On the Line: Ryan Adams of Three Seventy Common Food + Drink, Part One
Photo by Johannes Dewald
When interviewing a chef at their establishment, there's always the possibility that we'll be interrupted by one of their staff and our meeting will be cut short. In the case of Ryan Adams, it was quite the contrary. He assured us that interruptions wouldn't occur in their private dining room (a.k.a. The Whiskey Room). Surrounded by barrel-aged Manhattan, we discussed his collections, Uncommon Mondays, and topics we agreed to stop the voice memo from recording.
Your earliest food memory:
Fond memories of picking green beans in the garden and then cleaning them with my grandmother.
Favorite meal growing up:
The comfort and aroma of homemade chicken noodle soup - no canned soup for us.
Clay Oven in Irvine, where you can eat your way around the different regions of India.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Braised, fresh local greens such as kale, collards and chard. They're delicious, healthy and quick to cook. Plus they complement the flavors of so many other ingredients.
Who came up with the drink board? Brilliant idea!
I agree and must admit that I borrowed the idea from the guys at Lola Gaspar.
We read you personally pick the vegetables for Sunday Supper at the Laguna Beach farmers market. Is what you find the basis of your menu, or do you have an idea before you arrive?
We usually have an idea before we go to the market, but we always wind up adding or subtracting something depending on what looks great and availability. And, we always go to the OC Great Park Farmers Market on Sunday mornings for any last minute items.
Last place you had a good bloody rib-eye (besides your own kitchen)?
At Del Rae in Pico Rivera.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
We have some fantastic spots for Vietnamese food, as well as a few great Thai restaurants.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
In-N-Out Burger, because their food is good, consistent and I can get it until 1 a.m.
What is your beverage of choice, and where do you get it?
A great classic Gin & Tonic made by me.
Tell us about Uncommon Monday.
This visiting chef series on select Monday nights was created to give chefs who I highly respect a chance to come into my kitchen and showcase a new concept or new menu ideas for our guests at Three Seventy Common. I also created Uncommon Mondays to introduce people in in the community to new and talented chefs and their talents. But basically, it's just for all of us to have fun [Editor's Note: He's already planned beyond the end of the year.].
Did we read something about you and vintage knives?
Yeah, I'm kind of a collector-type and I've been collecting vintage kitchen tools for some time and I have amassed quite a collection of kitchen knives.
One food you can't live without and why:
Sriracha hot chili sauce because I like the taste and the distinctive way that it imparts zing and zest and heat to food.
Where was your most recent meal?
Japanese food at Honda Ya in Tustin, and what didn't I have would be the better question!
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Don't be afraid to use salt - it's a terrific flavor enhancer.
We spy grilled fish and roasted chicken on the kids menu. Are they clearing their plates?
Yes, happy to report that they are. Both parents and their kids love the fact that they get a whole meal served on a vintage mess hall tray that is healthy and great tasting.
What do you think of people who take photographs of their food?
It doesn't really bother me.
British chef Marco Pierre White, also known as the godfather of modern cooking. He was and still is a kitchen renegade.
What's the most time-consuming dish on the menu to create?
The shepherds pie. It's a four day process. Day 1 we season it all and let it cure overnight. The next day, you sear up all the pieces and braise it. Day 3 you make the sauce. On the last day you assemble it. Ours is like a veal stew, and we make a country mashed potato on top.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Balut, a Filipino delicacy that is basically a fermented dead baby chicken with bones.
Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
Marche Moderne, The Crosby, Lola Gaspar, Honda Ya and a whole bunch more as well.
If you weren't such a mean kid growing up (breaking windows, scuffling with kids - forcing kitchen duty as punishment), do you think you'd still be a restauranteur?
This is a tough question for me. I really like what I'm doing and am not that interested in other jobs, careers or pursuits at this point.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Egg sandwich, over-medium egg on multi-grain toast, slice of cheese, pesto prosciutto and arugula.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
It was to go home with her and it didn't happen.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Orange County dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.