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Tag: OC Chef’s Table

Chef John Park – Toast – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

Q: Last year was your first year with OC Chef’s Table and you didn’t even have a restaurant at the time …

Chef John Park: Yeah, that was a little crazy. I was prepping all of the food for the dinner out my little apartment with our two boys running around. It was kind of hysterical. I was so honored that Illumination Foundation asked me to be a part of it, even sans restaurant, that I couldn’t turn it down.

We finally got Toast open on July 24th last year.

Q: For a guy who never expected to be a chef, you have quite the interesting business partner.
It’s funny how things work sometimes. I never even expected to be a chef, much less have Ed Lee from Wahoo’s as my business partner. When I was 20, I had never cooked before in my life. I’d never even held a knife in my hand. Up until that time, I was a math major. I was going to be an engineer, maybe coach water polo at a high school somewhere. But certain events happened in my life and I felt called to be a chef.

I tried culinary school, but it wasn’t moving along fast enough. I dropped out so that I could get a job in the industry. That was 18 years ago. I trained as a pastry chef and then worked every station in every kitchen. I just had this sense that this path would lead to the real work I wanted to do – that is, seeking out and helping and hiring vets and homeless individuals and kids who’ve grown up in foster care.

As a restaurant, you can do so much more … you can build this whole aspect of community into your business, of breaking bread together and nourishing people and giving them hope. Owning a restaurant was my means to this end.

Q: Why make the move from L.A. to the O.C.?
I kind of asked the same question, but it was just something I felt led to do. My wife and I had three businesses in L.A. and we were doing well – but I just knew it was time to sell the businesses and move to the O.C. We didn’t have any friends or family down here, and I spent 16 months unemployed, just trying to find the right restaurant. But in that timeframe, I got to know all the issues around homelessness, especially in the nearby riverbed in Santa Ana.

So many residents here don’t know about all the issues that are rampant for thousands of people who are struggling on the streets. When we took over the old Golden Truffle space, we knew we were moving into an iconic space in the O.C. But on our first day of construction, we realized we were right in the middle of the worst part of the entire city for homelessness. And, I think that’s exactly why we landed here.

Q: When did you first learn about Illumination Foundation?
I used to see the Illumination Foundation representatives out on the trails and in the parks, working with the homeless, so I started doing my research. It didn’t take long to realize we were both working to the same end. At the restaurant, we give 10% of our profits to helping the under-served, and most of our staff is made up of vets and foster kids we’ve employed and helped get back on their feet.

We believe that, as restaurant owners and chefs, we have a day-to-day opportunity to be there for people when everyone else has turned away. Beyond feeding them and providing nourishment, we should be the leader and create a welcome environment that opens the doors to vets and homeless adults and kids.

My wife and I are committed to eradicating homelessness because no one deserves that kind of life … and Illumination Foundation is clearly the leader – in the country – that’s devoted to the very same cause.

So, our commitment is this: Anything we can do to help Illumination Foundation we’ll do.

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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 … 

 

Chef Ben LeFleche: Waterfront Beach Resort – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

Q – This is your second year at OC Chef’s Table, yes?
Chef BenLeFleche: Yes. Last year was our first year. We’ve been wanting to participate for awhile, but since we’ve been undergoing heavy construction these last 3 years, last year was the first year we felt we could really pull it off. It was awesome! The scope of what Illumination Foundation puts together is simply incredible.

Q – How long have you been at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort?
Sixteen very fast moving years.

Q – So, all this construction dust … has it been worth it?
Absolutely! Before the expansion we were stuck with just one restaurant space, so it had to cater to a mixed crowd of tastes and ages. Now we’ll have three restaurants – the Boardwalk for three meals a day, the Off Shore Nine club on the upper deck, and finer dining at Henry’s, which will be in the space that our one restaurant – Shades – has been all this time. Henry’s is set to open in March – hopefully – right after the OC Chef’s Table event.

Q – Is Henry’s your baby?
You might say that. I oversee all of the food and beverage here, but Henry’s is a dream we’ve finally made a reality. I’ve always wanted to do something more upscale and creative and, fortunately, our management lets us do what we know.

Henry’s will be an all-scratch kitchen serving just breakfast and dinner. I don’t know if many chefs do this in an entire menu, from butter to jams, jellies, in-house cured bacon, sausage … everything that touches the plate will be scratch.

We’ve spent the last few years developing relationships with small purveyors and farmers who don’t normally do commercial work because they’re just too small and specific. So, for instance, we’re working with a lamb farmer at a ranch up north who can pretty much tell you which blade of grass the lamb eats on any given day. Another farmer we work with raises Campeche Tarpon. We’re also bringing in high-quality meats like Wagyu.

