On the Line: Carlos Olivera of The Beachcomber

This week, we have Chef Carlos Olivera of Crystal Cove’s popular oceanfront dining destination chatting with us about beachcombers, cooking and stereotypes in the culinary industry.

What do you recommend for first-timers at Beachcomber?
First-timers must try the Lobster Club Sandwich.

You’re making breakfast; what are you having?
At home, I frequently make chilaquiles. . . .

Do you know of any beachcombers that dine at Beachcomber?
Yes, we have several regulars that are also beachcombers.

What was the first dish you learned how to cook?
Spanish Rice.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Salt and Pepper!!

Is there anything you wished you learned in culinary school that you only learned from work experience?
Interactions with real customers. They don’t teach you that in culinary school.

Last thing you looked up online:
Reviews of my restaurant.

Name a valuable tool in your kitchen that isn’t a knife:
Vitamix Blender.

Where was your most recent meal?
2145 Pizza. I had the Honey-Bleu Cheese Pizza.

Most important qualities you look for in a sous chef?
A sous chef must have passion and a great attitude.
Where did you grow up, and where do you call home?
I grew up in Oaxaca, Mexico, but I consider home to be La Noria.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Seeing and eating all the local street food from my childhood, and observing their operations.

How did you meet your wife?
I met my wife in middle school. We’ve been happily married for 20 years!

Favorite meal growing up.
Oaxaca Mole Negro.

One stereotype about your industry, and whether it’s true.
Chefs only know how to cook food from their culture— not true. As a Mexican-American chef, I have studied French, Italian and other cuisines to implement in my style.

Tell me something most people don’t know about you.
I would say people don’t see my stress. I think a good leader must exude confidence at all times; but being an executive chef can be stressful.

Hardest lesson you’ve learned.
When I began my career as a 22-year-old, asserting myself in an established kitchen and a new culture wasn’t easy. I had to figure out how to prove myself and still instill confidence in my abilities in the kitchen.

What profession would you like to try if you weren’t in this industry?

The Beachcomber is located at 15 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, (949) 376-6900; www.thebeachcombercafe.com.

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