Show 400, November 21, 2020: Chef & Proprietress Geeta Bansal, Clay Oven, Irvine

Geeta Bansal of Clay Oven in Irvine“For over 36 years Clay Oven’s cuisine directed by Executive Chef & Proprietress Geeta Bansal has been about transforming tradition and old techniques of Indian cuisine while retaining the flavor profile to make them relevant to the present times and lifestyle. Food progresses and changes, and Clay Oven consistently strives to move Indian cuisine forward into the present and attempts to modernize their dishes while keeping the Ayurvedic principles intact. The menus are tied to the seasons and what is growing locally.”

“Clay Oven serves a large selection of game including venison, wild boar, rabbit, duck, antelope, quail, and elk. Fruits and vegetables in season appear alongside organic herbs grown in their own garden. There is no fusion of cuisines, just a fun and creative Indian experience created for their guests.”

Clay Oven is currently operating for takeout, curbside, and delivery only. A yearly (limited-time) special Thanksgiving tradition at Clay Oven, Tandoori Turkey, is still available to order.

Clay Oven is on the move…As of December 1st Clay Oven is relocating to Costa Mesa on a temporary basis and will continue to serve guests via takeout, curbside and delivery exclusively. A new dine-in location is planned for the future as allowable.

Chef Geeta Bansal is our guest.

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Show 399, November 14, 2020: Drew Brahs of Harper Barbecue in Costa Mesa

Drew Brahs of Harper BarbecueDrew Brahs of Harper Barbecue (Costa Mesa based) is well-known in the West as the go-to builder (via word-if-mouth and Instagram) of hand-crafted, custom smokers for skilled pitmasters and backyard barbecue fans alike. He crafts everything from small backyard pits to large versions on trailers. Drew is responsible for creating the twin, 1,000 gallon smokers offset smokers used at Danny Castillo’s Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano.

Drew is a fan of the Central Texas style of barbecue. In the early stages of development and construction is his long-in-the works restaurant, Harper Barbecue, in Costa Mesa which will be a Family affair. While the restaurant is being built Drew will shift the smoker enterprise to selling stock items. Website coming soon…

We’ll meet barbecue entrepreneur Drew Brahs.

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Show 397, October 31, 2020: Chef & Proprietor Jonathan Blackford of Fork & Knife in Costa Mesa Part One

Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant and CDM Restaurant“Led by Chef Jonathan Blackford (ex-A Restaurant and CdM Restaurant,) the newly launched Fork & Knife in Costa Mesa aims to present a menu of progressive, modern dishes that are meant to be enjoyed at home. Serving as an extension of the home kitchen, the concept presents globally inspired dishes that focus on fresh ingredients and bold flavors while presenting an innovative experience.”

“Fork & Knife’s honest approach to cooking comes through in seasonal, from-scratch fully prepared meals and inspired grab-and-go items that change daily, ranging from sandwiches and prepared pastas, to easy-to-eat-on-the-go dishes and desserts. The kitchen also oversees the production of house-made retail-focused items such as fresh-made pastas, jams, sauces, dressings and more.”

“The market is unique, featuring many of Chef Blackford’s favorite artisan products, from heirloom grains from Anson Mills and heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo, to hard-to-find authentic Spanish products from La Espanola Meats. The concept does not include a dining room or seating for dine-in business, but rather focuses on enhancing the home dining experience by providing the freshest and most flavorful seasonal dishes and meals.”

“Overseeing all design and retail merchandising for the concept is Chef Blackford’s wife, Kristi, who also assists in-house regularly.”

Closed on Sunday.

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Show 397, October 31, 2020: Chef & Proprietor Jonathan Blackford of Fork & Knife in Costa Mesa Part Two

Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant and CDM Restaurant“Led by Chef Jonathan Blackford (ex-A Restaurant and CdM Restaurant,) the newly launched Fork & Knife in Costa Mesa aims to present a menu of progressive, modern dishes that are meant to be enjoyed at home. Serving as an extension of the home kitchen, the concept presents globally inspired dishes that focus on fresh ingredients and bold flavors while presenting an innovative experience.

“Fork & Knife’s honest approach to cooking comes through in seasonal, from-scratch fully prepared meals and inspired grab-and-go items that change daily, ranging from sandwiches and prepared pastas, to easy-to-eat-on-the-go dishes and desserts. The kitchen also oversees the production of house-made retail-focused items such as fresh-made pastas, jams, sauces, dressings and more.”

“Last Friday Chef Blackford introduced his signature Paella, which is offered every Friday for pick-up between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Every week, Chef Blackford presents a different Paella, beginning initially with Seafood & Chorizo, cooked in a large traditional steel pan. The Paella is not available for pre-order, and is sold first come, first serve for $28 per order.”

