On the Line: Manfred Lassahn Of Watertable, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings

Despite all the cool things I learned about Chef Lassahn, I admit that my favorite fact was learning we actually grew up less than 15 miles from each other. In our final segment, we also learn that his love of all things culinary began at an early age-- but you don't have to take our word for it.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
The hardest thing that I have had to learn is to do what you can in the time that you have. That is both personally and professionally.

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On the Line: Manfred Lassahn Of Watertable, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Keeping his cool

For this holiday edition, I dove up the coast for our interview. Located inside Huntington Beach's Hyatt Regency, Watertable offers a thoughtful, seasonal, even customizable menu to its patrons. Chef Lassahn runs an efficient kitchen, as I meet him on a day where he's balancing three major events throughout the property.

Most undervalued ingredient:
I would say it's not the ingredient, it's the condition of the ingredient. Anything fresh off the vine is precious, and its quality of flavor/nutrient density is commonly overlooked.

What would be your last meal on earth?
An Animal Style, In-n-Out Burger.

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On the Line: Gio Bolivar Of Dory Deli, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Ask him about The Goonies

We keep the conversation going with the main man at Dory Deli. Movies, music, poke. There's no shortage of topics with Gio.

Don't forget about the first part of our interview with Gio. You can find it over here.
Are you good? Good. Now keep reading below . . .

Hardest lesson you've learned:
The dedication it takes to work in this industry. There are a lot of missed opportunities with friends and family when you're trying to make sure that everything is running smoothly, and are doing all that is needed at work.

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On the Line: Gio Bolivar Of Dory Deli, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Give the man a Malbec

It's no surprise that Gio Bolivar is connected to (at least) three former On the Line subjects. The guy has "been there, done that" in terms of work and life experience as an Orange County native. His current gig in Newport Beach is a study in exceeding expectations. Dory Deli may sound quaint, but their concept attracts locals of all ages.

Please explain the concept and cuisine of Dory Deli.
While it's a deli at heart, we take a lot of pride in everything we put out. Here, all the effort and preparation that would go into a traditional plated dish goes into a sandwich.

Most frequently asked question by guests.
"Is this vegan?" Often times, no. We have a few vegan dishes that we're really proud of, but people often assume that anything we make IS vegan or could be.

Favorite meal growing up:
My favorite foods growing up were and still are Colombian empanadas with aji salsa and arepas with fresh farmers cheese.

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On the Line: Christopher Meehan Of Bistango, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Part athlete, part ninja dad

This was one of those rare instances where I found part two to be more interesting than part one. And that has a great deal to do with the interests Chef Meehan has outside of the restaurant-- except he also admits to thinking about food in his off time. See for yourself.

If you'd like to compare and contrast the content in both parts, then we suggest starting with part one over here.
When you're good to go, read on below . . . .

Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
I actually spent a great many years working in the trades during the day and cooking at night; mostly so I could have a greater understanding of how things work. Growing up, my mother was fully disabled, and I had to do all of the fixing of broken items around the house (as well as upgrades). This sparked my interest in the trades, and I worked through my twenties in concrete, carpentry, as an electrician, and even worked for the largest pool company in Hawaii for a time. All in an effort to gain knowledge and new skills.

In addition to that, I took on quite a few project 4x4 vehicles so I could learn how to rebuild engines, brakes, chassis, etc. I never worked as a mechanic. It was more of a way to build confidence in myself and learn a new set of skills that I find beneficial.

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On the Line: Christopher Meehan Of Bistango, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Water, no ice

A mainstay in Irvine, Bistango has served power lunches and dinners for 28 years. When it was time to find a new chef, they knew the right person would also move them into the future. Cue one Christopher Meehan to secure client favorites and introduce specialty meats.

