On the Line: Chris Brodeur of Tangata, Part One

Museum dining has a certain air about it. You're surrounded by works of art in a (mostly) serene environment. The food should be just as composed, or at least match the mood. At the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Chris Brodeur creates beauty in the kitchen. I arrive one afternoon, another patron seeking knowledge.

Where does the restaurant's name come from?
It means “mankind” in the New Zealand language of Maori.

Your best recent food find:
Cemitas poblanas (pueblo-style tortas) in East LA.


Most undervalued ingredient:
Vinegars of all kinds.

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Indian food.

You have extensive experience working with Patina Group. What has working with them taught you?
I have learned so much working with this company, from food to administrative. I mostly elevated my culinary skills working with a lot of great chefs and people.

How does that differ from your time working in a hotel chain, or even a dining commons at Cal Poly Pomona?
Those places I worked for in the beginning taught me a lot of the basics and ins and outs of kitchen life.

You worked in Vegas for about a year. Tell us about casino dining and its customers.
Vegas was crazy busy at all times of the day and night. 24-hour town means you're a 24-hour cook! Stories . . .what happens in Vegas, stays.

One food you can't live without.
Cheese!!! There are so many, and I want them all!

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
Chicken testicles fried in chili oil (Taiwanese style).

Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
Sushi Jen in downtown LA.

Where was your most recent meal?
Hot and sour Japanese ramen at Foo Foo Tei.

Your earliest food memory:
Making banana nut bread with my grandma.

Did you drink a lot of beer when you worked for The Bottle Room in Whittier?
Yes, lots. I like IPAs.

What is your beverage of choice?
I really like Fentimans dandelion & burdock soda.

Most popular items on Tangata's menu:
The tuna melt and salmon Cobb salad.

Best culinary tip for the home cook.
Buy good knives and pans!

Favorite chef.
Marco Pierre White. He's a no BS chef that trained all the chefs people are in love with these days.

You stated that brunch is your favorite meal, but what are you making for breakfast?
A fried egg, toast and coffee.

Favorite meal growing up:
Chunky peanut butter and boysenberry jam sandwich with milk.

Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
[Customer] brought their own gluten-free bread and wanted our sandwich on it. Yes, we try to [ful]fill all requests the guests have, within reason.

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