By: Ray Pearson, Anaheim Food & Drink Examiner  

"It's Not Just an Event ... It's an Experience" is the motto for The Wine Artist, Lake Forest, California. The first experience we had upon entering was to be dazzled by the interior. It is part grotto, part Italian villa, part winery, and part interactive kitchen, and all stunning. Our group, the International Wine, Travel, and Writers Association, soon discovered what the second experience was going to be - our eight intrepid members were going to prepare and cook four Thai dishes from scratch: Spring Rolls, Pad Thai, Chicken Curry (spicy and not so much), and Mango Sticky Rice.

M. J. Hong, ("Please call me MJ"), owner and inspiration behind The Wine Artist, had already done the shopping for all the ingredients needed for our creations. After laying out the basic game plan, MJ's keen eye ran surveillance on us as we chopped, sliced, deveined, measured and peeled the inventory. Soon, piles of basil, mint, cilantro, lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, green onions, limes, shallots, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, shrimp, chicken, and mango were all strategically stationed around woks, pans on burners, and our Gang of Eight.