Chef Amar should be justifiably proud of what he accomplished during Season 13 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” The level of competition was the highest of any prior season! James Beard Award nominees as well as Food &Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” were among the strong field of super-talented Cheftestants. Amar also retains great respect for Chef Jeremy Ford.
Chef Amar’s “Top Chef” Official Bio:
Amar Santana serves as the Executive Chef and Partner at Broadway By Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, CA and Vaca in Costa Mesa, CA. Born in the Dominican Republic, he immigrated to the US at the age of 13 and began his culinary career at 16.
He has been mentored by some of the world’s most renowned chefs, including Charlie Palmer, who helped him develop his skills of expressing his passion through food. By combining flavors and culinary traditions from all over the world, Chef Amar provides a truly unforgettable gastronomical experience.
Broadway by Amar Santana, located in the heart of beautiful Laguna Beach, opened in 2011. The restaurant evokes the culinary style and ambiance of New York City where Chef Amar received his early culinary training.
Inspired by the legitimate theaters in Manhattan, award-winning Chef Amar along with his partners Ahmed Labbate and Rich Cadarette, create an atmosphere where the food becomes the main show. The restaurant’s menu is inspired by the creativity of Santana and his version of Modern Cuisine of The Americas. It features top quality ingredients, with a focus on local farmers who can provide the menu’s seasonal requirements.
The interior reflects an industrial New York look with an open kitchen that is center stage. There are six coveted seats at the chef’s table overlooking the activity of the kitchen. One of the restaurants’ distinctive features is an intimate speakeasy cocktail bar with master bartenders and classic libations.
Labbate is Chef Amar’s partner and runs the front-of-the-house. They worked together previously at Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales. Chef Amar gives him a lot of credit in achieving the success that Broadway is.
The most talked-about restaurant opening of the year in Orange County is Amar Santana’s Vaca in Costa Mesa. It’s possibly his take on either a Spanish tapas spot or Spanish steakhouse. Details have been securely under wraps. We’re sure Chef Amar has spent a lot of time in Spain studying the cuisine.
We’ll find out a lot more with Chef Amar Santana…
Chef Amar shares that Vaca is a hybrid concept. It will be an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant and a steakhouse with premium, dry-aged beef from around the world cooked on a wood-burning grill. A dry-aging room will be a feature of Vaca. With a bit of luck it looks like a possible late November opening if all goes well.
Chef Amar has been running paella specials (4 to 5 styles) at Broadway to get his culinary staff trained for the upcoming Vaca. Some of the team will move over there from Broadway as well as former cooks from Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdales. Large paella pans and small kitchen…
Surprisingly he was disappointed with the paella he sampled in Spain. Chef Amar was far more inspired about what he tasted in Morocco!
Bobby’s passion for branding and business keeps him visiting hundreds of restaurants across the country, stemming from his original feat of dining at 100 restaurants in 100 consecutive days.
Bobby’s affection for the hospitality community and similar industries led him to create inspireartisticminds.org, an organization that gives thousands of dollars annually to connecting passionately driven individuals to the things that inspire them.
Downtown Las Vegas is not an easy market for independent restaurants. You’re competing with all the dining options available in the large Hotels and must appeal to visitors, conventioneers, and the discriminating locals. Not an easy task.
Shift Hospitalityhas overcome the obstacles with their highly successful MTO Café serving breakfast and lunch. They have recently opened a second branch in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin. It’s also open for dinner.
The MTO Cafes serve fresh comfort food in a highly personal, everyday atmosphere. The goal is to position the MTO Cafes as the locals’ neighborhood go-to.
On the menu are variations of luxurious pastas, antipasti, creative pizzas and plates small and large, along with fresh crudos and Chef’s whim seasonal specials.
The diverse wine program features more than 250 familiar names, and rare, small-batch varietals for guests to purchase at a retail price, either to enjoy with their meal for a minimal corkage fee or to take home.
With the backing of one of his very loyal guests he later departed to open a venture of his own, Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach. Talented chefs dream of having a place of their own but the reality is that few ever realize the dream.
