On the Line: Brent Palmer of Mesa, Part One

When Mesa first opened, it was like the Skull and Bones Society: a secret society with no calling card, website or markings on the building. Now, the vibe is LA hipster without the commute and better food. Chef Brent Palmer helms the back of this house, and he has allowed us access. Check out his atypical after-work hangout (neither a restaurant nor home) and which Keller he prefers.

What are six words to describe your food?
Simple, passionate, real, comfort, market, tasty.

What are eight words to describe you?
Calm, friendly, serious, determined, humble, hungry, thirsty, open-minded.

Your best recent food find:

Soi 56 in LA (Thai street food and beer).

Most undervalued ingredient:
Olive oil.

Rules of conduct in your kitchen:
Have fun, but be professional.

One food you detest:

One food you can't live without:

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:


What fast food do you admit to eating?

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Have fun.

After-work hangout:
Hockey rink.

Favorite celebrity chef:
Hubert Keller, San Francisco.

Celebrity chef who should shut up:
Bobby Flay.

Favorite music to cook by:


Best food city in America:

What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:


What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:


Favorite cookbooks:

A Fresh Taste of Italy by Michele Scicolone.

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?

Playing hockey, collecting records.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:

Coconut crab in Thailand.

You're making breakfast. What are you having?

Eggs, goetta, toast, O.J.

You're at the market. What do you buy two of?
Flats of berries.

Weirdest customer request:

We had someone who wanted me to take a bite out of each course of food we served them . . . and they wanted to see the bite mark!

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