Show 196, November 5, 2016: Executive Chef Chris Aguirre, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Coronado

Chris AguirreThe Loews Coronado Bay Resort is situated on a private 15-acre peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Bay. Executive Chef Chris Aguirre joined the property earlier this year in March. Most recently he was at the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco.

He oversees all of the resort’s restaurants including Mistral Restaurant, the Market Café, Market to Go, the Cays Lounge, the Cantina Restaurant, banquets and room service. We’ll meet him.

Aguirre has deep roots in the restaurant industry. His grandmother ran a steakhouse in Texas during the Great Depression along with a speakeasy – so it could be said he was born for the culinary world. Growing up in Los Angeles with three brothers, he developed a passion for food at a young age. “We were all big eaters and loved to hold cooking competitions to see who could make the best dish in the house,” recalls Aguirre. His dad, a foodie himself, always held the position of official “taste tester.”

Aguirre found himself in professional kitchens at the young age of 15. After high school he soon realized his true passion was in the kitchen. He graduated from the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles, and worked at a variety of Southern California restaurants including the St. Regis Hotel before moving to Texas.

There, he worked closely with Jean Georges Vongerichten at Bank – a formative experience in his culinary career. “Working with Jean Georges greatly influenced my style of cooking. I believe in sourcing the best ingredients you can, and from there, just keeping it simple – allowing the true natural flavors shine through,” said Aguirre.

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Show 167, April 9, 2016: Executive Chef Amar Santana, Broadway by Amar Santana & Vaca

Amar Santana at the Top Chef FinaleExecutive Chef Amar Santana (a C-CAP graduate) is the Proprietor of Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach and the new Vaca in Costa Mesa. Both restaurants have highly innovative beverage programs to compliment the stellar cuisine.

Chef Amar was also one of two finalists on Bravo’s Emmy-Award winning Top Chef Season 13 which just concluded with a two-part finale in Las Vegas. Amar battled Chef Jeremy Ford, the Chef de Cuisine of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Matador Room in Miami. In a very close finale Chef Jeremy edged out Chef Amar for the title of “Top Chef.”

Gail Simmons, one of the “Top Chef” regular judges, has an insightful post on the “Top Chef” Finale (dated April 6th) in the blog section of the “Top Chef” area of Bravo’s Web site. It explains, course by course, the judging for the Finale.

Also OC Weekly’s Anne Marie Panoringan penned an entertaining weekly recap of each episode of “Top Chef” Season 13 with an emphasis on covering Chef Amar. You can find these archived pieces on ocweekly.com. Search on the site for Anne Marie Panoringan and “Top Chef.”

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.

Chef Amar is our very special guest.

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Show 3: October 20, 2012: Barbara Fairchild Part One

Barbara Fairchild’s (ex-Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit Magazine) commentary on her just completed dining adventures in Kauai.

Barbara worked her way down the Garden Island from North (rustic Hanalei and the very upscale Princeville) to South (resort area of Poipu.)

In Hanalei (which Barbara found charming) she recommends Chef Jim Moffat’s small plates Bar Acuda (just celebrating their 7th anniversary,) Hanalei Coffee Roasters, and the seafood and vegetarian-centric Postcards Café. For that one, very special fine-dining experience Barbara suggests Kauai Grill at the St. Regis Princeville Resort. It’s from New York –based celebrity Chef Jean-George Vongerichten. French flair with accent of Hawaii.

A must stop on the way South is the new Garden Café at Common Ground in Kilauea. It’s a large farm-to-table, model sustainable operation with crops grown on site. Also in the area is the iconic, roadside burger joint, Duane’s Ono-Char Burger. The island’s famous & colorful wild chickens will join you for al fresco dining.

In the area of Lihue, Barbara discovered the casual Feral Pig Pub & Diner. It’s a real find! The show-stopper is their Kauai Cubano sandwich with Kalua pork and ham!

Near Poipu is a new development including The Shops at Kukuiula. Two famous practitioners of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine have restaurants there. Chef Jean-Marie Josselin operates Josselin Tapas Bar & Grill which gets excellent reviews from Barbara and Chef Peter Merriman owns Merriman’s Fish House and the more casual Downstairs Cafe. There is also a Lappert’s Ice Cream & Coffee parlor there. Sounds like a week’s worth of appealing dining options in one beautiful spot.

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Show 3: October 20, 2012: Barbara Fairchild Part Two

Barbara Fairchild’s (ex-Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit Magazine) commentary on her just completed dining adventures in Kauai.

Barbara worked her way down the Garden Island from North (rustic Hanalei and the very upscale Princeville) to South (resort area of Poipu.)

In Hanalei (which Barbara found charming) she recommends Chef Jim Moffat’s small plates Bar Acuda (just celebrating their 7th anniversary,) Hanalei Coffee Roasters, and the seafood and vegetarian-centric Postcards Café. For that one, very special fine-dining experience Barbara suggests Kauai Grill at the St. Regis Princeville Resort. It’s from New York –based celebrity Chef Jean-George Vongerichten. French flair with accent of Hawaii.

A must stop on the way South is the new Garden Café at Common Ground in Kilauea. It’s a large farm-to-table, model sustainable operation with crops grown on site. Also in the area is the iconic, roadside burger joint, Duane’s Ono-Char Burger. The island’s famous & colorful wild chickens will join you for al fresco dining.

In the area of Lihue, Barbara discovered the casual Feral Pig Pub & Diner. It’s a real find! The show-stopper is their Kauai Cubano sandwich with Kalua pork and ham!

Near Poipu is a new development including The Shops at Kukuiula. Two famous practitioners of Hawaiian Regional Cuisine have restaurants there. Chef Jean-Marie Josselin operates Josselin Tapas Bar & Grill which gets excellent reviews from Barbara and Chef Peter Merriman owns Merriman’s Fish House and the more casual Downstairs Cafe. There is also a Lappert’s Ice Cream & Coffee parlor there. Sounds like a week’s worth of appealing dining options in one beautiful spot.

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