Meet John Cuevas, the James Beard-nominated new chef at The Crow Bar and Kitchen, who was previously cooking at Muse at Montage Beverly Hills as its executive chef. He's no stranger to OC though, having worked at St. Regis Resort in Dana Point and The Loft at Montage Laguna Beach. Now that he's back in OC, cooking new dishes at the first credited gastropub in Orange County, we got him to answer our standard list of softball questions and also a few probing ones.
What are six words to describe your food?
Clean, refined, thoughtful, playful, imaginative, really good.
What are 10 words to describe you?
Charming, mentor/developer, caring, driven, passionate, confident, cook at heart, humble, charismatic.
Your best recent food find:
I've been surprised to learn about all of the amazing food items that can now be found online. You can have unpasteurized milk and high-quality meats delivered to your home
Most undervalued ingredient:
Salt and pepper. Often this is misused in restaurants and forgotten about at home.
Rules of conduct in your kitchens:
Professional and with a great attitude.
One food you detest:
One food you can't live without:
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Potential to become a great food region–on par with Los Angeles.
What fast food do you admit to eating?
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Do your grocery shopping on the outside aisles.
Been there, done that. Now I go home.
If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My grandfather. He never had the chance to sit in my dining room and try my food.
Favorite celebrity chef:
Pierre Gagnaire. Love the way he analyzes/thinks about food and the way he relates it to life. For example, his comment: It's just food.
Celebrity chef who should shut up:
They all have contributed to the craft and reach different personalities and levels of talent. I'm glad that they are sharing their passion.
Proudest moment as a chef:
James Beard nomination, Best Chef Pacific.
Favorite music to cook by:
Depends on the mood and who I'm cooking for. Some go-to's include: Linkin Park and Mumford and Sons.
Best food city in America:
Favorite restaurant in America:
What you'd like to see more of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Late-night dining options.
What you'd like to see less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:
Flavor Bible, Culinary Artistry, Tartine.
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Thinking about cooking/food, spending time with my family, hiking, surfing.
What show would you pitch to the Food Network?
Iron Chef–Quiet Contenders.