Show 393, October 3, 2020: Nick Echaore, Executive Chef, Heritage Barbecue, San Juan Capistrano

Nick Echaore of Heritage BarbecueBarbecue afficionados are overjoyed with the launch in August of Daniel and Brenda Castillo’s Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano. They have developed a fanatical following for their Central Texas-style barbecue (that’s cooked low and slow) served in Orange County at popular pop-ups at area craft breweries. Daniel has trained extensively with prominent Texas pitmasters at their respective establishments. Initially the all outdoor establishment is open Wednesday through Sunday and has the capacity to serve several hundred guests per day until the ‘cue runs out.

Pitmaster Danny’s accomplished Executive Chef is Nick Echaore. We’ll pull him away from the intensive pre-opening prep for an update.

Chef Nick has experience across all segments of front and back of house. He comes to Heritage Barbecue from a corporate career at Whole Foods (where he met Pitmaster Danny.) He also spent time at Marche Bacchus in Las Vegas.

Nick is responsible for working with Danny and Lennon (the in-house butcher) to set the menu, sourcing ingredients, recipe development for the creative sides, coordinating schedules with the kitchen team and lots more. He even works the busy order window (just in back) where you’ll see him expertly cutting and packaging the barbecue orders.

Heritage is well-known for their brisket, tri-tip, massive beef ribs, chicken, ribs and sausages. All the proteins are cooked using California White Oak in twin, 1,000 gallon offset smokers crafted by Harper Barbecue in Costa Mesa. Even the selection of from-scratch sides deserve praise. A standout is the Borracho Beans with tri-tip.



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.


Show 367, April 4, 2020: Executive Chef Michael Rossi of The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim

Michael Rossi of the Ranch Restaurant and SaloonThe Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim is, of course, not available for dine-in during the present health crisis. Executive Chef Michael Rossi has artfully shifted to a new, a la carte Curbside Pick-Up Menu including some of their signature house specialties that travel reasonably well. There are ample choices of Starters, Salads, Pasta, Sandwiches & Burgers, Steak, Fish & Chicken, and Pastry Chef David Rossi’s incredibly decadent desserts (including the award-winning Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream by the pint.) Think 8 oz. Prime Flat Iron Steak with Baby Dutch Potatoes, House-Made Pancetta, Saint Agur Blue Cheese and Wild Arugula.

Available to Order & Pick-Up daily between 12 Noon and 7:00 p.m. Ordering starts at 9:00 a.m.

“Executive Chef, Michael Rossi and our talented culinary team craft our seasonally driven menu at The Ranch with hand selected produce harvested from our own farm. Our chefs have the unique ability to pick produce at the perfect time just before the peak of maturity to capture maximum flavor and within hours served at your table with old fashioned genuine hospitality and gracious service. To complete your dining experience, sample one of our many desserts created in house by Pastry Chef, David Rossi.”

Executive Chef Michael Rossi joins us from curbside at The Ranch.


Show 366, March 28, 2020: Owner / Executive Chef Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Roger’s Garden in Corona del Mar

Rich Mead of Farmhouse at Rogers GardensFarmhouse at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar is open for take-out and offers an ever-evolving menu courtesy of Owner and Executive Chef Rich Mead. Designed to elevate the at-home dining experience, the Farmhouse take-out menu now offers a curbside market, produce boxes, a signature kids menu and curbside cocktails to-go in addition to weekly wine deals, fresh daily specials, family-style meals, and more through easy pick-up or local delivery options. Delivery is available from 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. daily. Complimentary deliveries will be made on orders of $75 or more within a 2.5 mile radius.”

“During his 35 years of culinary expertise, Chef Rich Mead has cultivated relationships with the highest regarded local sustainable farms, allowing him to create the freshest menus using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and specially grown vegetables. In 2016, after years of planning, Chef Mead unveiled a unique and sustainable field-to-fork dining experience at Farmhouse, located within Roger’s Gardens. Nestled on over 6 acres in the garden-like setting, Farmhouse features exclusive wines, craft beers, signature cocktails, artisan refreshments and a healthy based seasonal cuisine.”

To place a take-out order, please call 949-640-1415. For more information about Farmhouse and to view the take-out menu.

Chef Rich Mead is our guest.


Show 365, March 21, 2020: Executive Chef Vincent, Selanne Steak Tavern, Laguna Beach

Vince Terusa of Selanne Steak TavernBack in January we introduced you to Executive Chef Vincent Terusa of Selanne Steak Tavern in Laguna Beach. During the unfortunate embargo on dining-in Selanne is providing discounted curbside take-out. They also are offering the menu from their casual spot, the Penalty Box. Also on offer is their “From the Butcher” Take-Out Menu featuring Cedar River Farms All-Natural Beef, Darling Downs Australian Wagyu Beef, Mary’s Chicken and Skuna Bay Alaskan Salmon.

Selanne Steak Tavern, an upscale tavern and steak house, is located in a historic 1934 converted residence on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach serving modern American fare, a stellar wine collection, artisan cocktails and a range of beers in a light and airy ambiance. The various dining rooms include a warm tavern-style bar, a bistro-style wine room, a more formal upstairs and beautiful outdoor dining. The ownership team includes NHL Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne – also known as The Finnish Flash – a 2007 Stanley Cup winner, former star player for the Anaheim Ducks, and six-time Olympian.

Executive Chef Vince Terusa, who has been at the restaurant since the beginning (and was promoted to Executive Chef,) is our guest.


