Chef Jonathan Solis has done his fair share of cooking for resort properties. Once contributing at the dining options at The Mission Inn in Riverside, he currently helms the kitchen at the Hyatt
Newporter Regency Newport Beach. He balances an interactive menu, quality time with his family and a bit of a commute. Since the property's recent renovation to the restaurant, their focus is not only sustainable and local, but educating waitstaff on what makes SHOR's menu special.
What are your favorites on the menu? Point Reyes burger with roasted tomatoes on a pretzel bun. Fresh papardelle pasta with pancetta, rainbow chard, grilled artichokes and lemon white wine sauce; you can top it with fresh, local seafood.
Do you think giving guests to many options on the dinner menu makes for a more difficult service? It's harder to manage, but if you have plenty of people to execute it, it's not difficult. Each restaurant has its identity-- you give the options you need to keep the integrity of your concept as a restaurant.
Favorite chef. Jose Andres. Very creative and I love his style. I've had the pleasure of eating at a few of his restaurants, and his food is great.
Best culinary tip for the home cook: Season properly and constantly taste your food.
Your best recent food find: Kaya Toast at Street Restaurant in Los Angeles. It was also the strangest thing I've ever eaten. It was sweet-savory at the same time, almost to the point where you become confused. It's just so complex.
Why did you attend culinary school in Vermont (as opposed to California)? New England Culinary Institute is regarded as one of the top 3 culinary schools in the country. I felt that I would receive a great hands-on education there, and I also received a scholarship to attend.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own). Indra Restaurant, a Thai restaurant in Glendale.
Did you do anything special for the Newport Beach Jazz Festival? We created a SHOR Express Menu that featured quick choices for our guests, along with our full lunch and dinner menu.
Your earliest food memory: Los 5 Puntos Mexican Restaurant in East Los Angeles. They serve traditional Mexican food, all made from scratch.
Favorite meal growing up: Sopes.
What kind of cuisine is at the Mission Inn? I worked at three outlets. Duane's Prime Steaks and Seafood, Las Campanas Mexican cuisine & Cantina and The Mission Inn Restaurant. Operations were mainly in one kitchen (with the exception of Las Campanas). It is a huge property, but it doesn't look like it from the outside. I also did catering. Year-round it was chaotic.
Culinary speaking, Orange County has the best: International cuisine.
What is your most popular item? For lunch, the organic chicken sandwich. And for dinner, the porcini dusted sea scallops with balsamic reduction.
What do most guests order when they customize their salad? Skuna Bay salmon or Jidori chicken.
What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it? Gentleman Jack and a splash of Coke. I enjoy going to local bars near home.
One food you can't live without: Rice. Growing up, we had it at home every day.
Where was your most recent meal? Pho at 9021Pho in Glendale.
You're making breakfast. What are you having? Chilaquiles - fried tortillas with spicy tomato broth to soak them, fried egg and avocado.
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Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?): A guest went hunting, brought back packages of meat and wanted me to cook dinner for him and his family. I knew this guest for a long time, so I cooked it for them.
Is there a dish you'd like to learn how to make? Traditional paella.
SHOR American Seafood Grill is located at 1107 Jamboree Rd (Inside Hyatt Newporter), Newport Beach, www.newportbeach.hyatt.com; (949) 729-1234.