I'm cruising down Newport this week to visit one Jared Jones at The Beach Barrel. How do they compete with other local eateries? Try take out and delivery service well past midnight on the weekends. That'll certainly help with those late night cravings.
Your earliest food memory:
Chicken Divan is the only thing I would ever ask my mom to make. It's made of fresh broccoli with a creamy cheese sauce, chunks of chicken thrown in and breadcrumbs on top . The way all the flavors come together, every bite puts a new smile on your face. She would make it for me on special occasions like my birthday, then once in a while on a regular ol' day, too.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Two things: 1) Mexican food. You can find so many diverse dishes in Santa Ana. 2) Chef-driven restaurants. We have so many talented restaurateurs here doing things their own way. The dining culture of Orange County has drastically improved decade over decade.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Tustin. It was and still is a tight-knit family city— especially back in the 80s and 90s. There wasn't that much to do in Tustin. We were always in Newport Beach surfing and skating, but it was a city place to grow up in.
What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working in a restaurant?
How hard it would be. Some of the challenges of being a new restaurant owner, especially at The Beach Barrel, which includes working very late nights and dealing with very drunk people. You never know what you're going to get when you work that shift. It could be a bunch of cool people, or it an be quite the circus in there.
What do you recommend for first-timers, and what are your best-sellers?
I always recommend the Playa Cubano, which is our take on the medianoche Cuban sandwich. We zest the citrus, use fresh herbs and slow cook the pork in our mojo for four hours. It's a good introduction to what we do here, which we call "kind grub". Some of our best sellers include BBQ chicken pizza with scratch dough and housemade BBQ sauce; the DaKine chicken or tri tip, with Sriracha-teriyaki sauce, smoked provolone, grilled pineapple and caramelized red onion; and the street dog with bacon, melted cheese and fresh jalapenos. So tasty.
How late is your late night delivery?
Until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Our hours will change for Spring/Summer, so check www.thebeachbarrel.com to see when we're open. We're also open for takeout until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, so the people getting out of the bars have a place to get great grub when they need it most.
What farmer's markets do you source your ingredients from?
We shop for produce from Growers Direct in Costa Mesa. They source their produce from local farmers, and it's great for us because it's close and they've centralized the selection for us.
What is your guilty pleasure food?
I don't feel guilty about eating anything! I love food. I just try to eat the things I love in moderation. Some of my favorite foods (in order) are a good steak, Sriracha and a solid gourmet sandwich.
Tell us about those Hawaiian sticky buns!
My first cook came up with this wacky idea. He had nothing at home, and wanted to make his kid a dessert, so he baked King's Hawaiian rolls with marshmallows on them, then covered them in caramel and ice cream. We upgraded that by adding our own housemade pecan caramel. The flavors of each component come together to make an entirely new, totally delicious dessert sensation. They were featured on KTLA 5, and we had people lining up for them.
You have a whole day to yourself; what would you do?
I'm the father of twin almost-three-year-olds and I own a business, so I can't remember the last day I had to myself. But a day off is a day with my family, and we love going to the park or the beach.
Favorite places to eat.
The Hitching Post in Solvang. Their steaks are the best. They cook them Santa Maria style, with the large grill that raises up and down. The whole experience is awesome, from the steaks to the wines. It's Top Five, for sure, but that's always rotating.
Last thing you looked up online:
How to make my mom's Chicken Divan again (laughs). Doing this interview has made me hungry for it.
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
That I'm a secret ninja assassin specializing in full contact martial arts. Just kidding. I'm not a ninja, but in my 20s I earned a high-ranking belt in aikido jiu-jitsu. That's the fighting style of samurais.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Unsure (laughs)! I don't know how many times I've said, "Well, I learned my lesson on that one." But sometimes you end up repeating the same mistakes. It's all a part of the growing process, even when you're an adult with children of your own.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
Surfing down in Baja with my buddies when I was a teenager. We were 16-year-olds, going down there by ourselves, eating Tacos Victor on the street. Being on our own in a different country, surfing good waves and eating great food was the best. It's weird. You eat a taco on the street there, and you can do the same here, and it just tastes different.
You're making breakfast for yourself; what are you having?
Eggs Benedict. I love hollandaise sauce. I could drink it. But I make Bennys with bacon, not ham, and I add spinach. I actually had a really good one at The Broken Yolk in Orange. It was done with salsa verde and steak.
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One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true.
Everybody says it's really difficult to open a restaurant, and it's very true. We just celebrated our first anniversary, and every day we're open is a new effort to make more people aware of our food quality, late night take out and delivery.
Do you have any skills that aren't related to food?
Just that ninja stuff, and being the dad of twin boys and a proud husband.
What would you like to try if you weren't in this business?
I used to work in beer distribution, but I think I'd go back into breweries or vineyards. That would be fun to me because I love creating. I like that part of it. I think that's why I do really well as the host of The Beach Barrel, because I get to create delicious things and share them with my guests.
The Beach Barrel is located at 3305 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, (949) 531-6222; www.thebeachbarrel.com.