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In the television business, you are where you eat as much as you are what you eat.

TelevisionWeek Managing Editor Melissa Grego is tapping into Hollywood's penchant for the working meal with her TVWeek.com feature, Mel's Diner. Ms. Grego sits down with television industry players at their favorite restaurants, giving readers a window into the minds -- and appetites -- of industry heavyweights.

As each Mel's Diner guest dishes about what they're working on, planning and thinking about, Ms. Grego provides a unique view of the television business from the insiders perspective.

TVWeek.com invites fans of Mel's Diner to report back in the comments section on the meals, deals, or anything at all that is eating them about what the featured players have to say.

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Mel's Diner



Mel's Diner: Todd Beck

March 6, 2007 3:35 PM

Who: Todd Beck, president, Beck Media & Marketing
When: Wednesday, Feb. 28, lunch
Where: Pacific Dining Car, Santa Monica


Dined On: Attention steak lovers. Occasional beef eaters, too!

Even if you don’t do steak often, it’s worth doing it here.

There are lots of great joints for this sort of thing in L.A., and I’d love to hear readers’ favorites (please post your vote among the comments below). But the Pacific Dining Car’s prime beef truly stands out.

The meat is specially selected for the restaurant, and dry-aged and custom-cut at Pacific Dining Car’s own facility, according to both Todd and the Pacific Dining Car Web site. Steaks are grilled on a special fire that emits super-high heat to lock in the flavor, juices, etc.

The house-made, family-secret relish that comes with the steak is not necessary, since the steak is so good solo, but it’s tangy and sweet and irresistible.

Believe it or not, even better than the steak at Wednesday’s meal was the Maine Lobster Appletini I started with. It’s served with a perfect Louis sauce and green apples. I’ve never had a better lobster concoction. May have even licked the glass (nah, but wanted to).

It’s a treat to come to this restaurant with Todd Beck. He always has perfect recommendations. And he was kind enough this time to remind me that “portions are inordinately jumbo,” so I could pace myself.

He eats here at least twice monthly, between breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night (both the Santa Monica location and the original downtown are open 24 hours).

His stepdad, Wes Idol II, is the third-generation owner.

Speaking of family, Todd is a first-time dad. He and his wife, former King World publicity pro Susanna Beck, welcomed daughter Willa almost four months ago. So he stuck to the healthiest choices Wednesday (soup and the grilled fresh salmon Caesar). He had a doc appointment the next morning to get some life insurance. (He did cave for a few bites of chocolate soufflé.)

Obviously I’m in love with the food here. The dining experience overall is special, too.

Noir author James Ellroy is a fan and has included the dimly lit restaurant in his books.

White linen-covered tables are positioned further away from each other than at any other place I can think of in Los Angeles.

That means you can eat and chat and not feel like you’re issuing a press release at the same time.

A couple blocks away from Yahoo and MTV, the Santa Monica location is a favorite among some significant media figures. But Dining Car staff doesn’t talk about them.

The waiters are real waiters.

“No server will come up to you and say, ‘Hey, my name’s Bud, I have a pilot at The CW—whoops!—dropped my script,’” Todd said.


The Dish: Used “neologism” in conversation today? Never? Me neither.

That’s the sort of vocab Todd has rattled off naturally as long as I’ve known him (about eight years). He’s one of the smartest dudes I know.

His Beck Media & Marketing, based in Westwood, specializes in what he calls “technotainment” (thus the neologism reference).

Todd founded his company about seven years ago, after working in PR at CBS’s syndie division, a stint in the PR agency world and a dotcom venture.

Back then, “Technotainment was a cool, new concept,” he said. Now everyone’s doing it. Or trying to.

He’s since made a humming biz out of understanding the intersection of technology and entertainment. He found that having clients in both traditional TV and new media not only keeps him interested, it’s good business all around.

He has long seen what many folks in the industry are just starting to grasp. That media of all kinds, new and old, are inextricably linked, and best served when that’s taken into account.

Knowing the new-media stuff helps him “drive PR efforts for TV shows” with the latest tech-enabled strategies. It also means he can show new-media companies how to “see the television landscape,” he said.

Todd’s blossoming client list includes Sony Pictures Television, GoTV Networks, Digitalsmiths and DMGI. Even while we were having lunch, he got a call about new business. Hmmm. Perhaps little Willa’s not the only baby Beck in for a growth spurt.

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Comments (9)

Charley:

Thanks for the recommendation! Always looking for a good steak. And open 24 hours, too? Perfect! Speaking of steak, I don't know if this will work, but I'll giv it a try:

Chuck Larsen:

Best beef in LA is the Prime Rib at Lawry's. No competition. In fact, I'd say its the best in the world!

Chris Newman:

Todd, I like the locks. New look. It works.

Keely Baribeau:

Best steak in LA??? Mastro's. The Palm and Nick & Stef's are at the top of my personal list too!

Thanks, Chris. I figure I might as well make hay while the sun is...shaggy.

Scott R.:

While Morton's and The Palm are great (will have to check out Nick & Stef's), I'm also a big fan of steakhouse ambience and nothing beats The Smokehouse in Toluca Lake or the Valley Inn in Encino. Old school restaurants complete with big booths and fine martinis. It’s all about aged meat and aged waiters. A sirloin slung by a surly waiter. For the perfect combo, try a steak with a side of mac and cheese.

Deanna:

Steak looks sublime! Rumour has it Mel takes all these pics - wow! I thought she brought a photographer along just for the foodie shots. Very impressive. Drool.....

Sounds delicious, and looks even better. The next time I'm around there I'm going to have to try the place out. How're the prices?

Hey there, Prime Beef.
The menu on the Pacific Dining Car's Web site (pacificdiningcar.com) includes the prices, so you can check and budget ahead of time.
It's certainly not the typical 24-hour diner prices you'd find at a Denny's, etc. But it's also not Dennys. ... I imagine if you compared their price list to that of Maestro's or The Palm or Morton's, which are in the league food- and atmosphere-wise for steak in L.A., you'd find PDC reasonable.
Mel.

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