When restaurant merch looks better than your chef coat
When restaurant merch looks better than your chef coat
Photo by Brian Feinzimer

On the Line: Jeremy Cantwell of House of Blues

With new menu selections about to roll out, I was more than surprised to find Chef Cantwell supervising yesterday's Gospel Brunch. Hard at work on a Sunday meant a commitment to serving consistent, quality food at the new home for House of Blues. If the flavorful brisket was any indicator, I look forward to the changes.

What advice would you give to a home cook?
I would tell home cooks not to believe everything they see on TV. When you're watching home cooking shows, they follow a formula. Sometimes you must add your personal touch to the dish, even if it's not in the recipe. That's how you become a better cook.

What do you recommend for first-timers to House of Blues?
The Voodoo Shrimp! The dish features sauteed shrimp simmered in an Abita Amber beer reduction, served over jalapeno-cheese cornbread.

With the closure of the Downtown Disney location (and the LA location), how many California HoB locations are there now?
With the closure of House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard, there are two locations in California. After House of Blues on Sunset closed, House of Blues Anaheim took over as the flagship location. The second California location is in San Diego.

What is your guilty pleasure food?
Milk and cookies!

Where did you receive your culinary education?
I attended California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, California.

Name an indispensable tool in the kitchen that isn't a knife.
A plating spoon— presentation is everything!

What was the first dish that you learned how to prepare?
Futomaki roll and tamago omelets.

One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true.
A stereotype of chefs in this industry is that we all drink a lot. I don't think that's true.

Tell us about your work experience in San Diego prior to House of Blues. What did you learn and/or what advice did you receive that you apply to HoB?
In my experience, I've learned that it's critical to keep constant eyes and hands on everything, no matter what is going on.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Rice.

Are there any differences between the Gospel and Drag Brunch?
The main difference in these two brunch events is the show. While most of the menu items are the same, the energy of the shows are very different.

Calm before the concert storm
Calm before the concert storm
Photo by Brian Feinzimer

Where did you grow up, and where's home these days?
I grew up in San Diego and am currently in the process of relocating to Orange County.

What's your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory would have to be cooking with my Grandma.

What was the turning point in your life when you decided you wanted to be in the restaurant industry?
After I left the Navy, I realized that I wanted to serve people in a different way. I've always had a passion for cooking, and it felt like the best avenue for me to pursue.

You're making breakfast; what are you having?
When I'm preparing for myself I really enjoy making Portuguese sausage, eggs and rice.

Tell me something most people don't know about you.
I've traveled the world.

What was the last thing you looked up online?
The concert calendar at House of Blues Anaheim.

Where was your most recent meal?
My last meal was a Mr. A's in San Diego. I had the Lamb Duo: Osso Buco and Roasted Chops, served with Vegetable Tian and Parmesan Grits.

Hardest life lesson you've learned.
I learn lessons every day in raising my children and taking care of my family.

What profession would you like to try if you weren't in this business?
If I couldn't be a chef, I would choose to work in the field of education; I'd be a teacher.

House of Blues Anaheim is now located at 400 W Disney Wy, Ste 337, Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; www.houseofblues.com.

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