On the Line: Justin Lopez of Stonefire Grill, Part Two

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Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Justin's smiling because he's not sitting in traffic . . .yet.

A family guy in the non-traditional sense, Justin Lopez joined the restaurant business to make a good thing even better. His commitment to Stonefire translates to food-centric extracurricular time and travels that inspire new dishes. Here are a few more noteworthy facts about our subject.

We started our interview with Justin yesterday in part one.
And now, let's continue with part two . . .

What's your favorite childhood memory?
As a big family, we used to spend weeks of every summer and winter in June Lake, California. It's still one of my favorite places on the planet.

How do you incorporate your degrees in political science and communications to your work?
I'd like to think they come in handy every day. More than anything, both of them very simply taught me the importance of a consistent, relevant message. It's a concept that plays in my head over and over again when I'm at work.


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On the Line: Justin Lopez of Stonefire Grill, Part One

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Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Change is good

Stonefire Grill didn't use to be synonymous with vegan or vegetarian diets. Back in the day, it was definitely more of a meat-and-potatoes destination. Justin Lopez knew that expanding the menu to include these options would help the already successful brand continue to grow. I admit to being skeptic, but open-minded to learning more.

Updating the Stonefire menu to include healthy vegetarian options was risky. How did you convince your mother and aunt that it would pay off?
While I think industry observers would think it risky, I really didn't believe our guests would have a problem with it. more than anything, we saw it as another great opportunity to bring a sense of our kitchens to the public. It's how we all cook at home, but they (my mom and aunt) eat healthier than I do. There were lots of fun nights testing our ideas on one another and also seeing how our guests reacted to them. We recognize the need to be as inclusive as possible, and two of their sons (my brother and cousin) have gluten allergies, so these new recipes worked well on that front, too. As a company, we're committed to keeping things exciting and constantly evolving.

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On the Line: Christophe Jardillier of The Globe GastroPub, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Happy to smile for our photographer

Christophe won't admit to the last thing he looked up online, but he will discuss his love of gardening. I ask a few more questions to our Frenchman before he heads back in the kitchen.

Read the first part of our interview with Christophe over here.
And now, let's continue with part two . . .


Hardest lesson you've learned:
Not cooking for myself and what I like, but cooking for others' tastes.

Where did you grow up?
Vichy, France. I came here for my first chef job.

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On the Line: Christophe Jardillier of the Globe GastroPub, Part One

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by William Vo
Attack!

A Frenchman who enjoys his wine is our chef de la semaine. Christophe Jardillier's talents in the kitchen (paired with a great beer selection) brings loyal diners to his Globe GastroPub in Garden Grove.

What is an example on the menu of your style of fusion cooking?
Scallop carpaccio or the black truffle and seaweed salad. And the goat cheese, duck and beet sushi. I also serve my own version of Belgian nachos.

Describe strong customer service.
Listening to what people want. Treating everyone as though they are your best customer. Making them feel welcome to come back.

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On the Line: Juan Carlos Olvera Of The Sky Room, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

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Dustin Ames
No limits!

Chef Juan Carlos reminds us that cooking comes from more than just schooling. It's a passion, a desire to be in the kitchen. While he might not have a lot of free time, his family values and dedication to his craft are all that matters.

Read our interview with Juan Carlos of The Sky Room, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

When you're not in the kitchen, what are you doing in your free time?
I spend as much time as possible with my family, especially my daughter. I also like to run and ride my bike.

Where did you grow up?

San Jose Iturbide, Guanajuato, Mexico.


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On the Line: Juan Carlos Olvera of The Sky Room, Part One

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by Dustin Ames
What a view!

While some chefs explore other restaurants in their free time, some are content with relaxing and cooking at home. Juan Carlos is one of those chefs. With a bird's eye view of Long Beach, he runs the long-standing kitchen inside The Sky Room.

What do you recommend for first-timers?
I recommend the martinis, the beet salad and my exquisite rack of lamb.

Most undervalued ingredient:
For me, every ingredient is valuable.


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We Want to Take a Bite Out of Nadia G...In a Good Way

Categories: On the Line

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Nadia!

Whether Nadia G. is cooking up a storm preparing extraordinary meals or looking hot to death in those stilettos of hers, it's safe to say that she really knows how to bring the heat to the kitchen. Coming off the success of her previous show Bitchin' Kitchen, chef and funny gal Nadia is back and taking her skills across the country with her newest venture (and adventure), Bite This with Nadia G. Before the big premiere show kicks off on the Cooking Channel July 14th, we chatted it up with this rock-n-roll and culinary aficionado to get the goods on what's in store for this season.

OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): So what came first for you, the cooking or the style?
Nadia G.: Well growing up in an Italian family, I gotta say the food came first, but just in a literal way. You know, I was stuffing my face full of ravioli before I was getting realistic tattoos of jewelry. [Laughs.] For me, I wouldn't do one without the other though.
Well I'm a fan of both yours and of tattoos so it's really cool to see that on TV. I know you have a lot of tats but, do you have one that stands out as your favorite?
Yeah! I couple of favorite ones but my newest one I'm really enjoying. I used to wear this stack of bracelets all of the time on Bitchin Kitchen because they were kind of like my "go-to" everyday stack. So, I just got them tattooed on my wrist. Now I don't have to fuck with jewelry anymore!

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On the Line: Tim Gonzales of TJ's Woodfire Pizza, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

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Photo by Dustin Ames
One more time!

Fans of TJ's are in for a treat as Tim and the crew work on the forthcoming pasta menu and a regional pizza. For now, chew on our remaining Q & A with this family guy.

Read the first part of our interview with Tim here.

And now, on to part two . . .

Did you always plan on being a chef? If not, how did you end up on TJ's?
My grandparents owned restaurants when I was younger, and it was a silent seed living inside that has slowly blossomed. When I was younger, I loved making dinner for my family.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Hanging with the family in the mountains. Snowboarding, fishing, etc.

What were you up to five years ago?
Having our first child changed my life.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
I am in it. Raising children is amazing and challenging.

Last thing you looked up/searched online:
Ingredients to add to a new pizza. [Editor's Note: Tim hinted that it would be inspired by the flavors of New Mexico. Expect a little kick in this one.]

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On the Line: Tim Gonzales of TJ's Woodfire Pizza, Part One

Categories: On the Line

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Ready to make some pies!
Photo by Dustin Ames

One lazy Sunday, I swang by my local farmers market to visit Tim over at TJ's Woodfire. Fresh produce, hot lunch and live music are the perfect combo with our pizza as we grab a bench to go over his responses.

Let's talk about your Neapolitan wood-fired pizza oven; how quickly does it bake a pizza?
Once the oven is nice and hot, cooking time is 90 seconds.

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Q & A With Adam Gertler: Dog Haus Sausage Pimp

Categories: On the Line

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Gertler's (brat)wurst, looking its best

Vacation happens so few and far between that I'm happy to leave home and not have to make my bed. Striking up a conversation is second nature when I travel, and somewhere between a barefoot bar and dinner at Pappadeaux inside DFW, I hung out with new friend Adam Gertler. You may recognize him from Kid In a Candy Store, Will Work for Food or The Next Food Network Star. Cinephiles like me also know his humor from FX Movie Download.

So what is Adam's relevance to Orange County? Gertler's Wurst, his line of sausages, is being featured at Dog Haus restaurants. Once I noticed Santa Ana's spot was under construction, the reason to interview Adam was obvious. In a condensed version of On the Line, I grill him on anything and everything. Take it away, Gertler.

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