Show 364, March 14, 2020: Executive Chef Travis Watson, Hotel Californian, Santa Barbara

Travis Watson of the Hotel CalifornianThe new Executive Chef at Hotel Californian is Travis Watson. Chef Travis has refreshed and revamped Hotel Californian’s signature (dinner only) restaurant, Blackbird Restaurant and Bar. On the menu is Mediterranean-influenced, locally sourced, and hyper-seasonal cuisine.

Travis Watson brings 20 years of award-winning culinary experience to Hotel Californian. “Chef Watson’s career has led him all over the world, including France where he served as an apprentice to Chef Georges Paccard of Michelin-starred La Ciboulette. He most recently served as Executive Chef at Rancho Bernardo Inn & Spa in San Diego and is now thrilled to tap into the distinctive terroir of the Central Coast.”

He’s also the menu-maker for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner at the al-fresco Goat Tree, banquets and in-room dining at Hotel Californian. Unusually Chef Travis has an acclaimed, in-house pastry chef as part of his culinary team creating exceptional baked goods (think croissants) and confections from scratch.

Chef Travis takes a break from his busy kitchens to join us.


Show 364, March 14, 2020: Executive Chef Jason Paluska, The Lark, Santa Barbara

Jason Paluska of the LarkOriginally from Tomball, Texas, Jason Paluska, the Executive Chef of The Lark in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone (an Acme Hospitality property,) began his cooking career in San Francisco under chefs Mitch and Steve Rosenthal of Town Hall, Salt House and Anchor & Hope in 2006. Jason went on to became a sous chef at Michael Mina’s RN74 in San Francisco. For four years he worked under renowned chef Jason Berthold, formerly of the French Laundry & Per Se.

In 2013 he left the Bay area and moved to Santa Barbara as the opening executive chef of The Lark restaurant for Acme Hospitality. Most recently Jason and his team at The Lark received the Michelin Plate award in June of 2019.

“The Lark, named for the sleek overnight Pullman train of the Southern Pacific Railroad that serviced Santa Barbara from 1910 -1968, is situated in the heart of the Funk Zone, a vibrant arts and entertainment district near the Waterfront in downtown Santa Barbara. Our menus are locally sourced and responsibly grown, using the highest quality seasonal ingredients based on the abundant bounty of the Central Coast. Our food is served family style intended for sharing. Our space was designed with an urban style that integrates vintage and repurposed materials for a sophisticated yet casual sensibility with a nod to our neighborhood’s industrial past.”

“The Lark’s full bar features classic and modern craft cocktails using the finest in artisan spirits, mixers and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Our wine list highlights small Santa Barbara County producers as well as artisan winemakers from afar.”

We entice Chef Jason out of the busy Lark kitchen for a chat.


Show 363, March 7, 2020: Owner / Chef Cathy Pavlos of Provenance Previewing OC Restaurant Week

Cathy Pavlos of ProvenanceOrange 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!”

Proprietor / Executive Chef (Cathy Pavlos) of Newport Beach’s Provenance (Italian Soul & California Style) is again a participating restaurant in OC Restaurant Week. Provenance is featuring both a $20 Lunch menu as well as a $40 Dinner menu. Chef Cathy also is showcasing a spicy food menu item, a spicy chicken pasta. Chef Cathy joins us with an enticing menu preview.


Show 359, February 8, 2020: Napa Valley Grille in Westwood Village Part One

Brian Cousins of Napa Valley Grille“Combining local, seasonal ingredients, artisan products and an expansive selection of regional wine, Napa Valley Grille recreates the charm, bounty and palates distinctive of West Coast wine country in a sophisticated setting within Westwood Village.” Also available are several private dining rooms of varying sizes and attractive patio seating.

Napa Valley Grille serves lunch and dinner daily with Weekend Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Also known for their Daily Happy Hour with Bar Bites like Lamb Lollipops and Buttermilk Fried Chicken sliders. Chef Ben Diaz’s revamped menu will be launched in the coming weeks.

Veteran General Manager and Wine Director, Brian Cousins, and newly arrived Executive Chef Ben Diaz are our guests.


Show 354, January 4, 2020: Executive Chef Vince Terusa, Selanne Steak Tavern, Laguna Beach Part Two

Vince Terusa of Selanne Steak TavernSelanne Steak Tavern, an upscale tavern and steak house, is located in a historic 1934 converted residence on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach serving modern American fare, a stellar wine collection, artisan cocktails and a range of beers in a light and airy ambiance. The various dining rooms include a warm tavern-style bar, a bistro-style wine room, a more formal upstairs and beautiful outdoor dining.”

“Selanne Steak Tavern, located at 1464 South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, opened in November 2013 and is owned by Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne and local Orange County businessman Kevin Pratt.”

“The discerning wine list is primarily focused on Napa cult wines as well as wines from other California vineyards, including chardonnays, cabernets, cabernet blends and pinot noirs. The list is also recognized for its collection of wines from Burgundy, France. Many of the list’s wines are highly allocated, low production, big-scoring selections. The list has wines by the glass, half bottles and large format selections for special celebratory meals. In addition, the champagne and sparkling list offers distinctive choices, many at guest-friendly prices.”

Selanne Steak Tavern was awarded the Golden Foodie Award for Best Wine Program 2019 for the second consecutive year at Orange County’s Golden Foodie Awards gala held September 29, 2019 at the Newport Beach Marriott.

“Offering a fresh interpretation of classic design, the restaurant is residential in style – infused with an element of whimsy. Materials throughout are influenced by the history and the beachfront appeal of Laguna Beach, with highlights such as slightly distressed wide planked oak wood floors, a color palette of muted grays, whites and cognacs and a rich mix of textures and materials to blend the old and new.”

Executive Chef Vince Terusa, who has been in the busy kitchen since the beginning, continues the sizzling conversation.