On the Line: Scott McVean of PdM Kitchen, Part One

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi

If you think you know PdM Kitchen, think again. While it may have sister bakeries and cafes, this particular spot near the intersection of Jeffrey and Alton has something the rest do not: dinner. Full-service meals of roasted chicken, flat iron steak, plus beer and wine. This found within a chain not known for all of the above is a step in the right direction.

We read that you are living the "farm to table" concept. Could you elaborate on that?
I've always been passionate about sustainability, and think everyone should know exactly where their food comes from. I knew 10 years ago that if I was going to emphasize sustainable, organic foods in my restaurants, then I should live the lifestyle-- not just talk about our food being 'farm to fork', but actually live it. So I moved my family to Montana, where I've been ranching and learning to be more self-sufficient.

I split my time between Orange County and my farm in Bozeman, where I raise my own beef, poultry, pork and eggs. When I'm there, I take care of the farm, the animals and cook daily for my family of seven. I've lived this lifestyle for 10 years, and I don't know of any other local restauranteurs who actually live on a farm and raise their own food.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Make it fun, and encourage everyone in the family to participate.

What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it?
I like Stone Pale Ale, which we serve at PdM Kitchen and is widely available in Orange County. When I'm in Montana, you can't beat Bozeman Amber Ale.

One food you can't live without.
Fish, and probably eggs. They're healthy, delicious, easy to prepare and usually accessible. We have chickens on my farm, and every morning we have fresh eggs.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten.
Nothing too exotic . . .I've had rabbit and mule deer, which was too gamey.

How did the PdM Kitchen concept come about?
I wanted to elevate the dining experience of the PdM Cafe concept at Fashion Island, but that space isn't big enough to offer the type of full service restaurant I wanted to create. As we approached our 25th anniversary, I thought it was perfect timing to expand and grow into a new location in Irvine.

Favorite meal growing up:
My mom's spaghetti with Italian sausage; it was her specialty. And for breakfast, I always had bacon and eggs.

You're making breakfast; what are you having?
Fried eggs, Niman Ranch bacon, potatoes and toast. Or, the "Scott's Benedict" at PdM Kitchen.

Favorite chef.
Bobby Flay. He makes simple, good food. Everything he does is quality, yet not overly complicated in technique or with too many ingredients. He lets fresh food speak for itself. He also uses a lot of goat cheese, which I love.

Where was your most recent meal?
PdM Kitchen. Our new burrito with steak.

Your best recent food find.
Smoked mashed potatoes at the Hyatt Newporter. I've since made them myself, and they were insane. I may add them to my menu.

Most undervalued ingredient.
I'm a big fan of anchovies, and don't think they are used enough. I also love butternut squash. There is a lot you can do with it.

Your earliest food memory.
My mom cooking every meal. It was good, simple food.

Most popular item on the dinner menu.
Fish tacos [Note: It also happens to be Scott's favorite meal.].

Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
When we first opened in Irvine, someone came in asking if we had birthday cakes because they thought we were a traditional bakery. We do make bread, muffins and pastries fresh daily on the premises, but don't make cakes, so we weren't able to accommodate them.

Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
I really enjoy anything by Hillstone Restaurant Group, like R+D Kitchen, our neighbor at Fashion Island.

Where does the restaurant name come from, and why was it shortened?
When I first started, I had a tiny storefront in Balboa and named it Pain du Monde, or "breads of the world", because I primarily baked bread. I later added muffins and pastries, and shortened the name to PdM Cafe. It evolved into a cafe concept with breakfast items, and later we added salads and sandwiches at lunch. At that point, locals were calling it "PdM" for short anyway. As I was planning the Irvine location, it made sense to change PdM Cafe to PdM Kitchen because it's an elevated dining experience.


PdM Kitchen is located at 5781 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, (949) 336-6292; www.pdmcafe.com.

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