On the Line: Jonathan Eng of Le Pain Quotidien, Part Two

Categories: On the Line
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Photo by Mary Pastrana

Over the snap, crackle and pop of bulgogi, Jonathan Eng compared and contrasted the differences between East and West Coast states-of-mind. His interests outside of the bakery vary from surfing to photography, and we discuss them further in today's segment.

Read our interview with Jonathan Eng of Le Pain Quotidien, Part One.
And now, on to Part Two . . . .


When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Trying different restaurants, exploring different places, surfing, cooking, tending to my balcony garden, going to swap meets, napping and sleeping.

Last song playing on your radio/smart phone/iPod:
Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra.

Where did you grow up?
Neptune, New Jersey.

Do you prefer the weather/seasons back home?
I really enjoy fall and spring back home because you really appreciate a change in weather after a long winter or a humid summer. That being said, I really do not miss waking up at 3 a.m. on a 15-degree Fahrenheit morning in the middle of the winter, only to slip and fall on the icy steps outside my apartment and land in the snow.

How often do you get carded?
Until recently pretty often; I must be looking old. Two years ago, I was at Jupiter in San Francisco and the bartender looked at my ID and then said, "Oh, to look 17 again."

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Work ethic is often part of someone's character, not something that can be taught.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Lying on my parent's bed watching TV with the windows open and the summer breeze coming in.

We found your photography website; do you still do it as a hobby?
I have not been shooting much lately. I was doing it for money for a while and had some bad experiences, so that really took the fun out of it for me. I realized that there are some things you do for pleasure and some things you do for money. I guess I am lucky that now I get paid for doing something that I truly enjoy.

Where did you learn to surf, and do you have a favorite beach out here?
When I lived in San Diego I started surfing. I like going to Crystal Cove, Corona del Mar and Laguna to relax. As far as surfing, I'm a kook, but I usually go to San O(nofre) or Huntington.

What were you up to five years ago?
I was in my last semester of college at Pace University in New York City getting a Bachelors of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance. At that point I started thinking, "What the hell am I going to do now?"

Favorite holiday:
Chinese New Year because my parents always throw a party at their house in New Jersey and my Dad cooks so much good food. The funny thing is most of the people at the party are from my Mom's side of the family, which is the Irish side, but they really get into it. They wear red, they make decorations, and they buy the red envelopes and hand them out. Since I could not make it this year they mailed me my red envelopes.

Biggest difference/adjustment between New York/New Jersey and California.
I general, I would say that life is much easier out here. New York is not like the TV show Friends. Everyday life is much more challenging. The last neighborhood that I lived in was Spanish Harlem. You could not have a more polar opposite than Newport Beach.

I remember my boss in New York had to go to an event in Spanish Harlem, and the next day she said, "I was in your neighborhood last night. . . do you think it's safe there?" I hate having to drive everywhere here, especially because the weather is so nice here, I would much rather walk. People on the East Coast are aggressive drivers, but people out here are just bad drivers, and I am one of them.

Last book you read or last movie watched:
I am currently reading 52 Loaves by William Alexander. The last movie I saw in a theater was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

We read about a period when you couldn't focus. Could you elaborate?
About four months after I moved to San Diego (after finishing college), one of my best friends from home was murdered. It destroyed me mentally. I was extremely depressed; I never left the house, and I couldn't concentrate on anything. Learning to make bread really helped me get myself back together. The fact that the work is physical and requires a lot of planning helps me take my mind off of everything else.

Last thing you looked up/searched online:
Katsuobushi. It is dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I have no idea, but I would have to be creating something. I would like to think that I would be brewing beer or doing woodworking.
 

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Location Info

Le Pain Quotidien

401 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant


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