Huntington Beach's Pacific City continues to expand its restaurant scene with the near-completion of Bluegold, a concept from the Blackhouse Hospitality Group (Technically it's two concepts, but that's a whole other discussion best explained over cocktails). Chef-partner Tin Vuong found the time to discuss the new endeavor in addition to my usual parade of questions.
How did you decide on expansion into Orange County— and not only Huntington Beach, but Pacific City?
The property had amazing bones for a restaurant, and it's been super fun reconnecting with old chef friends and colleagues in Orange County.
Where did you grow up and where do you currently call home?
San Gabriel Valley for both.
As a wine enthusiast, do you have a favorite varietal of wine or preferred vineyard?
Any good Cab from Napa Valley.
Favorite places to eat.
Shin-Sen-Gumi in Monterey Park. They serve a $20 all-you-can-eat yakitori buffet for lunch. It's the best deal in LA.
Tell us about attending California Academy of Culinary Arts. Did you learn something there that you might not have learned as quickly if you hadn't attended?
I focused on learning the fundamentals while I was there.
Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Learn how to salt properly.
How did the collaboration between you and Jed Sanford begin?
We met at the right place at the right time. Both of us have different skill sets, but we're both creative and business-minded.
Tell us about the name and concept of Bluegold.
Bluegold's name was inspired by the point where the sunset hits the ocean on the horizon. With every new restaurant, Jed and I look out for which type of cuisine is under-served in the community. Which is why Bluegold will offer a more progressive, farm-to-table menu in Huntington Beach.
How does it differ from your other concepts with Blackhouse Hospitality?
Bluegold will definitely have the vibe of a California coastal eatery. The menu will be influenced by Old World Spanish and Californian flavors, but with a global approach. We're also going to apply every culinary technique we learned and mastered at each of our other restaurants. So consequently, our kitchen is decked out with a hot bar, raw bar, as well as wood and charcoal grills.
Your culinary background includes a couple of Orange County establishments [Editor's Note: Tin's bio listed St. Regis Hotel and Resort in Monarch Beach and Sapphire in Laguna Beach.]. Please elaborate on your time here.
I had great experiences working in Orange County, and I spent the time learning all I could.
Most undervalued ingredient:
Dry curry spices. I use my own mix.
Your best recent food find:
I'm always finding great Vietnamese restaurants in Westminster and Garden Grove.
When you're not in the restaurants, what are you doing in your free time (assuming you have any)?
I spend the majority of my time with my family while I'm away from work.
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Be honest with yourself and don't worry about what others are doing.
Last thing you looked up online:
Where was your most recent meal?
El Pollo Loco – four piece street tacos.
What profession would you like to try if you weren't in this business?
I would still be involved in some other sector of business management.
Bluegold is coming soon to the second floor of Pacific City in Huntington Beach. Follow them at www.dinebluegold.com.