On the Line: Peter Petro of Ten Asian Bistro and Bosscat Kitchen, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Two restaurants = too much to do

Chef Peter and I shared a common babysitter growing up: PBS. More specifically, one OG celebrity chef (before they were even referred to as celebrity) by the name of Martin Yan. His fascination with food began with family memories in the kitchen, and television helped fuel his passion to create.

Bosscat Kitchen (the remodeled restaurant space next door to Ten Asian Bistro, and a story we broke in January) is nearing completion. We sat in the unfinished space to go over his responses.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Keep clean and organized. When possible, get someone to clean up after you.

Where does the restaurant's name come from?
TEN means heaven in Japanese (or so I am told).

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On the Line: Eddie Choi of Milk + Honey, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
Pretty wide awake for a father of infant twins.

There's just enough time for a little more Q & A with Eddie.

Read our interview with Eddie Choi of Milk + Honey, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

Hardest lesson you've learned.
Never be lazy. Do what you got to do, and don't move it to tomorrow. There's always consequences to what you do, good or bad.

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On the Line: Eddie Choi of Milk + Honey, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi
There's something about that patio . . . .

Finding time to meet Eddie Choi wasn't easy. Running a highly caffeinated business and being the father of twins keeps him busy. Yet we were able to sit down one late morning around the corner from his operation at Blackmarket Bakery to fill in the gaps.

Recount the moment when you realized you wanted to open your own coffee shop.
I went to a farmers market in LA, and a farmer was selling organic coffee beans from Costa Rica. I remember learning from that person about how organic coffee beans are much better quality than regular beans. So I tried to find a coffee shop that uses USDA certified organic beans. I couldn't find one in LA until I heard about Urth Cafe in West LA. I tried their coffee and loved the atmosphere in the cafe. At that moment, I wanted to open my own coffee shop.

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On the Line: Kyle Markt of Green Tomato Grill, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Think he can Ultimate Frisbee? Think again.

The second part of my interview generally revolves around aspects of a chef's life that don't directly involve food. Whether I learn about their family ties or choice of movies, one thing is for sure-- there's more to subjects like Kyle than a passion for their cuisine.

Read our interview with Kyle Market of Green Tomato Grill, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I majored in geography, with a focus in water resource management in college-- so I have no idea. This is the only job I've ever had. For the most part, restaurants suck to work in: it's long hours, low pay, exhausting, and you smell like a fryer when you leave. But some people are just born to do this sort of thing. I'm pretty sure this is what I was meant to do.

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On the Line: Kyle Markt of Green Tomato Grill, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Special requests gladly accepted.

If you overthink the name, you may overlook the kind of menu Green Tomato Grill has. Sure, you'll find salads, tomatoes and grilled meats. But I found an achiote-beef-and-egg breakfast wrap that satisfied hunger pangs, and the adobo lime popcorn woke up my taste buds. Kyle Markt is the man behind the flavor profiles, and he strives to win over diners with his ability to create a meal to your liking. Here, requests are gladly accepted and delivered.

Let's talk about your concept.
So, two guys with no restaurant experience decided they wanted to start a restaurant that could be fast, healthy and tasty. They figured if they could deliver on those three things very well, it would be successful. I came into the picture soon after and strongly advised that it was a terrible business investment. But they persisted, so I designed the menu and most of the overall concept that is now Green Tomato Grill.

We took what was trending in the quick-service industry and made improvements where we thought other concepts fell short. Our biggest dilemma was whether to even promote being healthy. We didn't want the stigma or lack of flexibility of being a health-food restaurant. When we finished the menu and recipes, we decided it was healthy. That's how we would promote it.

All our sauces are gluten-free and either Greek yogurt-, tofu- or vegetable-based. We make EVERY item from scratch. We butcher our meat. We fabricate all of our 20-plus vegetables every day. Our lemonade is made with 100 percent agave. We tried to keep all our entrées in a reasonable calorie range. Most important, our food makes you feel good, and that's why we've been so successful so far.

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On the Line: Thomas Trevethan of VUE Restaurant, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Finally, he stands still!

The day before we met up with Chef Trevethan, he threw two birthday parties for his children. One was a sleepover, and he spent the morning cooking an elaborate breakfast for his daughter and her friends. It was one of the few instances where Thomas felt overwhelmed. But he powered through, despite young critics refusing to eat scrambled eggs because they were seasoned with garlic salt.

