Ten years for a restaurant is an accomplishment worthy of celebration. We were invited to spend the decade milestone at Dee Nguyen's Break of Dawn in Laguna Hills. A ten-course dinner, it was a dining room filled with friends, family, and the ticket in the OC culinary world this week. Everyone from reporters to publicists to chefs, workers and more came out to show their respect for one of the most beloved chefs in Orange County. Below are a handful of the dishes presented Wednesday night. Here's to another 10!
"You have been an integral part of our humble past, present and future moving forward. Thank you for joining our intimate FAMILY MEAL tonight. You are "family" so serve yourself like ones. Welcome home." ~ On the dinner menu
Before a pork belly course, we peeked into the kitchen for a photo. In addition to chef/owner Nguyen, we also spotted former On the Line subject Frank DeLoach assisting in the kitchen. Slicing of the pork belly was the half-way point of our meal.
If you don't know the story of how Break of Dawn came to be, it has to do with his son, Berlin. To care for his special needs child, Dee left an Executive Sous Chef position at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. In an attempt to continue using his culinary skills, Nguyen opened BoD with only breakfast and early lunch in mind. And the rest, well, you know.
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A popular entree on his restaurant menu, this sausage dish was a familiar sight the moment it was set down in front of us. It's a reminder of the complex flavors Nguyen could coax out of a seemingly simple dish. We were a little too enthusiastic, taking a bite before remembering to photograph.
Towards the end of the night, many of Nguyen's industry friends talked about their first encounter with him. Yvon Goetz of The Winery Restaurant, Amar Santana of Vaca, Dean Kim of OC Baking Company and James Hamamori of South Coast Plaza's Hamamori all chimed in with stories. It was almost more of a roast, depending on who you ask.