Yvon Goetz of The Winery, Part One

Yvon Goetz of The Winery, Part One
Photo by Kimberly Valenzuela

I first ate Yvon Goetz's food when he was the executive chef at the now defunct Chat Noir in Costa Mesa. It was a wonderful meal. This was way before the whole Culinary Adventures empire went kaputz. Prior to that, Chef Goetz was the executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, earning them a coveted AAA 5-Diamond award. Now he's the driving force behind The Winery in Tustin.

In this post, Chef Goetz answers the first part our silly questionnaire. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two, and the next day after that when he shares a recipe.

What are six words to describe your food?

Fresh, delicious, exotic, mouth-watering, flavorful, creative.

What are ten words to describe you?

Hard-headed, passionate, loving, protective, stubborn, caring, responsible, influential, charming and determined.

Most undervalued ingredient:

Celery root.

Rules of conduct in your kitchens:

Cleanliness and "Make it nice or make it twice."

One food you detest:

Peanut butter

One food you can't live without:

It's hard to pick one. Of course, salt and pepper, but as a fresh ingredient I would say mushrooms. When I was younger, I would pick my own Chanterelle, morels, black trumpets, oyster mushroom in the forests of Alsace.

What is your fast food guilty pleasure and why?

In-N-Out. No doubt about it. It's delicious and it's open late.

Best culinary tip for the home cook.

Keep it simple. Most of the time people try too hard. Instead, make sure you use the best ingredients possible--then your work is half done. Don't be scared to go the local farmers markets and pick fresh, seasonal product. It tastes the best, and you don't have to spend time seasoning. Definitely try to stay away from the frozen department!

After-work hangout:

It's pretty limited because there's really not much time after the kitchen closes, so if I hang out anywhere after work, it's in The Winery's Havana lounge--it's our outdoor cigar patio. I really enjoy having a cigar and a glass of wine with our guests.

If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Auguste Escoffier. He is a legend--one of the most important leaders in what has become modern French cuisine.

Favorite celebrity chef.

Paul Bocuse.

Celebrity chef who should shut up:

I have my opinion on this one but will keep it to myself. I'll let my daughters answer that question. They know.

What's next for you?

Looking ahead, we are starting a catering division at The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar. We have received countless requests for off-site catering since the day we opened our doors.

Proudest moment as a chef:

Besides earning the 5-Diamond Award by AAA in the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, it would be my first day on the job at the famous Dorchester Hotel in London. I was only 19 and I really wanted to work for the famous Chef Anton Mosiman in the hotel's fine-dining restaurant kitchen, but, of course, the road to get there was very long, and most of the time as a young chef, you don't get to work in that kitchen right away.

They want you to stuff thousands of chicken breasts and other tedious duties to pay your dues before you get rewarded to work in that kitchen. BUT this was the only reason I was there and I was determined to get to the top--I made that clear during my interview process.

Anyway, on my first day there I was stuck in the main kitchen with at least 50 other staff in the banquet kitchen and hating every minute of it and was just told by all other chefs that there absolutely no way I would rise to the top so soon. I wasn't happy and wasn't going leave it to accept that attitude. I was being laughed at until Anton Mosiman himself was doing his walkthrough and came to me in front of all the others cooks and told me to get my knives together because I was in the wrong kitchen.

He walked me to the Terrace kitchen, where I wanted to be in the first place, and I spent more than a year there and felt very good about looking at the ones who doubted it could be done and thinking: I TOLD YOU!

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