TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF:
I’m a lover of all things food and adventure! I was once a shy little girl and a picky eater, but I quickly learned that there’s so much more to experience in this world, if you just open your mind to the possibilities. I believe that food can be a gateway to expanding your horizons in other areas of life as well. When I lost some of the most important people in my life at a young age, I set out to make a conscious effort to embrace all that life has to offer. I strive to inspire others to open up to the beauty and expansion that lies just outside one’s comfort zone. Why wait another day (or year, or decade) to create a life full of meaning and passion?
I’m grateful for the exciting opportunities I’ve had over the years, such as hosting my own radio segment, being featured on MasterChef as a food writer as well as various other shows and news outlets, doing a live baking demo onstage with Sarah Michelle Gellar, and collaborating with forward-thinking chefs, restaurants and brands that align with my values and vision.
I love sharing my passion for food and travel through storytelling, so combining that with my degree and work experience in public relations, I created a multi-platform brand, Tanaya’s Table. I wear many hats, from hosting media events and PR consulting, to writing and content creation, including photography. Bringing people together to create meaningful connections over good food and drink is what drives me, and I’m excited for what adventures lie ahead.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT PROJECTS?
I hosted media events for a new eatery and a restaurant, and was invited to speak on two podcasts. One was on the topic of self confidence as a South Asian American woman, and on the other, we discussed insights on building a brand in the food space. I was also invited back to speak at my graduate school, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, as an alumna. The students are always eager to engage and have lots of great questions, which makes it fun for me each time I go back to speak!
In addition, I recently returned from a press trip with the California Avocado Commission, where we visited beautiful avocado farms and even toured an avocado packing facility. I also did an on-camera chef demo with ABC7 Eyewitness News, covering the Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival. Next up, I’ll be judging a food competition. No two days are alike, and I’m grateful for it!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE YOU HAVE COME UP WITH USING AN ACC PRODUCT? WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
My favorite cocktail creation has to be the Gin Berry Blush! I wanted to capture the essence of the changing seasons, from summer blueberries to a pinch of cardamom - to invoke the warmth of fall spices, and as a nod to my Indian heritage. I love that the Blueberry Finn mixer has a hint of apple and almond as well, which really rounds out the flavor profile.
I’m also fond of floral notes, especially rose. It reminds me of my mom, who was my best friend and confidant. She loved roses, and the scent takes me back to childhood memories with her, gardening together in our backyard. So I added rose syrup, which gives the drink a bit of sweetness and some more dimension. With a squeeze of lime juice for a fresh kick, the end result is a multi-layered, refreshing cocktail perfect for a cozy staycation or a party with friends.
To honor my mother, I'm donating 25% of proceeds from the Gin Berry Blush box to the Breast Cancer Solutions Foundation. I think it's especially fitting that it also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
WHEN YOU ARE COMING UP WITH NEW DISHES OR DRINKS, DO YOU HAVE A SOURCE(S) FOR INSPIRATION?
I love using florals, herbs, and contrasting textures when it comes to both cooking and creating cocktails. I often draw inspiration from my favorite memories as a child, the five senses, and even the changing seasons. Whatever I do, I love approaching it with a spirit of adventure and curiosity. How can I push the boundaries a little? What can I do to add a little magic to it, to transform it from mundane to exquisite? It makes me so happy when people try an unexpected flavor combination I dreamt up, and they end up loving it!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OR BAR, WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK DO YOU RECOMMEND IT, AND WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN A VISITOR EXPECT?
It’s tough to choose just one place, as I usually attend a few tastings per week! Sometimes it becomes a (delightfully tasty) blur. However, a recent restaurant I visited that really stood out to me is Panxa Cocina in Long Beach, CA for its innovative Southwestern cuisine infused with with Oaxacan flair. The cocktails are also wonderful, and I especially loved the Hatch chile-infused drinks during their Hatch Chile Month festivities.
Another great spot for cocktails is Citizen in Beverly Hills. It has an outstanding, innovative cocktail menu that changes up seasonally. I also love that they donate a portion of the proceeds from their featured cocktail of the month to charity. Go in for happy hour (even on a Saturday!) to enjoy drinks on the gorgeous patio, then stay for dinner. That’s how I like to do it!
I have to say that internationally speaking, Bo Innovation in Hong Kong -- with 3 Michelin stars -- was one of my most memorable dining experiences of all time. It was a full-sensory 12-course tasting menu with a whimsical, modernist play on classic Hong Kong foods!
WHAT INFO ABOUT COCKTAILS DO MOST PEOPLE MAKING DRINKS AT HOME NOT KNOW THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO THEM?
My number one tip: Don’t be afraid to experiment! Sometimes the most unexpected flavor combinations are the best, and you just might end up with something new and wonderful. This goes for both cooking and cocktail making. Also, you don’t have to be an expert mixologist to elevate your drinks. Unique glassware or a fun garnish can add some extra flair to your cocktail game, as can freezing your garnish into your ice cubes. You can even make ice using your mixer instead of water, so your drinks don’t water down as you sip. Little game changers like these can add a bit of wow factor without a lot of extra fuss!
FAVORITE ACC FLAVOR?
Maine Blueberry (Blueberry Finn)
WHAT TRENDS (EITHER LOCAL OR INDUSTRYWIDE) ARE YOU NOTICING TAKING SHAPE AND HOW?
I’ve seen a quite a few CBD-infused beverages -- as well as dishes and desserts -- popping up on the scene here in California. I love the calming properties of CBD, from the drinks I've tried. There’s also been a trend towards more sustainable spirits and “healthier” cocktail ingredients such as green juice, turmeric, and even gut-friendly kimchi.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
You can find me at TanayasTable.com, and subscribe to get access to all things food, drink, travel, and beyond. I’ve got some exciting things in the works for my wonderful community, and I’d love for you to be a part of it! You can also follow along on Instagram at @tanayas.table for exclusive behind-the-scenes access, chef interviews, and sneak peeks of the hottest new restaurants, foods, and events in Los Angeles and around the world. I invite you to join me as the journey unfolds!