On the Line: Brian Bennett of Paul Martin's American Grill, Part Two
Photo by Meranda Carter

On the Line: Brian Bennett of Paul Martin's American Grill, Part Two

Supporting and sourcing local growers is important to Paul Martin's, and when we asked chef Brian Bennett about some of the purveyors the restaurant utilizes, we received a comprehensive list of every food-related vendor it works with! Learn more about his passion for food and find out how its well-oiled machine operates to make every dining experience a satisfying one.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
Simple, simple, simple.

What would your last meal on Earth be?
My wife's vegetarian lasagna made with vegetables from our garden.

Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?

Wolfgang Puck was a pioneer and continues to cook great food.

Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
I have spent the past five years developing Paul Martin's with Paul Fleming--sorting the best, artisan purveyors throughout California and developing and tweaking the menu. Prior to that, I was the director of operations for Chevy's Fresh Mex, based in San Francisco.

Who's Paul Martin?
Martin is both Paul's middle name and a family name.

We'd love to know about some of the local purveyors you're utilizing for Irvine.
Because of the volume of business and need to have solid relationships with vendors, Paul Martin's uses vendors from all over California. Once we open, local growers and farmers approach us about doing business with them.

Examples include Santa Monica Seafood (experts in seafood purchasing, processing and distribution), Family Tree Farms out of San Joaquin Valley (growing more than 3,500 acres of premium stone fruit with an all-out focus on flavor), Berkeley's Acme Bread Co. (using only organic flour and working closely with farmers to select grain for bread flour), and Sonoma's Hanzell Vineyard (with six decades of experience).

With easily more than 50 wines by the glass, name some of your favorites.
I'm not really a beer or wine kind of guy, although I do drink our Lost Coast "Great White" (draft). We teach three wine classes a week to educate our team.

You have an endless amount of energy; where does your motivation come from?
Sourcing and serving great food is a passion of ours, to watch our team members work with and prepare incredible food simply brings great satisfaction. Finally, watching guests enjoying the meal brings about a true sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.

What dish would you tell newcomers to Paul Martin's to try first?
I would recommend the short ribs, the hamburger, the cedar-plank salmon and the hand-cut, all-natural prime New York strip.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Never thought about it. (Actually, my family wanted me to be a doctor.)

What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Work hard, focus and have passion.

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
Developing young folks who have a passion for hospitality.

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