Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Features Several Talented Local Chefs
Photo Credit Pencilbox Studios
The Stars Come Out at Daytime
Plenty of Newport Beach events are of the “see and be seen” variety. The Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival excels at emphasizing the “see” part of that equation. There’s copious amounts of edible and drinkable deliciousness to be had at the fifth annual fete, but such indulgence is only half the fun. The other half is seeing the abundance of talent poised to grace the courtyard at the Newport Beach Civic Center October 6th and 7th.
It won’t be exactly tough to spot someone cool. After all, a healthy chunk of last season’s Top Chef contestants will be on hand. But you don’t have to be a celebrity chef aficionado to recognize culinary stardom. Some of Newport Beach’s most esteemed chefs will be serving a host of sumptuous bites both afternoons. There are so many participants, in fact, it may help to have a scorecard at the ready, so you know who to look for upon arrival.
We can help you out. What follows is a list of the esteemed local chefs that you’ll be able to encounter during the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival. The exact bites they’ll be preparing is being kept under wraps, but that’s not a big deal. What is known, is that you’re going to have grand time tasting their food at this special shindig. (Chefs listed in alphabetical order)
Andy Arndt – Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa: This luxury hotel near Fashion Island is a striking place to hang out at lunch or dinner. Arndt, who serves as Executive Chef for the hotel’s flagship venue Hook & Spear as well as The Lounge at Hook & Spear, makes sure the property isn’t just a pretty face. For more than 20 years, he’s cultivated a strong reputation for delivering sumptuous bites of fresh, seasonal cuisine to the masses.
Jared Cook – Olea: Scores of Newport Beach foodies rejoiced when the team behind South OC gems Vine and Ironwood opened their first Newport Beach venue in 2017. Cook’s exceptional take on contemporary California-kissed fare dubbed “Wine Country Cuisine” leaves no doubt such happy buzz was justified.
Jean-Pierre Dubray – The Resort at Pelican Hill: As Executive Chef, Dubray is the engine that drives the culinary program behind this gorgeous Newport Coast luxury property. He excels at keeping venue restaurants like Andrea, Coliseum Pool & Grill, and Pelican Grill all on point. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to have his tableside risotto, you also know that he’s got some serious chops in the kitchen, too.
Yvon Goetz – The Winery Restaurant: It’s simply not possible to walk away from Goetz’s booth unhappy. The highly acclaimed Executive Chef knows how to keep things fun and lively. In fact, there’s a decent chance you may spot him dancing at his culinary kiosk. You may also be compelled to bust a move after you indulge in whatever contemporary bite he and his team serve you.
Rachel Haggstrom – Balboa Bay Resort:This Mariner Mile property is indeed a resort and not just an exclusive club. If you aren’t aware of this, and you haven’t eaten at their restaurants, you’ve been missing out. You’ll have a chance to taste precisely what’s been absent from your palate when you stop by Haggstrom’s booth and sample her sublime contemporary fare.
Brian Huskey – Tackle Box: Not all of the festival’s Top Chef participants will be from the most recent season. Huskey was on Season 11 of the popular Bravo culinary competition, and the brilliant seafood-centric fare he whips up at his casual Corona Del Mar “snack shack” more than validates his spot on the show.
Marc Johnson – Pelican Grill: Stop into this restaurant on the grounds of Pelican Hill Resort, and you enter a space perfectly balanced between the refined and the approachable. Johnson’s upscale, but not-too-upscale, contemporary fare keeps the scales in check rather well. You can expect a similar sense of epicurean equilibrium at the festival.
David Man – Fashion Island Hotel: Man oversees a lot of the big-ticket culinary shenanigans that go down at Fashion Island Hotel. Ask anyone who has been privy to these types of events, and they’ll tell you his food is nothing short of sublime. Better yet, drop by his booth and see for yourself.
Florent & Amelia Marneaut – Marche Moderne: Orange County culinary duos don’t get more renowned than this husband and wife team. You probably already know how they operate; Florent is the Executive Chef, and Amelia is the Pastry Chef. Both are on equal footing in terms of excellence. If you have yet to reacquaint yourself with this outstanding one-two punch since they relocated their restaurant to the Newport Coast, the festival provides you with a chance to do just that.
Nobu Matsuhisa – Nobu: There’s no denying that Matsuhisha’s eponymous restaurant is one of the sexiest restaurants in Orange County. While such sensuality is driven by elegant interior aesthetics and a breathtaking elevated view of Newport Harbor, Matushisha’s innovative Japanese fare also plays an enormous role in creating the alluring vibe.
Troy Mendoza – Andrea Ristorante: It takes a special talent to deliver a culinary experience worthy of Andrea’s extraordinary reputation. It’s that unique talent that Mendoza possesses in abundance. His carefully crafted Italian fare has a tendency to elevate the restaurant’s already high level of sophistication, which is no small feat.
Matthew Mintzias – Pizzeria Mozza: Several years after it opened along Mariner’s Mile, this Los Angeles transplant still carries a celebrity-like sheen. One of the big reasons it still shines so brightly is Mintzias’ commitment to carefully creating indulgent pizzas and sumptuous Italian fare, ensuring its success is not built solely on name recognition.
Candace Nelson – Sprinkles: It wouldn’t be a proper food event without a classic dessert like a cupcake. Of course, Nelson doesn’t make simple versions of the popular hand-held sweet. In her hands, the humble treat practically transforms into a stellar work of art. Lucky for you, it’s art you can eat.
George Neyra – Fig & Olive: It’s not too difficult to assume that some of the chicest bites will emanate from Fig & Olive’s booth. After all, the Fashion Island eatery is one of the sleekest venues in the city. Neyra and his skilled team will be on hand to prepare bites whose flavors match the sophistication of its presentation.
Leslie Nguyen – Bosscat Kitchen: No, this Airport District restaurant will not be bringing the truckloads of brown spirits they have at their location to the festival. This is hardly a deal-breaker, though. First off, there will be plenty of wine on hand to enjoy. Secondly, you can pair your vino with Nguyen’s satisfying contemporary bites, which is something you may think of doing if you have a tumbler of whiskey in your hand.
Alejandra Padilla – Five Crowns: Your grandparents may have dined at this 53-year-old Corona Del Mar mainstay back in the day. Padilla honors those cherished memories with several classic dishes. But at the same time, she keeps Five Crowns moving forward through innovative dishes your beloved meemaw wouldn’t have dreamed about having!
Chris Polley – True Food Kitchen: It makes a whole lot of sense to have a healthy option at an event like Newport Beach Wine & Food. This is especially the case when you have a chef like Polley, who has an uncanny knack for making good-for-you food taste positively sinful.
Shin Toyoda – Sushi Roku: Toyoda has been making sushi for over 30 years, back when unsophisticated folk viewed the culinary delight as an esoteric trend. People know better now, hence the reason why the masses flock to this Fashion Island venue. His booth will undoubtedly draw attention from the crowds, but not just because he’s a terrific sushi chef. He has the chops to be considered a terrific chef, period.
Brittany Valles – Oak Grill & Aqua Lounge: Valles is the new kid on the block, but she’s no raw rookie. The newly christened Executive Chef for Fashion Island Hotel’s two main venues previously made her bones under Michael Voltaggio – yet another former Top Chef participant. Think of the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival as her OC coming out party.
Written By: Rich Manning