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Susan Feniger: I'm a Street Pop + Philanthropy Passionista

Photo by Pop Culture Passionistas

When the Food Network was first gaining momentum, we were in our 20's, launching our careers and not really what you’d call homebodies. Work consumed us and grabbing a bite at local restaurants was more our speed. And yet, our main source of relaxation quickly became watching Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken on their show Too Hot Tamales.

We had no real intention of whipping up any of their recipes. But we were drawn to their charming personalities, their effortless chemistry and the accessibility of the dishes they were preparing. We didn’t realize that the techniques they were presenting, the food facts they were sharing and the passion they were exuding was subconsciously going to have such a significant impact on us.

Okay, so we haven’t become master chefs but now we can definitely work our way around the kitchen. We might not make meals that would be featured in a Michelin star restaurant but we can go off book and create recipes of our own that make us and our loved ones happy. We know that we have the Tamales to thank for that evolution.

More importantly, watching Susan and Mary Sue doing something that they clearly loved to much was contagious. If they could find success and have so much fun doing it, why couldn’t we? And if they could do it together, then certainly, we could, too.

We remember our first trip to their famed Border Grill restaurant in Santa Monica back in the day. Our friends were as giddy as we were that we’d finally be going to taste what we had watched the Tamales create. And the first class Mexican cuisine did not disappoint.

When we got the opportunity to sit with Susan recently for The Passionistas Project Podcast, we were totally excited. To hear her talk about her journey to becoming one of the most famous and respected chefs of a generation was as inspiring as we thought it would be.

And on top of it all, we were able to learn more about her work with the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Not only has she been a long-standing member of their board but she’s working in conjunction with them to build a professional-grade commercial kitchen that will be the focal point of the Anita May Rosenstein campus, which is slated to open in early 2019. The facility will feed residents on the site and will also be a training ground for LGBT youth looking to acquire marketable skills and, perhaps, unleash their own passion in the kitchen.

To lend your support to the exciting project, join Susan for the Simply Divine food, wine and spirits event at the Hollywood Forever cemetery on March 24. The night will feature some of L.A.’s most popular restaurants, food trucks, wineries, distilleries, breweries and more. All proceeds support the Los Angeles LGBT Center's programs and services, which are near and dear to Susan’s heart. To get tickets visit

And listen to our interview with Susan on The Passionistas Project podcast on our website, Podbean, iTunes or Google Play.

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