Stephanie Morgan of Seabirds, Part Two
Photo by Kimberly Valenzuela
Stay tuned tomorrow for our final installment: a recipe.
What would you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
More convenience to healthy food and more veg options.
What would you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Less fast food, less menus focused around meat and cheese.
Please Dont Feed the Bears by Asbjorn Intonsus, Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless, & Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
Top Chef Vegan because vegan chefs are really creative and enthusiastic and they use a lot of ingredients, like textured vegetable protein, wheat gluten, vegenaise, which are pretty standard items to most vegans but almost unknown to omnivores. It would be exciting for sure!
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
In college I studied abroad in Fiji and lived in a village for a bit. One day I went swimming with a local and she caught some sea cucumbers (its not very hard to catch a slug) and was excited to make them for dinner. I was not so excited after seeing them leak out there insides when she held them out of the water. But I had to be polite and try it. It tasted like sandy, sour rubber and i just could not swallow it...yuck.
You're making an omelet. What's in it?
Mushrooms, avocado, black olives, bell pepper, onions, cilantro and lots of fresh salsa on top. Oh and no eggs.
You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Weirdest customer request:
To throw just about everything we had into a 1 and a 1/2 lb. burrito...it was so delicious we named it the Tony Gonzalez after the vegan tight end and added it to our secret menu.
Favorite OC restaurant(s) other than your own:
Native Foods and Mother's Market.
What would the last meal on Earth be?
Aaron Albonetti's Vegan Enchiladas.
Who's your hero? Culinary or otherwise?
I could never chose one hero. I look up to every one who is true to themselves, who thinks outside the box, who pursues what they love and who tries to leave the world better than how they found it.
What cuisine that you are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about and why?
Well when I started eating a vegan diet three years ago I had no idea there was so much going on behind the meat & cheese curtain. So I still have a lot to learn and explore there. But raw/living food is definitely my next frontier.
So what were you doing before you started Seabirds, that is, what's your background, culinary or otherwise?
Throughout High School and College I worked at a slew of restaurants--Italian, American, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Italian again--so I understood the timed accuracy and fast passed culture of the restaurant world. After graduating from UCSD with an Anthropology degree, I somehow found myself working at a boutique Investment Firm in the financial district of New York. It was an amazing job but then I hit a fork in the road where I could either be a broker or pursue my passion for nutrition and the vegan lifestyle.
What made you decide to do a get into the food truck business?
I think it's pretty unfortunate that there are not more convenient healthy options out there. And many places that try to make you believe they're healthy serve up items with enough sodium and saturated fat for two days. This really makes me angry so I decided to start a truck and see how people responded to real food thats wholesome and not processed or full of preservatives. The ultimate goal is to make fresh & healthy food more convenient so people feel their best.
So tell us about your jackfruit taco. What's the inspiration for that?
Originally I was going to do a potato taco but it soon became apparent that it was too boring and it was missing the bite and flavor you would expect from a street taco so I began the search for a better option. I've had jackfruit once before in a pulled "pork" sandwich. It was pretty good but a little too mushy for my liking but my boyfriend was determined we could get it crispier and seasoned right for a taco. After many attempts he nailed it and it was the last thing we added to the menu before we launched. It's a huge hit with the meaties, thanks boo!
You're one of the newest food trucks out there, what are you discovering has been the biggest obstacle or difficulty so far?
My boyfriend was activated and shipped to New Orleans for this BP disaster and that threw a huge monkey wrench in my business plan. He was a huge asset to my business, he worked the grill, and we collaborated on everything together. I only had a few days notice of his deployment and he's gone til December.
What advice do you have for those that might be thinking about starting their own food truck?
Shadow some one who does it now. Its a lot of work so they better be prepared for heavy lifting, long days and un-glamorous conditions.
What do you hope for your business in 5 years? In 10?
I see Seabirds crossing over to the brick & mortar world; a very casual and inviting cafe where local artist can display and sell their artwork and people can chill and eat food that won't put them in a food coma. In 10 years, I see 30 Seabirds cafes.
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.