Anne Marie managed six courses in one evening’s ample dining excursion. Course Four was an intriguing Lima Bean Soup from zCafe. It’s a tribute to the farmland that was the past of the land South Coast Plaza now occupies. The “farm” was planted in lima beans. They still grow a few lima beans on Segerstrom property, and the Lima Beans used in the anniversary soup are actually sourced from this property!
James Republic is co-owned by Executive Chef and Restaurateur Dean James Max (a multiple James Beard Award nominee) of DJM Restaurants. Chef Dean will be flying in from his base in southern Florida to present a course. James Republic’s executive chef, David MacLennan (opening exec chef) will also be preparing a course.
Chef Amar’s dish is under the veil of heavy secrecy but he does hint it will be a pork spectacular. The award-winning El Segundo Brewing Co. is brewing a special craft beer to pair with Chef Amar’s dish exclusively for the evening.
Rachel Klemek’s Blackmarket Bakery is a home-grown institution in The Camp in Costa Mesa and now in Santa Ana, too, in the Santora Building. Her newest location, in the City of San Diego, will launch soon. Rachel also has a pop-up at The OC Fair in the OC Promenade through August 14th. It’s time for our annual visit with baker, Rachel Klemek.
Chef Rachel, grew up in the South, influenced by her two sugar-loving Grandmas. Baking and eating cookies, Bojangles (biscuits), breads and other delicacies were forms of communication, a way of showing — and sharing — family love. After experimentation and hands on experience in the industry, she attended the Culinary Institute of America, Napa Valley, in Baking & Pastry, graduating at the top of her class.
In 2004, she struck out on her own, founding Blackmarket Bakery in an inauspicious industrial space in Irvine, CA. Since then, her product line, legend and lore have grown. Her incredible cakes, cookies, brownies made from wine flour and fresh breads are just a few items that showcase Chef Rachel’s culinary playfulness. Her new egg sandwiches have also generated a loyal following.
Furthering her goal of empowering the community with quality, Blackmarket Bakery offers a selection of fresh, whole-food based items that are pleasing to the body and the mind. By using fundamentals – butter, flour, sugar, eggs (all black market goods during WWII) – Chef Rachel focuses on delivering what the community is missing.
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.
After opening its first two West Coast locations to huge crowds and an almost never-ending line, The Halal Guys are entering new territory with its upcoming grand opening in Koreatown, Los Angeles.
The fast-casual New York famed concept opened its first West Coast location in Costa Mesa last October, its second location in Long Beach this past January and have plans to bring 50 units throughout Southern California.
Known for its famous white sauce, gyro sandwiches and chicken-and-rice platters, The Halal Guys menu offers a mix of different Middle Eastern dishes. The Halal Guys aim to be different and encourage patrons across America to ditch burgers for something unique.
They pride themselves on only using high-quality products like their chicken. It has never been frozen and is marinated and seasoned overnight, then cooked and chopped on the grill and served directly to the plate to ensure a crave-worthy meal that’s piping hot. The Halal Guys’ mission is to ensure that every customer leaves happy, with a smile on their face and a satisfaction that brings them back again.
Halal Guys local franchisee, Thomas Pham, is our guest.
He’ll also talk about his new, soon to launch ice cream concept, Churned. The decadent ice cream is made in front of the guests in small batches and served in a fresh croissant. The churning equipment is imported from Italy. (The Italians certainly know a few things about premium ice cream.) The first location (opening later this month) will be in the Union Market at The District, Tustin.
Chef Amar Santana’s Vaca in Costa Mesa has been one of the toughest reservations in town since its opening. It’s a busy spot.
Vaca has created an enticing by-the-glass program for Sherry. It’s still growing…Jerez (Sherry) actually pairs very well with food as the Spanish already know. 17 distinctive Jerezes are available by-the-glass at Vaca. The Bar Manager was previously turned on to Sherry as a result of a transformative 6-course, Sherry paired dinner he enjoyed in Spain.
