On the Line: Steve Kim of The Cut, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
But are you hungry yet?

I wrap up my time with The Cut's Steve Kim learning about a few of his favorite things-- especially the ones that involve cars.

Learn more about Steve's experiences with The Cut back in Part One, which you can read over here.
Afterwards, come back here for more.

How did you all meet?
I met Charlie, my partner, through mutual friends about eight years ago. Jessica, my fiancee, at a New Year's party three years ago. Andres, our chef, through social media last year.

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On the Line: Steve Kim of The Cut, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Get to know Charles Burnette and Steve Kim before that beef exchange

When you have a passion for your craft, does that truly differ from someone with a more formal education? I don't think so. It's simply two points of view on the same subject. Businessman and burger guy Steve Kim gives my questions a go.

Why burgers?
Burgers aren't a "fad food." They're an American staple, and we'll always love burgers. We reverted to a food truck when we found ourselves at the mercy of the real-estate market. We couldn't find the right space in a suitable location. Charlie [one of his business partners] convinced me to start with a food truck.

What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working on a luxe lonchera?
All the politics involved with bookings.

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On the Line: Niki Starr of Mesa, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings

She may be a tomboy, but Chef Niki is also one of the more articulate chef subjects I've had the pleasure of interviewing. In today's segment, we learn not to mess with her on the playing field and the dance floor.

Did you forget to begin at the beginning? That's alright, you can still click here for Part One.
When you're ready, proceed below.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Growing up, my family was very fortunate enough to go on a lot of vacations. My dad (being a sports writer for the LA Times) had to fly quite frequently, and didn't exactly love all the time spent in airports and hotels. So when going on family vacations, we camped a lot. Camping was the best thing that happened to me as a child. I was allowed to get as dirty as I wanted, we slept under the stars and we cooked dinner outside on a habachi grill.

My dad always wanted a son, but got two daughters instead. And me, being the youngest, and the fact that my parents didn't plan on having anymore children, I became his tomboy. He taught me how to build a fire, set up a tent and (my favorite part) how to cook in the great outdoors. I still love to camp, and would take a weekend camping next to the ocean any day over a hotel room suite. I'm sure one day, my future husband will thank my dad for this.

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On the Line: Niki Starr of Mesa, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Because who doesn't want some salt?

I recall when Mesa first opened. It was a taste of LA nightlife and cuisine in an unmarked building. These days, the building now has a proper sign and Niki Starr is running the back of the house. We met with the lavender-coiffed chef, as she noodled over our inquiries.

What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working in a restaurant?
Nobody really prepares you for this industry. There's not a single person that can tell you how it's gonna be for you. We all take it in different ways; some can handle the lifestyle, and many cannot. You can read the blogs about what it's like to be a chef, talk to mentor chefs, or read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, but ultimately it's what you make of the long hours, physical labor, lack of time spent in the outside world . . .It is what you decide it is. And that, to me, is the best and most rewarding part of the industry. Your success or failure solely depends on you and what you are willing to give to achieve what you want in this industry.

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On the Line: Pascal Gimenez of Cafe Beau Soleil, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
En francais?

As much as our conversation is driven by a commonality of food, the most telling moments were when Pascal elaborated on his childhood and the love he has for his daughter. While a culinary career can take over your life, having someone to care for truly changes one's focus and reason for being raison d'etre.

Learn more about Pascal's food-related lifestyle here.
Then get to know him better by reading below. . .

How was participating in the Del Mar Mud Run?
Tiring, but fun. And it was great to be with good friends.

You have a whole day to yourself; what do you do?
Running, watching a movie, cleaning. Nothing really. Existing, eating . . .

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On the Line: Pascal Gimenez of Cafe Beau Soleil, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Don't ask for an autograph

The first time I learned of Pascal Gimenez, we were both in the audience during the Breakfast In the Barn series at Manaserro Farms. It took an introduction from former On the Line subject Tarit Tanjasiri at Pascal's spot (attached to American Rag Cie) before I learned how influential his upbringing was to his career choice.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Use your oven more. Saute first, then finish in the oven.

