On The Line: Scott Brandon of LinX, Part One
Photo by Laila Derakhshanian
Scott Brandon is no stranger to the restaurant scene, but he will be making his Old Towne Orange debut next month, as LinX is ready to rock and roll. Scott made time to answer our burning questionnaire, and well, you've been warned. This chef interview is rated PG-13 for adult language.
Your earliest food memory:
Sitting at the counter in our kitchen, watching my mom cook. She was always doing great food from scratch, and my brothers and I would sit and watch her and be the "official tasters".
Favorite meal growing up:
Mi Casa in Costa Mesa. Three item combination: shredded beef taco, chile relenno and pork tamale. Still an old school fave, only now it comes with several Cadillac margaritas. Oh, yeah!
Spicy beef noodle soup from King of Noodle in San Francisco. Huge bowl of spicy broth and hand-pulled noodles with luke cold Tsing Tao. So killer, and you can't even spend 10 bucks there!
Inquiring minds want to know: What beer and desserts might you feature?
At LinX, we will feature an ever evolving and revolving list of 12 draft beers from Belgium, Germany and American craft brews as well as 24 beers in the bottle. Think Duvel, Paulaner and The Bruery.
Desserts will include a fresh baked oatmeal cookie, apple strudel ice cream sandwich with salted caramel sauce, freshly made donut holes with Belgian chocolate ganache and "crack".
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Opportunity. We have everything we need at our doorstep. We can be a culinary hub someday if people want it. Keep your eyes open, support small, local businesses and try new things.
What is your beverage of choice?
Two please: ice cold beer and Tequila Reposado. Available almost anywhere. I have a particular appreciation for the pour at The Fling.
Where else have you worked besides Crow Bar?
I have been cooking for about three decades. I have been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented chefs, including Suzette Gresham Tognetti of Aquerello and Cindy Paulsen at Roti, both in San Francisco.
But I was influenced at the age of 14 by the iron fist of Gina Costa at Gina's Pizza right here in Corona del Mar. Her ideals of fresh, seasonal ingredients, simply prepared are still paramount in my cooking philosophy today. Interestingly enough, all women.
Ok, we know you were originally opening a different concept. What's the story?
I have several restaurant concepts in my hip pocket and many more brewing in the cranium. I believe that a concept needs to fill a niche. It should be adapted to the space, not the other way around. We saw the space on Chapman, and were inspired to do something with sausages and dogs. The idea snowballed and became LinX.
One food you can't live without:
It sounds cliche but bacon. Bacon is so damn good, even vegetarians love it!
Where was your most memorable meal?
Most memorable has to be the Pritchard Hill wine dinner that chef Michael Rossi and his staff put together at The RANCH in Anaheim. Seven courses, seven amazing wines. It was fuckin' awesome!
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Keep it simple.
What was doing Uncommon Monday at Three Seventy Common like?
It was great fun. Ryan Adams has a great thing going on there. The idea of showcasing local chefs on a normally dark night is genius. I had the chance to work with some of my best friends and family in a great space. Big ups to Mitch Gillan, Jared Cook and Craig Connole.
Do you still plan on having upwards of 30 housemade toppings? Seriously?
Well, we wanted to keep it simple for our first opening. . . Hell yes! 30 toppings and condiments all made in-house with local ingredients. Good stuff like smoked onion relish, green tomato chow chow and bacon & blue cheese aioli. And don't forget the fritessaus.
Marco Pierre White. Hands down the most badass, punk rock chef on the planet.
Favorite places to eat.
Rincon Chilango, Honda Ya, Zuni Cafe [Editor's Note: Zuni is in SF, and you MUST order the brick chicken!].
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
First I slow cook thick-cut bacon in my cast iron skillet, then I cook home fried potatoes in the bacon fat, a simply basted organic egg and a thick piece of brioche toast. Strong coffee with a hit of cream.
What can we expect from LinX that's different from Wurstkuche in LA?
Besides everything? Wurstkuche was an inspiratin for LinX, but my idea expanded from there. Don't get me wrong. Wurstkuche is fucking fantastic. If you haven't been there, you need to go. I prefer the original on Traction Avenue in downtown LA.
I wanted to not only serve sausages and fries and good beer. I had to give it my personal twist. At LinX, I am paying homage to some of the greatest dogs from around the country, and even the world. I have my versions of classics like the Chicago Dawg, the Coney Dog, the Ripper, a New York Dirty Water Dog and even Currywurst. We have sourced all our ingredients from local artisans who are truly passionate about what they do. Guys like Dean Kim at O.C. Baking Co. and Paddy Glennon of Europa Specialty Sausage. They do their job so well it's really up to me to just not fuck up their hard work.
Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
When I was a chef at Oysters Restaurant in Corona del Mar, one of my servers came to me with a customer request for a New York steak "extra Well Done", burnt to a crisp . . .She said he told her, "If it's not burnt enough, I will send it back until it is!" I cooked the shit out of that poor, defenseless steak. . . and no, it didn't come back.
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