The long running Clay Oven in Irvine (26 years plus…) is the OC’s classic Indian (Northern cuisine) restaurant. It’s also a true family affair.
Geeta Bansal (our guest) is the proprietress / executive chef along with her husband, Praveen, who is the gracious proprietor / sommelier. Their son, Tarun, represents the 2nd generation active at Clay Oven.
One of their holiday treats (by special order) is a Tandoor Turkey. They sell out (over 250 birds) each Thanksgiving using four tandoor ovens. They are available by special order year-round. Just give them three days notice. The birds are skinless and marinated in an herb and spice blend. The juices are seared into the meat during the cooking process. The birds are incredibly moist when they come out of the tandoor oven.
Geeta’s unusual hobby is traveling the globe and interviewing high profile chefs in their native countries. These revealing interviews have been published in the OC Weekly, Orange County Register and, more recently, in her own blog (“Gastronome Geeta.”) Accredited, professional food journalists don’t have the unusual access Geeta enjoys!
In a teaching moment Chef Geeta also educates us on the ancient Hindu treatise of Ayruveda as it relates to food.
Chef Tal is the soft-spoken culinary force behind the elegant, Crossroads, in West Hollywood. This is white tablecloth, plant-based fare featuring Mediterranean-influenced small plates.
Chef Tal has cooked for very discriminating celebrities including Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres.
Tal stays away from the politics. If his food is not satisfying to all then he feels he has failed. His mantra is simply to suggest trying a little plant based fare (which is properly prepared) as an addition to your present diet.
Tal Ronnen’s reputation is such that a few years ago when “difficult to please” Las Vegas casino hotel mogul Steve Wynn wanted vegetarian dishes added to all his restaurant menus at both Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Tal was engaged to accomplish this working with superstar celebrity chefs. When the project was done not only was Mr. Wynn pleased but Chef Tal became friends with all the high-profile chefs he worked with at Wynn and they continue to stay in touch.