Henry’s is about people who care about their food … on both sides of the table. We’ll be doing simple dishes that really showcase the flavors.

Q – Give me an idea or two of menu items you’ll be featuring
Well, I love our braised octopus dish with pomegranate jelly and black salt. That, however, is an item on the winter menu I was hoping I would be able to cook with an earlier open date … it might have to wait until next fall.

Q – Why the Henry’s name?
The restaurant is named after Henry Huntington who created his own railroad and trolley system out this way. It all started as a friendly competition with his uncle, who owned Southern Pacific. He purchased a defunct hotel here in Huntington Beach in 1911 and renamed it the Huntington Hotel – it was a big success. He created quite a legacy.

Will any of your new menus be on OC Chef’s Table menu?
Oh yes! The menu is already written as a compilation of dishes from all three of our new restaurants. The Offshore Nine is usually where people start their meal while watching the sunset, so that’s the opening course. And … we go from there!

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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 … 

 

OC Chef’s Table Returns March 3rd, 2019, Expands Roster to Unprecedented 40 Chefs

Chef Jayro Martinez: Social – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

When was the first time you thought you might like to cook?
Chef Jayro Martinez: In high school. I remember passing the Home Economics room and smelling all these great smells. I figured any class that smelled like that was one I needed to be in. The teacher was great, and as I learned baking fundamentals, I realized I was excited about something besides sports. All the different textures and the science behind this baking empire … who knew? It was just awesome!

When I was a senior, I found out that there were culinary school scholarships for under-served kids. I was lucky to be selected. So, I started directly out of high school and, in my free time, worked in restaurant kitchens.

Where did you first start?
I started with a company called Grace Catering, and also worked in the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. I started there as a prep cook and worked my way through all the stations to become the lead line cook.

It wasn’t my only restaurant, though. In fact, it wasn’t the only catering company I worked for, either. I would volunteer my time to work at restaurants. I wanted to study how every single one operated. Through it all, I gained a very broad knowledge of cooking styles, from Mediterranean to Spanish to Japanese. And then I ended up opening my friend’s Israeli restaurant, Mh Zh.

Not a bad reputation to earn as the first restaurant kitchen under your command. Didn’t Mh Zh make Best Restaurant of the Year with Thrillist?
It surprised all of us! It helps that it was a tiny restaurant – we only had 500 square feet. Within two weeks of opening, we were doing 200 covers a night with people waiting nearly 3 hours to be seated. It was absolutely crazy.

I worked there the first few months, and then continued to consult while I went over to help another friend open their catering company, Sqirl. I love the mix of all of it.

What made you decide to make the leap from L.A. to the O.C.?
My girlfriend was going to school at UCI, so I thought I’d give O.C. a try. Social had caught my attention as they had such great reviews, so I went to work with Chef José last June. We were able to launch a new menu before he moved to help at another of our restaurants. He created a fun, dynamic atmosphere here, so that’s the kind of energy I’m committed to maintaining.

So, now that you’re at Social in the O.C., what do you see as the biggest difference between the clientele?
Everything in the O.C. is so clean and fresh and calm! It doesn’t feel hectic like L.A. The restaurants here are more traditional and classically driven – you don’t necessarily see the melting pot of cuisines like you do L.A., but the food is so classically great. I was exposed to a lot more farmer’s markets, and I think there’s more vegetarian cuisine, as a rule, in L.A.

So, I’ve enjoyed discovering the markets out here and bringing in more of that “urban” exposure to our Social menu. I really love coming to work every day.

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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 … 

 

Chef Brian Okada: Water Grill – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

This is your first year at OC Chef’s Table, yes?
Chef Brian Okada: Absolutely! Water Grill was there last year and afterwards, the chefs kept talking about how elaborate and amazing it was. They were totally hooked. So, this year I thought I’d step in and experience firsthand what all the talk is about. We’ve already started talking concepts over here – this is an important night for us.

So, what does a Culinary Director do vs. an Executive Chef of a restaurant?
It just means I oversee all of the restaurants from the top down, and get to design more about the overall dining experience, which is a pretty great job.

I started working with King Seafood Company 10 years ago as their Culinary Director, so I’ve helped create several new brands for the company – Fish Camp, Pier Burger, 555 East, etc. And I got to be involved in the remodels and updates for our Water Grill and steakhouse restaurants, too.

Now we have 21 restaurants – five Water Grills, three steakhouses that include 555 East in Long Beach, Lou & Mickey’s in the Gaslamp District and Meat on Ocean in Santa Monica. Then, we have fast casual too with Fish Camp and Pier Burger. It’s never a dull moment.

