I learned to appreciate the art of cooking after meeting my fiancée, who just happens to be a chef. I had always appreciated carefully prepared cuisine and believed my palette was fairly advanced, but it wasn’t until I saw the passion, the somewhat psychotic attention to detail, and sheer devotion to a single dish that I began to understand the difference between eating a meal and respecting it. The following Chef’s tables offer an exclusive glance into the inner sanctum of the kitchen; from menu creation to mise en place and every culinary choreographed move thereafter, I hope you enjoy the show.
AnQi Gourmet Bistro
Cue the Mission Impossible theme song. AnQi’s private Chef’s table offers a sneak peek into the “Secret Kitchen” through a molecular window that turns opaque at any given moment. If that hasn’t sparked your interest, don’t forget the world famous Euro-Vietnamese menu featuring signature fusion food (including the legendary garlic noodles) from the prestigious An family. By mixing timeless family recipes with the latest in molecular gastronomy, AnQi offers a Molecular Prix Fixe menu guaranteed to expand any palette. Not quite ready to take a bite out of molecular cuisine? Sip on The Molecular Mary, a libation featuring Vodka with watermelon marbles, Tabasco infused celery, and clear tomato.
AnQi is located at 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, Calif., 714.557.5679
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
One might argue that nearly every table at The Winery could be considered a Chef’s table and they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. The open kitchen allows for all diners to enjoy an up-close-and-personal view of the inner workings of this renowned establishment. Chef Yvon Goetz is working the line or in front of it, ensuring a not a single dish leaves the kitchen without his stamp of approval. For diners seeking a more intimate Chef’s table, The Napa room has a private entrance, accommodates up to 24 guests, and comes with a menu custom made for individual parties.
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar is located at 2647 Park Ave., Tustin, Calif., 714.258.7600
Laguna Beach chefs are widely known for their superior cuisine and innovative cooking techniques with Chef Kevin Jerrold-Jones leading the pack. His culinary creations are a unique fusion of Polynesian and Asian with a slight Western influence and watching him carefully prepare each plate is almost as enjoyable as diving in to it. The most popular dish is the seared Ahi stuffed with Dungeness crab and avocado before being plated beside vibrant vegetables and Bamboo Sticky Rice. No wonder Chef’s Jerrold-Jones food has been dubbed “edible art.”
Tabu Grill is located at 2892 South Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, Calif., 949.494.7743
Studio at Montage Laguna Beach
Everything is extraordinary at the Montage resort in Laguna Beach and the fine dining is no exception. Studio offers a secluded Chef’s table that allows all 12 diners spacious elbow and breathing room. The ocean views are second to the culinary craftwork that Executive Chef Craig Strong is executing before your very eyes. Watching his fervent execution as he expertly slices the Hamachi sashimi or perfectly sears a scallop makes every bite a little more worthy.
Studio is located at 30801 Coast Hwy.. Laguna Beach, Calif., 949.715.6000
If you grew up in South County, chances are you’ve eaten at Roy’s. The Hawaiian fusion cuisine is simple yet flavorful and requires a well-trained, well-disciplined chef. After working under Roy Yamaguchi for years, Chef Edgar Agbayani was promoted to Executive Chef at Roy’s Newport and has brought “refreshed inspiration” to the kitchen. Diners enjoy watching Chef Agbayani’s attention to detail when mixing his signature herb rub for the crispy infused chicken, and are in awe of his plating techniques that are efficient, clean, and eye-catching.
Roy’s is located at 453 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, Calif., 949.640.7697