On the Line: Matt Meddock and Max Schlutz of Sessions Sandwiches, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Dustin Ames
Matt & Max know their branding

As we explained earlier, Sessions is a sandwich restaurant. But in fact, they've expanded their menu to include some morning offerings like The Notorious P-I-G (Virginia ham, smoked bacon, sausage, baked eggs and Vermont cheddar on an everything bagel. What?). At dinner, try their flatbread concept of Flavor Town (meatballs, creole mustard cream, mozzarella, arugula and shaved Parmesan.). And remember to order the chips made in-house. Addictive.

Read the first part of our interview with Matt and Max over here.
Then keep the party going by continuing with our second part below.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Matt Meddock:
Being successful takes A LOT OF HARD WORK!!!
Max Schlutz: Trust your gut.

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On the Line: Matt Meddock and Max Schlutz of Sessions Sandwiches, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Dustin Ames
Something tells us they're also interior designers

Let's be clear about this week's interview: Sessions is a sandwich RESTAURANT. Sure, sandwich is in the name. But between flatbreads, breakfast selections and salads, they are so much more. That's why it took two of the masterminds behind the coolest concept by the water to explain it all. Local boys who have their flavor profiles and customer service in check, Matt Meddock, Max Schlutz and I chill outside one afternoon to discuss our love of beer and excellent sandwich combinations. Oh, and the mayor walked by to order lunch.

Where does the name come from?
Matt Meddock
: Sessions is a common slang term used in Southern California (i.e. I'm going for surf sessions, skate sessions, snowboard sessions, etc.)

What's the difference between an East coast deli and your West coast deli?
Max Schlutz
: An East coast deli tends to celebrate quantity. Most feature menus that are 100 items long. I won't speak to them beyond that.

West coast deli represents simplicity in design, extensiveness in flavor profiles and health consciousness at its core. We are the place to refuel for the active person, the avid athlete and for those who appreciate attention to detail. Surf, skate or ski over to Sessions.

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On the Line: Roland Barrera and Joey Oehrlein of Casa, Part Two

Categories: On the Line

Dustin Ames
And the beat goes on

You know it's a team effort when Roland sends me cool cocktail videos and photos of Joey lighting things up in Casa while he's on vacation. I gave Joey the night off and had Roland cruise through the rest of the questionnaire. Looks like he's dropping hints at another venture in the works. Stay focused, Roland! You're almost done here.

I started our conversation with Roland and Joey yesterday.
But we continue with Roland in part two below . . .

What was the last spontaneous thing you did?

Purchased a ticket to New Orleans for the "Tales of the Cocktail" show last week for five days and literally just landed at LAX. Boy, oh boy, what a great time and experience. Soaking up all that French Victorian architecture, visiting 300-year-old graveyards and getting dinner and cocktails served by bartender Chris McMillian just by accident was all pretty surreal.

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On the Line: Roland Barrera and Joey Oehrlein of Casa, Part One

Categories: On the Line

Dustin Ames
Joey and Roland are ready and waiting

On the Line is more than just restaurant chefs. It's individuals with a vision. People who specialize in giving the best possible experience to their guests. Individuals who are business savvy and give exemplary service all blended together. It's subjects like Roland and Joey of a speakeasy named Casa. Roland is one of the founders, while Joey keeps clients smiling with his original concoctions.

Describe Casa to someone who's never been.
Casa is a 1940s French and Spanish inspired classic cocktail lounge that was designed to make you feel like you were just transported to your great grandfather's local lounge somewhere in France or New York.

What do you keep the capacity at?
Ideally, we would love to keep it around 45, max. It all depends which days we are working with, too. We do offer live music nightly, and some artists have larger draws than others. In most cases, we'd like to accommodate these guests as much as we can without compromising the room's intimate vibe. We do our best to gauge the room and permit entry accordingly.

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

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

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

Photo by William Vo

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

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

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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