Dining with Dad Part 2
In case you missed Dining with Dad Part 1, we are asking local chef’s to share their Father’s Day culinary memories and meal recommendations for the special day.
Pascal Olhats / Café Jardin
Pascal Olhats is a culinary legend in Newport Beach. He owned and operated his Tradition by Pascal restaurant for 17 years, and his Brasserie Pascal at Fashion Island for five years before closing both of those to focus on catering and consulting, and on his charming restaurant at Sherman Library & Gardens called Café Jardin (many of the dishes are similar to those from his Brasserie menu).
His Father’s Day memories stem from growing up in France.
“I have several culinary memories with my dad, even so my Mom is the day to day chef,” recalls Pascal. “My Dad had his own specialties, like crab soup, pâtés and barbecue. He also liked fresh chestnuts roasted above the stove in an iron pan he took from my mom’s and perforated throughout to allowed the flame to do the roasting.”
“The main thing was to pick the chestnuts from the tall trees in our nearby forest, and for that he attached a hammer to a long rope and would throw it above our heads like a cowboy would do with a lasso. Of course I had to be careful to not let the hammer hit my head. However, once a chestnut with the entire shell (chestnuts in the wild are wrapped in a shell with multiple needles around it, like a sea urchin or a porcupine), so that was the end of the chestnut picking as I had to go to a doctor to have a few of the needles removed from my eye.”
“We also had barbecues. My dad made great brochettes (skewered) with diced lamb, diced kidney and chicken livers, and grilled herrings. A handyman, he made his own barbecues. Some were made from cut longwise metallic barrels, or simple built up with bricks and rocks. He always went crazy on the amount of wood he had to burn. Remember, meals are long in France.”
“One of my favorite memories was about 10 years ago when my wife, Chris, and my youngest daughter bought me a barbecue for Father’s Day. It could have been just a nice gift, but the beauty was that it came as a kit, and my daughter and I spent almost the entire day building it. That made it a perfect day together with a one on one challenge. The barbecue still works, and I remember that special day every time I light it up.”
John Ledbetter / Lark Creek
Chef John Ledbetter recently collaborated with Dave Miner on a private winemaker dinner featuring Miner wines. It’s just one of many special menus that John creates throughout the year, although his regular Lark Creek menu focused on seasonal, coastal-inspired cuisine is itself impressive.
“For a Father’s Day special, I usually do some sort of take on meat and potatoes—maybe a tomahawk rib eye, something that Dad wants,” says John. “We always do a special around Dad–today is my day and this is what I want.”
John has a three-year-old daughter, so he says the best present would be for him not to work on Father’s Day, but it’s a busy day in the restaurant for him.
“We always celebrate a day later,” he says. “After a long, busy day, I like to do something outside of work, something relaxing—just hang out and be with my family.”
Chef Cathy Pavlos / Provenance
After the success of her Lucca Restaurant in Irvine, Chef Cathy opened Provenance last month in Eastbluff, serving wine country cuisine. She loves food as fresh as can be, and even has a garden on the restaurant’s patio where she picks ingredients to use in her dishes.
“My Dad was a simple man,” states Cathy. “I used to call him an ordinary hero. He was one of those guys who was just as happy with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as he was with prime beef—which he preferred to eat well done, much to my dismay. He was raised during the depression with the special mindset of that generation that your needs never exceeded your grasp. As he would have said, his Midwestern meat and potatoes diet was polished in Korea with the Army’s MRE’s and a Hershey Bar.
“My Dad was a challenge to cook for, not because he was so picky; rather he was too easy. No spice, no marinade, no sous vide, just give him a good old piece of meat (‘butterfly that, Cath, and make it well done’), some potatoes, very few green vegetables (well, maybe a couple of green beans…), a salad with iceberg lettuce and Thousand Island dressing, plus a Coke with lots of ice, and he was one happy guy. Add a piece of warm apple pie, or some rocky road ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, and he thought that he was in heaven. The only thing that would put that meal over the top for him was if Bonanza was on TV that night. Forget about sauces of any kind, he had no use for them. He was indeed a man of his generation: a quiet man, a man who knew what he wanted in life and got it.”