On the Line: Rich Mead Of Farmhouse, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo courtesy Michelle Marie Photography
Lefties rule

If you haven't stopped by Roger's Gardens lately, you'll soon have a reason to. Rich Mead's Farmhouse concept is taking shape as we head into the holiday season. Stay for a spell and get to know him in today's installment.

My interview with Rich began yesterday, so catch up over here.
When you're ready to learn about his favorite childhood memory, keep reading below!

Where did you grow up? If you're not from Orange County, what brought you here?
Washington D.C. I came to Newport Beach to open Sage. My brother lived here, and despite what everyone thinks, The Irvine Company was nice enough to lease me the Sage space in Eastbluff. I had been trying to open a restaurant in Los Angeles. I saw the space, and was able to open with a small amount of money and a lot of sweat and vision.

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On the Line: Rich Mead Of Farmhouse, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo courtesy Michelle Marie Photography
Keeping busy

One of the many friends of The Ecology Center, I met Rich Mead a couple of months ago while attending an event there. You may recognize Mead's name from two of his previous eateries, Sage and Sage on the Coast. Rich's newest project, Farmhouse, is in the development stage over at Roger's Gardens. His background was one I knew very little about, making my interview a chance to learn more from the man people spoke so highly of.

Your indispensable kitchen utensil.
Spoon. Stirring, serving, mixing, tasting--different shapes and sizes, slotted or holes.
You need a spoon to taste your food, and tasting is important in cooking.

What is the most challenging part of opening a restaurant?
Putting together a great team of people. I am lucky to have worked with quite a few good people and hope to have as many of them come back and work with us again. You also want people to believe in what you are doing.

It is also important to train and create consistency as quickly as possible--you are only as good as the last experience your customer has.

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On the Line: Rachel Klemek Of Blackmarket Bakery, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Bread winner

In today's segment, Klemek discusses parenting and her future apple farm. Thanks for inviting us into your kitchen, Rachel!

Check out the first part of my interview with the dessert duchess. And if you're good, there may be a Santa Ana preview in the not-so-distant future.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in North Carolina, moved around the South and ended up in Southern California in seventh grade. I experienced serious culture shock, going from wading in creeks barefoot, speaking with a thick Southern accent and running around my rural neighborhood in Anderson, South Carolina, to living in suburban Irvine.

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On the Line: Rachel Klemek Of Blackmarket Bakery, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Dessert duchess

The Downtown Santa Ana space for Blackmarket's newest spot is pending final inspection. I took this opportunity to converse with one of the coolest, most hardworking people I've met: Dessert duchess Rachel Klemek.

Favorite meal growing up.
Vinegar-y BBQ pork sandwiches and crispy hush puppies from Kepley's in High Point, North Carolina, [while] visiting my grandparents.

Let's discuss the sandwich selections at Blackmarket Bakery. The Bandera eggywich is killer, by the way.
Thanks! Eggywiches are available from open til 11 a.m., all anchored by either our brioche bun or our buttermilk biscuit. People seem to really enjoy them! Then, after 11 a.m., we make grilled and fresh sandwiches on our daily breads. Mostly savory, like the BLAT with fried egg on a toasted croissant; but a few sweet sammies in there, too. Like the uber PBJ with freshly ground peanut butter. Something for everyone!

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On the Line: Martin Diedrich of Kéan Coffee, Part Two

Photo by William Vo
Chill til the next episode

Named best coffee in our Best Of 2015 roundup, Kéan Coffee has established themselves as a brand that knows to treat its clientele as well as its product. I continue my discussion with founder Martin Diedrich, as we delve into his childhood, the story behind Diedrich Coffee and what it means to be a master roaster.

You can start here, or you can read our initial conversation from Monday. Either way, you've got a lot to cover. Maybe order a hot beverage first?

Favorite childhood memory.
Among my uncountable favorite childhood memories were the equally countless experiences I had in the wilderness and the great outdoors. Wherever we lived when I grew up, we were always somewhere very close to nature and water. My brothers and I all spent a lot of time in the wilderness, either together or by ourselves. I treasure the comfort I find there, and my natural ability to be in the wilderness. I still love doing solo wilderness treks to get off the grid and reconnect with what's real in the world and have my spirit renewed. My Dad always told us, "If you are ever confounded with big questions or troubles in life, don't go to a man-made edifice, go to the mountains or forests or oceans and you will find what you need." I have found that to be true often enough.

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On the Line: Martin Diedrich of Kéan Coffee, Part One

Photo by William Vo
Coffee talk

I met Martin a couple of years ago, while moderating a Yelp discussion at his Tustin coffeehouse. Fast forward to The Ecology Center this past September, where we caught up at Green Feast. Diedrich's knowledge and experience means he is rarely at a loss for words.