Tell us about some of the new items diners can find at Bistango.
New items you can currently find on the menu are Texas quail with sweet potato succotash, and Duroc pork chop with serrano sauce and apple/jicama/cherry slaw; both of which have become quite popular. Venison rack with pinenuts and gnocchi is new to the game section of the menu, with more to come in that arena very soon. The small plates section is new to the menu, and has found a home among diners here at Bistango, with new items being introduced there on a regular basis.

Favorite meal growing up:
Anything that my Grandmother made for me. When I was coming up, she would let me sit and watch her cook. And while she would go from this to that, she would explain to me what she was doing and why. I did eat a great deal of homemade tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade jams, root vegetables, roasts, smoked meats and deviled eggs. Oddly enough, the deviled eggs probably were my favorite because I only got them when my grandmother was feeling generous or on special occasions.

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Q + A With Say It To My Face Co-Host/Slapfish Man Andrew Gruel

Andrew Gruel
Can't stop. Won't stop. Nonstop.

It's been almost four years since we first sat down with Andrew Gruel of Slapfish. Since that time, the sustainable brand has gone brick-and-mortar, expanded into Dubai, and has been featured on TODAY. Next up: Co-hosting duties with Anthony Dispensa (his West Coast Director of Operations) on FYI's Say It To My Face, premiering this Saturday night. Now seemed as good a time as any to catch up over lunch.

You've been on your fair share of television shows. Are there any stereotypes about television that you found true?
One stereotype is that it is every producer's goal to get people to cry on TV. That's true.

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On the Line: Zach Geerson Of Tempo Urban Kitchen, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
But will he bust a move?

With every person I interview, I look forward to learning what they share in common with the subjects before them, and what sets them apart. Zach's artistic talents are a definite influence on his cooking style. It's natural for him to interpret a recipe, then conceptualize and execute it to his liking.

We always try to mix things up in part two, but part one is where the story begins.
Educate yourself on Tempo and Zach by starting here . . .

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I couldn't imagine doing anything outside of the business. I could say the obvious answer like travel or spend time with my family, but those things would lead me back to cooking. Eventually, I want to teach up-and-coming cooks. I don't like doing anything more than I like teaching people how to cook, so they can enjoy cooking as much as I enjoy it.

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On the Line: Zach Geerson Of Tempo Urban Kitchen, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Looking for the fine print

The subjects I interview come from different walks in life. But what they all have in common is a desire to create a positive dining experience for their patrons. Found off the 57 freeway in Brea, Tempo Urban Kitchen started upping the ante late last year, pushing a modern menu both in the kitchen and at the bar. Holding down the fort in the back of the house, Zach Geerson gives us the low down.

Where does the restaurant name come from?
Tempo. The speed or pace of music. Timing. It's a connection to our motto, "March to your own beat." What we do here is based off of us, off of what we envision, not based off anything anybody told us to do. We have the freedom to do anything; no holds barred. We keep our own "tempo." The "Urban Kitchen" part is saying that we don't try to be fancy or fine-dining. We are in the streets, inspired by what we see in our everyday lives. Street food is a big part of the inspiration for our menu items and our name. We just do our own twist on the items that we find.

What are some of your signature items?
The Fish 'on' Chips, gnocchi, and our tacos are probably the things I'd consider our signature. And, of course, our table-side, liquid nitrogen ice cream!

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On the Line: Ashley Guzman Of The North Left, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
Prankster in disguise

Ashley's responses are candid to the point that our interview felt more like a conversation over whiskey shots than a formal Q and A. That may be why I enjoyed typing it up, because we both write like we talk. I learn a few more anecdotes from her before it's time to go.

So you haven't seen the first part of our interview with Ashley?
Part one can be found over here.

Hardest lesson you've learned.
The hardest lesson I've learned so far is to just have faith. Life really does suck sometimes. You will get your heart broken. Your dream job will turn out to be a nightmare. Your life will get shaken up, and everything you once knew to be a fact will no longer exist. But just have faith that everything happens for a reason. The dust will settle, and you will smile and laugh and love once again.

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