Some of the Greatest Chefs in the World are found in Orange County, California.

Restaurant: Bluewater Grill  |  Restaurant Website

What is your first food memory?

I would say my first food memory is Christmas baking and helping with Thanksgiving dinner

Did you grow up in a cooking family?

Not really. Both my parents worked full-time jobs so most of our meals consisted of whatever was easiest on my mom -- which usually meant pasta which was fine by me.  I think I’m especially good with pasta for that reason.

Who has influenced your cooking the most?

I don’t think I can put my finger on one thing or person who has influenced me the most.  I would say that every restaurant I’ve worked at has had some sort of influence on how I cook today. Reading cookbooks and dining out are also very influential.

Why did you become a chef?

I wanted to create dishes that make sense and that people would enjoy.  It was as simple as that.

What did you want to be when you grew up?  A doctor.

If I weren’t a chef, I’d be:

A teacher – preferably one that teaches people to cook.

Who are your favorite chefs?

Josh Niland, Joshua Skenes and Dan Barber

Which seasonings don’t you respect?

None really because everything has its place

Which spices are underrated?

Middle Eastern and African spices.

Are there any culinary trends you like right now?

Seafood sustainability and traceability. They are at the core of what we do at Bluewater Grill and there only beginning to be understood by the general public.

Any trends you consider overrated?  Over-the-top donuts

What do you think is the next worthwhile food/dining trend?  

Kelp, sea lettuces, grains, no plastic in restaurants, continued traceability and even more of an emphasis on local and sustainable.

What food is your guilty pleasure?

Apple Fritters from Seaside Donuts in Newport Beach

Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to eat?

I’m pretty open to all new food but off-the-wall things like animal eyes are not my thing.

Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home? Chicken tacos

Your worst kitchen nightmare?

Our Ansul fire-protection system going off during an especially busy dinner.

Best cooking tip for a novice?

Remember that cooking in a restaurant is difficult. My best advice is to learn as much as you can in each place you work and store that knowledge for future use.

What’s your last meal on earth?  

90-day wet-aged prime ribeye with seared foie gras.

Give us one reason why Orange County’s food scene rocks.

Orange County has much more culinary talent than it did even 10 years ago which brings new ideas and techniques to the area.  Customers are demanding a higher level of expertise and the chefs are meeting that expectation.  It’s an exciting time to be an executive chef in the OC!

What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking?

Depends on my mood -- could be classic rock, hip hop, reggae or 90’s rock.

If you could cook for anyone who would it be?  My grandparents.

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?

I was once asked by a customer to blend up their lobster cobb, and I can’t remember the reason why.

What’s the best part about being a chef?  

The creation and final execution of a dish.  There is a certain satisfaction when you place an original dish in front of a customer, and they love the experience.

What’s the most challenging part of being a chef?  

For me, it is knowing how far to push the limits of creativity without alienating the people who helped me get us to where we are now.

Anything you’d like to share with the readers? 

If more OC residents tasted the fresh-off-the-boat seafood we serve at Bluewater Grill, either simply grilled or as part of a special recipe, there would be a lot more seafood lovers in Orange County.  A good piece of fish, expertly prepared, will change your life.

Just for fun, what is your favorite color?  Red