Where was your most recent meal?
At home in the Loire Valley. Blanquette de lapin [rabbit-stew variation of blanquette de veau] with hedgehog mushroom.

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On the Line: Louie Jocson of Zov's, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Cooking up something special

My revisit with Louie includes a look back at a time when I used to request a recipe. So we celebrate the new year with Louie's newest contribution. If you're a fan of lamb, this is for you.

Read the first part of our interview with Louie over here.
Then get that grocery list started before continuing below . . .

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Pomegranate Sauce
Serves 4 to 6

Per Chef:
"People are rediscovering the tender, succulent flavor of lamb, which is absolutely unforgettable when cooked just right. The trick is to sear all the sides of the lamb in a very hot pan before roasting it in the oven. Pomegranate molasses adds both savory and sweet notes to the sauce, which guests will find wonderfully unique. Choosing the right sides makes this tender lamb all the more delicious."

When purchasing rack of lamb, be sure the meat is well-trimmed of fat. To eliminate last-minute preparations, sear the lamb first, coat it with the mustard mixture and then cover and refrigerate for up to one day. When you're just about ready to serve dinner, roast the lamb as directed below and make the sauce.

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On the Line: Louie Jocson of Zov's, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Blast from the past

Louie Jocson is no stranger to us Weeklings. In fact, he was one of my early On the Line subjects in 2011. Back then, Jocson was launching a collaborative effort in Huntington Beach known as Red Table. These days, he went back to his roots as Zov's Corporate Chef for their multiple locations throughout Orange County. We wrap up 2014 catching up with Louie.

When you first worked in Zov's kitchen, how old were you? Can you share any memories?
One of my first employment opportunities was Zov's Bistro in Tustin, 1987. I was 15 years old. I remember everything was made fresh daily and by hand. Today, recipes are made in the same fashion, with the addition of a blender or two.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities at Zov's?
Each day is a new challenge at Zov's. No two days are ever the same. I am constantly engaged in how we can make it better. This pertains to food preparation and efficiency, overall maintenance of our facilities, team morale and development, recipe development and cost controls, talent recruitment, working with Zov and simply just working side-by-side with my team in the kitchen.

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On the Line: Ritter of Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Something tells us he's thinking about pasta.

Ritter hints at his musicality in the second part of our interview. While most probably prefer him cooking up a storm, I bet he can rock out with the best of them. Find out what else we learned, as we continue our dialogue.

Read the first part of our interview with Ritter back here.
Then hurry along and finish up below. . .

Did you always know you wanted to be a chef?
I didn't think of cooking for a living 'til I was in my thirties. I wanted to play music for a living in an original band. Well, that didn't work out. I never went to school to be a chef. I learned to cook from my mother, who (as I have stated previously) was an awesome cook. It was always a love of mine, but I didn't want to work in a kitchen inside a casino. That is, until the Oyster Bar opened.

When you're not in the restaurant, what are you doing?
I like to read. I love to play my piano or guitar. I love movies and sports (watching, that is).

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On the Line: Ritter of Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Working that SKC magic

For a gentleman that prefers to be called by his surname, Chef Ritter is informal and hospitable. From the moment we shook hands at an event, to our last exchange at ARTIC's grand opening, Ritter has been nothing but cooperative with meeting our holiday deadlines. And for that (and some tasty pan roast) I thank him. Santa Ana and Huntington Beach were only the beginning, as their eventual expansion into Anaheim's ARTIC also means adding an oyster bar to the mix. But we'll let M.. I mean chef, explain.

How did you come up with the concept?
This concept has been around for a long time. Grand Central Station has had steam kettle cooking for over 100 years. I got involved in this style of cooking in Las Vegas in '95, and left in 2007 to open my own restaurants. I worked for the Palace Station Oyster Bar and helped, with others, to develop this concept. As for the Ritter's Steam Kettle Cooking Restaurants, it was a combined effort of my business partners and myself. There is so much more to creating a restaurant concept than just recipes. That is why most restaurants fail; it takes a team of dedicated partners to make a successful restaurant. And hopefully, a successful chain of them.

Where do you source your seafood from?
We get our food from all over the world, depending on availability and quality. The food industry is truly a global market, from local farms to New Zealand.

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