His secret recipe for a good time

LATE-NIGHT cable fans can recite his taglines like something out of a Schwarzenegger flick: “The only tears you’ll shed will be tears of joy.” “But wait, there’s more.” And the hands-down fave: “Set it -- and forget it.” In the three-easy-payments world of infomercial pitchmen, Ron Popeil is the gold standard.

The Biography Channel gives the 71-year-old Beverly Hills resident his due Tuesday at 5 p.m. (repeating at 9) -- an hourlong special on Popeil’s remarkable Ronco rise. But there’s life outside the kitchen, and the man who also brought you Mr. Microphone and the Pocket Fisherman takes us along for the ride.

Meat lover

There’s a restaurant that I was introduced to recently that would be fun on a Friday night, a Brazilian place called Fogo de Chao. It’s known for its meats, served spectacularly on skewers by many waiters and cooked just the way you like it. I love the filet, seared on the outside and tender on the inside, and they’ve got a nice wine list too. They give you a green coaster and a red coaster, and as long as they see the green, they’ll keep bringing out food until you burst.


After dinner, I’m not usually one to keep late hours, but on a special weekend I might go see the comedian Lewis Black, who’s got an incredible mind. If I was in the mood for music, I’d go see Madonna. I enjoy her singing and her pure talent.

Bargain hunting

On Saturday morning, I have a trainer come each morning to my home gym. Afterward, I avoid breakfast, but I might go out with buddies to Starbucks for some coffee. If I needed some clothes, I might go to Century City to shop, but only if I really needed something, and only if it were on sale. The last time I was shopping I found a shirt I liked for only $16, so I bought all 12 they had, in different colors.

I’d go to Spago for lunch and have the Chinese chicken salad. Wolfgang Puck is a good friend and a great entrepreneur.

I might fly to Las Vegas for the evening and go to the Mirage to see “Love,” the new Cirque du Soleil show based on Beatles music.

Family quality time

On Sunday I’d take my wife, Robin, and our two small children to the house I’m building near Santa Barbara. I’d work out at the Firm Athletic Club in Carpinteria, and then we’d go swimming, kayaking or boogie boarding at the state beach, which everyone calls Safe Beach because it’s protected by the Channel Islands and is really safe.

Maybe we’d eat at the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara or Lucky’s steakhouse in Montecito. There’s usually something going on around town, a parade or a festival.

We’d come back home and grab a pizza at Ago -- thin-crust mozzarella -- or have some delicious marinated chicken, pork and onions at Versailles on Venice Boulevard. It’s one of the best restaurants in L.A. and it usually costs me the least. I always walk out of there licking my lips and saying, “Boy, that was great.”

After that, I’d just spend time in my commercial-type kitchen at home, cooking or playing with the next gadget. You know, running a business is no fun. It’s a lot of hard work. The enjoyment comes from playing around and coming up with a great new product. I’m lucky that I get to do that right at home with my family.

-- Mark Sachs