On The Line: Justin Miller Of Pizzeria Ortica, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by Eleonor Segura

One thing we learned about Chef Justin Miller is his love of all things hoppy. Which is fitting when you consider their upcoming tap takeover with Cismontane Brewery. On Wednesday, November 13, Miller will team up with the brewery out of Rancho Santa Margarita for a beer dinner. Their collaboration will consist of a 5-course, family-style menu with pairings for each course. In addition, Cismontane will take over all eight taps for the remainder of the week. Specific menu details are forthcoming. To book a reservation, give them a call at 714-445-4900.

Read our interview with Justin Miller of Pizzeria Ortica, Part One.
And now . . .on to Part Two

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Some activity in the ocean or drinking craft beer. I recently started jujitsu at The Art of Jujitsu. I try to train 2-3 days a week in the morning. It really helps with my stress levels and is an amazing workout. It seems like I'm getting injured once a week these days, though. My line makes fun of me because I will hobble around the kitchen.

Where do you like to go for water sports?
I live on 41st Street and I'll usually just walk out to the beach there. I try to go to Maui once a year and visit family and friends. Shark Pit in Lahaina is one of my favorite places to surf. Or I like to windsurf in Spreckelsville on the North Shore.


Last song playing on your radio:
I'm listening to Sufijan Stevens' Jacksonville at this very moment. Good folk music is my favorite.

Hardest lesson you've learned?
There are a lot of kitchens that are run like a joke. Really investigate what you are getting into. Let's just say through some of my past experiences, I definitely learned what not to do as a chef.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Brewing beer.

Tell us about your homebrewing.
My buddies and I invested in a SABCO, a BrewMagic system. It's a 1/2 barrel system. I love to brew hoppy stuff and Belgium's. I'm really a novice home brewer. I taught myself. I'm probably doing everything wrong, but the beer is not too bad to drink. I'm a little shy about it. I don't like people to try my experiments, because I know what good beer tastes like, and I'm not quite there yet.

When you use the internet, what's on your homepage?
When I'm on my computer I usually just use iTunes.

Last thing you looked up.
New computer. I want a Mac.

Last book you read or last movie watched; how was it?
I skimmed through the Zuni Cafe Cookbook last night. It's a great restaurant in San Francisco. Last movie, This is the End. It was a pretty fun movie.

What were you up to five years ago?
I was doing catering. It was horrible. My body is still hurting from it.

What did you study as an undergrad?
I went to junior college after high school. I had a lot of fun, but I couldn't really nail down what I wanted my focus to be on. I knew that I wanted to own my own business one day. But it wasn't until culinary school that I found my drive and passion.

If you attended culinary school, where did you go and what did you take away from it?
I went to the Art Institute in Costa Mesa. It was great. There were a lot of kids drifting through the system there. But if you were focused, then you could take a lot away from the program. There were also a lot of good chefs that made some good impressions on me.

We read that you grew up in both California and Hawaii. How does beach living differ (if at all) between the two locales?
I hate the winter time. California is way too cold. In Hawaii, I would windsurf every day after school. The ocean was a part of everyone's life in the islands. Here in California, there is a huge surf culture, but I seem to steer clear of the beach when it's cold. I guess you could say I'm spoiled.


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Location Info

Pizzeria Ortica

650 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA

Category: Restaurant

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1 comments
TheFoodieEngineer
TheFoodieEngineer

I just have to say that OTL is something I look forward to reading each time I see a new installment. I love finding about about these great restaurants and the chefs behind them; finding out where they shop and what they like to eat now and as a kid, the music they listen to, and things they have been through really creates a new level in the food and dining experience. Food is art and knowing a little about the creator is something that I take into consideration when I try a new place out.

That said, Justin thanks for the Sufjan Steven's suggestion, always looking for some good folk music.

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