Since opening in 2011 it’s been a hit with both the food critics and guests. The bar has also created its own loyal following for unusual libations and a welcoming atmosphere. Their superior Moscow Mule (not listed on the bar menu) is a thoughtful homage to the original version created in the late 30s in Hollywood and now using all fresh ingredients and from scratch ginger beer.
Celebrity chefs from around the country and outstanding local Thai chefs will be there presenting their signature dishes for the guests to sample and enjoy. Entertainment will include music, Thai dancers and fruit carving.
VIP and Regular Tickets are now on sale!
Jim Riley, the founder of Azunia Tequila joins us. In his spare time Jim is a professional off-road racer of some note.
This is a case study of how a boutique tequila company grows a brand in an environment dominated by cash-rich giants. Riley has built his brand with clever grass-roots marketing and being seen in the right places.
Azunia Tequila is organic and 100 per cent Weber Blue Agave. It is available in the styles of Platinum Blanco (great for cocktails,) Reposado, and Anejo.
Fukuburger has probably been the most successful and is still on the streets. A brick and mortar location for Las Vegas is in the plans. Sloppi Jo’s was a big success with the food critics but, ultimately, not a viable business model. Proprietress Jolene Mannina has parlayed this into other food projects for herself. In fact she’s the head of Culinary Arts for the upcoming “Life is Beautiful” Festival in Downtown Las Vegas. The originator of Slidin’ Thru has moved on but the truck still does events and catering and there is a bricks and mortar drive-through.
Elizabeth just took the incredibly difficult “Advanced” certification test from the Court of Master Sommeliers. She shares that humbling experience with us.
Earlier in the Summer the Grand hosted a special screening of the documentary, “SOMM”. It’s the first effort by filmmaker Jason Wise.
. “SOMM” tells the fascinating story of four sommeliers attempting to pass the rigorous and prestigious Master Sommelier exam. This test has one of the lowest pass rates imaginable. Elizabeth’s head sommelier at Spago (her previous post) is a Master Sommelier. She talks about hosting the screening (there was wine and abundant food stations) and her reaction to the highly acclaimed documentary.
With the backing of Keller she developed Cup4Cup, a healthy wheat flour-substitute which has gone national over the last two years. It’s carried in Williams-Sonoma stores and also available at the Bouchon Bakeries in Yountville, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, and New York.
With the backing of one of his very loyal guests he later departed to open a venture of his own, Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach. Since opening in 2011 it’s been a hit with both the food critics and guests. The bar has also created its own loyal following for unusual libations and a welcoming atmosphere. Their superior Moscow Mule (not listed on the bar menu) is a thoughtful homage to the original version created in the late 30s in Hollywood and now using all fresh ingredients and from scratch ginger beer.
In 2007 Executive Chef Eric Klein (now a partner) was handed the keys to Spago Las Vegas by Wolfgang Puck and charged with freshening up the concept. This was quite a formidable assignment given that Spago is Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant in Las Vegas! They celebrated their 20th Anniversary last year.
The restaurant is a busy café (with exhibition pizza oven) in the front and an elegant fine-dining restaurant in the back. The front patio opens onto the busy main Forum Shops walkway.
As with the Beverly Hills original Spago Las Vegas attracts the celebrity clientele in addition to sophisticated foodies. Chef Eric is the visible personality of the establishment.
Michael Passmore is an elite class freshwater fish farmer in the Sacramento area. His Passmore Ranch is sustainable aqua farming and his clientele are discriminating celebrity chefs all across the country who he, unusually, supplies directly.
They started modestly by selling live fish at Northern California farmers’ markets, and their quality and service quickly established them as premium purveyors for top restaurants and Michelin-starred chefs around the country.
Passmore Ranch offers premium freshwater white sturgeon, black bass, striped bass, catfish, silver carp and trout, plus prized domestic caviar.
Today Passmore Ranch is 86 acres and they raise fish in 80 million gallons of fresh water pumped up from the pristine Cosumnes aquifer. The ranch has a variety of open lakes and massive tanks used to increase the variety of sustainable fish they grow.
In the works is a plan to begin a thoughtful rollout of limited direct sales to serious home cooks. The info will be posted on their website.