Greg Daniels of Haven Gastropub, Part 1

Categories: On the Line
Old Town Orange is going through a sort of culinary renaissance lately, and Haven Gastropub is a big part of it. You can generally tell which building is Haven by the crowd of people standing around outside for a table. This week, Haven's executive chef and partner, Greg Daniels, volunteers to talk to Stick a Fork In It. Stay tuned for more questions tomorrow and a recipe involving seafood and beer on Thursday.

Photo by Kimberly Valenzuela
OC Weekly: What are six words to describe your food?

Greg Daniels: Creative, comfort, casual, gourmet, flavorful, fresh

OCW: What are ten words to describe you?

GD: Sarcastic, driven, creative, caring, leader, impatient, demanding, intelligent, careful, self-aware

Your best recent food find:

GD: Pork Flatiron.  Was just given a sample--all natural, well-marbled, delicious. Definitely the next menu addition.

OCW: Most undervalued ingredient:

GD: Salt. I think this is where many restaurants fail to deliver good food. I don't know why so many people want to eat tasteless, bland food. I understand the health factors, but until a doctor tells me otherwise, I will continue to salt my food so that I can taste it.

I know that some chefs will tell you that using fresh ingredients requires less seasoning, and I totally agree. The point is to "properly" season food. This doesn't mean over-seasoning or under-seasoning. There is a balance that you reach with the use of salt that if done properly, highlights the ingredients without actually tasting salt.

Rules of conduct in your kitchens:

GD: Work clean, and don't complain. I don't yell... much. I expect that my team shows up on time, puts in 100%, and is happy doing it. I run a kitchen that is very open to suggestion. I feel that if a line cook is involved in the development of the dish, he or she will have a sense of ownership that only comes with that involvement. Dishes that we work on rely on just about everyone being involved, whether it be the whole thing or just a small aspect of it. It's important to hire creative people, that can bounce ideas off of you. As a chef, I believe being open to those ideas is what makes a restaurant great.

One food you detest:

GD: Anything from McDonald's. Anything from Olive Garden. I hate when people say, "Well, the breadsticks and salad are really good." If a restaurant's claim to fame is breadsticks and salad, I don't want to be there. Besides the fact that you can find a much better plate of pasta for the same price or less anywhere.

OCW: One food you can't live without:

Tacos. Being from Whittier originally, I was raised on Mexican food. I don't think I could live without it. Growing up, we had tacos every Friday night - the spicier the better. My stomach has paid the price over the years, but it's not slowing me down any.

Location Info

Haven Gastropub

190 S. Glassell St., Orange, CA

Category: Restaurant

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