Recently, I attended the American Liver Foundation's Flavors of OC at Fairmont Newport Beach. While there were many talented, well-known local chefs present, I knew nothing about one: Fairmont's own Brian Doherty. I was assigned to his table, and experienced a dinner that blew me away. From his experiences at other locales to their adoption of Drake's Farm goats and work with Backyard Bees, chef had stories to tell.
What's the one thing people didn't tell you about working in a restaurant?
How much satisfaction you receive when others enjoy your food.
You're making breakfast. What are you having?
Every morning on my first day off, I cook breakfast for my family – fresh sliced fruit and berries, biscuits, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and my youngest daughter usually chooses one her favorites: banana pancakes, french toast, waffles, blueberry muffins, or homemade cinnamon rolls.
You spent some time at the Four Seasons in Hawaii. How did that opportunity come about?
At the time, I was restaurant chef at the Georgian Room in the Four Seasons Seattle, when I got a call from an old co-worker. My friend informed me that the Hawaii property was hiring, and I went for it. I really fell in love with the islands while I was there. It was a great experience and a beautiful property.
Favorite places to eat.
Bottega Louie, Pho Viet, Bouchon, Slater's 50/50.
What differences have you noticed between diners in Seattle and Orange County?
Seattle is a little more seasonal, heavier in the fall and winter months. Down here in OC, we have the seasons. But with the beautiful weather, I tend to make my fall and winter dishes much lighter.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Shallots! I love the flavor and versatility of this ingredient.
We want to know more about the goat cheese and honey you serve. We heard the hotel has their own bees and goats?
In the early summer of 2011, the Fairmont Newport Beach adopted seven goats in collaboration with local Drake Farms Goat Dairy. The female goats reside at Drake Farms and are cared for by their dedicated farmers and staff. The farm uses the goat's milk to produce organic and sustainable goat cheese and soap. Fairmont is leading the way when it comes to sustainable food sourcing by adopting the local goats.
(Also) In 2011, Fairmont Newport Beach hired Backyard Bees, an Orange County bee rescue and relocation service, to save our current hive of honeybees from extermination. There was a large swarm atop of the tall hedge in front of the hotel. The Backyard Bees crew was able to relocate the hive to a safer home on the rooftop. Located on the sixth floor of the hotel, three beehives each containing thousands of bees supply the hotel with honey. In partnership with Backyard Bees, our culinary team helps to harvest and extract the honey from the hives. We consider our bees as part of our "Fairmont Family" as they create flavorful and savory honey that our culinary team uses throughout the hotel. The honey is also used to make honey cream, which is a moisturizing emulsion made with the beeswax. Honey, honey cream, bee balm and lip dew are available at the gift shop.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Keep it simple and season food properly.
We enjoyed your cuisine at the American Liver Foundation's Flavors of OC event. Tell us about your cooking style, as well as some of the courses served.
My cooking style has a very deep French influence. Most of the kitchens I have worked in were heavy French cuisine, and I have grown to really love and respect that style of cooking. At American Liver, we served eight courses; one of them being seared foie gras with honey-glazed pork belly, which was fun to do. The flavors went really well, and I love incorporating our rooftop honey into our menus. We ended the meal with a milk chocolate and ginger soufflé that was to die for. I love that recipe, and it is certainly a "Wow" when it hits the table.
Favorite meal growing up:
Both my mom and my dad were excellent cooks and really got me started young in focusing on flavors. About twice a month, my dad would get pizza from our favorite local pizza pub, Filippi's. Eventually, they decided to raise their prices, which promptly ended our bi-monthly pizza tradition.
As a result, my father and I decided we would make our own pizza from scratch. We really worked hard at it together, and over the years slowly perfected the recipe. We rarely get to see each other now, but when we do, our first meal is always that pizza recipe we created together; and we still enjoy it to this day.
What can guests expect to find on the menu this season?
Well, we are heading into fall and winter, so we like to focus on seasonal ingredients. Sugar pie pumpkins, butternut and delacata squash, parsnips, celeriac– just to name a few.