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Kris Kirk of Ecco Restaurant, Part Two

Categories: On the Line
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Photo by Todd Barnes

Today we continue our Q&A with Kris Kirk, the chef at Ecco at The Camp in Costa Mesa.

Stay tuned for a recipe from the chef tomorrow.

If you missed the first part, click here.

What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
Something to do with preparing a three course meal at the Santa Monica's farmers market, everything would have to be purchased there and prepared with the help of the farmers

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Chapulines, dried grasshoppers from Mexico.

You're making an omelet. What's in it?
Mushrooms, truffles, and a lot of cheese.

You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Heirloom tomatoes.

Weirdest customer request:
Beet salad, "NO beets".

Favorite OC restaurant(s) other than your own:
Kappo Sui.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Not listening to my wife.

What would the last meal on Earth be?
Double-Double Animal-Style.

Who's your hero? Culinary or otherwise?
Wolfgang Puck, Spago is where I did my externship, where it all started for me.

What cuisine that you are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about and why?
Louisiana creole, becauses it evolved around so much history and blends so many different cuisines together...plus it's as spicy as hell.

What took so long for Ecco to open? Care to share some behind-the-scenes stories on why it took almost a year to come to fruition? When did you become involved?
Can't speak for that, but as soon as I became involved about 5 months ago, we have now been open for two months.

You used to work with Rich Mead at Sage on the Coast. These days he's got his Canyon Restaurant in Anaheim Hills, and you're at Ecco. Have you guys tried the other's restaurant?
Not me, no time yet but Rich has been in a handful of times for a pizza and a beer.

So what were you doing before you became a chef? What's your background, culinary or otherwise?
Graduating from USC and thinking, "What am I doing? I want to be cooking!" Then graduating from the Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park, best decision of my life!

The Camp has sort of become an epicenter of new restaurants of late. After a diner has tried your place, which other Camp restaurant would you recommend to him/her?
Old Vine Cafe, biscuits and gravy are out of this world.

What does Ecco bring to the scene?
Fresh yet soulful Italian cuisine using locally farmed ingredients, pizza prepared in a traditional way and baked in a brick wood-fired oven, delivered in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

What advice do you have for those that might be thinking about starting a career in food?
Love it.....or Leave it

What's your plan in 5 years? In 10?
5 yrs, opening my own place....10 yrs, making money.

Ecco, 2937 Bristol St., Ste. A103, Costa Mesa, (714) 444-3226; eccocm.com. Open for lunch daily, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; for dinner, Tues.-Wed., 5-11 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 5 p.m.-2 a.m.

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