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

Shaved Heirloom Carrot & Fennel Salad, Za’atar Sherry Vinaigrette, Dates, Candied Pecans, Cilantro, Kumquat, Roasted Chile Yogurt

What is your first food memory?

Family Gatherings, we were a family who made a very big deal about being together and eating around the Holidays. My Grandma bakes up a storm, and she still does a great job and makes outstanding cookies.

Did you grow up in a cooking family?

Sort of? No one cooked professionally, but food was a lot of my family’s’ gift to the world.

Who has influenced your cooking the most?

It’s come from everywhere. I will say I still look up to Trey Foshee at Georges. A lot of great chefs have come through his kitchen and it has a certain reverence for the ingredient.

Why did you become a chef?

Being a Rockstar wasn’t working out... Honestly the appeal of creating something everyone loves and being able to make something that is someone’s favorite thing. It’s a job where your merit is very evident.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Roger Rabbit, I think.

If I weren’t a chef, I’d be:

Probably designing computer games or some other job where I get to build systems.

Who are your favorite chefs?

It’s a long list. I recently went to Spain to eat at the Roca brother’s restaurant, which is an obvious choice. I could give all the cliché answers like Rene Redzepi and Albert Adria because they have shaped modern dining so much, but really, I like guys like Paul Kahan in Chicago... guys who are looking to make an impact on the community they are in by just serving honest food.

Which seasonings don’t you respect?

Bad question. I guess truffle oil? Also, food coloring (but you don’t taste that.)

Which spices are underrated?

Not exactly a spice, but I feel like the importance of acid is understated by a lot of people.

Are there any culinary trends you like right now?

I like that diners are becoming more educated and demanding more of their dining experiences. I think that gives us a challenge as chefs and lets us spread our wings in a way.

Any trends you consider overrated?

I guess everything turning fast casual. It’s a very American thing, but I’m also a total sucker for it.

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

Everything cultural and soulful. Like I said diners are becoming a lot more educated than they were even a two years ago. Shows like Chef’s Table on Netflix are putting a lot of spotlight on what “cuisine” is. People want a connection with their food which is why we are starting to see people latching on to the story behind food, and there is no better way to portray that story than a personal connection.

What food is your guilty pleasure? The Del.

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

I’m not a huge fan of brains. Really anything with the texture of snot isn’t really that appealing.

Your favorite quick meal to prepare at home?

Pasta and some sort of pan sauce.

Your worst kitchen nightmare?

Like, my second year of cooking I dropped a 22qt of Bechamel in a 8x8’ walk-in cooler. Basically, think cream sauce up to your ankles and not having any clue on how to clean it up.

Best cooking tip for a novice?

Be confident in your use of salt and pepper. Also, don’t move stuff in a pan too much, it’ll never sear that way.

What’s your last meal on earth?  

I think I like too many things to answer this well. Probably something homecooked, maybe the bacon potato soup my mom used to make. Something to feel comforted.

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

It’s young. Orange country has a lot of potential and a lot of up and coming chefs. Really the sky's the limit.

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

Prep: Metal. Actually on the line? Music is distracting, but I do find myself humming terrible 90s pop songs.

If you could cook for anyone who would it be?

It’s going to sound lame, but really anyone who helped me get where I am today. A lot of people make an impact on you as you come up, and they may not even know it… It would be a cool way to show people they mean something to you.

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

I don’t really keep track of stuff like that. I do remember a vegan omelet being ordered once, everyone involved in that on was pretty confused.

What’s the best part about being a chef?

Your work is who you are. People know you for it, and you get to own it. As I said earlier also being able to be the best part of someone’s day (though we are just a small part of what goes into a restaurant.) Also, being able to grow and run a team of cooks is very rewarding and fun.

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

It’s not a job that stops when you walk out the door if you want to succeed its sun up to sun down. We all know that’s what we signed up for, but sometimes you forget just what it takes. 

Grilled Spanish Octopus, Black Garlic Romesco, Crispy Potato, Charred Frisee, Castelvetrano & Chile Vinaigrette, Lemon Pureef

Restaurant: The Country Club  |  Restaurant Website