Are you cooking, baking, or just plain eating your way through quarantine? I’m doing all three, depending on the weather. Whether you live with a home cook, are pretty savvy in the kitchen, or new to cooking, a little inspiration is always welcome after making the same dishes for six weeks. Below are a mix of local and regional personalities, ready to show you how they get recipes done via their social media channels.
Orange County Favorites
Founded by a Food Network Chopped champion. I remember when chef Rachel Klemek’s sole location was tucked away along Sky Park Circle by the airport. She has since expanded to Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, and San Diego. Her Costa Mesa branch off Bristol is the only spot open at the moment.
A recipe for buttermilk scones was shared on their Instagram account on March 23. Berry galette, chocolate oatmeal cookies, and sourdough loaves soon followed. What prompted the tutorials? Klemek said, “Since opening Blackmarket Bakery, I’ve often held hands-on classes at our bakery, or taught baking and pastry at Cypress College. That education piece is very important to me – especially as someone who did not grow up baking, but came to it as an adult. Baking from scratch seemed magical to me as a child, so demystifying and democratizing the process seemed like the perfect thing to do with the extra time.”
Blackmarket’s instructional videos are laser focused on the baking process only, such as perfecting a challah bread braid. Pastry enthusiasts will absorb these silent movies like a sponge. Viewers never see a face, so I inquired about who was doing all the work, “It’s all me. My 21-year-old daughter has helped a bunch with filming and editing! She’s a furniture major at RISD, but is stuck at home.”
Klemek says there’s more to come once they decide on what dough to feature next. “We are playing around with some decorated cookie demos, and also testing a Texas chocolate cake and a Boterkoek, a Dutch dessert I learned about at my first bakery job (20+ years ago). I’m also taking requests. ”
While in quarantine, she also has been experimenting with savory recipes. Her husband built a smoker, so they’ve been learning the art of smoking meats. In addition, she’s “trying to take the time to exercise every day to balance out all of the eating!”
For the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday, Rachel has DIY decorating cookie kits and a number of seasonal cakes and tarts planned. In addition to these treats, Blackmarket currently hawks cookie dough, all-purpose flour, sourdough starter, and sandwiches made to order. Online ordering is available, and their website now includes a designated section solely for recipes. The bakery is open daily.
Prior to quarantine, chef Pascal Olhats was instructing a weekly, hands-on classical French cooking course at Saddleback College. He’s best known for his two previous dining rooms, Tradition by Pascal restaurant in Newport Beach, and Pascal in San Juan Capistrano. These days, along with his teaching, he’s maintaining Corona del Mar’s Cafe Jardin inside Sherman Library and Gardens with chef Jessica Roy.
A recipe for salad Lyonnaise was originally posted on his Facebook page on March 13, a day before the chef’s birthday. It is hands down one of my favorite dishes.
Chef started posting after receiving a spark of inspiration. He recounts that the idea came to him on the day of the announcement of the stay home and business shutdown policy. “I was shopping at one of my favorite places for interesting foods that you can keep in your pantry for some time, World Market. When I got back in my car, a flash came to my mind. Why don’t I post a recipe every day on Facebook, and ask my friends to show me their preparations and open a Q & A?” said Pascal.
Since March 13, additional recipes shared on his Facebook account include bouillabaisse, french crepes with maple syrup, onion soup, thyme crusted sea bass, and much more.
“It has been working well, and it makes me happy to stay connected with the foodie world around us. It is a great way to stay connected with my patrons as well,” said Pascal. “I also did this for a therapeutic purpose. If you stay home, either alone or with your family or spouse, cooking a dish and a meal will help people to keep their minds away from the stressful news, and give you some planning to do every day.”
“As for Saddleback, I do miss it. However, colleagues and professors are helping me with my students by giving them assignments online, watching food and travel videos, and making reports. We are planning to do this in the fall semester, and cooking with social distancing as well.”
Cody has been associated with a lot of restaurants. Off the top of my head, there’s Grits, Nieuport 17, Hopscotch, and Wreckless. His bio accurately self-describes: “Chef, old school bartender, clown, theatre nerd, family man.” Cody’s most recent gig was as a sales rep for Chefs’ Warehouse.
