On The Line: Noah Blom of Shuck Oyster Bar, Part One
Photo by Liz Monroy
Dirty, sexy happiness. That's the mantra we got from Noah Blom. His approach to life is thoughtful and passionate as he elaborates on everything we ask him. Forging ahead with his soon-to-open Arc, Noah's responsibilities pull him in multiple directions.
Your earliest food memory:
My mom would pick me up from Harbor View Elementary School and took me to Sweet Life in Fashion Island for lunch. I would have a grilled cheese and tomato soup. I remember my mom telling me, "You have to dip; that is where the love is."
Favorite meal growing up:
Thanksgiving. All the family would come together and bring a hodgepodge of happiness. Love is the best meal.
Uhhh, duh, Oyster Bar! But other than that, I would say the revisit to Old Vine Cafe for dinner. It was the best meal I have had in recent memory. They were off the cuff, but one was toasted farro and choizo with some aged Gouda and egg yolk on top. It was spot on. He also did grilled nopales. Everything that came out was flawless, and the ingredients were so simple.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Love. It is the secret to great food.
Where did the idea for Arc come from? And what's the meaning behind the name?
I am full of great ideas, but this one stemmed from my days in New York and San Francisco, and the amazing cocktails and basement food culture. I want my favorite elements of the cities here. Oysters and swanky cocktail sexiness with old school food made right. I really like the 1920s era. Everybody was trying to have a good time. It's a hybrid of the private club and the old hotel.
Arc comes from the old English meaning for fire or flame, with a small play on the whole Noah's Ark deal.
How fast can you shuck?
It is not about the speed, it is about the care and style. But pretty damn fast.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
In-N-Out. Cheeseburger, animal style. Because I am part of the great California Republic.
What is your beverage of choice?
Gin. I like St. George and Old Raj, a super classic English gin. Straight from the bottle. Barrel-aged Ransom is good for mixing. Leopold's is good for shooting. I also have a strong affliction for old dirty wine.
Where have you experienced tasty oysters outside of Costa Mesa?
Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco and the Marshall Country Store in Marshall, CA.
Most popular oyster offered, and a suggested pairing.
They rotate every day, so it is a bit hard to say, but the Moon Shoals are ridiculous. Pair that with some white Jura, and we have a bunch of dirty sexy happiness.
One food you can't live without:
Duck.I love them. It makes me so happy to get a whole bird and use every single part, fat and all. Mmmmm. . . .
Where was your most recent meal?
I am having lunch at Shuck while I am typing this, so . . .oysters, Caesar and a grilled cheese.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Stop moving the pan! We are masters of flame; let it do its job. Food is always better when you fuck with it less.
Could you explain how Arc will differ from Shuck.
In virtually every way, other than sexy. Shuck is industrial, stark and all about one product. Arc is a throw back to a simpler era-- swanky, dark and full of flame.
Tell us about your culinary experience.
I started at 14 working for Hans Pager at the Ritz in Newport. When I finished high school, I moved to San Francisco to go to culinary school. After graduating, I moved to NYC and worked at Restaurant Daniel. After a long time in the city, I moved to Vermont to open my first restaurant. I refer to that experience as my greatest student loan. I then took a job for BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourendel) opening all of their restaurants nationwide (14, to be exact). After that, I started to miss the west coast, so I moved back to San Francisco to open a new Garibaldis, and a pizza concept called Marzano. Now, I am home.
Papa Leo (a culinary school professor), because he was the first to tell me it had to be "Oh so sexy, oh so smooth". He was a master of the old school of culinary awesomeness.
He used to walk around all the time whistling classical music tunes, and he kept little balls of salt dough that would dry in his pocket. And whenever he would stop listening, you knew someone was about to get hit in the back of the head with a piece of dough because they were doing something incorrectly. So as soon as he would stop whistling, everyone would tense up in the kitchen. A lot of his technique was he didn't tell you what you were doing wrong; you'd just get hit in the back of the head. And you'd have to stop and figure out what it is you just messed up on. He would walk up behind you and scream, "Who teach you this? What are you? Stupid?"
How soon before Arc opens?
Hahaha . . .soon. This year for sure! This month, perhaps! The liquor license is done, though.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own):
Old Vine, La Fagota, Greek Town Grill, Golden Truffle, Pescadou, Marche Moderne, California Shabu Shabu. This could go on forever.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Mushrooms. The hallucinogenic ones. There was a time in my life when I went to Joshua Tree, drank some tea and sat on some rocks. It's definitely one of the stranger things I've imbibed in my life.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
I eat a lot of poached eggs at night, but I have a whole wheat everything bagel (extra toasted, extra cream cheese) from Shirley's every morning. Seriously, every morning.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
To cook naked. And of course, I'm better in the buff.
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