On the Line: Keith Stich of Wildfish Seafood Grille, Part Two

Our featured interview with chef Keith Stich continues as we delve into familial influences and how he prefers his branzini. Prepare for an Asian-inspired fish dish tomorrow, but today, catch up on part one.

Hardest lesson you've learned:
To control my emotions during a busy night.

What would your last meal on Earth be?
Anything my mother cooked me, such as her pork green chile.

Who's your hero, culinary or otherwise?
My grandfather because he gave me my extremely hard-working ethic and taught me a lot.

Tell us about your food-service-industry background.
I started washing dishes at 14 and fell in love with everything in the hospitality industry. I went to Scottsdale Culinary Institute [Editor's Note: Now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Scottsdale] at age 19 and completed it while working at various restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have worked at restaurants in Scottsdale, Denver and here in Orange County.

Where are you originally from and what brought you to Orange County?
Most of my life has been in the Phoenix area. I came to Orange County for a job and fell in love with it.

With experience specializing in both steak and seafood, how do you prefer your surf and turf?
For steak, New York strip, medium-rare, and for fish, pan-seared branzini finished with lemon and butter.

Why do you participate in charity events for children?
Many people need help, but all kids are innocent and deserve a fair start in life.

What factors create such a popular Happy Hour at your establishment–selection, pricing, atmosphere, location, etc.?
All of the above.

Your restaurant offers a gluten-free menu. How challenging is it to create choices on par with the standard dinner menu, and how often do patrons order from it?
Fortunately, many of our most popular dishes can be altered to be gluten-free.

What dish would you tell newcomers to Wildfish to try first?
The pot stickers.

What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
I have no clue.

What advice do you have for those who might be thinking about a career in food?
Be prepared to work hard every day of your life, and always strive to be better than your last day.

What do you see yourself doing in five years? Ten years?
Hopefully, owning and operating my own restaurant.

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