On The Line: Alison Peters Of Brio Tuscan Grille, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo courtesy Bravo Brio Restaurant Group

What do Mexico, Entourage and gardening have to do with Brio Tuscan Grille's Alison Peters? She's about to let you know. Stick around for our conclusion to this week's chef interivew.

Part one was yesterday. Miss it? Well, now you don't have to.

Tell us something most people don't know about you.
Most people don't know that I used to be a Park Ranger at Fire Island National Seashore on Long Island. It was an incredible experience that I treasure to this day.

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On The Line: Alison Peters Of Brio Tuscan Grille, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo courtesy Bravo Brio Restaurant Group
One restaurant? Think again.

Alison Peters is not your typical chef. As the corporate chef for Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, she oversees not one, but several establishments. Yet the one we know her for is Brio Tuscan Grille at Irvine Spectrum. For someone with a busy, "Up In the Air" lifestyle, she is as down-to-Earth as they come.

One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true.
The one stereotype I consistently hear about my industry is that cooking and being a chef is an extremely glamourous career path. With the growing popularity of celebrity chefs and reality television shows featuring elite chefs, people have developed a misconceived notion of what being a chef truly is about. It's an extremely physical and emotionally intense job, and demands more time than most think.

One food you can't live without:The one food I absolutely cannot live without is hot sauce, because I enjoy and crave spicy foods. I have my own bottle that I take everywhere with me!

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On the Line: Shahira Marei And Sally Elgamil Of The Dirty Cookie, Part Two

Photo by Dustin Ames
Work, lunch, live life

We continue our discussion with the women who know a thing or two about milk and cookies.

How did the two of you meet, and how did the collaboration between you occur?
Shahira Marei and Sally Elgamil: We made a connection at the workplace, we clicked and our relationship grew in time. We do everything together: carpool to work, get work done, have lunch, go back home and live life. We know each other's strength and weaknesses. That made our collaboration almost instant.

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On the Line: Shahira Marei And Sally Elgamil Of The Dirty Cookie, Part One

Photo by Dustin Ames
Besties in business

Friends are part of our support network. They know what makes us tick, and we count on them for advice and support. So when you get into business with one, it can be a great thing. The ladies behind The Dirty Cookie inside Tustin's Union Market prove it.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Sally Elgamil
: Not the ingredient itself, but its quality. People undermine the power of local organic ingredients and how delicious they taste. It's more about the freshness and goodness of the ingredient than anything else, really.
Shahira Marei: Vanilla. People don't value the power of vanilla.

Best culinary tip for the home baker:
Follow the recipe to the letter! Unless it's your own recipe, then follow your heart!

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On the Line: Jamie Fischer Of BLK Earth Sea Spirits, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Any fan of Jack Johnson is a friend of ours

Mountain bikes, bellmen and bathrooms. That's the gist of today's installment. Curious? So were we. Jamie breaks it down below.

Did you know about their sister location in Ladera Ranch? No? Well, then you need to start reading part one.
If you're ready to continue, then you may do so.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I'm not sure ... hospitality is in my blood. My first job was working as a bellman, then I moved on to restaurants and bars.

Last song playing on your radio:
Jack Johnson.

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On the Line: Jamie Fischer Of BLK Earth Sea Spirits, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Did we mention that view?

There is something about a shiny, new restaurant that draws folks in. Already established in Ladera Ranch, the group behind BLK Burgrz scored a coveted space off Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. Bigger digs meant an expanded menu and design makeover. However, one thing that remained the same was the staff. Atypical of most changeovers, Jamie Fischer isn't your typical businessman. This week, we learn more about what makes his business acumen akin to Midas' golden touch.

Okay, how do you pronounce the name? Is it an acronym or abbreviation? And what's the difference between the two BLKs?

Most people pronounce it "B-L-K", but it is an abbreviation for black, which is the color of the highest quality line of American Wagyu and Kobe beef in the cattle industry. This is our specialty, in both steaks and hamburgers, and we always have our certificates from Japan available in case someone asks where our beef comes from.

BLK Burgrz (in Ladera Ranch) focuses on American Wagyu and Kobe beef burgers, where customers can order a signature or stuffed burger, or create their own unique burger. Then there are salads and a few other items on the menu, like Mary's chicken, filet tip kabobs and grilled salmon.

At BLK Earth Sea Spirits, we've elevated the BLK brand and experience. The focus is on steak, seafood and poultry, but we also have the great hamburgers and sliders made popular at BLK Burgrz, as well as a variety of starters, lobster mac n cheese and terrific salads. And, of course at BLK Earth Sea Spirits, we have one of the largest patios in the area with an unbeatable ocean view.

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On the Line: Steve Wan Of RAYA, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Making Ritz-Carlton look good

Steve Wan's success in the kitchen stems from multiple influences, including an artistic side diners wouldn't know about. I learn a bit more about our subject before he disappears for dinner service.

Did the holiday throw you off? Well, you can still catch up by reading the first part of Steve's interview (Especially the part about stereotypes).

Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
One may call it "graffiti art" or "street art." I enjoy expressing my artistic vision not only in the kitchen, but by painting large scale murals.

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On the Line: Steve Wan Of RAYA, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Dustin Ames
Fried rice and everything bagels

If you've ever visited a Ritz-Carlton resort, you'll know how skilled the staff is at providing the best possible guest experience. Their dining establishments are prime examples of hospitality. I focus on Laguna Niguel's RAYA, where Steve Wan presents a menu with Latin America influences.

What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working in a restaurant?
No one told me about the amount of tolerance and patience that is required to cook for and work with people from all walks of life. Everyone has different likes and dislikes, and my job is to make sure everyone leaves my restaurant happy, satisfied and wanting to come back.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Vinegar. It's an acid that helps balance fatty dishes, and aids in the denaturing process of cooking or marinating proteins like ceviche.

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On the Line: Julio Hawkins Of Fly N Fish Oyster Bar And Grill, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

photo by the lovely LP Hastings
All smiles

Fly N Fish's storyteller keeps me entertained as I wrap up our chef interview. Julio's interests and talents are as varied as ice cream flavors in a liquid nitrogen shop.

To catch up on all things Julio Hawkins, start the interview by clicking here.
Then you'll be good to continue.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Assuming prep was getting done prior to a large event, and then finding out it didn't get done moments before the event. CHAOS!! So I live by this creed, "You get what you inspect, not what you expect."

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On the Line: Julio Hawkins Of Fly N Fish Oyster Bar And Grill, Part One

Categories: On the Line

photo by the talented LP Hastings
Looking for inspiration

If there's one thing chefs like to discuss, it's food. Fortunately, that's one of my favorite topics. Hanging out with Julio Hawkins reminds me that there's always more to learn from a certain dish. He's taken some of our favorite seafood meals and tailored them to his tastes. The results: unexpected depth and a newfound appreciation for some of the classics.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Mise en place, Mise en place, Mise en place. Translation = everything in its place, both mentally and physically. That's why so many home cooks freak out when trying to execute Thanksgiving dinner. You've got to be organized to truly enjoy the holiday season. Get your shopping list together (mental) and then execute the prep (physical).

You are an advocate for sustainable seafood. Please elaborate on where you source some of your dishes from.
We source most of our seafood through Santa Monica Seafood, which in turn works with the Monterey Bay Fish Aquarium to ensure we are in compliance with the World Fisheries fishing practices.

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