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VENTURA COUNTY WEEKEND | TIDBITS

CPA Pursues His Other Passion on the Air

Tom Walling's donation to KCLU-FM won him an hour of radio time. Now he's on regularly talking about wine and restaurants.

June 27, 1996|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Late last year, Tom Walling of Tone, Walling and Kissinger CPA firm in Westlake Village and Camarillo, pledged $100 to KCLU (88.3-FM), the nonprofit radio station at Cal Lutheran University.

In exchange for his contribution, Walling was given an hour on the radio to host a talk show on just about any topic he wished. After rejecting the idea of discussing taxes on the air, he decided to concentrate on another of his passions--food.

Walling's November debut went so well that his news-feature show has continued monthly, airing from 7-8 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month as part of "Ventura Talk." Last night's segment included a look at outdoor eateries for summertime dining, with reviews of Nona's Courtyard Cafe in Ventura and Bistro by the Water in Westlake.

"We usually start off talking about what is happening in Ventura County, current events in the culinary world," said Walling, a.k.a. The Food Dude, as he is known at the station. "Then we have a short segment on wine, usually with a wine of the month and then we go through two or three restaurants. We also take four to eight calls a night."

Food talk may seem a stretch for a certified public accountant, but Walling's love of food goes back a long way. "I was always going places with my parents,"said Walling, 37, who grew up in Santa Monica. "I was eating at New York restaurants when I was 4 years old."

Walling, who moved to Camarillo with his wife in 1988, said Ventura County has provided him with more pleasurable dining experiences.

"'We've been to some really neat places the last couple of months," he said. "With the ethnic diversity that we're seeing more and more of in Ventura County, we are seeing a lot of variety.

"There are also a lot of people of my generation moving out of the Los Angeles area and into Ventura County and because of that we are seeing a lot more culture up here. I think there's going to be some neat things going on in this county."

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Many Ventura County residents know the Corner Market in Oak View as a hotbed for homemade jerky. The store's beef jerky has been around for decades and the turkey jerky is now a common sight.

So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that with an emu ranch located down the street from the market, a new form of jerky would pop up at the market sooner or later.

Corner Market shoppers got their first taste of emu jerky last week, with free samples to anyone willing to give it a try. But getting people to check out the stuff, said new store manager Larry Morgan, was almost as tough as the jerky itself.

"A lot of people are interested in it, they want to know about it, but it's a tough sell," Morgan said. "As for me, I'm surprised how good it turned out."

Along with the sample tastes, the market is selling the jerky at $6.95 for a quarter pound. Marinated emu steaks are also available at the meat counter for $6.99 a pound.

To entice customers, the store is promoting the health benefits of emu, which are similar to those of the increasingly popular ostrich meat.

"If people are into the health thing it's great," Morgan said. "It's 98% fat free. Very, very, very lean. It's a lot like beef, with a lot of the texture that beef has."

The emu steaks and jerky at The Corner Market come from birds raised at a neighboring ranch owned by Roger Haley. Haley's partner, Dick Aquista, said deals are in the works to offer emu meat at other local establishments and to sell the meat directly from the ranch.

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