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Spatula Quest

The Rakkasan Chef. He walks the dusty trails of the earth, wandering from kitchen to kitchen in search of his long-lost half-brother, all the while eluding the assassins and bounty hunters who seek his secret recipe for crackling orange duck. Wherever he goes, the Rakkasan Chef saves the day by dispensing his wisdom on spice rubs, teriyaki marinades, and wine pairings.

While it sounds like a David Carradine parody of Iron Chef meets Kung Fu, Rakkasan Chef is in reality one Shawn Eric Fralin, a journeyman of a different sort. His chosen mission in life is to enlighten the culinarily challenged world, one convert at a time. He shares his knowledge of the preparation of simple-to-create yet gourmet-level meals with people too tired or lazy at the end of a long day to get their butts in the kitchen.

No problem, since Fralin has enough energy to spare for everyone. With his "have spatula, will travel" ethic, he regularly bops from one hungry client to the next as a private chef, whipping up a seared tuna here or a grilled portobello there for parties, cruises, or just dinner at home with the family. After all that, Fralin still finds time to conduct a cooking demonstration at Wild Oats Market (11701 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest) today, preparing shrimp cocktail and wild salmon Brie.

Fralin's free-roaming ways came after years spent working within the confines of the restaurant industry. The Riviera Country Club, Hemingway's at the Orlando Hyatt, and Wolfgang Puck's Disney World restaurant were all stops on his 15-year journey, followed by formal training at the American Culinary Federation and a three-year apprenticeship. But Fralin's gastronomic vision and creative daring went beyond set menus, and thus his odyssey as Rakkasan chef began.

Oh, and about Fralin's curious moniker: Rakkasan, which means "falling down umbrella" in Japanese, was the name Fralin earned while serving with the 101st Airborne from 1988-93.

The demonstration runs from noon to 1:00 p.m. at Wild Oats Market. Admission is free. Call 305-532-1707. -- John Anderson


Wonder Women

While the word "Zhenshina" translates from Russian to English as "woman," Cyrillic types would tell you that it could equally be used to say, "Oh, what a woman." Or, in this case, "Oh, what a group of women."

Beyond the plural, consider the pluralism: The light trippers of the Zhenshina Dance Troupe blend modern and primitive styles, mixing together everything from African tribal to Celtic to Asian to improv to a type of belly dancing. Titled "Women of the Dance: A Journey Through Time," the performance of the Zhenshina sisterhood satisfies the group's original vision -- self-fulfillment -- as much as contributing to the community.

Zhenshina's South Dade show will benefit the Seminole Theatre, a work-in-progress that will provide Homestead and environs with a 500-seat performing arts center suitable for artistic, educational, and professional gatherings. The sounds of pluralism should be enough to give folks of all stripes a dose of happy feet. Should the femme splendor of Zhenshina so inspire you, stick around for the music of the Pathfinders and step up and dance yourself.

The benefit for the Seminole Theatre takes place Friday at 8:00 p.m. at the Main Street Cafe, 128 N. Krome Ave., Homestead. Suggested donation is $15. Call 305-245-7575. -- Greg Baker

Moon Dance

MTV symbol steps under da hood

With the task of building an eye-popping sculpture for a major television event at hand, artist Robert Chambers and his team of Miami Dade College students scouted city streets and auto shops. Using gold-plated spinners, flashy tail lights, and other fancy car accessories, they went to work creating a pimped-out, 25-foot version of the MTV Moonman for the cable channel's monumental Video Music Awards.

"It's [going to] look like an astronaut that went to a lowrider shop,'' says Chambers, a fan of customized cars. "It's like a performance art piece when you see one."

The sculptors are adding special effects -- including backfiring mufflers on Moonman's wrists and confetti blasters that shoot out mini silver moonmen. Though the awards show won't take place until August 29, the Moonman's celebrity tour kicks off tonight with a free concert August 21 at Margaret Pace Park, 1745 N. Bayshore Dr. Call 305-642-1271. -- Patti Roth

A Good Breath

A bad hair day is a stressful prospect. A run in a stocking, war, an annoying ex-lover; all tension-filled factors that contribute to the traumatic tempest of life. In this case, Calgon baths won't just take the negativity away. What you have to do is release the angst and change an elemental part of the way you live. As local yoga guru Gaia Budhai professes, controlling life stressors and your journey in life is as easy as breathing. Transformational breathing, that is. Budhai teaches a technique that promises to free those psyche-binders and allows you to be as you were meant to be -- lighthearted and free. Budhai leads participants through a 3-hour healing journey. Bring a pillow, a blanket, and water. Only women will be allowed to participate. The seminar begins at 1:00 p.m. at Synergy Center For Yoga and the Healing Arts, 435 Española Way, Miami Beach. Admission is $50. Call 305-538-7073. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez


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