3 Golden Foodie Award nominees you should know

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Sunday marks the fifth annual Golden Foodie Awards at the Fairmont Newport Beach. The Orange County Restaurant Association’s premiere event features regionally and nationally-regarded celebrity chefs, tons of great food and an awards gala honoring the best in Orange County’s culinary world.

It was a big year for Orange County chefs and their restaurants, and this year’s show will be themed to honor both the legendary chefs who paved the way and the trailblazers of today. Three of the restaurants Knife & Spork Public Relations works with are nominated this year. Whether they bring home Golden Foodies or not, here’s why you should know them:

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Zov Karamardian of Zov’s Restaurants
Nominated for Chef of the Year
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There’s a handful of pioneering female chefs in Orange County (thankfully, more so today), and Zov Karamardian is one of them. Her blend of Middle Eastern flavors and French influences have garnered local enthusiasts for 30 years come 2017. What started as one cafe in Tustin has grown to restaurants in Anaheim, Irvine, Newport Coast and Tustin, with a first-ever South Orange County location in San Clemente in the works.

While trends come and go, Zov manages to remain on trend year after year, adapting versatile menus that highlight her style of cooking while always showcasing what’s hot now, too. The Stadium Menu at Zov’s Anaheim is exemplary of her ability to reframe familiar classics including pizza, tacos and burgers in unique ways.

In late 2015 she cooked at the James Beard House in New York for the third time in her career and Zov’s was named the 2015 Small Business of the Year by the State of California for the 37th Senate District. In 2016, Zov founded #ZovsFamilyTable, pairing with local nonprofits to provide healthy family meals to Orange County families.

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Falasophy
Falafel & Hummus Bar on Wheels
Nominated for Best Vegetarian
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Few food trucks on the road in Los Angeles and Orange County are as ingenious as Rashad Moumneh’s “Falafel Chariot.” The roaming falafel and hummus bar serves up Middle Eastern classics punched up with bold flavors and even bolder ideas. The former Taco Bell corporate executive started Falasophy with the idea of promoting plant power and, specifically, the nutritional powerhouse that is the noble garbanzo bean.

Rashad’s falafels are crunchy bites of bright green heaven, but it’s not just how good they are, but how he uses them that sets Falasophy apart from the faux-lafel fakers out there.

Try them in critically-acclaimed tacos, with pickled veggies and a spicy-cool crema, or shoved into a pita with Vietnamese-style veggies just like a banh mi. There isn’t much like this on the streets, so a stop at Falasophy is a must. Schedule here: http://falasophy.com/#schedule.

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Grits owners Cody Storts and Darlene and Erik Arevalo.

Grits Fullerton
Nominated for Best Beer Selection
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Grits Fullerton and beer go together like maple syrup and fish sauce, look it up. Boozie puts together a killer beer selection with taps and bottles from craft breweries near and far, complementing the “American-Food-on-Acid” style of cuisine Chef Cody Storts is known for.

Their ability to source great beer is best exemplified in their ambitious, themed beer dinners, which have seen the Grits crew pair with some of the best breweries in the country including Stone Brewing Co., The Bruery/Bruery Terreaux, Noble Ale Works, Golden Road and Sierra Nevada. Cody asks the breweries to truly dig into their archive or create new takes on beers they may be working on already.

The results are never disappointing, and even led to the creation of the best beer I’ve had all year—”Poop Goes the Weasel” by Noble Ale Works during Grits’ “Blood & Guts” dinner. It’s a civet-poop coffee stout that I couldn’t get enough of. There were only 6 gallons made and it went fast. If I had a glass, I’d raise it!

Congratulations to the nominees!!

The Beach Barrel brings back Ochoa’s Chorizo Chili

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What I love most about the crew at The Beach Barrel in Newport Beach is that they’re always trying something new, and it’s usually on the outer stratosphere of American grub. Jared Jones and Co. have brought us Hawaiian Sticky Buns, Jerk Chicken French Fries and, finally, one of their finest recipes has returned to the menu just in time for fall.

