Some of the Greatest Chefs in the World are found in Orange County, California.
Who are your favorite chefs? Chef Ramzi Chouiery
Which seasonings don’t you respect?
That’s a difficult question to answer, but if I had to choose one I would say curry.
Which spices are underrated?
I think all spices are underrated.
Are there any culinary trends you like right now? Hummus
Any trends you consider overrated? Poke and Korean BBQ
What food is your guilty pleasure? Lamb chops
Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to eat? Monkey brain
Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home? Labne
Your worst kitchen nightmare?
Losing all of your tools and not having everything you need readily available. Working a busy dinner rush and not being able to find anything
Best cooking tip for a novice? Learn proper knife handling!
What’s your last meal on earth? Zrb
Give us one reason why Orange County’s food scene rocks.
So many different cultures and so many dining options. Each one has their own style and there aren’t too many restaurants that are the same as one another.
What’s your favorite type of music to listen to when cooking? Classic Middle Eastern
If you could cook for anyone who would it be?
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker (RIP) and the whole cast of Fast & Furious (I am not even joking)
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?
I had two different occasions where one lady asked for her chicken rare and another asked for her salmon rare too. I had to have the server go back and warn her of what they were requesting.
What’s the best part about being a chef?
The satisfaction when everyone is enjoys my food and when they are happy!
What’s the most challenging part of being a chef?
Being prepared for large rushes that you did not anticipate.
What is your first food memory?
Zrb ~ Back in the 70’s, we would cook a whole entire lamb underground by digging a hole and stuffing the lamb in the hole. We would cover the lamb with seasoning and throw vegetables in there too. We would then cover the lid with mud as to not let any of the heat out, and leave it there for a few hours. Then when it was finished, we would wash over the lid with water to push away any excess dirt, and what you would end up with is the most delicious and tender lamb.
Did you grow up in a cooking family?
Yes, I did. My father and mother had a very similar restaurant
Who has influenced your cooking the most?
It was equal between my father and my mother and my most favorite teacher who has since passed away.
Why did you become a chef?
Being a chef is my life’s passion and my life’s work. I wanted to also introduce my culture’s food to people and improve the way our food is viewed by people. Through being a chef, I have the ability to familiarize and popularize this type of food to people here. It is important to me.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a chef when I grew up.
If I weren’t a chef, I’d be: I would probably be a food and beverage manager for a big company or maybe work for a culinary school.
Restaurant: D’Vine Mediterranean | Restaurant Website
Chef Walid Alarja