Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's Italian Festa Time in Los Angeles - Feast of San Gennaro LA's Prima Notte

Ciao a tutti,

Last week I wrote about a "Festa in famiglia," a Festa amongst family. Well, this it feels like I am writing about more of the same. That is what the Los Angeles San Gennaro Italian Festival officially called Feast of San Gennaro, LA, felt like for Chef Richard and I this year.

We felt like we were having a big party with all of our Italian friends and family. Actually, it feels like that anytime we do a festival or show because, like our tag line says, "In our kitchen you're family." But LA was extra special.

We were invited to take center stage on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live's outdoor stage used during the Festival to perform our "Filippo and the Chef" Show Live. We were all too happy to oblige. After performing in so many other towns and festivals, it was wonderful to be invited to participate here in our home town.

Well, home town, I was born in Northern California and Richard in the Bronx, but for the past decade or so, both Richard and his family and I have called Southern California home.

And so, when asked to participate in our "hometown," festival, we at "Filippo and the Chef," went all out. We had a booth decked out with our sponsors, we had a kitchen built for the stage and we invited our old friends and some new friends to participate with us on stage. To say it was fun would be an understatement.

But in this post I will post only the pictures of Prima Notte, which is a big night not just for the festival and Los Angeles but nationally. Prima Notte (First Night) shares ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live's limelight with guests from the show appearing on the Prima Notte Stage during the broadcast etc.

This years guests on the Jimmy Kimmel Show who were part of the Prima Notte Festivities include Chef Mario Batali, Danny DeVito, Tommy Lasorda, and Frankie Valli. Below I have posted a video of that telecast.

Of course the first picture above is of Jimmy Kimmel and I. Below that picture is Frankie Valli and I, then Ed Marinaro, Sgt. Coffey from Hill Street Blues, and I, and here I am pictured with Tommy Lasorda.

How could I not have a picture taken with the "Marvelous Wonderettes?" They are part of a musical that is headed to New York and will appear off-Broadway, shown here in their '50's attire and sweaters on because it was chilly that night.

Below I am pictured with the President of the Los City Council, a proud Italian-American, Eric Garcetti.

Lets see, I think I will just list the photos from here. Underneath that is Actor and very funny guy Bobby Costanzo, and also actor and funny man, in fact he wrote many funny movies with Mel Brookes, Rudy De Luca.

Below that I am pictured with actor Ed Lauter, a friend of Chef Richard Lombardi's and his wife's, and immediately below that I am pictured once again with Ed but also with Chef Richard and actor John Santucci better known as "Johnny Pizza." I love that name. You will see me and Johnny Pizza just below that picture as well.

Though he is not an actor, I think most people know another Italian-American that is the CEO and Co-Founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair products. Well, he is John Paul Dejoria and you see him and I pictured together flashing the famous peace sign he is also known for doing in pictures.

The beautiful young lady I am pictured with below the picture of John Paul Dejoria and I is this years Miss Feast of San Gennaro Los Angeles. She was very sweet, which is more than I can say for George Pecoraro, pictured below her and I.

Just kidding George. George is an entertainment agent and owner of George Pecoraro Productions, we have known each other for years. He handles a lot of big name acts and was there with Frankie Valli.

And finally, bookending the set of pictures is another picture of Jimmy Kimmel and I with most of the "heads" of the San Gennaro family... to my right is Frankie Competelli, original founder of the feast and owner of Frankie's on Melrose, a popular New York style Italian restaurant in Hollywood. Then there is Kimmy Kimmel and next to him, his cousin and Miss "do everything" for the feast, Ann Potenza.

And finally, Miss "you can't do it that way," for the feast, he, he, the feast attorney and long time supporter, Claire Ambrosio. Now I should have known better than to write it up this way and I know I am going to get shit for it, but Claire knows I love her, and I just couldn't resist.

This is it for part one, part two will soon follow.


P.S. Don't forget to watch the telecast of part of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live Show that night. Enjoy (In English)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Festa In Famiglia - Keiko's Compleanno (Birthday) Party

Sapete che la famiglia Italiana sta crescendo a Los Angeles? (Did you know that the family of Italians is growing in Los Angeles?)

Actually, I am not referring to Italians per se, but to would be Italians, those who love the culture and the language.

Specifically, I am referring to a community of Italian students. I have a friend, Elisabetta Missinato, who teaches Italiano here in Los Angeles. I interviewed her for a Valentine's Day Show a couple years ago on the Filippo and the Chef Show. On that show we learned about some of the fun things she does with her students to help them learn the language in an entertaining way.

She has developed a large student base because of it and is having great results. Besides private lessons, she also teaches in groups, and there again, it is so fun, that the group classes are turning into more like family gatherings. Never is that more evident than when the gathering is an actual party.