Read our interview with Thomas Trevethan of VUE Restaurant, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

Tell us about growing up in Australia.
It was a fun outdoor lifestyle. Lots of sports-- sailing, fishing and fresh seafood on the beach. My favorite childhood memory is surfing at the beach.

What brought you to Orange County?
The beautiful, California lifestyle.

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On the Line: Thomas Trevethan of VUE Restaurant, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo
Chef Thomas prefers cooking over posing for our photographer.

With a resume that includes being part of the opening team at The Cosmopolitan in Vegas and spending time with Eric Ripert when he launched Blue in Ritz-Carlton's Grand Cayman, I had high hopes for our interview with corporate chef Thomas Trevethan. He didn't disappoint. With Dana Point Harbor as our backdrop, we discussed his Aussie roots and stressful morning. More on that tomorrow; today, it's all about the food.

As national chairperson for the National Pastry Committee United States, what are your responsibilities?
To coordinate monthly conference calls with the four other regions of the US to develop a training, education and demonstration platform for national culinary schools to adopt and train the professional chef in the importance of being certified as a professional chef with the American Culinary Federation.

Most undervalued ingredients:

Butter, cream and wine.

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On the Line: Alexander Dale of SeaLegs Wine Bar, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi

While we're deep in Orange County Restaurant Week, I'd like to point out that chef Alexander Dale has something special lined up for his dinner service. For $40, SeaLegs offers an appetizer, entrée, dessert, plus wine with every course. You begin with Chardonnay, transition to Cabernet, and finish with bubbles. Now all I need is a designated driver.

Read our interview with Alexander Dale of SeaLegs, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

What's your favorite childhood memory?
Skateboarding, no doubt. It ruled my life growing up, and I was able to see a lot of places I normally wouldn't have because these places were good spots to skate. My favorite taco place is still off of First Street. Before Santa Ana was what it is now, I used to skate down there because it's the only place where the cops would leave you alone. Growing up, we'd skate around the Federal Building every weekend. I've been skating for over 20 years. My skills have faded, but I still skate all the time.

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
I'm hanging out at my house in Newport, skateboarding around town.

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On the Line: Alexander Dale of SeaLegs Wine Bar, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Photo by Jennifer Fedrizzi

Chef Alexander Dale and I met the morning of Valentine's Day to review his questionnaire (and we thank him greatly for starting his day earlier than usual to meet). In the unusually peaceful wine bar, we covered topics that included his connection to Villa Nova and his juice obsession.

You find culinary inspiration based on the weather. Any ideas for the recent rainfall and dip in temperatures, assuming it continues?

We always run a lot of specials at SeaLegs, so I take a look at the weather every week when planning specials. I'm not going to run a ceviche if it's 45-degrees outside. It doesn't make sense. I brought back mussels and clams a couple of weeks ago. I love the look on customers' faces when the smell and aromatics from the garlic, shallot and leeks hit them.

Favorite meal growing up:
Linguine alle vongole from Lupo D'Abruzzo, my cousin's restaurant in Buena Park.

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On the Line: Nathaniel Nguyen and Amy Pham of the Prince & Pantry, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Photo by William Vo

Our kickass duo of Nguyen and Pham continue the dialogue by recounting their time in the spotlight and the impact family has made on their lives. To learn more about the Prince & Pantry, you can follow this link to their website.

Read our interview with Nathaniel and Amy of the Prince & Pantry, part one.
And now, on to part two . . .

Let's discuss both of your experiences of being on television.
I had tried auditioning for The Taste, but they ended up "going in a different direction." But the same casting company was casting for Cutthroat Kitchen at the time, so I thought I'd try my luck with another show. I found out I was going to be on the show three weeks before I was scheduled to film, so it crept up on me fast.

The whole experience was surreal and not what I expected it to be. The highlight of my career and life. . . . But now that I have a better understanding of how things work, I'm ready for that redemption round.

NATHANIEL NGUYEN: It was a very eye-opening experience. Being around so many people that were passionate about cooking really pushed me to get into starting the Prince & Pantry. I was waiting tables at the time, and it really inspired me to make the jump.

I also learned that not everything is what it seems. Being on the other side of things, and then seeing how it all pans out on television [Editor's Note: He's referring to his appearance on The Taste] is an experience in and of itself. It's like watching a whole new show sometimes.

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