On the Line: Leonard Chan, Part Three

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
I don't think that counts towards your 20 glasses of water.

While many On the Line subjects are modest in their responses, I quickly realized part one was turning into 'Leonard's guide to dining in Orange County'. For a slender guy, the man can eat! So for those that are still with us, a few more words from Leonard. The first half is a summary of his existing and upcoming concepts around here. Then we wrap things up with many of his favorite restaurant recommendations.

Are you still there? It's a lot of ground to cover, especially if you consider yesterday's segment.
We're almost done, we promise!

You've got a lot of concepts. Tell us what is up and running; then what's in the works in Orange County. GO!
Yowzas. It's hard to believe the time that has zipped by already. I started, with the help of my old friend Wayne Atchley (the original California Shabu Shabu owner) and my friend and business partner Ash Chan at California Shabu Shabu in Costa Mesa six years ago. From there, I popped up The Iron Press at SoCo, and shortly after that, opened the doors to Shuck Oyster Bar along with Chef Noah Blom at The OC Mix in 2012.

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On the Line: Leonard Chan, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
HOW old are you?

I'm pretty sure there was a dare to publish something that Leonard admitted to. Let's see if you stumble upon the statement. It was difficult to pass up.

Got your beer? Because you'll want to settle in and relax for this interview.
His storytelling began yesterday in part one.
If you're caught up, then do continue. . .

What turns you on-- creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Passion, humor, pride and forgiveness. There is nothing more refreshing than seeing someone meld all of those aspects into their life. I will never forget seeing a Japanese city worker on his hands and knees scraping gum from the sidewalk in 2001. He was working so diligently, and I couldn't stop staring at him as he was talking with those around him, just happily scraping away. Sure enough, some a-hole walks by and spits out his gum. *Plop* My jaw dropped. I wanted to go over and help the guy. He looked at the gum, shrugged, smiled, and chuckled to a nearby commuter, and scooped up the piece of gum and just kept going. If everyone in the world was like this, we would be living in an even more amazing place.

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On the Line: Leonard Chan, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by LP Hastings
How old ARE you?

No, he's not a chef. And yet Leonard Chan is associated with more eateries than I can count. It started with California Shabu-Shabu off Baker in Costa Mesa, then continues at South Coast Collection/The OC Mix, Anaheim's Packing House, and future developments in Tustin, Mission Viejo, ARTIC in Anaheim and even Los Angeles. Whether the man is likeable or cray cray is up to the beholder. Either way, he's got a lot on his mind, and I was ready to listen.

I hear Iron Press is undergoing a menu makeover.
Yes! I spent a good portion of the final quarter of 2014 bouncing ideas around with our chefs and staff until we came up with a menu we were happy with. I think we have taken a huge leap from where we were at our last menu iteration. We are really looking at our waffle irons more as a cooking vessel rather than simply a waffle making machine. Don't get me wrong. I still love waffles, but there are times I would love to sit down and have a couple great brews and munch on something different. We wanted to create a menu that was concise, but flexible at the same time.

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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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