Show 350, December 7, 2019: Restaurateur Russ Bendel and Chef-Partner Jared Cook – Ironwood, Olea & Vine Part One

Chef Jared CookRestaurateur Russ Bendel (and partners) are the respected operators of Ironwood (Laguna Hills), Olea (Newport Beach) and Vine (San Clemente) in Orange County. Russ was awarded Restaurateur of the Year honors at this year’s Golden Foodie Awards. Ironwood has a new lounge. Russ joins us with Chef-Partner Jared Cook to chat about the Holiday menus at Ironwood, Olea & Vine.

Ironwood features a full bar, open kitchen, and an enclosed outdoor heated patio with views of the Saddleback Mountains. It offers South Orange County residents a fine dining night out with a complete food and wine experience.”

“OLEA, named for a genus of trees that flourish in warm and tropical regions, is a European twist on the Napa/Sonoma-inspired cuisine and spirits at Vine, the restaurant Bendel assumed ownership of seven years ago.” The restaurant is characterized as Wine Country Cuisine at a chef-driven American bistro.

VINE is an all-encompassing Wine Country dining experience, a full bar, featuring craft cocktails, Open Kitchen, and a Semi-Private Dining table in our Wine Room. It offers South Orange County residents a fine dining night out with a complete food and wine experience.

VINE highlights Wine Country Cuisine influenced by the Napa Valley and other notable wine producing regions. In addition, the wine selection includes more than 100 bottles – more than 25 of which are available by the glass.”

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Show 350, December 7, 2019: Restaurateur Russ Bendel and Chef-Partner Jared Cook – Ironwood, Olea & Vine Part Two

Russ Bendel of Ironwood, Olea and VIneRestaurateur Russ Bendel (and partners) are the respected operators of Ironwood (Laguna Hills), Olea (Newport Beach) and Vine (San Clemente) in Orange County. Russ was awarded Restaurateur of the Year honors at this year’s Golden Foodie Awards. Ironwood has a new lounge.

Russ Bendel was born and raised in Philadelphia and relocated with his mother, father, and sister to California when he was a child. Russ grew up in the restaurant industry and always knew it was in his blood at an early age.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from The Collins College at Cal Poly Pomona with an emphasis on Restaurants and Business Management. During that time, Russ worked with Bloomin Brands Restaurant Group for 15 years, six years with Outback Steakhouse and nine years with Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. He was promoted to partner of the flagship Newport Beach location at the age of 25, youngest ever in company history.

Chef-Partner Jared Cook was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from Western Culinary Institute in Portland Oregon, he relocated to Southern California. Since then Jared worked in restaurants such as French 75 in Laguna Beach, Chat Noir in Costa Mesa, and was promoted to Executive Chef at the Crow Bar and Kitchen, in addition to working at Vine Restaurant & Bar for the third time as a Cook, Sous Chef, and now Executive Chef.

Russ again joins us with Chef-Partner Jared Cook to continue their chat about the Holiday menus at Ironwood, Olea & Vine.

 

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Show 349, November 30, 2019: Jonathan Blackford, Corporate Executive Chef, River Jetty Restaurant Group Part One

Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant and CDM RestaurantHollywood producer McG and restaurateur Jordan Otterbein, River Jetty Restaurant Group partners known for acclaimed A Restaurant and A Market in Newport Beach, California, debuted their new Corona del Mar dining concept, CdM in early March. It’s dinner nightly and is already, consistently, a tough reservation. Corporate Executive Chef Jonathan Blackford’s creative American menu highlights unique, hand selected ingredients in each of his flavorful dishes, drawing influence from America’s melting pot of cuisines.

Think house-baked Parker House Rolls with beurre de baratte and Roasted Lamb Ribs with garam masala, Greek yogurt and cucumber salad.

We spirit Chef Jonathan out of his busy kitchen for an update.

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Show 349, November 30, 2019: Jonathan Blackford, Corporate Executive Chef, River Jetty Restaurant Group Part Two

Jonathan Blackford of A Restaurant and CDM RestaurantHollywood producer McG and restaurateur Jordan Otterbein, River Jetty Restaurant Group partners known for acclaimed A Restaurant and A Market in Newport Beach, California, debuted their new Corona del Mar dining concept, CdM in early March. It’s dinner nightly and is already, consistently, a tough reservation. Corporate Executive Chef Jonathan Blackford’s creative American menu highlights unique, hand selected ingredients in each of his flavorful dishes, drawing influence from America’s melting pot of cuisines.

