Review: Culver City Centennial Westside Food & Wine Festival

This is a yearly foodie event which has been taking place since 2017.

On July 2, Wescom Credit Union presented the Culver City Centennial Westside Food & Wine Festival at the Courtyard by Marriott Los Angeles Westside in Culver City. Wescom Credit Union coordinated the event with Todd Elliot Entertainment and Event Planning. It was a lovely venue — featuring both inside and outside locations with live music, a strolling magician, and delicious food from a variety of restaurants. The event benefitted two important nonprofits — Culver City Council PTA’s Backpacks for Kids Program and Culver Palms Meals on Wheels.

From left to right: Obvious Wines team,  Sales and Business Development Manager Anne Stark; Founder, Brice Baillie; photo courtesy of Obvious Wines

As a foodie, I usually scope out the room, strategize my route, and ready my taste buds with a glass of wine. I discovered Obvious Wines, a brand new company founded just two months ago and already selling in twenty stores.

Owner Brice Baillie was pouring a delicious red blend made in Pasos Robles. Nº 01 Dark & Bold features 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot. I love the full bodied, smooth, fruit forward flavor…delish! Marketing Manager Nasha Wallin (wife of Brice Baillie) was running an “expression board” and encouraged visitors to take a sip and leave a couple of words describing the wine. I thought it was a great idea.

Baillie grew up in Champagne, France, surrounded by wine lovers. Although he did not work in the industry in France, he always loved wine and after he moved to California, he soon realized he had a desire to help others love it too. Many of his friends said they found that selecting wines was an intimidating process. “That’s how I came up with the idea,” said Baillie. “Create a wine brand that helps educate those interested in learning more about wine in a simple, non-intimidating way with straight forward, yet valuable taste descriptions and characteristics.” Visit the website to find out where to purchase Obvious Wines.

From left to right: Panini Kabob Grill servers Heidy Mejia and Wendy Lizarraga dish up some delicious cuisine created by Chef Rogelio Quinones (in back); photo by Richard Bilow

Next I was greeted by Juliet Tran, Director of Marketing for Panini Kabob Grill, who told me about the two newest locations that recently open — Santa Monica and Playa Del Rey….with another one in Century City soon to open in a few weeks. She said she loved participating in these types of events. “It’s so nice hearing people rave about the food if they’ve already been to our restaurant. If they haven’t, it’s fun seeing them try it for the first time and seeing that ‘OMG, this is so good!’ face.”

I was right there with the latter group of people. The food was delicious, and such generous portions were given out. The chicken kabob with veggies was so tender. It was paired with tasty basmati rice, garbanzo hummus, tzatziki, and pita bread…I will definitely be visiting Panini Kabab Grill soon. The most recent to open in the Santa Monica location at 312 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, 90401…be sure to check the website for additional locations. Panini Kabab Grill recently had a name change from My Panini Café -visit

We were invited to try a summer pasta dish by Emanuel Fiore, the chef and partner of Luciana Cucina Italiana, which opened a month ago. Offering a small menu featuring truffle inspired dishes, the restaurant and wine bar changes its menu every twenty days.

Orecchiette pasta, Luciana Cucina Italiana

The orecchiette pasta was served with cherry organic tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli, basil, and mint in a delicious yogurt dressing. Luciana Cucina Italiana, 11800 Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista, 90230;

Located in Culver City, Public School 310 (PS 310) made quite an impression on many of the attendees including myself. Randy Naegele, General Manager, was serving food along with Magdelena Sheskier (a hostess at the restaurant). The Ahi Tuna Poke with sweet chili vinaigrette, passion fruit puree, and pickled cucumbers was so refreshing and delicately spiced…it was served with house cut taro chips. Naegele said he enjoyed doing events. “We are in talks with our friends at the Culver City Exchange Club to sponsor the Beer Garden at the Centennial Celebration on September 16th at Veteran’s Park.”

From left to right: Public School 310 General Manager Randy Naegele, with Hostess Magdelena Sheskier; photo by Richard Bilow

Naegele said he was happy that everyone really enjoyed the Ahi. “A few people enjoyed it so much they came to the restaurant immediately following the event!! What a compliment!” Public School 310, 9411 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA, 90232; 310.558.0414;

Near the close of the event, I struck up a conversation with the founder of teaRIOT, Laura Jakobsen. Her fresh juice infused tea was simply magnificent. I tried all the flavors — my favorite was Cider Kick.

teaRIOT began on May 22nd of 2016…starting in farmers’ markets in the LA area. Now, a year later, the public can purchase it in Erewhon Markets and Whole Foods in Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.

The event was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the cuisine from LA Gastronomy, Mayura Indian Restaurant, Ococoa Chocolates, Pitfire Pizza, just to name a few. Food festivals are always a great way to experience new tastes from a variety of restaurants I will gladly be visiting several of the restaurants in the near future.

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