3333 Bear Street Ste 316
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
In college, my roommates and I would host Sunday supper at our house. I would cook for 30 to 40 people--many of whom ate nothing but pre-packaged and fast food the rest of the week. We collected donations and whatever was collected was used to buy the following week’s ingredients. Sometimes we had nothing but a huge pot of soup or pasta…other times we had steak and shrimp. I think that during this time is when I became hooked on hospitality.
Where did you learn your craft?
Mostly self-taught through trial and error and a willingness to fail every so often. I did take a few courses through OCC’s culinary program and the North Orange County ROP program. I was lucky to work with a chef early on that taught me a lot about volume cooking (he was a cook in the USMC), catering, and some of the business side of food costs and waste reduction.
Did you cook growing up?
Yes. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t help my mother in the kitchen and my father on the barbecue. When I was in junior high my mother went back to work and she would leave me notes to get dinner started--“Put the chicken in the oven at 350 at 4:30”--and I realized that if I cooked my brothers and sister had to clean up.
What was your first restaurant job?
Server. May have fibbed a little bit about my previous experience to get that one.
What is your most popular dish?
Based on actual numbers sold it would be the basic pepperoni pizza. But among our regulars it would probably be the quinoa tabbouleh with chicken or the grilled steak salad.
Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?
I used to have a mini mandolin for thinly slicing garlic that a co-worker gave me for Christmas one year. I have often wished I still had it when I want to add very thinly sliced garlic to something.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
Blame. I really don’t care who missed something on a ticket or forgot an order or burnt something. We don’t have to pull the original ticket to see if the server screwed up. We don’t have to spend 3 minutes talking about it. Let’s just fix it so the customer is happy and we can move on. But as a manager I make a mental note of who actually screwed up so if it continues we can fix it.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I genuinely enjoy seeing people have a good time and knowing I had a part in that.
Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to like?
I’ve tried foie gras in many different preparations and just can’t get over the mouth feel. It’s like coating the inside of my mouth with butter. I just don’t like it.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
In OC, Playground. Old Vine Cafe. The Crosby (although I haven’t been in since Chef Aron left so we’ll have to see). Taco Adobe. Siam Taste of Asia.
When you’re not in the kitchen what are you doing?
Spending time with my family--which often revolves around food and me in the kitchen cooking.
Last meal on Earth would be??
It’s a toss-up. Mom’s stuffed shells with a side of meatballs or a feast at one of the floating seafood restaurants off the Laem Hin Pier, Phuket Island, Thailand.