“The wines of the D.O. Jerez (Sherry) are beautiful, expressive wines ranging from bracingly dry, to complex umami, to fruity sweet.”
“They’re touted by Sommeliers around the World as ideal food-pairing wines for their strong acidity, complex palate, and ability to stand up to bold, flavorful dishes.”
Sherry can only come from a specific DO, a designated area in Southern Spain’s Andalucia region.
Vaca’s incredibly knowledgeable Bar Manager, Michael Rooney, joins us for a short course on the joy of appreciating Sherry. Michael also credits his colleague at Vaca and Broadway by Amar Santana, Gabrielle Dion for her key contributions to the bar program.
Chef Rachel Klemek will be extending the reach of her award-winning made-from-scratch baked goods when she opens a new outpost, Blackmarket Bakery on Broadway, on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 in the downtown Santa Ana’s Santora building in the Artists Village (211 N. Broadway).
Chef Klemek’s inspired approach to baking has set her apart within the county’s culinary landscape. Staying true to its roots, the new Santa Ana neighborhood bakery will highlight pastries made from her token “blackmarket” ingredients – butter, flour, sugar, and eggs.
Built in 1928, the Santora building houses the bakery’s 2,300-square-foot space, adding a “retro” feel with art-deco elements, reminiscent of simpler times. As the largest Blackmarket Bakery yet, the Santa Ana location remains family friendly as it sees the addition of new menu items, including craft beers and hard ciders. The menu will also feature a new lineup of savory “bar bite” offerings, sandwiches made with fresh-baked breads, seasonal salads and sweet and hearty brunch items (the latter of which will be coming this Spring).
Like its Costa Mesa counterpart, which opened in 2012, the Santa Ana restaurant focuses on its made-from-scratch daily retail offerings such as Chef Rachel’s artisanal breads and now-famous “eggywiches,” as well as delectable desserts, including the Total Eclipse Mousse Cake, Cookie Monster Bread Pudding, and her ever-popular Black Widow Tart. Guests will have the opportunity to indulge in Blackmarket signature cookies, including Walnut Mudslides, Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, and the Classic Two Tone. “
Expanding into the Santa Ana market will allow us to serve even more of our community,” explained Chef Rachel, who opened her first Blackmarket Bakery in an industrial park in Irvine back in 2004. “The addition of craft beer and hard cider, as well as an expanded menu of family friendly favorites, gives our Santa Ana location a little something for everyone.”
Chef Rachel joins us with all the savory & sweet details.
Bravo’s “Top Chef” has been an enormous hit for the emerging network. It’s now airing Season 13 which is, appropriately, all California – based. It’s also made a star of Co-host Tom Colicchio. This season a couple of Southern California chefs are Cheftestants including the OC’s Amar Santana of Broadway by Amar Santana and the just opened Vaca (December 26) in Costa Mesa.
Food journalist and insider Anne Marie Panoringan (who contributes the widely read “On the Line” chef profiles for OC Weekly) is writing an opinionated weekly recap of “Top Chef” with the emphasis on the OC perspective.We’ll talk to her about this recapping the first of two challenging episodes using the greater Palm Springs area as the backdrop.
After 25 years in business, The Halal Guys are expanding from New York’s City’s most popular food cart to its first West Coast brick-and-mortar fast casual location in Costa Mesa (opening soon). They expect to launch 5 SoCal locations by the end of the year. That’s ambitious…
In New York the cart is famous for “The Never-Ending Line.” Well-known for its gyro sandwiches, chicken-and-rice platters and mystery white sauce, The Halal Guys menu offers a mix of various Middle Eastern dishes.
The Halal Guys grew from its humble beginnings as a food cart on the streets of New York City to a global icon known as the largest American halal street food concept in the world. This Manhattan-based landmark was created by three like-minded men from Egypt who came to America in search of a lucrative life.
When Mohamed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed noticed many Muslim cab drivers in New York were looking for a place to buy meals in Manhattan, they created their first food cart and quickly grew into a leading tourist and native New Yorker destination for American Halal fare.