stratta, a celebrity chef and restaurateur of mixed Italian and French heritage, played the role of Iron Chef Italian on the television show “Iron Chef USA.” He was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Southwest in 1998 and was executive chef and owner of his famous namesake restaurant, Alex, in Las Vegas until its closure on January 15, 2011. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and became a cancer survivor.

Stratta is a fourth-generation hotelier born to parents from locales well known for their culinary traditions; his Italian father is from the Piedmont region, and his French mother from Nice along the Cote d’Azur. As his father was president of Princess Hotels & Resorts, Stratta spent much of his early life living in luxurious resorts in countries all over the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, France, Mexico, and Pakistan. This upbringing helped him become fluent in French, Italian, Spanish, and English. He attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, California and graduated with honors in 1983.

Stratta began his career as a patissier-in-training at the Stanford Court Hotel. He then accepted an internship at the Hotel de Paris in Monaco; soon after, Alain Ducasse invited Stratta to join the team at his Louis XV restaurant there. After two years, Stratta returned to the United States, and at Ducasse’s recommendation began working for Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque in New York City. Both Ducasse and Boulud acted as mentors who heavily influenced Stratta’s development as both a chef and restaurateur; Stratta credits Ducasse with showing him “how to make basic, simple food taste phenomenal and Boulud for his creative influences as well as business skills.

In 1989, Stratta took on the executive chef position at Mary Elaine’s restaurant at The Phoenician resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. While there, he was featured in Food & Wine Magazine as one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs.”

Under his tenure, the restaurant earned a 4-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide and also received critical acclaim as the best restaurant in the Phoenix area.

In 1998, Stratta became executive chef of the Renoir restaurant at The Mirage in Las Vegas after being invited by Steve Wynn. The restaurant earned Mobil Travel Guide’s highest rating of 5 stars just six months after opening.
In 2005, Stratta opened his namesake restaurant Alex – once again at the invitation of Steve Wynn, but this time for the grand opening of Wynn’s namesake casino resort and country club, Wynn Las Vegas. Stratta’s restaurant was billed as a “triumph” and has been extremely well reviewed; it received ratings of 5 stars from the Mobil Travel Guide, 5 diamonds from the AAA Restaurant Ratings, and 2 stars from the Michelin Guide.

On Facebook: Alex Stratta
On Twitter: alpostratta


Talking With David Sanborn – March 20, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo David Sanborn

This week, Ira spoke with David Sanborn . To listen to the interview click below.

Six-time GRAMMY®-winner and multi-platinum alto sax star David Sanborn will be performing at the Smith Center on March 21 in “Satin & Soul,” part of the JAZZ ROOTS Series. Also performing is platinum-selling singer/guitarist Jonathan Butler in a show that will combine elements of Africa, America, Jazz and Soul.

Having contracted polio at the age of three, Dave was introduced to the saxophone as part of his treatment therapy. By the age of 14, he was able to play with legends such as Albert King and Little Milton. Dave went on to study music at Northwestern University before transferring to the University of Iowa where he played and studied with the great saxophonist JR Monterose.

Later traveling to California on the advice of a friend, he joined the Butterfield Blues Band and played Woodstock with Paul Butterfield. Following that, Dave toured with Stevie Wonder and recorded for Wonder’s Talking Book album, played with The Rolling Stones, and toured with David Bowie with whom he recorded the famous solo heard on “Young Americans”. At the same time, Dave was touring and recording with the great Gil Evans, dividing his time between the two. After moving to New York City and studying with George Coleman, Dave started his solo career where he later collaborated with such artists as Paul Simon and James Taylor.

Dave’s solo release of Taking Off in 1975—still considered a classic—further solidified his career. His 1979 release of Hideaway became a popular hit and further propelled Dave’s ascent with the single, “Seduction” being featured in the movie, American Gigolo. Veteran bassist and composer Marcus Miller joined Dave on the 1981 album, Voyeur. The single, “All I Need Is You” won Dave his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance. In 1983, Dave released the hit album Backstreet that included Luther Vandross as a featured guest vocalist. Later albums have included guest artists such as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden, Wallace Roney, Kenny Barron, Christian McBride, and Eric Clapton.

Moving onto television, Dave hosted the show, Night Music from 1988 to 1990. Produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, the show featured films of jazz legends like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Billie Holiday, as well as banter and memorable music jams by a remarkable list of musicians including Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Sample, Pharoah Sanders, and many others. Additionally, Dave has regularly hosted the “After New Year’s Eve” TV special on ABC. During the 1980s and 1990s, Dave hosted a syndicated radio program, The Jazz Show with David Sanborn. Dave has also recorded many shows’ theme songs as well as several other songs for The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder.


Talking With Max Robins – March 13, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Max Robins

This week, Ira spoke with Max Robins. To listen to the interview click below.

A columnist for, J. Max Robins have been covering the business of media, entertainment and technology since 1990. During that period, he has contributed to a myriad of publications, including “The Wall Street Journal,” “The New York Times,” “The Los Angeles Times” and “New York.”

In his former position as Executive Director and Vice President of The Paley Center for Media, Robins founded the groundbreaking “Next Big Thing” series, bringing together the hottest startups in the industry with top venture capitalists and thought leaders from the around the world.

Before joining the Paley Center, he was the editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, where he oversaw a relaunch of B&C across platforms. Before taking the reins of B&C, Robins was a senior editor and columnist at both TV Guide and Variety.

Robins has commented on media-related issues for several major news outlets, including NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, “Charlie Rose” and NPR. For the last 15 years he has had a weekly live segment dubbed “Max Mondays” on WRKO’s top-rated “Howie Carr Show.”

On Twitter : @jmaxrobins


Talking With Jimmy Mulidore – March 6, 2014

FotoFlexer_Photo Jimmy Mulidore

This week, Ira spoke with Jimmy Mulidore. To listen to the interview click below.

Jimmy Mulidore will be appearing in Cabaret Jazz at the Smith Center in “Jazz For The Ages” March 7-8, along with jazz saxophonist Eric Alexander and the New York City Jazz band.

Mulidore took up the saxophone at the age of ten, then added the classical clarinet, studying with Albert Calderone, one of the best teachers around. He spent his high school years frequenting the Cleveland jazz clubs and soaking up the influences of such greats as James Moody, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Clifford Brown. When he was old enough, his summers were spent on tour with Billy May, Hal McIntyre and Ralph Marterie.

At Ohio State University, Mulidore was chosen solo clarinetist for their orchestra. Impatient with his progress at Ohio State, he took off for New York’s Julliard School of Music where he studied theory and composition with Hall Overton.

In the late fifties, Mulidore and bassist Scotty La Faro began a trip to Los Angeles that included a stop in Las Vegas. It proved to be a turning point in his life-he stayed on in Las Vegas while Scotty went on to L.A.

Mulidore’s career blossomed in his new home. He worked with the Red Norvo Quintet; Carl Fontana’s group; a band that included Sweets Edison, Leroy Vinegar and Jackie Wilson; and with Georgie Auld. He also lent his talents to some very special recordings: “Louie Bellson “Live At The Thunderbird,” Red Rodney’s “Super Bop,” albums by Sinatra, Streisand and Nat King Cole and, a flute solo on Elvis Presley’s “American Trilogy.”

Mulidore met Elvis Presley through Joe Guercio, then the Las Vegas Hilton’s musical director. When Guercio left the Hilton, Mulidore was chosen to succeed him as musical director for both the Hilton and Flamingo Hotels. Through those years, he conducted for such stars as Louis Armstrong, Ann Margaret, Gladys Knight and Olivia Newton-John.