A group of Elisabetta's Italian students threw a surprise party for another of her friends and finest students, Keiko. That is a picture of Keiko and I above. Keiko is Japanese, born and bred, but if you ask her, she will say she is Italiana. And she is starting to speak like a native, with a Japanese accent.

The Italian students came out in droves to wish Keiko a Buon Compleanno, and to speak Italian as much as they could. Not only does Elisabetta's growing family of students support her every event, but so do her immediate family, and me too, whenever possible.

Elisabetta's brother Marco Missinato supported the festivities by providing some entertainment for the night, to which you see me dancing above with Elisabetta, or rather, acting more silly than dancing in the picture below Keiko and I.

Elisabetta's mother, Anna happened also to be in town from Rome, and came to the party. This was very fortuitous for all of us there because Anna ended up cooking up a storm. What could have been better, the food was delicious.

Above is a picture of me dancing with Anna and here with yet another one of these friends and students of Elisabetta, Grace, who now speaks Italian so much like a native, it makes you stop and ask, "are you Italian?." Though "technically" the answer would be no, she answers "yes," as do all these lovers of all things Italian. And here are a few more pictures from the party.

Incidentally, the family is growing on the Internet too. Elisabetta has started an internet connection service for all her growing family of lovers of the Italian language. You can find it yourself at

And so, la famiglia cresce, (the family grows).


P.S. Writing about learning Italian, I am reminded of a cousin of mine who came from Italy and told me that he learned English by watching American cartoons. As a gag, a friend sent this video from just in time to make it on this blog post. Here is Donald Duck and family and friends dancing the Tarantella, sort of. I thought you would get a kick out of it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Results Driven Radio" - My Brother On Radio

Ciao a tutti,

I can't tell you what a thrill it was to turn on the radio in my car while driving one night and hear my brother on radio for the first time. Of course I knew he was going to be on but I had to be on the road during that time so I got to listen to him on the radio in my car. In fact I arrived where I was going and stayed in the car listening until the program was over, not just because he was my brother, but because I was truly interested in what he had to say. Though I was late for my appointment, everyone understood, in fact I had told them to listen.

My brother is Anthony Vultaggio and the show is called Results Driven Radio based on his experience as executive coach, business consulting practice, and his personal beliefs. I was listening to it on KRLA 870 AM in Los Angeles, or you can listen to it on the net at the stations website, at 9 to 10 PM every Saturday. And if the caller and advertiser interest is any indication, you will probably be able to hear it in your car radio in any town across the US soon.

I didn't have to search too hard for the Italian connection to write this post on my web log, him being my brother, of course. His show, though, is not about being Italian but has more to do with being American and living true to the some of the values upon which this Country was founded.

Of course, I must say that many of the values that this Country of ours was founded on were Italian values because Italians influenced the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and other documents and laws, but that is topic for another discussion, maybe even for my brother's show.

But I will say this much, the phrase "'All men are created equal,' is arguably the best-known phrase in any of America's political documents, as the idea it expresses is generally considered the foundation of American democracy. It was suggested by the Italian immigrant, patriot and pamphleteer Philip Mazzei and later incorporated into the opening of the American Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson who paraphrased the writing of his close friend Philip Mazzei." The phrase has further continued to be immortalized by such luminaries as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to name a few. The above quote is from Wikipedia where you can find more information on the subject at this direct link

Having said that, back to Anthony's radio show. I have sat, either in my car or on the net listening to my brother's new show now for the past couple weeks and learned quite a bit about what is going on in America and the world, as he sees it. I also learned so much about what he knows and has learned through the years. I think it is interesting when families get together how sometimes we like to stay away from topics of "work," because we are trying to take some time off from "work," and be with our families, right?

Well, it has been interesting to me to learn more about my brother through his "work," than some of the fun conversations we have during family get togethers, as much as I enjoy those fun and usually funny conversations.

I grabbed this image and the following blurb off his website. I found it interesting what he has to offer and thought I would share it here for those of us who are trying to figure out our "work" life, or for that matter, for those of us who are trying to "work" things out in our social and family life.

If you find this interesting, you can go to his website at and learn more or hear his past radio shows in the archives.

Here are just a few of the topics Anthony Vultaggio address for companies and organizations.

Seven Simple Strategies for Strategic Planning. The key to succeeding in business and life is developing and maintaining a strategic plan. If the mere idea of this gives you indigestion, this is the seminar for you. The secret to simplifying this seemingly daunting task lies in employing a systematic framework. With a clear, no-nonsense approach to planning, Anthony shows you how to cut through the red-tape that stops most and illustrates methodologies you can use to tackle virtually any issue and map a plan for success.

Conflict Management 101. Using real-world examples, Anthony addresses conflict management and offers real solutions to improve business and personal relationships. Anthony also discusses ways to promote business sustainability using corporate and entrepreneurial management strategies.

