Chef Q and A
Executive Chef Greg Daniels
190 S. Glassell St., Suite C&D
Orange, CA 92866
Hours: 11am-2am (food served until 1am)
Question: Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Answer: My wife is my muse. I had a very limited palate before we met. I didn’t eat anything other than beef, chicken, or pork for the most part. Between her opening my mind, and my Mom teaching me the basic fundamentals of cooking, I found something I love.
Question: Where did you learn your craft?
Answer: I trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, CA. The foundation that was built there was immensely important. The real education happens in an actual restaurant kitchen, but if you really throw yourself into culinary school, it is very beneficial. Just WAY too expensive.
Question: Did you cook growing up?
Answer: I spent a lot of time cooking with my Mom when I was very young. She even gave me a cookbook for kids that I attempted to make dishes from all the time. The kitchen was always a gathering place when I was growing up.
Question: When did you realize you wanted to be a chef?
Answer: I always searched for a creative outlet over the years, whether it was music, writing, or cooking. Once I started with cooking, I never wanted to stop, and never got bored.
Question: What was your first restaurant job?
Answer: I worked at KFC when I was 15. The most important thing that taught me was to have a sense of urgency - and how to say a lot of colorful words in Spanish.
Question: Do food trends affect your cooking style?
Answer: I definitely believe that they play a part. I have a strong affinity for classical French technique, so everything I do usually comes full circle in that direction.
Question: What is your most popular dish?
Answer: I think it would have to be the Haven Burger. We've gotten a lot of comparisons to Father's Office in LA, but truthfully I've never had it. We just tried to build a burger that satisfied every taste profile. Sour, sweet, bitter, salty, umami.
Question: What is your secret ingredient? Why?
Answer: Passion. I just want to see a smile on a person's face when they take a bite of something I've created.
Question: Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?
Answer: I'm not really a gadget guy in the kitchen. Give me a pair of tongs and a sauté pan, and that'll be enough.
Question: What annoys you most in the kitchen?
Answer: Sloppy execution of dishes. The slightest bit of care goes a long way. If you don't have it in you, you shouldn't be in a kitchen.
Question: What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Answer: Getting paid to do what I love. I can't hate that.
Question: Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to like?
Answer: I'll try anything once. I don't think I've found anything yet that completely turned me off.
Question: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Answer: Matsu in Huntington Beach for sushi. Charlie Palmer in Costa Mesa for small plates at the bar. Napa Rose in Anaheim for great wine country cuisine. Incanto in San Francisco for offal - especially enjoyed the roasted neck of lamb. Blanca in Solana Beach. Gabbi's in Orange (across the street from Haven) for amazing Mexican food. I could go on and on, but it’s just making me hungry.
Question: What is one great cooking tip you can share with home cooks and foodies?
Answer: Prep. Prep. Prep. When you have everything at your disposal, you can truly enjoy the process of cooking, instead of it feeling like work.
Question: When you’re not in the kitchen what are you doing?
Answer: I try to visit other restaurants to show support, and just spend some quality time with my very supportive wife.
Question: Last meal on Earth would be??
Answer: Chips and salsa, beef tacos, rice and beans.
What recipe can you share with OCfoodies?
Answer: Arrogant Mussels
12-15 Live Black Mussels (preferably P.E.I.)
1/8 cup cornmeal
2 oz olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
½ of a minced shallot
½ cup chopped Roma tomatoes
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup Stone Brewery Arrogant Bastard Ale
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp chopped herbs – equal parts oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme
Soak mussels in cold water, sprinkling the cornmeal over the surface.
Over the next 5-10 minutes, the mussels will feed on the cornmeal, purging out any sand they were holding inside.
After purging, remove the beards from the mussels (the “hairs” that are commonly found protruding from the shell). Just tug the beards from mussels – they come out fairly easily. Rinse away anything else on the outside shell.
In a heavy sauté pan, over high heat, cook garlic and shallots until golden brown in the olive oil.
Add the mussels to the pan and sauté.
Add chopped Roma tomatoes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Deglaze with Arrogant Bastard Ale.
Add chopped herbs.
Cover pan and steam until all of the mussels have opened.
Add heavy cream.
Serve with sliced and toasted French bread.