There’s a lot of R&D involved. We sit down in a room and start hammering it all out – plateware, everything that touches the table, equipment in the kitchen, then the menu concepts and cuisine design. Now the NEW project is the OC Chef’s Table!

Did you have any early influencers that got you interested in cooking?
Well, my grandmothers definitely got me interested in EATING. They both loved to cook, and they were on opposite ends of the spectrum. My Japanese grandmother was an amazing cook; she’d always do a huge table devoted to traditional Japanese food.

On the other extreme … my grandmother from the hills of West Virginia. She was the queen of comfort food. My grandfather would come home from work every day and, even well into his 60s, she would be sure that a glass of buttermilk and a piece of white bread for soaking would be there to greet him.

It’s pretty hysterical looking back at how these two women would load up a shared table – the huge bowl of steamy comfort food with this delicate, precise Japanese food. As it turned out, my Dad was a great cook (the West Virgina side) and my Mom somehow missed the cooking gene altogether.

When did YOU start cooking?
I had to get a job after high school, and luckily landed a restaurant job. No idea what I would have done had I gotten a job as a framer – I think this cooking thing is what I was meant to do. It was fun and came easy to me, and I couldn’t believe you could get paid for something that was all that. Then, they asked me to help them train people for restaurants they were opening so I spent a few years moving from place to place. There’s really no better experience.

So, when did you decide this would be a career for you?
Even after the restaurant opening and training I did, I don’t think I was truly committed until I worked for an executive chef at a private club in my mid 20s … and then my eyes were opened. I finally realized then that food could be art, and from that moment forward, there was no looking back.

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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 … 

 

Chef Ernie Alvarado: Urbana – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

How many years have you participated in OC Chef’s Table?
Chef Ernie Alvarado:
This one in March 2019 will be our third year. It means a lot to me to be able to help these people, especially the kids. It just wrenches my heart when I hear what they’ve been through.

What got you interested in being a Chef?
I had always been in the industry from high school – server, busser, food runner, you name it. I just loved the energy of the restaurant business. One day it was like I suddenly noticed the FOOD in the kitchen, how they were preparing it … and I realized I really loved THIS. I loved everything about the food. All my life, I had been picking it up from my Mom – she was the best culinary school right there … but it finally just clicked for me. From that point, I only wanted to work in the kitchen. So, I found great chefs to learn from, and worked my way up.

What do you like most about cooking?
I love the seasonings and layers of flavors. You might have a traditional dish with three ingredients, but I like infusing and experimenting, adding in 2 or 3 more to just give it that whole flavor experience.

What’s your favorite dish in Urbana right now?
Everything! I like making everything. I think just being a part of the Anaheim Packing District gives our food a special kind of energy, too.

We have a menu of favorites that people come back for on a regular basis, so my team and I focus on keeping those items fresh and consistent. But every week, I do specials, all of which are usually pretty spontaneous. I might go to the store or farmer’s market and see something that turns my head – and I find a way to put the ingredients together to make it special.

Recently, I’ve really liked the Filet Mignon Taco – we created it for our 3-year anniversary here at Urbana and haven’t removed it from the menu since. It might sound a little normal, but it’s my job to make it anything but normal. I really love the process.

Any plans yet for our OC Chef’s Table menu?
Oh, I’ve already started thinking about it. The key is to be very different from last year. I think that’s what all of us try to do, and that’s what makes it such an amazing evening.

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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 … 

 

Chef Michael Rossi: The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

When did you discover the glory of cooking?
Chef Michael Rossi:
When I was a kid, my brother and I would fix taquitos or wontons before baseball practice. At the age of 8, I was Master of the Toaster Oven. It was a heady experience.

But the real cookin’ happened at my Grandma’s house.  My Dad was the oldest of 6 kids, and my siblings and I were the first grandkids of many to come. My grandfather was in charge of the bread and pizza baking, and Grandma was in charge of everything else. We weren’t even allowed in the kitchen until it was time to clean the dishes. Eventually, though, I got to stand on the chair and stir sauce – that was another big moment, for sure.

When did you decide cooking needed to be your profession?
When I discovered people actually cooked for a living! I was majoring in business law at U of A, and one of my buddy’s roommates got accepted to CIA in New York. At first, I thought they were talking “THE” CIA, and when I found out it was a culinary school to train chefs, I was aghast.

I remember thinking, “There are schools to DO this for a living?” We had no Internet or Food Network back then; I had no frame of reference. I rummaged up a few formal cooking shows on TV and … on a whim … flew up to check out the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. I flew there in the morning, flew back the same evening, and drove straight to my parents’ house to tell my Dad I was slightly changing my major from business law to cooking.