April 3 was the first recipe sighting: cheddar biscuits. Then came bacon-wrapped meatloaf, enchiladas verde, steakhouse au gratin potatoes, and more comfort-driven calories and carbs than one could imagine. A single post includes ingredients (with possible substitutions), instructions, advice, prep videos, and of course, a money shot of Cody’s completed dish. With an $18 light bought from Walmart and a stand to hold his phone, he’s got it rigged to clip to every cabinet and countertop in his mother-in-law’s kitchen.
One day, Storts announced he was moving across the country to Nashville. A couple of weeks later, he resurfaced with his family in Idaho. There was a story to be told, so I requested a recap. “The plan was to relocate to Nashville, settle outside of town, and start fresh in an area where housing and life is not only affordable, but more conducive to raising our girls (and a boy coming in September). I was to head out on a transfer with Chefs’ Warehouse to take on the culinary scene in the city.” Training for CW’s meatpacking plants is based out of Cincinnati, and he was up there when the shutdown occurred, “It sent me back to the family in Cali and furloughed.”
They were caught in the trials and tribulations of relocation without a home in California nor Tennessee. “So we came up to Northern Idaho and are staying with my wife’s family to wait out shutdown, surrounded by trees and deer (which I’m bummed I haven’t cooked one yet). With everything still going on, the next plans are really still up in the air.” Note: All his knives, cookbooks, cookware, and recipes are still sitting in Tennessee, so everything he’s been up to has been strictly memory. He’s also using his noggin to conduct restaurant consulting for multiple clients from the home in Sagle, about 30 miles from the Canadian border.
Originally, Cody Storts began cooking and posting to pass the time. He hadn’t cooked in a professional kitchen for over a year, and he soon remembered how much he enjoyed cooking for just a family, “How easy and what minimal product it takes to really be able to play in the kitchen, creating quality, home-cooked meals.”
His new calling appears to be teaching folks how to feel more comfortable creating from scratch. Storts explains there’s no right or wrong way to go about cooking; how it’s not about the best ingredients all the time, but mostly about what is there and what else we can do with it, “So being up here in the sticks, where product is not the best of the best (and getting out takes some effort), I have been doing dishes that can be done from pretty much any store and in pretty much any kitchen. It’s super exciting seeing awesome home cooks posting their version of recipes I have put up.”
For something more interactive, check out OC Wine Mart & Tasting Bar’s virtual wine tasting and companion kits. Owner Julie Lim recently began this program, kicking things off with Violet Grgich of Grgich Hills a week ago.
Their next tasting is with Justin Vineyards on Saturday, May 9. Call or text 714-785-5451 to learn more and request your tasting pack. With locations in Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, and Orange, you can pick up or have it delivered.
Beyond the Orange Curtain
If trying to be on my phone less was a goal for 2020, then plans went completely off the rails after St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, I have infinitely more time to binge all things streaming and trending on social media platforms. Outside of the culinary connections I’m associated with, I discovered additional levels of teaching to the masses. From Michelin star decorated restaurateurs to the frontrunner of fast food chicken, below are additional resources to explore.
Link above is David Chang’s video about rice, and how not to use an InstantPot.
What he’s known for: Ugly Delicious on Netflix; Momofuku restaurant group
Remaining in New York, Chang is staying put at a friend’s residence with his family, which means he’s not cooking out of his kitchen. By remaining indoors, the household is dependent on grocery deliveries and packages from colleagues. And he’s been responsible for cooking every meal, every day in the household. In more recent posts, Chang’s camera phone videos have improved with editing, adding music, and all-telling narration. Keeping things real under the circumstances, David documents his method for keeping everyone fed, including alternatives to ingredients. Not afraid to call out cookware brands he isn’t happy with, such as Instant Pot for making rice, he added a @Normalpot account for critiquing kitchen gear and food stuff. Chang may be snarky and hard on himself at times, but aren’t we all?
Massimo Bottura – (Mostly) Italian cuisine on Instagram
What he’s known for: His name is synonymous with world-class Italian fare. He is also an author and co-founder of the non-profit Food for Soul, advocating equitable and healthy food systems. Last year, he launched a MasterClass for modern Italian cooking. He runs Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, considered to be one of the world’s best restaurants.
