Rick LeBlanc of Rick's Atomic Cafe Goes On the Line, Part Two!

Categories: On the Line
ricksatomicafe2.jpg
Photo by Todd Barnes
We interviewed Rick LeBlanc of Rick's Atomic Cafe yesterday, the man who's bringing a bit of organic, New England class to the office drones around John Wayne Airport; after the jump, the rest of the story!

You're making an omelet. What's in it?
Fresh blueberries, sage and triple cream
.

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


Weirdest customer request:
A sandwich of refried beans and fried egg
.

Favorite OC restaurant(s) other than your own:
Bo De Tinh Tam Chay in Westminster. This is a classic Vietnamese vegetarian restaurant with an endless menu of noodle, rice and porridge dishes.


Hardest lesson you've learned:
Follow your passion. I spent years working in other fields while catering and cooking for friends and family on the side before finally committing to my passion
.

What would the last meal on Earth be?
Fresh New Brunswick, Canada lobster poached in butter ala The French Laundry
.

Who's your hero? Culinary or otherwise?
Marcella Hazan.


What cuisine that you are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about?
Japanese--their ability to be so subtle with flavors and so respectful of ingredients.


How did you end up in such a strange location? Any plans to move somewhere more visible?
Necessity is the mother of invention--do you have any ideas?


What dish would you tell newcomers to try first?
An omelet with home fries and toast--comfort food.


What were you doing before you cooked at Rick's, that is, what's your background, culinary or otherwise?
I started in the restaurant business in Connecticut back in 1974 I worked the front of house and spent every moment I could in the kitchen learning techniques and skills that I have never forgotten. After moving to Boston I took a job in the arts and started catering on a small scale with fellow chefs and this continued here in California until I took a job as chef and then Executive Chef for the Shoreline Yacht Club.


What advice do you have for those that might be thinking about starting a career in food?
If you are passionate about cooking, the long hours and minimal pay will be overshadowed by the opportunity to create.


What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? 10 years?
My dream is the little neighborhood restaurant where I know most customers names and they know mine. I would love to own the classic local foodie hangout.


What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Chain restaurants
.

Favorite cookbooks:
Lord Krishna's Cuisine: the Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking--this book fascinates with the complexity of spices and flavors of Indian cooking. Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook--not only do you learn classic regional recipes and techniques, you get a story about the origin.


When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Well, if the Connecticut Huskies or the New England Patriots are not on the tube, I enjoy music and Mid-Century design and architecture.



Rick's Atomic Cafe, 3100 Airway Ave., Ste. 113, Costa Mesa, (714) 825-0570; twitter.com/ricksatomiccafe.

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