On The Line: Travis Flood of Landmark, Part One

If you take an establishment and change both chef and management, does that make up for its previous reputation? In the case of Travis Flood, we believe so. He joined the kitchen team over the summer and revamped the menu to suit the local clientele and to banish memories of a certain jerk bartender from the past. That's the past, though, folks: embrace Landmark's exciting present and future.

Your earliest food memory:
Doing dishes and my mom's boring pot roast. I remember one time, I went and poured a bunch of salt in there. She tasted it, and ordered a pizza. I sabotaged that pot roast. My mom's a better cook now. She would call me for cooking advice (but when she quoted Tyler Florence, I told her to call him, not me).

Favorite meal growing up:
Gramps' spaghetti and fried eggs. We'd take the leftover spaghetti and sauce from the dinner at night and marinate them together. A chunk of butter would go in the pan, and we'd let the cold pasta fry before flipping over. In another pan, we cooked a sunny side up egg. You put the egg on top, and it's done. I served a variation in my restaurant in Sausalito.


Your best recent food find:
The Cheese Cave in Claremont. It's a cool, little neighborhood store. They know their stuff. My wife will pick up cheese and salumi for me, and it's a meal. I also love a good brown rice wine vinegar.

Most undervalued ingredient:
Salt and pepper. People ask why our food tastes so good, and I tell  them, “It's because we season it.” I let my salt and pepper sit in the steak. I finish my steaks with a touch of pepper. It's the little things.

What happened to the steakhouse?
Don't have to be a steakhouse to serve steak, but the restaurant was sold this past July. The new owners wanted to embrace a fresher image.

You say Landmark doesn't have a freezer, but we've seen one.
It's the size of 8 shoe boxes, and it's used to keep my ice cream from Drunken Udder frozen.

Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best:
Opportunity to stand out.

What fast food do you admit to eating?
Anything off of a taco truck, but I never eat corporate fast food.

What is your beverage of choice?
A cold IPA, usually at home.

Tell us about the owners.
Scott and Kelly are OC residents and have five boys. They are a pleasure to work with, and support my food and me 100%.

Where was your most recent meal?
I was at Ink in LA. I had about eight different dishes. Chef Voltaggio and Chef Cole took good care of my wife and I. It was all fabulous, well seasoned and very creative.

Best culinary tip for the home cook:
Don't be afraid to season your food with salt and pepper.

You weren't employed at the time, but do you know about the incident involving a receipt?
It's a bummer that there's still people in the world today that have that approach to treating people, let alone a guest in your restaurant.

What do you think of people who take photographs of their food?
If you have the time, great. I like hot food, and if it's good, it should last longer in your memory bank than a picture on your cell phone.

Favorite chef.
Laurent Gras because he is very disciplined at what he does. His food is the result of many years of dedication and sacrifice with the constant drive to be the best. His flavor profile goes from very light and fresh to layered and complex.

How do you describe Orange County flavors?
Simple and straightforward, with the room to improve.

Weirdest thing you've ever eaten:
A fermented duck egg. A Taiwanese classmate brought it when we were in culinary school. Not so good. I had to excuse myself from the room. The only other time I cringed like that was in Venice. They gave me a piece of stale, toasted bread with fermented fish on it. I now use those fish in an XO sauce I make.

Favorite places to eat (besides your own).
The Ferry Building and farmers market in San Francisco. There's a lot of good restaurants in San Francisco, but this is a magical place.

Weirdest customer request (and did you do it?):
Had an individual request that his pasta be pureed. I said sure, threw it in the Vita Mix and blended till smooth.

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