Rick LeBlanc of Rick's Atomic Cafe Goes On the Line, Part Two!

We interviewed Rick LeBlanc of Rick's Atomic Cafe yesterday, the man who's bringing a bit of organic, New England class to the office drones around John Wayne Airport; after the jump, the rest of the story!

You're making an omelet.
What's in it?

Fresh blueberries, sage and triple cream

You're at the market.
What do you buy two of?

Heirloom tomatoes.

Weirdest customer

A sandwich of refried beans and fried egg

Favorite OC
restaurant(s) other than your own:

Bo De Tinh Tam Chay in Westminster. This is a classic Vietnamese vegetarian
restaurant with an endless menu of noodle, rice and porridge dishes.

Hardest lesson you've

Follow your passion. I spent years working in other fields while
catering and cooking for friends and family on the side before finally committing
to my passion

What would the last meal
on Earth be?

Fresh New Brunswick, Canada lobster poached in butter ala
The French Laundry

Who's your hero?
Culinary or otherwise?

Marcella Hazan.

What cuisine that you
are unfamiliar with would you want to learn more about?

ability to be so subtle with flavors and so respectful of ingredients.

How did you end up in
such a strange location? Any plans to move somewhere more visible?

Necessity is
the mother of invention–do you have any ideas?

What dish would you tell
newcomers to try first?

An omelet with home fries and toast–comfort

What were you doing
before you cooked at Rick's, that is, what's your background, culinary or otherwise?

I started in the restaurant business in Connecticut back in 1974 I worked the
front of house and spent every moment I could in the kitchen learning techniques
and skills that I have never forgotten. After moving to Boston I took a job in
the arts and started catering on a small scale with fellow chefs and this
continued here in California until I took a job as chef and then Executive Chef
for the Shoreline Yacht Club.

What advice do you have
for those that might be thinking about starting a career in food?

If you are
passionate about cooking, the long hours and minimal pay will be overshadowed by
the opportunity to create.

What do you see yourself
doing in 5 years? 10 years?

My dream is the little neighborhood restaurant
where I know most customers names and they know mine. I would love to own the
classic local foodie hangout.

What you'd like to see
less of in Orange County from a culinary standpoint:

Chain restaurants

Favorite cookbooks:
Lord Krishna's Cuisine: the Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking–this book
fascinates with the complexity of spices and flavors of Indian cooking. Marcella
Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook–not only do you learn classic regional
recipes and techniques, you get a story about the origin.

When you're not in the
kitchen cooking, what are you doing?

Well, if the Connecticut Huskies or the New England Patriots are not on the tube, I enjoy
music and Mid-Century design and architecture.

Rick's Atomic Cafe, 3100 Airway Ave., Ste. 113, Costa Mesa, (714) 825-0570; twitter.com/ricksatomiccafe.

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