Beating the Partnership Blues. Have you ever wondered why some partnerships flounder while others flourish? The secret lies in their communication strategies. Using proven techniques Anthony shows how to overcome the common mistakes made in all partnerships. Topics covered include dividing responsibilities, setting goals, and effective conflict resolution.

Come to think of it, maybe I just learned something else, maybe we should bring out work into our family, he, he?

In bocca al lupo Anthony with your new show, much success!


P.S. Now talking about "results," my show is about the good things that Italians represent, not necessarily everything else. The way I see it all cultures, races, religions etc. have something good to offer. Why not take the good and learn from it and live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives from all the "good" and learnings we have collected from others mistakes. So with that in mind, there are some things that Italians may not do as well or do it "differently," than some others think is best or efficient. Here is a comical look at that in an animated video by Bruno Bozzetto about some of the "differences" between Italians and Europeans, as he seems them. (Non Spoken)

Friday, September 07, 2007

"Casting Hope" - People Helping People

Ciao a tutti,

Neither one of us remember the club where we met. We don't even remember the name of the band we went to see. But neither one of us ever forgot each other, or the short conversation that we had that gave us HOPE. Over the years, we haven't been in touch but we thought about each other, that's for sure. And when it came to talking about Hope on her new show, she remembered me.

It was a few months after September 11th, 2001, and I was in a show, ironically, about hope. It was called "Visions" and I had auditioned and got the part of Socrates in the world premier of this rock opera. I liked the opera very much and the role of Socrates was a great role.

But Socrates is not very well known in America and therefore what he had to say through me was not really understood by the audience. Now the part of Mother Teresa, everyone understood her and her big song (aria) is so beautiful.

I would have tried out for the role of Jesus, if he wasn't sung by a tenor. Oh, well. But it was a good experience. (This is so interesting and such a surprise to me. While writing this post, I checked the Visions website to make sure I had the website address correct to link it, and while I was perusing through it, I found this picture of me in the role of Socrates. So, here it is).

Well it was one of my co-stars, who played the part of a bag lady (you would have to know the opera), who was fronting a band in her off stage life. I promised her that I would watch her band perform one night at a nightclub in Hollywood, and I went to see her show.

Evidently, Pixie Monroe, owner of her own casting agency, had gone to hear, if I remember correctly, the bass player in the band for a movie role or something. She was sitting at a table in the front by herself and I asked if I could sit next to her. Before the show started her and I had a short and sweet conversation that we have remembered ever since.

Without getting into it too much, Pixie had just moved to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. where she was working in a building directly across from the part of the Pentagon that was hit.

She had to move because the government took over their offices since the Pentagon offices had been destroyed. I had been in New York, blocks away from the World Trade Center and watched everything happen from afar until I decided to try and flee Manhattan with millions of others, to no avail. While stuck in Manhattan for days without the possibility of renting a car or getting a plane out, I learned that my Father was passing away, and then he did.

You can imagine, like so many of us at the time, the stories we told each other and the special connection we developed in those short moments. We gave each other hope, and we assured each other about something else too.

We told each other that even though we had heard so many stories of people in the business of music, movies and television being ruthless and heartless, that we did not have to experience those people. You could say we almost made an unspoken pact to attract to ourseleves beautiful people who want to do good in the world through music, television and movies.

Had I known at the time, I would have included radio too, but thankfully, it has been the case for me, and come to find out, for her too. Not only that, she has since started a podcast show that benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and on which she interviews celebrities and people in music, television, movies, fashion, etc., who are indeed doing good in the world.

Interestingly enough, she started this podcast soon after her mother died and it is called "Casting Hope." It cleverly combines the the creative energies of L.A. radio personality Gary Spears and Hollywood Casting Director Pixie Monroe with celebrities, fashion, entertainment and business professionals, St. Jude supporters and patients.

Los Angelinos especially will remember the voice of Gary Spears from his many years as a disc jockey on KBIG and of course KIIS FM, and what a great radio voice it is. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun and you can listen to the podcast show in the archives of their website.

I however wasn't the only guest on the show. The other guest was Jackie Zabel, and I am so glad she was. I got to meet, speak to, and enjoy Jackie and I have a feeling we will be doing something together soon.

Actually, I already know one of those things we will be doing together, and that is being a part of her next cookbook. See, Jackie was on the show because she too is a big Hollywood mover and shaker, her and her husband. For that matter, her and her co-author and her co-author and her husband too. Boy this is confusing.

Lets start at the beginning. Jackie Zabel wrote a book in conjunction with Morgan Most called "The Hollywood Cookbook - Cooking For Causes." Interestingly enough, during the taping of the show, Jackie said we should get olive oil on the book.

What she meant by that is she wants people to use it because the recipes have all been tested and they work and are most likely delicious. But I could see why people wouldn't want to get olive oil on it, because it is such a beautiful "coffee table" type book, as you can see from the picture above.