Larger plates include Mangalitsa Pork Chop with potato pancakes, celery root puree and Hungarian braised red cabbage.

A hidden feature of CdM is “Under CdM.” It’s a speakeasy style room located downstairs from the CdM Restaurant. The cocktail list there (under the direction of Bar Manager Ravin Buzzell) is separate and distinct from the cocktail program at the restaurant. Seating is on a first -come, first – served basis. To better accommodate guests the full CdM menu is now available at Under CdM.

Newly debuted above CdM is “The Apartment,” a private event space that can accommodate up to 20 seated guests. It, conveniently, has its own separate entrance.

 

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Show 340, September 7, 2019: Taco Rosa’s Ivan Calderon Previewing the 7th Annual “Battle of the Tequileros”

Ivan Calderon of Taco RosaTaco Rosa, Chef Ivan Calderon’s upscale Mexican restaurant in Newport Beach, will host its 7th Annual Battle of the Tequileros on Sunday, September 22nd from 4-8 p.m. Bringing together 34 different tequila and mezcal brands, the celebratory event will benefit Operation of Hope Worldwide, a local non-profit providing free, life-changing surgeries and health care for children and adults in under-served areas of the world, while creating a self-sustaining program of hope through education.”

“As the most diverse tequila tasting in Southern California, the event gives guests an unparalleled opportunity to experience the unique nuances between a variety of tequilas and mezcals. Guests can also enjoy tray-passed tapas-style bites from the Taco Rosa kitchen, exciting giveaways, and live music performed by The Agave Bros. of Laguna Beach. Guests will embark on a tasting journey through which they will determine winners in four categories: Best Tequila, Best Mezcal, Best Cocktail, and Best Booth Presentation.”

“Over the past seven years, we have seen tremendous growth of Battle of the Tequileros, with more attendees and tequila houses. We’re thrilled to provide tequila enthusiasts with an exciting and educational event which also allow us to support local organizations with a global impact,” comments Chef Ivan Calderon of Taco Rosa. “We are proud to once again partner with Operation of Hope Worldwide, an organization whose global reach has impacted, and even saved the lives of thousands of people throughout the developing world.”

Tickets for the 21-and-over event are priced at $100 and offer guests all-inclusive access to tequila and mezcal cocktails and samples, live music, and tapas. Tickets can be purchased by calling 949.720.0980.

Chef Ivan graciously uncorks the premium tequila for us.

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Show 332, July 13, 2019: Fable & Spirit, Newport Beach with Proprietors Darren and Jean Coyle

Darren and Jean Coyle of Fable and Spirit“Adding to the growing culinary scene that can be found in and around Newport Beach’s Lido Marina, Fable & Spirit launched in June on the Newport Peninsula. The restaurant is the 3rd in the region for husband-and-wife team Darren and Jean Coyle, who previously brought Dublin 4 Gastropub and Wineworks for Everyone to Orange County. Their newest establishment celebrates the Spirit and heritage of the Irish people, and the setting will share the many Fairytales (Fables) of Mythological Ireland, complete with heroes, queens and goddesses.”

“With a menu curated by Executive Chef David Shofner, this sophisticated and captivating neighborhood restaurant presents a high energy, yet refined dining experience and setting that plays into Irish fairytale whimsy.”

“My dream is for Fable & Spirit to become that favorite neighborhood restaurant known for its imaginative, progressive and delicious from-scratch signature food and drink creations. I want our guests to thoroughly enjoy the best that life has to offer with their friends and family,” comments Darren Coyle, who draws from his own upbringing in County Mayo and Dublin 4, Ireland. “When our guests pass through the Georgian gold-colored Dublin Door, they will be warmly welcomed and introduced to some of the best of food, drink and good times that Orange County has to offer. While our kitchen and bar take a serious approach to all things culinary and craft, we want to share the spirit and magic of our rich Irish heritage.”

Darren and Jean Coyle are our guests.

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Show 332, July 13, 2019: Fable & Spirit, Newport Beach with Sommelier Ali Coyle

Sommelier Ali CoyleAdding to the growing culinary scene that can be found in and around Newport Beach’s Lido Marina, Fable & Spirit launched in June on the Newport Peninsula. The restaurant is the 3rd in the region for husband-and-wife team Darren and Jean Coyle, who previously brought Dublin 4 Gastropub and Wineworks for Everyone to Orange County. Their newest establishment celebrates the Spirit and heritage of the Irish people, and the setting will share the many Fairytales (Fables) of Mythological Ireland, complete with heroes, queens and goddesses.