My Dad was even more aghast. “What?” he said. “You’re going to go to school to be a fry cook at Denny’s?” But I took him up to see the CCA campus, and he was as amazed as I was. It was so cool to see so many people passionate about cooking.

What was your first restaurant job out of CCA?
I started working for a great chef in San Francisco while I was still in school. I totally immersed myself; I couldn’t get enough. I stayed at the school on the weekends to cook with chefs and took cooking classes the chef professors offered to the public. I honed in on Roy’s in Maui as my first real excursion in 1997. Roy’s was THE place to be; it was a great education.

So, tell me about what happened between Roy’s and The Ranch in Anaheim?
I was all over the map. I attended culinary school in Italy for a year, returned to Brentwood to work at Border Grill, then flew back to Italy to work at the 2-star Michelin restaurant, Locanda Posada Solarola. Chefs came from all over the world to work with this chef, so I was living with two Japanese guys and working in an Italian kitchen where absolutely no one spoke English. I was – seriously – a fish out of water in just about every way, but it was such a phenomenal experience.

I came back here to open Roy’s in L.A., then was involved in the opening of Napa Rose at the Disneyland© Resort and Ambrosia in Santa Ana.  When The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon opportunity came along, I jumped at the chance.

So, what of your personality exists in The Ranch?
Well, all the places I’ve worked … they all have a place here on The Ranch’s menu. We’re blessed to cook whatever we want, and I like to change it up all the time. On a normal evening, we’ll have 10 or 12 menu items that we’ve changed from the day before. You can only pull that kind of thing off with a talented team that loves to cook, and I’ve got the best around.

Chef Michael Rossi - The Ranch AnaheimI love finding really unique suppliers with superior product. I just got back from Tasmania where I spent a week hanging out with a bunch of great chefs and going to the Wagyu beef farms and whiskey distilleries. It’s my inspiration for this year’s New Year’s Eve menu.

What did you think of your first year at OC Chef’s Table?
I loved it! Chef Andy Sutton over at Napa Rose is a great friend of mine – he’s the one who got me involved. Just being back on the Disneyland® campus and being around all those great chefs … it just felt like going home.

But the real sense of “family’ began when the Illumination Foundation folks opened the doors, and all these amazing people came in to support their cause. The crowd and the stories and the leaders on the stage who are so committed to ending the homelessness issue … it brought it all home to me. It was just overwhelming being a part of such a good thing.

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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 … 

 

 

Chef Anthony Berganza: Red O – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

What made you choose a career as a chef?
My parents migrated from El Salvador and I was born in East L.A. I grew up in Baldwin Park and really struggled. I didn’t even think I was going to graduate high school. One day, the career counselor called me into his office and I thought I was in for a bad meeting. But, turns out he was a former chef and he thought I was a fit for it. He’s the one who inspired me to pursue this field. It’s been nothing but amazing!

What was your most memorable restaurant job?
Every day at the Red O is awesome, really. But I did have the opportunity to work for Chef John Burton Race at the 2-star Michelin restaurant, New Angel, in Dartmouth, England. I had a 3-month scholarship and it was definitely the biggest 90 days of my life.

The whole life and culture over there for a chef is different there – it carries such prestige. At the same time, it carries a heavy weight of expectation. There’s a sense of urgency in the European kitchen – there’s no down time when you’re working over there.

The restaurant was so well known that people traveled from all over the world to eat there. The ability to get to know different cultures in the culinary world was so eye-opening. Food crosses boundaries in extraordinary ways, and I guess that’s the biggest lesson I came back to the States with. I was on a mission to do the same thing.

How did you get involved with Red O?
When I came back to the States, I started opening restaurants for Nordstrom’s all over the country. Corporate life had its benefits, but I wanted to be able to experiment more with food. I heard about Rick Bayless’ Red O concept, and already thought so highly of him that I really wanted to find a way in. They let me do a tasting for them, and it just worked out.

What did you prepare for the tasting?
I did a gnocchi with chimichurri and charred octopus, a deconstructed short rib with a corn soufflé and a toasted goat cheese watermelon salad with chili lime dressing. It all worked! (You never know if it’s going to go your way.) I don’t play with my food, but I DO like to be playful when it comes to food. It needs to be a fun experience for everyone.

What’s your favorite menu item now?
Probably the black ceviche – Ceviche Negro. It has this great charred octopus flavor with broth and onions and habaneros. We cook ancho chiles in a slow oven overnight and add those in for color. Then, it’s just the Vitamix with lime juice, garlic and a few more spices, which flavors the broth. It just has all this depth of flavor – it’s like tasting a really great wine.

