Happiness is having to pair your cuisine with wine
Happiness is having to pair your cuisine with wine
Photo courtesy of Savan Photography

On the Line: Charity Smith Of Bacchus Bar And Bistro, Part One

Bacchus had a buy out the night before I met Charity. Half expecting a weary chef, she was as upbeat as my morning interview (perhaps because it was Friday?). Her personality comes across as bubbly in person as it does in the responses below.

Your earliest food memory: I was about 8-years-old, and my grandparents were visiting. I had baked a cake for dessert and decorated it with whipped cream and little lemon slices. My grandparents were very proud, and one of them said to the other, "Isn't she going to make someone the BEST WIFE someday?" I was offended by that and thought to myself, "Yeah. Or a CHEF!"

What is your wine of choice? I love a Russian River Pinot - Moshin Vineyards is one of my favorites!

Tell us about the wine selection, and how you decide what goes on the menu to pair with it. As I develop each menu item, I think about which wines would go best. Then I sit down with our wine director and taste some selections with the finished dish until we find the one we love.

Best culinary tip for the home cook: I like to live by the golden rule: I cook, you clean!

Where was your most recent meal? A 2 a.m. trip to BCD Tofu House in Irvine for some bibimbap. Delicious!

Please explain the meaning behind the name Bacchus. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and "ritual madness". I guess he was quite the dude!

What do you recommend for first-timers? Pork belly tacos with kimchi salsa and the duck and bacon hash, for sure.

Most undervalued ingredient: Love. Don't forget the LOVE!

What did you learn while working with Patina Group? Tangata was my first job in the kitchen after I graduated culinary school. I quickly learned that if I was going to succeed at this that I was going to have to keep up with the big boys.

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best: Mix of new and exciting people making new and exciting food. (There's) such a variety of cuisines and concepts in the OC right now, I wish I had more time to get to them.

Your best recent food find: Fried chicken wings from Hashigo Korean Kitchen in Costa Mesa. HUGE shout out!

One food you can't live without. Pizza. Well, cuz it's PIZZA! Any toppings but pineapple.

Favorite places to eat. Raku Robata Grill, The Barrymoore and Bacchi Burger. But you have to go to Vegas to eat there (see what I did there?).

You're making breakfast; what are you having? Just for myself? Probably poached eggs on toast with turkey sausage and a pour-over of Heartbreak Coffee (Ethiopian).

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten? Sea cucumber, halibut eggs and monkfish liver. I also had calf's liver sashimi last summer at Raku. Not for me.

Favorite meal growing up. My aunt's beef stroganoff, similar to a Connecticut beef supper. She still invites me over every time she makes it.

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