The conceptt is great and $5 of every book sale gets split among 20 different charities. The book is not without it's Italian recipes and Italian-American celebrities. Featured are Chef Mario Batali, Chef Nick Stellino, Chef Rocco Dispirito, and Chef Michael Cimarusti. In fact, the Italian chefs outnumber all the chefs combined. Gotta love it.

So, during the taping Jackie also said that they are writing a second book about "going green." By "green" I don't think she necessarily means salads, but rather food that is environmentally conscious. And so, with that, she asked if Chef Richard, of the Filippo and the Chef show, and I would be a part of the celebrity line-up on the next book and, of course I said yes.

Now to clear up what I started with the husbands etc., lets see if I can take one more stab at it and make it make sense. Jackie is married to Bryce Zabel who is a writer, a producer and formerly the Chairman/CEO of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Jackie's co-author of the book is Morgan Most. Morgan is married to Don Most who is an actor and director and best known for his portrayal of the character Ralph Malph on the most popular series "Happy Days."

Interesting note. I always thought the character was "Ralph Mouth" until I just looked it up on Funny. I am so glad I cleared that up. And now you see what I mean when I said something like these people are movers and shakers in the world of Hollywood.

Which only goes to prove the point that began this whole post, about dealing with people in this business that want to do good in the world. Here we had a casting agent, Pixie Monroe (Don't you love that name?), a radio host, Gary Spears, a Hollywood mover and shaker/author, Jackie Zabel, representing her co-author Morgan Most, and respective husbands, and myself, Filippo, a singer and radio show host as well, all from "the industry" and all carrying about other people and wanting to help the world.

Pixie, I would say we are attracting well and living out our silent pact! More power to you and to all of us, and thank you all for being who you are and doing what you are doing!


P.S. In the pictures starting at the top are Gary Spears, Pixie Monroe and myself. Then there is me as Socrates in the "Visions" Rock-Opera. Then I posted a picture of Pixie Monroe and I and one with Gary Spears and I. Then below those I have the cover of "The Hollywood Cookbook" and then a pictures of the authors, Jackie Zabel and Morgan Most, and their husbands, below them, Bryce Zabel and Don Most.

I then posted pictures of the Italian Chefs in the book, Mario Batali, Nick Stellino, Rocco DiSpirito, and Michael Cimarusti. Finally, I have a picture of the four of us in the studio with Peaches the dog.

Since I wrote about Don Most who played Ralph Malph in the series "Happy Days, and since the character of "Arthur Fonzarelli" was supposed to be Italian, I thought I would take this opportunity to post a video I found on of not one but two Italian characters from the series. Here are Fonzie and Leather Tuscadero singing the Fonzie song, "Do The Fonzie," from one of the series episodes. (In English)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Grazie "Amici" - Thank You "Friends"

Ciao a tutti,

"Grazie," in Italian means thank you. "Amici," in Italian means friends. Therefore, technically the title of this post is indeed "thank you friends." And though I mean that and I always say that, the reason that the word "Amici" is in quotes is because I am referring to an Italian Journal called "Amici." So in essence I am not just thanking "friends" I am thanking the Journal.

And the reason I am thanking Amici is not only for the work they do in keeping those interested in Italian and Italian-American culture informed, but because of the wonderful article they wrote about our show "Filippo and the Chef."

I got a call from Randy Warner of our management team at The Phoenix Organization the other day telling me he was real pleased with the article in the Amici Journal. I hadn't seen it yet, so he sent me a copy, and I got to see what he meant.

Author, John Rizzo did a really nice job. I remember him interviewing Chef Richard and I for a future article in the Journal but I didn't remember telling him all that he wrote. He must have done a lot of research. Nonetheless, thank you John, and thank you to our amici at "Amici."

I have posted the article that was written on us here, but the whole magazine is worth getting since it is filled with things people who are interested in things Italian want to know. Plus, this month has Italian-American actor Gary Sinise on the cover.

Gary, so it seems, has been on a "mission" his whole life with his famous roles in CSI: NY, "Mission To Mars," "Forrest Gump" and then of course, "Apollo 13." But he is on a mission of a lifetime now, and in Amici they hit up on it in a very interesting article about him and his foundation, Operation Iraqi Children, which supports the efforts of American soldiers to assist Iraqi children. It is an organization founded and funded by Gary Sinise and author Laura Hillenbrand.

Learning about the kind of great work that people like Gary Sinise do, on screen, and off, make you proud to be associated with them on all fronts, as Americans and as Italian-Americans.

Grazie "Amici," and grazie Gary for the work that you are doing.


P.S. I think it very appropriate to post a clip here that I found on of Gary Sinise on Craig Ferguson's Talk Show, talking about other things we can be proud of like his entertaining the troops, among other things. (In English)