From a hidden office in a hidden industrial park behind another hidden industrial park in Costa Mesa, Rick LeBlanc has been wowing foodies and office drones alike with his Rick's Atomic Cafe, an all-American eater given spins by LeBlanc's organic-obsessed mind and able hands--but let the man take the rest of the story.
What are six words to describe your food?
Fresh, honest, local, diverse, satisfying and inventive
What are ten words to describe you?
Loyal, dedicated, honest, outgoing, adventurous and loving--that's six, but that's enough!
Your best recent food find:
Fresh, live Dungeness crab--didn't have these back East.
Flour; from sauces to pasta and breads.
Rules of conduct in your kitchens:
Produce food you would be proud to serve your family and friends.
One food you detest:
Uni--can't get beyond the texture.
One food you can't live without:
Cheese--what endless possibilities of taste and texture, with as many uses!
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
What fast food do you admit to eating?
Costco's plain cheese pizza slice--simple, honest, straightforward.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Keep it simple and fresh, paying attention to details in seasoning and cooking. Let the ingredient shine.
Backyard at home.
If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Marcella Hazan--After spending 25-plus years reading her cookbooks and producing
her recipes, I would like her to know I learned something.
Favorite celebrity chef:
Celebrity chef who should shut up:
Paula "BUTTER" Dean.
Proudest moment as a chef/restaurant owner:
Teaching a cooking class to 25 students, preparing a Torta di Polenta Rossa e Verde using simple, fresh ingredients to create a culinary work of art. They felt the passion and
Favorite music to cook by:
Jazz standards; soothing, romantic and constantly bringing back fond memories.
Best food city in America:
Chicago; you have so many ethnic neighborhoods showcasing their cuisines. It's transporting.
Favorite restaurant in America:
Aujour d'hui at the Four Season's in Boston. Christmas Sunday Brunch overlooking a snow-covered Boston Common...oh yes, also the beautiful buffet spread. Too bad it closed recently.
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What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
A show touring America utilizing fresh, local seasonal ingredients prepared to highlight the region's culinary history.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Blood Sausage in Canada: a bold, earthy spiced sausage swimming in a pool of sweet syrup.
Rick's Atomic Cafe, 3100 Airway Ave., Ste. 113, Costa Mesa, (714) 825-0570; twitter.com/ricksatomiccafe.