Chef Q and A
Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales

Nirvana Grille
Chef & Owner
303 Broadway, Laguna Beach and 24031 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo
Phone:(949)497-0027/ (949)380-0027, Catering Inquiries (949)637-4708
Hours:Tues-Sun 5-9, Fri & Sat 5-10pm, also Sunday 10am-2pm (Laguna Beach Only)

Question: Who or what inspired you to become a chef?
Answer: My Mom. By sheer force of not wanting to cook for all of us something different and that we grew up in such a health conscious environment, we made everything from scratch.

Question: Where did you learn your craft?
Answer: Just by loving it and cooking constantly growing up and for family and friends. When I realized that I could make a career of this, it was apparent that it came with such ease and I enjoyed it so much, that this was what I should be doing.

Question: Did you cook growing up?
Answer: Yes. I grew up Vegetarian and Organic before the green movement hit. We were conscious by our upbringing and have tried to carry that forward in my family’s lives and my husband and my business.

Question: When did you realize you wanted to be a chef?
Answer: I would love to say when I was about 9 watching Julia Child or 13 when I discovered the food network, but unfortunately it wasn’t until I was 18 and had spent time with a chef that worked for my mother in her then retreat center in Kauai and spent the 9 months living in Kauai with him and cooking. It was inspiring and when I returned home to Cali, I cooked for the holidays for my family and knew that this was something that I wanted to take a shot at.

Question: What was your first restaurant job?
Answer: I worked catering to pay for living and school expenses by working for Fox Studios, Universal Studios, Cienega Catering, Crème de la Crème, 5’ Catering, Pascal’s Catering and Sherman’s Gardens where I then acquired a full time position in Pascal’s Traditions Restaurant in the evenings as well as shortly after second job at The Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel in the mornings.

Question: Do food trends affect your cooking style?
Answer: Not extremely. I try to keep to my tastes, which luckily, unlike fads, people seem to enjoy as a constant. I do however love learning new techniques and ways of looking at a food and preparation differently. I am always open to learning and that is what is so great about the food business. It is constantly evolving.

Question: What is your most popular dish?
Answer: Probably what people come most for is the Pistachio Crusted Sea Bass

Question: Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?
Answer: A good Knife of course. Really there isn’t much you need in the kitchen if you have a great knife.

Question: What annoys you most in the kitchen?
Answer: Disorganization and not cleaning as you go. It makes things harder in the long run. I like keeping in clean all around and it makes me more efficient. When others don’t it slows things down

Question: What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Answer: The constant change. For me since we cater and have restaurants there is always something new. I love that never is there the same event or same evening at the restaurant. It keeps things lively, and stressful at times too! In this Biz, stress is the adrenaline that keeps you going though. I work best under pressure.

Question: Is there a food you can’t bring yourself to like?
Answer: Tongue, Heart, Tripe, All the organs really! I grew up in a vegetarian household which still exists. My husband and I eat red meat, he is more adventurous, me, I still have inhabitations from my upbringing.

Question: What are some of your favorite restaurants?
Answer: Well generally it is more ethnic foods as we are around fish and meat all the time and reallyhave 1 day a week to eat out on average. We love going to Sushi with our 15mo old. San Shi Go is the only way for us after many attempts elsewhere we always end up there after 15 years. We also go for Thai at Bamboo Bistro, Indian at what we have found to be better than the restaurant itself, Natraj in Shady Canyon Quick Service are the first that come to mind.

Question: What is one great cooking tip you can share with home cooks and foodies?
Answer: Experiment with more grains. Use lentils and quinoa, couscous, and rice and grains. Generally they are very quick to make and tey are higher in protein and provide great texture than potatoes. If you do use potatoes, use Yukon Gold. They are creamier and better flavor than Russet.

Question: When you’re not in the kitchen what are you doing?
Answer: Spending time with my 15 mo old Diego, my husband and our dogs. I love family time and try to do a fun excursion on Mondays when we are closed, Plus mornings are great for cartoons, kicking around the soccer ball or playing with balloons!

Question: Last meal on Earth would be??
Answer:No fancy answer that would have to be Ice Cream…. I have a true weakness for Ice Cream and if I had to have the last bite of anything I would probably like that to be it.

Views: 240

Comment by Robert Zuetell on December 14, 2009 at 1:04pm
Hi Chef Lindsay.........want to come eat soon in Laguna ...........Robert from Evergreen party


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