Fork & Knife has created a special Cubano Sandwich that has attracted the attention of proprietor Dean Kim of the ever- popular OC Baking Co. He’s a genuine foodie. We gently ask Chef Jonathan about Baker Dean’s obsession with the sandwich. It’s apparently a daily habit.

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Show 394, October 10, 2020: Rob Arellano, Managing Partner, Descanso Restaurant, Costa Mesa

Rob Arellano of Descanso RestaurantDescanso Restaurant in Costa Mesa delivers a unique Mexican dining experience as a modern taqueria that celebrates authentic Mexican flavors and recipes executed on a traditional Plancha and prepared a la minute in front of the guest. With new Executive Chef Fonzy de Zuniga at the helm, the full-service restaurant is committed to providing only fresh, high-quality ingredients sourced from local farms and does not believe in cooking with lard or using can openers. Drawing guests into the cooking experience as classic Central Mexican street-inspired cuisine is made to order, the restaurant’s lively setting celebrates tradition while bringing in the music, smells, and energy of a busy Mexican town.”

Descanso Restaurant has just resumed midweek lunch service. Featuring all-new items, the menu of Central Mexican street-inspired cuisine is available inside, to-go and al fresco on the restaurant’s 1,500 square-foot patio.

“The modern taqueria’s fresh and vibrant menu introduces the Mexibol, a new offering filled with bold flavors and nourishing ingredients including refried pinto beans, Mexican fried rice, pico de gallo, avocado toreado salsa, salsa frita, tortilla chips and a choice of protein or vegetables.”

Descanso hosts weekly Wine Wednesday from 3 to 9:00 p.m. The bonus is live music on the patio with TIAN playing acoustic Latin hits and modern favorites with a Latin twist. Five Dollar wines by the glass are available plus half-off on select bottles.

Managing Partner and Concept Creator Rob Arellano joins us with all the details of what Descanso has available for the hungry dining public right now.

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Show 388, August 29, 2020: Executive Chef Jonathan Blackford of Fork & Knife, Costa Mesa

Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant and CDM RestaurantSince Executive Chef Jonathan Blackford departed A Restaurant (Newport Beach) and CdM Restaurant (Corona del Mar) to develop a food venture of his own he’s given a lot of thought to what the dining community really needs right now. The result is Fork & Knife scheduled to launch in Costa Mesa in October.

“Fork & Knife is actually three concepts in one and I believe that it speaks to current dining habits and what the public wants right now,” commented Chef Blackford, who has received much attention for the globally inspired, progressive menus he created as Executive Chef for River Jetty Restaurant Group over the past decade. “It has always been my goal to open a restaurant of my own, but the timing isn’t right for a full-service dining experience. What people want right now is a neighborhood place that offers fully prepared dinners, quick meals to carryout and quality products that you would find at a gourmet market – that’s what Fork & Knife aims to deliver.”

“Fork & Knife will offer inspired, seasonal, from-scratch fully prepared dishes, as well as retail-focused items such as fresh-made pastas, jams, sauces, dressings and more. The market will also feature many of Chef Blackford’s favorite artisan products, from a selection of olive oils, to vinegars and grains. The kitchen will offer freshly made grab-and-go items daily, ranging from sandwiches, prepared pastas, and easy-to-eat-on-the-go dishes.”

“I want to serve as an extension to the home kitchen by providing the freshest and most flavorful meals and dishes,” explained Chef Blackford. “There is nothing more comforting than a home-cooked meal enjoyed with family and friends, but with time being the biggest challenge in our lives, we’re handling the heavy lifting so those in our community don’t have to sacrifice quality.”

Chef Jonathan Blackford is our guest.

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Show 384, August 1, 2020: Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate and Partner / Executive Chef Amar Santana of The Hall Global Eatery

Ahmed Labatte and Amar Santana of Vaca Restaurant GroupExecutive Chef & Restaurateur Amar Santana and Restaurateur Ahmed Labbate have reopened The Hall Global Eatery at South Coast Plaza for dine-in on their comfortable, shaded front patio or for curbside pickup. The extensive fast-casual menu is available at the Mediterranean Grill including hand-carved Shawarma, Babaganoush and Hummus. A selection of cocktails from master barman Michael Rooney, beer and wine are available to enjoy on the patio or To-Go. The grab and go Patisserie features a wide variety of baked goods, salads, sandwiches, coffee and juices.

