OTL: Paul Michael Penate of Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

When I'm researching subjects, it's easily to overlook ones that are right in front of me. Case in point, I've been frequenting Lazy Dog Restaurants for over a decade. I still recall visiting the first Cafe off 405/Beach and thoroughly enjoying the dog-friendly theme and extensive menu. I recently spent time at their Brea location, learning about their seasonal updates (Note: Try the bison meatloaf) from Executive Chef Paul Penate.

Tell me about the changes to the indoor aesthetic of Lazy Dog.
Our decor feels like a mountain lodge, inspired by our founder's time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It's about comfort food and bringing families together. We are always striving for ways to make the dining experience better.

What do you recommend for first-timers?
For first-time guests, I suggest our wok-fired calamari with plum sauce, our edamame and the bison meatloaf.

I saw a locked door in the back of you kitchen. What are you working on?
That's our test kitchen. And we are working on next year's new menu items.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Taste and clean as you go.

Where was your most recent meal?
My restaurant— the Orange Lazy Dog. I had braised pork with chili verde and redskin potatoes on a bed of white citrus feta rice.

Your best recent food find.
Fresh food from my local farmers' market.

One stereotype about your industry.
It takes a certain person to handle a kitchen. And yes, it does.

Do you have a beverage of choice?
Old-Fashioned or hazy IPA.

What was the turning point when you decided that you wanted to become a chef?
When I was younger, I had to make money on my own, so my first job was washing dishes and prepping. It was my first experience seeing a chef, and I was inspired by the creativity.

Favorite places to eat.
Bestia or Nobu.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Thousand Oaks, and moved to LA for a job opportunity.

Favorite childhood memory.
Not having any bills. Just being a kid!

Favorite meal growing up:
Pozole and ceviche.

Tell me something most people don't know about you.
I've been learning how to make beer.

You're making breakfast for yourself; what are you having?
Avocado toast with charred salsa and an over easy egg.

Last thing you looked up online:
Chef's Table/Netflix

Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
Baseball!

When you're not in the restaurant, what are you doing in your free time?
Brewing beer in tanks and resting.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Failure is never bad; it actually makes you better.

What would you like to be doing if you weren't in the industry?
It's hard to say because I love what I'm doing. I think you have to love something if you are going to do it every day.

Learn more about Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar at www.lazydogrestaurants.com.

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