On the Town: Diners gladly take Recess at 'Chopped' prep

Recess on North Brand is offering the gimmick of all restaurant gimmicks. But with this one everybody wins. Executive Chef-Owner Sevan Abdessian was the first Los Angeles resident to win a spot on the Food Network's popular New York-based “Chopped” show. Thursday-night customers also win with $30 delicious practice dinners including appetizer, entrée and dessert.

On Nov. 8, about 30 hungry patrons enjoyed food, wine and conviviality. As on “Chopped,” a mystery basket of four ingredients accompanied each course. To match the format of the show, Recess Manager Christopher Chacon chose the ingredients and did not reveal them to Abdessian until preparation time. Customers were also kept in the dark until dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Abdessian is out to prove he is the best chef in Glendale. He certainly proved it to Thursday-evening diners. First up was a risotto appetizer. The four ingredients were the risotto, raw Mexican water shrimp, lemon and tomatoes. “Risotto is tough to cook,” Abdessian said. He believes that a chef worth his salt must make perfect risotto.

In “Chopped” one chef is eliminated after each course. After dessert, there is one chef standing as the winner. To prevent being “chopped” by well-known New York restaurateurs, Abdessian is determined to win after each of his courses on the show.

Already a winner to his Thursday night patrons, each looked forward to the main course. It was another winner — pasta and delectable meatballs with a light tomato sauce. Cilantro made up the fourth ingredient.

Arriving hungry, each diner still had room for dessert. Served in glass coffee cups, a touch of espresso, chocolate, whipped cream and pistachios blended to perfection.

Glendale residents taking advantage of the chef's practice dinners included Glendale Healthy Kids' Sharon Townsend Roth, Susan Hunt, Pam and Steve Ropfogel, Sue and Steve Wilder, Suzonne Slaughter and her husband, birthday boy Randy Slaughter. “I'm addicted to cooking shows,” said Pam, who added she and hubby have been to each of the first four practice shows.

Four Thursday night practice dinners have taken place. Don't miss the remaining three. The last one is on Dec. 13. Two days later, Abdessian flies to New York for the “Chopped” taping. The show's air date on the Food Network is to be announced.

Why practice your heart out and go on a reality show? The effort fulfills one of Abdessian's missions for Recess: “It's the [diners] that create the energy in your staff,” Abdessian says.

A practice dinner will not take place on Thanksgiving. Recess offers a takeout Thanksgiving dinner for four for $100. And that's no practice.


Roberta Zanini Cysne and Anson LaMont Sowby renewed their wedding vows in Palm Springs this fall. Married for six years, the couple couldn't wait for a Silver or Golden Anniversary to say their vows in front of more than 50 friends and family gathered in a lush garden at the Parker.

Cysne is the daughter of Maria Emilia Zanini and Luiz Fernando Cysne of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sowby is the son of the late Dr. Richard Sowby and yours truly.

In the absence of her father, Roberta walked down the aisle accompanied by her mother and paternal grandmother, Aurea Cysne, also from Sao Paulo.

Roberta, a partner of JilRo Designs, wore a strapless gown designed by Carlos Miele. The dress was a standout in ivory, layered with chiffon.

The ring bearer was the couple's 3-year-old son, Luke Ford Sowby. Flower girls were Madeleine Thomas, 9, and Zoe Thomas, 7, daughters of Anson's cousin Sarah Dammann Thomas and her husband Mitchell Thomas.

A dinner reception was held in another garden of the Parker. A “Star Wars” Darth Vader look-alike was a surprise drop-in guest.

Roberta, Anson and Luke live in Silver Lake.

RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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