The former full-service Crudo and Charcuterie Bar has been reimagined with the addition of a selection of made-to-order (and customizable) Poke. Guests, to start, have their choice of two proteins including Ahi Tuna, Salmon, Albacore, Octopus, Spicy Tuna, Scallop, King Crab or Tofu. From there a diner has a choice of five toppings from an available selection of 13 options.

Chef Amar’s and Ahmed’s other pair of popular restaurants, Vaca adjacent to South Coast Plaza and Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach, are again accommodating guests with full-service patio dining and curbside pickup and delivery.

Chef Amar Santana and Ahmed Labbate are with us providing all the enticing details.

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Show 383, July 25, 2020: Executive Chef & Partner, Mark McDonald, Old Vine Kitchen & Bar, Costa Mesa

Mark McDonald of Old Vine Kitchen and Bar“The award-winning Old Vine Kitchen & Bar in Costa Mesa at THE CAMP has returned to the Orange County culinary scene by reopening on-premise dining with an emphasis on staff and guest safety and an expansion of its intimate dining experience. In addition to Old Vine’s popular backyard patio, guests can now spend evenings enjoying two newly-acquired outdoor dining spaces: The Roof and The Stairway Patio.”

“We’re excited to extend our signature Old Vine experience to two new beautiful outdoor spaces, The Roof and The Stairway Patio, which give our restaurant the space needed for social distancing and ensuring our guests’ safety,” said Old Vine Kitchen & Bar’s proprietor and Chef Mark McDonald. “We are proud to welcome our customers back, knowing that our restaurant has fully implemented all city, county, and state safety protocols, and trained our excellent staff accordingly. Guest and staff well-being is always our first priority.”

“Returning diners will be delighted to find brand new bar and dinner menus from Chef McDonald, who has helmed Old Vine’s kitchen for more than 13 years. From revamped old favorites, such as Old Vine’s Caprese of Burrata, to soon-to-be classics, such as a new, four course cocktail pairing tasting menu, guests are sure to savor his fresh takes on Old Vine’s signature regional cuisine, always crafted with top quality food products and now a totally scratch kitchen.”

“Our whole team took advantage of this quieter time, and we all found new inspiration, whether in the kitchen, with the wine list, or behind the bar,” co-owner Kate Perry said. “The result is updated bar and dinner menus, a range of new vegan and vegetarian options, and as always, a commitment to serving and building our Old Vine family.”

Chef Mark McDonald joins us.

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Show 381, July 11, 2020: Chef & Proprietor John Park, Toast Kitchen + Bakery, Costa Mesa

John Park of Toast Kitchen and BakeryChef John Park’s Toast Kitchen + Bakery, now celebrating its 2nd Anniversary, is a welcome addition to the moderately priced dining scene in Costa Mesa. The actual anniversary date is July 24th but Toast will be celebrating with changing weekly specials for the entire month. From Tuesday, July 14th through Sunday, July 19th all the signature house-baked cookies are $2 each.

They serve Breakfast & Brunch daily (closed on Monday.) Early Dinner is Tuesday through Friday with Happy Hour (with food & libation specials) on Weekdays from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Some salivating new menu items have just been introduced including creative libations and both savory & sweet creations. Think Mapo Tofu Noodles with mapo tofu, noodles, zucchini, roasted sesame seeds and cilantro.

Chef John Park, the Chef of the Year at the 2019 Golden Foodie Awards, joins us.

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Show 363, March 7, 2020: Descanso’s Proprietor Rob Arellano and Executive Chef Sergio Ortega Previewing OC Restaurant Week

Sergio Ortega of Descanso Modern TaqueriaOrange County Restaurant Week, possibly the region’s most eagerly anticipated Restaurant Week for more than a decade, returns Sunday, March 8th through Saturday, March 14th. This year, nearly 150 restaurants will participant in OC Restaurant Week, offering diners a wide variety of options, from casual and family friendly establishments, to upscale and fine dining, which will once again allow for a “luxe experience” with a select group of menus priced at a $80 price point! For 2020 the Cocktails of Restaurant Week will be highlighted to complete dining experiences and many participating restaurants will offer a Spicy Food Lover option for the many flavor cravers out there!”

Executive Chef Sergio Ortega of Costa Mesa’s Descanso – A Modern Taqueria (along with Proprietor Rob Arellano) are participating in OC Restaurant Week. Descanso is featuring both a $15 Lunch menu as well as a $30 Dinner menu. Think special OC Restaurant Week cocktails, too. Chef Sergio also is highlighting a spicy food menu item, a pair of carnitas tacos with Habanero salsa.

Chef Ortega and Rob Arellano join us with a salivating menu preview.

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