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Local Chefs Share Their Fall Favorites

October 10, 2019

If we had to dub any time of year the “cooking season,” it would be fall. (It’s all because of you, Thanksgiving). Now that it’s almost time to dust off our white dumpling-shaped chefs’ hats, we can’t help but wonder what the real pros think about the season. Like, do chefs love pumpkins as much as we do? Do they have a fail-safe Thanksgiving hack we should be implementing in our kitchens, stat? We were curious, so we asked them. Here, Newport Beach’s top chefs—Jose, Jon Blackford, Pascal Olhats—sing the praises of their favorite seasonal dishes, locally grown ingredients, food-and-drink pairings and so much more.

Chef Jose | Royal Hen

Blistered shishito peppers, brussel sprout Caesar and roasted bone marrow—those are the sort of noshes found at The Royal Hen, a Balboa Island gastropub where Chef Jose has helped shape a neighborhood gem that perfectly marries a relaxed pub atmosphere with inspired British fare.

The seasonal ingredient or dish I wait all year for is butternut squash agnolotti
When craving something sweet, I reach for Vanilla ice cream
On Thanksgiving Day, the first thing on my plate will be homemade tamales… I’m not a fan of turkey.
My favorite seasonal dessert to eat is pumpkin pie.
My favorite seasonal dessert to make is Apple Pie
A seasonal item that Orange County farms do best during fall is variety of squash.
The most underrated seasonal dish is mashed potatoes.
The most overrated seasonal dish is turkey in my opinion.
The best food and beverage pairing during fall is pot roast and a nice red wine.
My favorite pumpkin dish is pumpkin hummus with fresh-made chips that we serve at the restaurant.
Name your best kitchen hack when cooking for friends and family during the holidays. Getting my whole family involved in the cooking process.
The top three ingredients that should only be eaten in season are I think are only good in season squash and pumpkin.

Chef Jon Blackford | A Restaurant & CdM

There’s no denying that shepherding two different restaurant concepts is a tall order. But thanks to Chef Jon Blackford’s creativity and affinity for fresh and local fare, two inspired menus were born, both of which are fine answers to any foodie’s indulgent dreams.

 The seasonal ingredient or dish I wait all year for is corn.
When craving something sweet, I reach for Shelly’s Korova Cookie (Shelly Register, from A Market).
On Thanksgiving Day, the first thing on my plate will be turkey.
My favorite seasonal dessert to eat is pecan pie.
My favorite seasonal dessert to make is apple pie.
A seasonal item that Orange County farms do best during fall is hard squash.
The most underrated seasonal dish is anything with persimmons.
The most overrated seasonal dish is anything with pumpkin.
My secret ingredient in braises is pomegranate molasses.
The best food and beverage pairing during fall is sushi and Orion beer. It’s all year round!
My favorite pumpkin dish is nothing. I just don’t like pumpkin.
Name your best kitchen hack when cooking for friends and family during the holidays. Grill everything.
The top three ingredients that should only be eaten in season are corn, tomatoes, sugar snap peas.

Chef Pascal Olhats | Café Jardin at Sherman Library & Gardens

Chef Pascal Olhats shows his love for French and international cuisine at Cafe Jardin, a quaint outdoor bistro that touts a floral landscape and an equally flowery, well-planned menu. There, he gets to play with one of his passions—fresh herbs.

 The seasonal ingredient or dish I wait all year for is pumpkin creme brulee. I like to cook with pumpkin. It’s available for a very short time, and my customers ask for it year after year.

When craving something sweet, I reach for hot chocolate or spiced wine in front of a fireplace.
On Thanksgiving Day, the first thing on my plate will be red cabbage. It’s a side dish I really like. It’s braised, cooked with some onion, white wine and some chicken stock.
My favorite seasonal dessert to eat is pecan pie.
My favorite seasonal dessert to make is tarte tatin. For fall flavors, you can sprinkle some cinnamon, and it’s a fantastic dessert.
A seasonal item that Orange County farms do best during fall is fresh locally grown pumpkins.
The most underrated seasonal dish is (good) mashed potatoes. It complements all the food on your plate.
The most overrated seasonal dish is gravy. I’m not crazy about gravy.
My secret ingredient in a lot of dishes is fresh ground pepper.
The best food and beverage pairing during fall is hard cider. People need to start to try good hard cider. It will go very well with all your food on Thanksgiving.
My favorite pumpkin dish is pumpkin ravioli with fresh basil.
Name your best kitchen hack when cooking for friends and family during the holidays. A nice crock-pot or a nice Dutch oven.
The top ingredients that should only be eaten in season are pumpkins, chestnuts, tomatoes, strawberries, apples and pears.

Written by Mariam Makatsaria

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