Last year was your first at OC Chef’s Table, yes?
Yes – last year I was there with Mark, our regional chef. This coming March, I’m on my own! I really can’t wait – any part we can contribute to raise money for these kids and their families that are struggling  … we’re all in.

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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 … 

 

Chef Randy Gruspe: Duke’s – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

How in the world did a guy who grew up in Hawaii end up at the Duke’s extension in Huntington Beach?!
Right! The Duke’s first two restaurants were in Kauai and Waikiki but I had to move to SoCal to cook Hawaiian food! I love it, though. I truly grew up in the culture of Hawaiian cooking, so I really feel like I’m sharing my home with people here.

When did you first decide you wanted to cook?
When I was about 8 year old and cooking outside with all the men from my family and village. Passing down “recipes” and ways of cooking is prominently woven into the island culture, and the whole experience of it had me hooked. I used to race home from school to watch Japanese subtitled “Iron Chef” shows … that was about 1994. I was enthralled.

Did you ever think you were going to be something besides a chef?
I played rugby from about junior high on up. I eventually played pro in New Zealand … not for the All Blacks because they still don’t accept overseas players into the team … but for the Canterbury Crusaders. It was a great run and a lot of fun travel but, in the end, my heart wanted to be in the kitchen.

What’s your favorite food to cook at Duke’s?
I like the Banana Leaf Fish entrée because it resonates with being home in the islands and cooking your protein in a banana leaf over the open fires there. It creates such a beautiful steamed fish. We finish it simply with a hot sesame oil and topped with micro-cilantro. It’s simple but so, so good.

And what’s your favorite food to cook, period?
Spam fried rice. No question. It makes me happy.

What do you think of participating in your first OC Chef’s Table?
It’s crazy to be in company with so many amazing chefs! I just feel honored to be in the room with these people. I’ve heard such great things about OC Chef’s Table for the last few years, but never suspected I’d be invited to participate. I’m really looking forward to the experience. Time to bring it!

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 … 

 

Chef Magellan Moore: Mastro’s OceanClub – 5 Questions, 5 Minutes

Last year was your first year at OC Chef’s Table. What was your impression?
Chef Magellan Moore:
It was amazing! Illumination Foundation did such a great job at connecting their chefs to the cause and showing everyone where their support is truly changing up people’s lives. It was mind blowing.

Chef-Magellan-at-OC-Chefs-Table-eventFor me personally, it was also amazing to meet so many great chefs in this area – chefs I’ve heard about and read about. We have had a number of chefs come in to Mastro’s for dinner, but this was an entirely different environment of camaraderie. It was a phenomenal event at every level.

What got you into cooking?
My Grandmother. From about age 8, I’d live with her every summer, and garden and cook throughout the summer. We’d do all the major holidays as well. My first real job in her kitchen was baking the cakes for Sunday dinner. It instilled in me a crazy passion to cook food for people and bring people together in a happy place.

My Dad could see I was heading in a culinary direction, so he helped me get a job at an Italian restaurant there in Columbus when I was in high school. The chef took me under his wing for the next five years … occasionally screaming at me in a kitchen corner when my timing between dishes wasn’t quite right  … and I’ve never left the kitchen since.

What’s the best food item you’ve ever eaten?
I’d have to say that’s a “best food day.” My Grandmother was from a small town in Georgia where we would have our family reunions. She would be with her sisters in the kitchen preparing this crazy Southern feast. I would see peeks of those menu items in our Sunday dinners, but never all smashed together in one event.

I still remember one particular dinner; every bite was better than the next. Here we were in this smoldering, hot town of Cordele with our tables on red clay dirt. It was a very uncomfortable place to be. But at sunset when dinner started, it was paradise. Everything was perfect.

How did you land in the OC?
My wife grew up in Orange County (she had been one of my bartenders at my restaurant in Columbus) and, about five years ago we were expecting our first baby. We moved to be closer to her family. I was able to start at Mastro’s in Costa Mesa as the Sous Chef, and then transferred as the Executive Chef to Mastro’s Ocean Club.

What makes your Mastro’s unique from others?
At the Ocean Club, we have a larger percentage of fish and seafood dishes but, overall, the  Mastro’s menu are beautifully and similarly structured so that guests can enjoy a familiar experience in any Mastro’s they choose. It’s the kitchen’s personality that will be entirely different from restaurant to restaurant. When you walk into each chef’s kitchen, you’re going to see a lot of different things in the set-up and running of a kitchen. It’s really about the chef’s energy, but it’s that energy that still infuses the food.

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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 … 

 

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