Describe your first experience with coffee.
My first experience with coffee was working on the coffee farm. I think that was the only interaction I had with coffee for a long time before I ever started drinking it. I do remember that as a teenager, my Mom would always ask me at breakfast if I wanted a cup of coffee. In those teen years it was my way of rebelling against my parents and what they were all about. When I always replied to her offer, "I don't drink coffee.", my Mom played along and asked me every morning again to bug me back. It was my Mom who, while I was in college, sent me my first coffee maker: an Italian stove top Bialetti coffee maker with a hot top to heat it on.

I grew up in one of the world's greatest coffee growing regions, with some of the very finest coffees. I only discovered much later on that it was almost all downhill, quality-wise from what I was accustomed to.

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On the Line: Spencer Kim of Spencer's Bistro, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Brian Feinzimer

I never quite know what to expect from part two of our interview. One thing's for sure: there's usually one great story to tell. And that's how we're leading the second installment of Chef Kim's interrogation.

Spencer began the conversation yesterday. Catch up over here. Then check out his shrimp story below.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
I would have to say the first and last time I had the best shrimp ever. It was in the countryside in Korea, where my dad's work with the Korean Army had us stay overnight in tents. A few of the soldiers woke me up late night after everyone went to sleep to catch some shrimp. We ran up and down the ice cold stream screaming like crazy people just to catch some shrimp. But, it was so worth it at the end. We ate shrimp raw and also cooked over a gas torch. No words can describe the sweetness or flavor of those shrimp other than the fact that it was the best shrimp I've ever had.

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On the Line: Spencer Kim of Spencer's Bistro, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Brian Feinzimer

Strong work ethic and passion for what you do are very important qualities every chef should have. While speaking to Spencer Kim, it was very apparent he possessed both. I learned how his family was an influence, as well as how that influence ultimately helped advance his career.

One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true.
We are picky eaters. At least for me, that's not true. I am picky when it comes to creating dishes and cooking dishes for work. But if someone else is cooking a meal for me, I'm not picky at all. I'm just grateful that someone else is putting time and effort into a meal. Plus, I know a lot of my cooks and chefs that I've worked with (including myself), that partake in fast food restaurants every now and then.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Peppercorn. There are lots of varieties of peppercorn; each with its own unique qualities that bring out the flavors of a dish just as much as salt.

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On the Line: Phillip M. Kaufman And Christopher Janz of Holstein's Shakes And Buns, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Brian Feinzimer
Headed up the corporate ladder

With such an impressive beverage selection, I felt it necessary to check in with Holstein's resident expert on all things bottled and brewed. Christopher Janz kicks off part two, and Chef Kaufman brings it home.

Why don't you read the first part of our in-depth look at South Coast Plaza's newest dining tenant? It's only a click away.
Are we good? Alright then. You may proceed.

Please discuss the elaborate beer (and wine) program.
We are selecting the best of the best from craft distillers, brewers and wine makers. It is a program that searches for quality over quantity. The number one word is "passion." We look for partners who are as passionate about food and beverage as we are at Holstein's. But we are also looking to have fun and show some great product with great value.

What are the numbers?
We have 400 different bottled beers and 16 drafts. For the wine selections, we seek artisanal producers and offer 21 wines by the glass and 45 by the bottle.

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On the Line: Phillip M. Kaufman of Holstein's Shakes And Buns, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Brian Feinzimer
Kitchen confidential

For the second destination of Holstein's Shakes and Buns, we find them in Orange County. And not just any brick-and-mortar, but a coveted anchor at Costa Mesa's South Coast Plaza. With an expanded food and beverage menu, I get my burger 'n beer fix and converse with both Chef de Cuisine Phillip Kaufman and beverage director Christopher Janz. Tomorrow, Christopher chimes in. Today's installment focuses on Kaufman's contributions in the kitchen.

How do tastes vary between Las Vegas and Orange County diners?
Our clientele here in Orange County definitely prefers wheat buns and lettuce wraps compared to our customers in Las Vegas. In Costa Mesa, it seems like we cannot keep enough wheat buns in-house; whereas Las Vegas sells less than a dozen per day. I think the O.C. diners enjoy both locations, but may feel a little less inhibited when it comes to eating in Vegas. That can most likely be said about any restaurant in Las Vegas.

You have to remember that people are on vacation when they go to Vegas, so the rules change a little bit. Our customers who dine in both locations, I believe, are a little more health conscious back home in Orange County than when relaxing in Las Vegas. But hey, what happens in Vegas stays there. Right?

Most indispensable kitchen utensil?
I have two: a Japanese mandoline and a new, unblemished and unscratched egg pan.

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