OC Weekly's Summer Fest is this weekend! To celebrate, Chef Adam Navidi spent a quick minute (when he wasn't planning his menu for the event) enduring my friendly interrogation. Taking the farm-to-table movement quite literally, his Future Foods Farms supplies not only Oceans and Earth, but many other local restaurants.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Living lettuce. It can change your entire meal or experience. Take for instance Mexican food, where you always get shredded iceberg lettuce on the side of the plate. Instead, put some freshly harvested baby lettuces, and you just changed the perception of the meal from being heavy and bland to light and fresh!
Tell us about the aquaponic farm you've built.
Future Foods Farms is cutting edge. Lots of research being done to grow cleaner, more nutrient-dense foods more efficiently.
Do you know what you'll be creating for Summer Fest?
Couple ideas. Probably going to be compressed watermelon with basil and wood-smoked watermelon rind "bacon". Keep it vegan and light and refreshing for the summer event.
Favorite places to eat.
I usually visit those restaurants that buy produce from my farm cause I know they have clean, healthy food. Places like Taco Mesa.
What was the turning point in your career when you decided to become a chef?
19 years old, working at Broken Top Country Club in Bend, Oregon. It's where I promised my mom that I would open my restaurant, Oceans & Earth, in my hometown of Yorba Linda.
One stereotype about your industry, and whether it's true.
That chefs are badasses. Yes, it's true. We cook where and when no one else will.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
What seasonal dishes do you have on the current menu?
Everything on O&E's menu has at least one item grown at our farm.
Where was your most recent meal? What did you have?
Just cooked and ate dinner at my restaurant, Oceans & Earth. Middle-Eastern chicken kebabs with farm salad and rice. Testing out for summer menu.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Put a little powdered sugar, sea salt and butter in with your scrambled eggs. It intensifies the flavor!
Tell us something most people don't know about you.
Living a hectic, fast-paced life, I find my peace and silence at my farm; it's my zen space.
Last thing you looked up online:
Champagne yeast and how it reacts with food. Also, can I eat my SCOBY?
Favorite meal growing up.
Pizza and lasagna; don't eat so much of that anymore!
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Do you have any skills that have nothing to do with food?
Snowboarding and surfing.
Hardest lesson you've learned.
There's only so much time in a day.
What would you like to be doing if you weren't in this industry?
Farming. Nature teaches us patience and resilience! I used to think about tearing down my house and building a garden in its place, so I would have no shelter from which to live, but a better understanding and knowledge of how things grow!
Oceans and Earth is located at 20305 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, (714) 970-7027; www.oceansandearthrestaurant.com.