Fable & Spirit is a true Coyle Family affair. Daughter, Ali, is the Sommelier and son, Drew, is the Director of Spirits.

“The wine program is of note, with a forward- thinking ideology that presents a list with more than just popular wineries, but also lesser-known quality wines. Ali first became intrigued by the world of wine at the age of 17, when her parents opened Wineworks for Everyone.”

“Drew’s rich bar program focuses on an extensive selection of whiskeys, gins and spirits, and liqueurs to present serious cocktails. These complement the bar’s more colorful creations, including the pretty-in-pink ‘Friends In High Places’ with Ford’s Gin, Pomp & Whimsy, raspberry syrup, lemon, lavender water and egg white; the Celtic green ‘Morrigan’s Dream’ with Hendrick’s Gin, pressed celery, pineapple, and chartreuse; and a carrot-orange libation, playfully named ‘Hares Looking at You’, with Wheatley Vodka, Canton Ginger, pressed carrot, lemon and basil.”

“As important as locally sourced, fresh ingredients are to our kitchen, they are equally important to a perfectly designed cocktail,” emphasizes Drew. “Everything but the spirit is hand squeezed, pressed, or infused in-house daily.”

Ali Coyle join the conversation about Fable & Spirit touching on both the bar program as well as the carefully selected wine options.

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Show 306, January 12, 2019: William Lewis, Founding Partner, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, Newport Beach

Sir William Lewis of the Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar in TustinThe upcoming Newport Beach Restaurant Week is a 14-day dining event that takes place January 14 -27, 2019. The event showcases Newport Beach as one of Orange County’s premier dining destinations offering diners a wide variety of culinary experiences. Participating restaurants offer special prix-fixe menus with lunches available for just $10, $15, $20, or $25, and dinners for $20, $30, $40 or $50.

Founding Partner William Lewis (also the resident wine guru) of The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar (a participating restaurant in Newport Beach Restaurant Week) joins us with a preview.

As William points out there are few restaurants in Newport Beach who can rival their Newport Bay view! Their elaborate, 4-course dinner menu priced at $50 is a great value. The guest has choices within every course. Think Zinfandel Braised Angus Beef Short Rib as the Main…

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Show 302, December 15, 2018: Valentino Ristorante, Santa Monica

Valentino Santa MonicaAfter an incredible 46-year run Piero Selvaggio’s trendsetting Valentino Ristorante will serve its last dinner on New Year’s Eve.

Valentino is one of the pioneers of modern Italian food in Los Angeles. Valentino also is properly credited with introducing premium Italian wines as part of a deep cellar along with polished, unfussy wine service.

Many talented chefs with very successful restaurants of their own polished their skills earlier in their careers in the Valentino kitchen. This includes James Beard Award-winning Chef Luciano Pellegrini, Angelo Auriana (Factory Kitchen) and Steve Samson (Rossoblu and Sotto.)

Piero launches a new restaurant on the Bay (Mariner’s Mile) in Newport Beach (Louie’s) early in the New Year with El Cholo Proprietor Ron Salisbury. We’ll report on it.

Our own West Coast Prime Meats Meathead, Terry Hanks, along with Restaurateur Piero Selvaggio share some engaging memories.

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Show 300, December 1, 2018: Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, 20th Anniversary, Stephen Blevins, Director of Wines

Steven BlevinsTwenty years ago Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar launched at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. It’s been a huge success. As they have branched over the years to include 70 domestic restaurants a signature for them has become their carefully curated wine program. Each Fleming’s has a part of their wine list with the hand-picked selections of that location’s Operating Partner.

Two highly experienced restaurateurs had a vision of designing a steakhouse that would deliver a stylish and contemporary dining experience. Fleming’s was created from this vision by Paul Fleming, founder of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and Bill Allen III, a leading restaurant and hospitality executive.

Our guest with the well-traveled corkscrew is Stephen Blevins, Fleming’s Director of Wines who was previously the Operating Partner at the Flagship Newport Beach Fleming’s.

Stephen’s passion project has been securing for Fleming’s celebrated winemaker Dave Phinney’s new release, 8 Years in the Desert by Orin Swift. It’s a California Red Bland of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah and small percentages of other red varietals. Of course there is a story.

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