My LA To Z: Nigel Lythgoe

The vivacious judge on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” who is gearing up for National Dance Day and the Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala on July 27th, thinks L.A. is simply above barre. Here, the Liverpool native talks British junk food, record collections, and good old fashioned sing-a-longs


It’s a Thai restaurant opposite CBS studios. While we’re filming So You Think You Can Dance our meals are free, but what’s been happening is, half of the crew is going across the street to Nakkara. You know it’s a good restaurant when the crew are passing up a free meal. The chef there is named Kevin Sukcharoen and he’s sort of blended the incredibly complex flavors of Thai cuisine with pastas like penne and spaghetti. I really love the beef panang and the yellow curry chicken. It’s very small, but very clean and very fresh.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum

I always love it when I am able to get there. I even love walking in the gardens; it’s just so beautiful and relaxing. I remember going for the Herb Ritts work last year. I think that exhibition was my favorite of all the ones I’ve seen. He just captured so many people so wonderfully—there was one photo of Greg Louganis, I think, that was so beautiful.

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The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills

I have to say, I enjoy the whole Beverly Hills shopping area. It has great restaurants and stores, but I really love the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. They’ve got a huge variety and it’s all great quality. My favorites are the soft blue cheeses. And they have a lot of British cheeses as well, like a Gloucester cheese. They always have you try things—they’ll say, Try this goat cheese, and you’ll say, But I don’t like goat cheese. Then you try it and it’s fantastic. It’s educational.

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Amoeba Music

I’ve got a bubbler, which is an old jukebox, so I get all of my 45s at Amoeba. I could spend hours going through old boxes of 45s there. I think the very last record I got was The Boat That I Row by Lulu with Neil Diamond. She was a little Scottish singer who sang To Sir With Love.

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The Hollywood Bowl

One of the greatest things about living in L.A. is the outstanding weather. To sit outside on balmy nights and listen to music at The Hollywood Bowl—it just doesn’t get any better. And the Grease Sing-A-Long! Having 18,000 people singing “Summer Nights” together is absolutely fantastic.

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Ye Olde King’s Head

I love all of the English junk food—bangers and mash, baked beans, chips. And they’ve got a great store attached to it so I can get HP sauce, which is kind of like your steak sauce but much thicker, shredded cereal, and Branston pickle, which is great on cheeses. They’ve also got great screens for soccer. One of my sons is a mad fanatic Arsenal supporter so we’ll go there for the big matches. I’m for Liverpool because I was born there—it’s like a religion.

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Bel-Air Country Club

It’s a private health club that opened in 1927 just across the street from where I live. It’s 6491 yards, and it’s a really tough golf course, but I love it. And I think everyone who’s in it is really kind and welcoming. I love golf, I just don’t play enough.

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SoHo House

I’m a founding member! I joined in 1995 in London, and I never dreamt that fifteen years later I’d be a member of SoHo house in L.A. I try and go there quite a bit when I’m in town, although my one complaint is that there are a few too many English people there. The garden terrace area is wonderful—very relaxing with all of those olive trees.

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The Music Center

I love all parts of the Music Center. The Mark Taper auditorium, where all of the plays are; then there’s Disney Hall, where I directed the very first Idol Gives Back. The Ahmanson theatre is wonderful with all of the musicals, and then my favorite: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the L.A. Opera and Gloria Kauffman Presents Dance. And now that the Music Center adopted Grand Park, we’re doing National Dance Day there and then holding the Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala in the Pavilion. That whole area is underused—I don’t think people are aware of the amount of art going on there.

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For more information on National Dance Day and to purchase $34 tickets for the Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala, visit The Music Center website.

Photographs courtesy (in order): (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)