Around 8 p.m. local Italy time, chef Massimo Bottura does a recurring live broadcast on his Instagram account, with daughter Alexa helming camera duty. Parmigiano Reggiano sauce, pizza, tiramisu, and repurposing his leftovers from previous dishes are covered. Viewers will also discover he doesn’t limit dishes to his Italian roots, as evidenced by orange peel marmalade and hummus recipes. Live recordings have a 24-hour shelf life, but he also has many posts over IGTV. In his additional content, Bottura responds to Q&A and provides a glimpse behind the scenes prior to filming where the audience previews his mise en place. Massimo’s engaging presence in front of the camera is pure joy.
Chick fil-A: “Nightly Nuggets”
A chicken strip taquito video launched on April 4 by a member of CFA’s culinary team. Their goal: use favorite Chick fil-A menu items with commonly found pantry items to create easy dinners. A fast food version of Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Cooking? It certainly has the conceptual elements down. Honey glazed chicken and waffles, skillet kale crunch frittata, and even chicken cordon bleu have been featured. Their newest installment included a manager from Azusa, and was filmed entirely in Spanish. This was a risky, but creative way for CFA to remain relevant. Long-term, it would make a practical weekly series.
“The Chef Show” – Netflix
I’ve been binging this for the past two weeks out of sheer boredom, because I hadn’t realized that a series from the duo who made the movie “Chef” so believable (the cooking parts, at least) could concoct such delicious television. Each episode is under an hour, with a genuinely conversational flow. We should note that not all recipes have quantified and detailed instructions, but you’ll always view an animated ingredients list, as well as watch it being made. It’s also best to enjoy “The Chef Show” while noshing.
Movie director Jon Favreau and seasoned chef Roy Choi’s (of Kogi fame) relationship is akin to Padawan and Jedi Master. For maximum entertainment, we recommend the Dave Chang episode in Volume 1 and Seth Rogan episode in Volume 2. Wolfgang Puck requesting morels in his omelet in Volume 3 is the stuff reality shows are made of.
New Openings and Other News
One would imagine that a new business wouldn’t consider opening their doors during quarantine. However, Porch & Swing did exactly that a week ago in Irvine. Located in the former Mick’s Karma Bar spot off Main, P&S specializes in Southern hospitality, with a limited weekday-only menu for the time being. Fried chicken sandwiches, biscuits served alongside yuzu peach honey, and roasted pork jowl with creamy grits come from the kitchen led by chef Justin Werner. A transplant from New York, he has worked at Craft, Per Se, and Corton. After an internship at Noma, he relocated to Orange County, most recently at Playground DTSA. While not currently serving cocktails, lead bartender Andrew Parish arrives by way of Charleston, with the last ten years spent in the LA area, and a couple of local stints around Tustin’s Central Bar and Mission Viejo’s Dry Society. Find their comfort cuisine at 2010 Main Street, Irvine
Fountain Valley Fire Department with their donuts from Glee. Photo courtesy Shawn Cao.
Kudos to Glee Donuts & Burgers in Fountain Valley and Anaheim for showing support to medical professionals and first responders. We learned about their goal to donate up to 1,000 donuts this week, and inquired about their generous deliveries. Recipients included Fountain Valley Police Department, Fountain Valley Fire Department, Orange Coast Medical Center, West Anaheim Medical Center, Fountain Valley Medical Center, and UCI Medical Center. With more deliveries scheduled this week, owner Shawn Cao, “We feel the need to give back to the communities to thank all the frontline workers who are risking their lives every day during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are the ones carrying us through this crisis, and we must ensure their efforts and sacrifice are appropriately recognized.”
Chef Ross Pangilinan’s first foray on his own was Mix Mix Kitchen Bar in Downtown Santa Ana. Then, he reunited with the South Coast neighborhood with Terrace by Mix Mix. Over the weekend, chef’s third endeavor began its soft opening phase at Long Beach Exchange. ReMix Kitchen Bar is similar to his first concept in that their bar is separate from the majority of dining space. Diners familiar with his signature flavors will recognize a number of dishes, such as pork cheek adobo, soft egg raviolo, and chicharrones with spicy vinegar. We also spotted a familiar face in Dasy Munoz, his head bartender, shaking things up behind the stick. Chef de Cuisine (and Long Beach local) Devin Meyer will be manning the kitchen as Pangilinan rotates between properties, and he’ll also play a collaborative role in expanding ReMix’s established menu. Current operating hours are Friday and Saturday, 4:30-7:30 p.m. for curbside pick-up. Visit them at 3860 Worsham Ave.
Anne Marie Panoringan is the food columnist for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.