On The Line: Joseph Mahon of Burger Parlor, Part One
Photo by Meranda Carter
Four nights a week, Joseph Mahon's Burger Parlor pops into business within downtown Fullerton's Rialto Cafe. This week, he pulls up a chair and gives us his take on onions, breakfast and being a father. Learn about Joseph's kitchen mantras as we go On The Line.
What are six words to describe your food?
Mind-blowing, flavorful, balanced, sincere, consistent, fresh.
What are eight words to describe you?
Focused, driven, friendly, husband, father, artist, passionate, honest.
Your best recent food find:
A Korean BBQ place called Light House in La Habra; and yes, I have eaten all around K-Town in LA while doing my "Magnum" pop-ups, and still think this place "draws a lot of water."
Most undervalued ingredient:
Onions (including scallions, shallots, garlic, etc.). They are the building blocks of pretty much 90% of everyone's cooking.
Rules of conduct in your kitchen:
1. Great attitude.
2. Give 110%.
3. Produce the highest, most consistent product we are capable of doing.
4. No short cuts in cooking.
One food you detest.
I don't detest any food. I respect all cultures. You have to eat, right? Most countries are not as fortunate as us here in the States.
One food you can't live without.
A pig. It's a very versatile product. A little more manageable than a cow.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Hamburgers. I heard Burger Parlor kicks butt!!
What fast food do you admit to eating?
Juan Pollo. I cannot put my finger on why; I like it all.
But culinary tip for the home cook:
1. Season your food with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
2. Taste your food throughout the cooking process.
At home with my wife.
Favorite celebrity chef:
Mario Batali. He has pioneered/defined how far you can take a culinary career. There is a soulfulness to his food that cannot be duplicated by anyone. This is very rare in our industry considering he reinterprets historic flavor combinations throughout the Mediterranean. He serves as a great example that partnerships in the restaurant business do work. Plus, he is a really cool, genuine guy.
Celebrity chef who should shut up:
Define "celebrity." It seems these days, that anyone who gets kicked off a culinary show is one.
Favorite music to cook by:
'80s one-hit wonders with big hair bands, mixed with a touch of arena rock (Journey and Foreigner).
Best food city in America:
New York City. It's the mecca for every creative art form. There, fashion, art, food, photography, and architecture continue to influence the rest of the world. For example: The first 'pop-up' restaurants were done in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn in like 2004. Not in LA's Bread Bar.
What you'd like to see more of in Orange County, from a culinary standpoint:
Knowledge and support for people wanting to make a difference. How many times can you go spend your hard-earned money on a mediocre franchise and/or corporate restaurant?
What you'd like to see less of in Orange County, from a culinary standpoint:
Food franchises. For example: Five Guys. I saw four open in one year and it's simply terrible. A lot of people are drinking the Kool-Aid on this one.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Depends on the season. Priority #1 right now is being a good dad. However, I just learned how to sail a small Catamaran in Turks and Caicos last week. It was awesome.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Bull penis. It's disgusting.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Homemade oatmeal; I make it every morning. And Pike Place coffee from Starbucks.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Right now.....tomatoes. Tomatoes go with everything.
Weirdest customer request:
Too many to remember. I forgive and forget. However, we are here to serve our guests, and will make sure this happens in any establishment I am a part of.
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