Have you had Ochoa’s Chorizo? If you haven’t been to this tiny Santa Ana storefront near Warner and Main you’re missing out on the leanest, tastiest chorizo in town. They sell it all kinds of ways too, spicy, mild—a green jalapeno version and even soyrizo made on site.

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To make their killer chili, Jared’s taking Ochoa’s spicy, adding a little more heat, ground beef and beans (plus some secret spices). You can order it in a bowl, but it’s better with a bunch of cheese on crunchy French fries and juicy burgers. If you haven’t had the Barrel’s signature burger patty you’re definitely missing out … it’s beefy and spiced, touting a unique flavor you won’t find at other burger joints.

The Beach Barrel is open 7 days a week on the Newport Beach Peninsula, and they stay open for dine-in, takeout and delivery until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Locals looking for delivery can use UberEATS: The Beach Barrel to make it happen.

For more on The Beach Barrel, check out this great article written by Valentine Bratoff for Spoon University!

The Beach Barrel
3305 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach, Ca
949-531-6222

Grits’ Pancake Balls featured on Foodbeast

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Peter Pham and Reach from the Foodbeast crew recently visited Grits Fullerton to get a taste of Chef Cody’s delicious pancake balls. Cody’s take on the Danish aebleskiver is a more-cake-like take on the European original, only Grits executive chef is doing them up his way.

For example, take one of my favorite dishes of the year, Thai Balls—with pancake balls, fried pork cutlet, raw shallot/jalapeno/cilantro and fish sauce-maple syrup. I lovingly refer to the dish as the Breakfast Banh Mi (that’s Vietnamese, I know) but one taste of this dish and you’ll understand exactly).

Cody’s also been going through the cereals of his childhood to spruce up his balls and the results are insane, and insanely delicious.

Click here to see Foodbeast’s video and article about Grits Fullerton’s Pancake Balls!

Grits’ “California Love” Beer Dinner highlights the Golden State in 6 plates

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So far this year, Grits Fullerton‘s beer dinners have seen Chef Cody Storts explore, among several themes, Blood & Guts with Noble Ale Works and The Dirty South with Golden Road Brewing. But he had yet to properly mine his home state of California for inspiration.

For the “California Love” beer dinner Sept. 9, the Grits crew set out to prove why the West Coast is the Best Coast.

They tapped Chico, California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, their Barrel Room and popular Beer Camp series for six beers to pair with courses highlighting the traditional twists and out-of-bounds ideas Chef Cody’s known for.
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Grits Fullerton hosts “California Love” beer dinner with Sierra Nevada Sept. 9

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It’s going down Sept. 9 at Grits Fullerton! The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Barrel Room will unleash some valued treasures for the One-Night-Only “California Love”-themed beer dinner by Chef Cody Storts.

RESERVE YOUR SEATS before they’re gone at www.gritsfullerton.com by selecting 6:30 P.M. SEPT. 9 on their reservations page —Dinner is $100 per person plus tax & tip.

YOUR CHANCE TO WIN: Visit this post on their Facebook page for a chance to win 2 seats at the dinner, just by sharing the post! See you there Orange County!!

Summer’s Almost Over—Savor the Season at Zov’s

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September’s around the corner and honestly, it can stay there. I want to rock these shorts and sandal tan just a little while longer. And, though the season is fleeting, Chef Zov Karamardian is offering a taste of sunshine with her seasonal menu celebrating the flavors of late summer.

Dishes include:

  • Burrata Cheese with Heirloom Tomatoes, arugula, sugar snap peas, fresh mint, basil, lemon and lime juice and olive oil
  • Shrimp, Watermelon and Feta Salad with cucumber, arugula, mint and lime juice
  • (My personal favorite, pictured above) Pan-Seared Trout with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce and Summer Vegetable Medley

Visit Zov’s in Anaheim (Platinum Triangle), Irvine (Orchard Hills), Newport Coast and Tustin (Bistro side only). For menus and location information, visit www.zovs.com.

