On the Line: Britta Kvinge Pulliam of Britta's Cafe, Part Two

Part two of our interview with Britta's Cafe owner Britta Kvinge Pulliam. First one is at this link; the latest batch after the jump!

Favorite OC restaurant(s) other than your own:

Spaghetti Bender: It is like going home for me. I started working there we I was fifteen.

Golden Truffle: I think Allen is one of the most talented chef in the OC.
Onotria: Great Italian food.
Roy's in Fashion Island: Great for fish!

C'est Si Bon: For bread.

Ramos House: For breakfast.

Hardest lesson you've learned:

Always keep you salt and sugar in different looking containers. And always grab pans with a cloth–even if you do not think the pan is hot.

What would the last meal on Earth be?

Roladen with red cabbage. Or maybe BBQ ribs or…tamales.

Who's your hero? Culinary or otherwise?


What cuisine that you are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about?
Indian. I would like to start incorporating some Indian inspired dishes to the restaurant.

Is there any chance of you opening another restaurant again?
Never say never…but no plans right now.

What dish would you tell newcomers to try first?
I usually like the German-influenced food. Right now: pork tenderloin with Spaetzle and red cabbage. Why? Because many people are not familiar with German food.

How did Britta's Cafe change, if any, when you moved from Newport to Irvine?

Britta's grew up when we moved to Irvine–became more refined. And we have a full bar…

What were you doing before you cooked at Britta's, that is, what's your background, culinary or otherwise?
I started in the restaurant business at 15 years old working at The Spaghetti Bender and then opened Britta's at 25 years old. I have never worked in any other type of business. I love the business and this way of life. I always tell people when they are thinking about opening their own restaurant that it is a way of life not a job. Kinda like a priesthood HAHAHA!

The Irvine Farmer's Market near your restaurant used to sell hot food until some businesses complained. What was your opinion on the controversy?
Wow, I wasn't aware. I assume the businesses that complained were more the food court types. It doesn't bother me: the more the merrier I say! More food being sold–the more people are around! I would like to have the market closer to me.I think it should be by the tower, in the shade!! It is the best market in the OC!

How have you seen Irvine develop from a culinary point of view in the decade since you relocated?

Well, I remember when I first moved Britta's to Irvine, we only served wild Salmon, and I would have to always explain (and get on my soap box) why we do not always have Salmon on the menu–not in season, we only serve wild. Customers would roll their eyes and say, “Well, you can get it at so and so” Now, they ask me if our salmon is wild or farm raised and also if our Swordfish and Halibut is farmed raised, but that is okay! I love it that people are so aware. Also, the farmers market keeps getting busier and busier! Just great!

What advice do you have for those that might be thinking about starting a career in food?

Work in the restaurant in every position. I started doing prep in the kitchen when I was fifteen. And I have done every job possible–you cannot be taught this in school. And you must LOVE LOVE LOVE this business.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? 10 years?

Gosh, I hope to travel more.

What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Starbucks. Do we really need one on every corner? And less fast food.

Favorite cookbooks:

Okay, I have a huge cookbook collection. I organize them by county, baking, general cook books, restaurant cookbooks, reference and others (like Amy Sedaris), then I have my favorite girlfriend section, and then my favorite boyfriend section. My favorite girls:  Julia, Susan (Goin), Martha, Alice, Marion, Lulu and Ina…I also like The Two Hot Tamales … but they are under Mexican Cookbooks.

Boyfriends: Jacque, Charlie, Patrick and Alfred. I am sure there is more–it depends on my mood. I purchase a cookbook whenever I am on a trip and have everyone sign it that I am traveling with.

When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Walking with my dogs–I love my dogs! Gardening: I like to grow my own vegetables.

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