What a view!
What a view!
Photo by Dustin Ames

On the Line: Juan Carlos Olvera of The Sky Room, Part One

While some chefs explore other restaurants in their free time, some are content with relaxing and cooking at home. Juan Carlos is one of those chefs. With a bird's eye view of Long Beach, he runs the long-standing kitchen inside The Sky Room.

What do you recommend for first-timers? I recommend the martinis, the beet salad and my exquisite rack of lamb.

Most undervalued ingredient: For me, every ingredient is valuable.

Favorite meal growing up? My mother's chicken and rice.

You're making breakfast; what are you having? I like fresh fruit for breakfast, but my daughter always wants me to make her pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon.

What's the difference between working in a fine dining establishment and a casino? In a casino, you work with many people and gain experience in controlling a kitchen, while being in charge of the personnel. In fine dining, you strive to exceed the expectations of the customer.

Best culinary tip for the home cook: Always keep your workspace clean, use fresh ingredients and persist in cooking if you enjoy it.

What is your beverage of choice? Tequila. Don Julio 1942 with some ice.

Most popular item on the menu. The black cod fillet.

Favorite places to eat. I like to try places that serve Mexican food.

Tell us about Butterfields. What did you learn after being there for a decade? Butterfields was my first job in California. My brother, as owner and chef, showed me how to excel in this career.

Your earliest food memory. The season of Lent: every type of food was prepared except for meat, and we didn't eat until noon.

One food you can't live without. Mexican rice with green chili in molcajete.

What was your most recent meal? Tuna Hamachi sushi.

We recently interviewed Rainer Schwarz. What did he teach you in the kitchen? He's a chef I respect highly. He taught me responsibility in the kitchen, and he kindled my passion for cooking.

Weirdest customer request. I'm always eager to fulfill my customers' requests, as long as we have the ingredients.

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