On The Line: Sid Fanarof Of zcafe, Part One

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Photo by Julie Nguyen

"Cooking is about shopping."


He had us at shopping. How Sid Fanarof, founder of zcafe (and zpizza) is able to relate the two took a while to answer, but he tied together two of our favorite pastimes. It's normal for Sid to be out and about early Saturday morning searching for deals at both garage sales and farmers markets. One day he even purchased pizza equipment from a landlord who shut down a restaurant, "I bought $5000 worth of equipment for $200." Winning! Most of the time he purchases with someone else in mind, and always with a mindset of aesthetics and practicality.

When it comes to shopping for ingredients, Sid has an additional list of characteristics to check off. Is the ingredient accessible to his 100+ locations? Can he order it in the quantities he wants at a decent price? And most importantly, is it delicious and good for you? His search for tastes that most people will approve of results in their organic crust and preservative-free/nitrate-free pepperoni. Akin to eBay buyers, it's the find that makes it exciting for Sid.

Your earliest food memory:
Dipping freshly baked rye bread with butter into my Grandfather's coffee with milk and sugar.

Favorite meal growing up:
Beef stew with carrots and potatoes.
Your best recent food find:
Aged black garlic from Frida's.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Fresh herbs. It's so simple to pick up an herb garden from Trader Joe's instead of dried ones. Spaghetti sauce with fresh oregano elevates it more than I can tell you. Here we use basil, cilantro, thyme, mint (in both salads and pizza). I love fresh dill.

What inspired zcafe?
Invitation by the Segerstroms of South Coast Plaza to take zpizza to the next level. It was an opportunity to create a more health conscious menu with a larger scope, combined with a great patio vibe.

Tell us about your happy hour.
Monday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to close. We're offering $4 mini pizzas and $3 hummus appetizer plates. Half-price on all beers and house wine [Editor's Note: It's a relaxed after work spot, especially when you kick it out on the patio.]

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Vietnamese cuisine. We go to Phans 55 in Irvine and Bamboo Bistro in Corona del Mar. Conveninece plays a large part in where we go. The flavors at both are very clean.

What is your beverage of choice?
Italian grapefruit soda.

Where did the name come from?
Came from the pronunciation of "the" by my original partner, who was of French heritage.

One food you can't life without:
Avocado-- delicious, filling and good for you.

Where was your most recent meal?
Falafel and hummus at home. I eat at home about 90% of the time because I eat very simply. I pick up stuff, too. I picked up soup from a Chinese restaurant, (server) "You want a large? That's three containers." (Sid) "Yeah, I want a large" I get the three containers of sizzling rice soup. It's $13 for three meals. It's delicious with veggies and chicken. And I can't make it for that (amount).


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