Your move from a very popular OC restaurant to the OC’s uber-popular speakeasy was recent!
Chef Peter Lai: And I couldn’t even find the place when they asked me for an interview! I’d been coming to the Anaheim Packing House since it opened, but I didn’t even know where the fabled speakeasy was. I talked to the owners in July and loved the overall experience of this place.
The Blind Rabbit swept the Golden Foodies in bar and cocktail categories this year. Does that affect how you’re approaching your menus and food?
Absolutely. We’re changing up the menu to represent more “true” speakeasy food, and choosing items that pair well with our craft cocktail efforts. The menu is doubling in size.
What do you mean by “speakeasy” food?
1920s Prohibition Style speakeasies were more into creative finger food. You know … canapes. I like that, but I also want the menu to impart a gastropub kind of feel while still honoring this quaint space. There’s not a lot of table room for big entrées, so I’m working on authentic cuisine that works more as a shared “heavy finger food” type of presentation.
This will be your 4th year at OC Chef’s Table. Why do you keep returning?
I love Illumination Foundation. This coming year, I’ll have represented three different restaurants there – it’s a non-negotiable for me – I will do this event as long as they’ll have me back.
I think it really started with my Dad’s example. He did all the cooking in the family restaurants, 7 days a week, until the day he finally retired. All the cooking help he hired came direct from China. He would find these great chefs, bring them to the states, sponsor their work program, get them their green cards and be there for them as they transitioned into this amazing life in the States. And that’s really what Illumination Foundation does for so many homeless people who don’t even know where to turn … Illumination isn’t just there for a portion of the transition, they’re there for the entire transition for these people.
What do you find the biggest surprise each year at OC Chef’s Table?
I enjoy the camaraderie with the other chefs. At the last event, I had a dish that was supposed to have freshly shaved truffles, but the truffles didn’t find their way to the event. So, I flagged down Chef Sutton and he walked me over to Clint Chin with Club 33. Clint just handed me a big ol’ handful of truffles and said, “Here you go. Take care of your guests.”
The top chefs in Orange County (along with a few surprise visiting chefs) are getting together again for the renowned OC Chef’s Table at Disneyland® Resort on March 3, 2019.
In it 6th year, OC Chef’s Table continues to help Illumination Foundation raise funds to provide permanent housing and services for homeless adults and children. With OC’s most imaginative chefs creating one-of-a-kind magical menus, it’s no wonder OC Chef’s Table is one of the most coveted gala tickets of the year.
See all 40+ chefs participating and secure your ticket at OCChefsTable.com. And, get to know this year’s phenomenal chefs as Diane Armitage sits down with each, asking 5 questions in just 5 minutes …