Pizza e Vino lands high on Orange Coast’s “28 Best Pizzas”

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The pizza at Pizza e Vino impressed me when I first tasted it as a Register food writer back in 2008. I was immediately smitten with the handmade pies coming out of the oven at Steve Dickus’ intimate Rancho Santa Margarita pizzeria. Over the years we kept in touch (and I ate there occasionally), so when I started work on Knife & Spork Public Relations in December 2014, it only seemed natural to call Steve for a recommendation. Instead, he hired me and became my first client. … Read more…

2016 Golden Foodie Awards Voter Guide

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Summer’s winding down and we’re headed into the final third of 2016. It’s an election year, and you’re going to be faced with a tough decision this year, like you are every election year … Who will you pick to win at the 2016 Golden Foodie Awards?

Orange County’s premiere foodies-choice awards show returns this September and voting is live now! Use our handy Voter’s Guide to help you with your pics for several categories of voting, which take place Aug. 1-21, 2016.

We represent several clients who may be great for a specific category, so we’ll list them all and the decision will be yours based on what you like to eat and where. Thanks for your support!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THE 2016 GOLDEN FOODIE AWARDS!!

Aug. 1-7, 2016:

Best American: Grits Fullerton
Best Vegetarian: Falasophy
Best Bartender: Cesar Cerrudo, Anepalco
Best Italian Food: Pizza e Vino
Best Mexican: Anepalco
Best Pizza: Pizza e Vino

Aug. 8-14, 2016: 

Best Mediterranean: Zov’s
Best Beer Selection: Grits Fullerton
Best Burger: The Beach Barrel, Grits Fullerton or Zov’s
Best Californian: Falasophy
Best Service: Anepalco or Zov’s

Aug. 15-21, 2016
Best New Restaurant: Grits Fullerton
Best Cocktails: Anepalco or Zov’s
Best Dessert: Zov’s
Best Wine: Pizza e Vino

Vice Munchies on Chef Daniel Godinez’s Modern Mexican makeover at Anepalco

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Vice Munchies‘ writer Javier Cabral penned a piece recently on Chef Daniel Godinez’s Modern Mexican restaurant Anepalco, calling it “One of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve dined at in recent memory.” Godinez recently unveiled his new menu, which eschews the French-Mexican fusion he is known for to delve headfirst into Modern Mexican cuisine.

Godinez uses the techniques of today’s kitchen to recreate traditional Mexican dishes including chilaquiles, mole and more, while Head Bartender Cesar Cerrudo pours drinks that are as impressive as the food coming out of the kitchen. Cabral’s reporting goes deep into the different styles of Mexican cuisine in this highly-informative read:

“This kind of Mexican restaurant—one that breaks the mold of a typical Mexican joint—is called acocina de autor, a restaurant style that originated in Mexico when native cooks refused to follow their fancy French predecessors in order to focus on redefining what Mexican food can be. The soft-spoken Godinez has successfully achieved this at Anepalco in a way that no other Mexico-born chef has done before—and of all places, in Orange, California, just a few steps from the Interstate 5 freeway.

This kind of approach is not to be confused with the other Mexican food movement currently building steam in Southern California, known as Alta California cuisine (a term that dates back to 1822, when California was the territory of Mexico). Alta California cuisine evolved into a mix of traditional Mexican food, American comfort food, and the flavors and produce of California made famous by USA-born Mexican-American chefs like Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria just a few miles away, Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, Eddie Ruiz (formerly of Corazón y Miel), and Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos.”

Click here to read Vice Munchies story on Anepalco in Orange.

Anepalco
3737 W. Chapman Ave.
Orange, Ca 92868

Grits Fullerton celebrates 1st anniversary with Golden Road at “Dirty South” Beer Dinner

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Grits Fullerton—Orange County chef Cody Storts first solo venture, with partners Darlene and Erik Arevalo—celebrated its 1-year anniversary June 24. The Downtown Fullerton restaurant serves as a modern diner, dishing out Storts’ insane takes on brunch, lunch and dinner classics.

For their first birthday, Storts teamed with Victor Novak, brewmaster of Los Angeles’ Golden Road Brewing—which just opened its first Orange County in Anaheim’s Platinum Trianglefor a 6-course beer dinner dubbed “The Dirty South,” paying homage to Storts childhood years spent in the South.  … Read more…