Niyaz’s Top 20 O.C. Dishes of 2016

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My top food moment of 2016 … Zov winning the Golden Foodie Award for 2016 Chef of the Year!

It’s been a great year for Orange County foodies.

We have Lobster Fries, Spaghetti Pizza and Churro Loops; Top Chefs in the kitchen and new openings at such a rapid pace it’s hard to keep up. There’s been a lot of delicious dishes to try, and while I couldn’t get to them all, I did manage to enjoy my fair share of awesome plates.

Here’s the 20 best things I ate and drank this year!

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Tempo Urban Kitchen adds Chef Cody Storts, new locations and brunch + plus a huge party!

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Chef Cody Storts, formerly of Grits Fullerton, has joined the team at Tempo Urban Kitchen as Executive Chef. Tempo Urban Kitchen, started nearly 2 years ago by Lascari’s and Cibo Fresh President Jorge Cueva, focuses on American-inspired Mexican food, inclusive of the melting pot of influences modern America draws from.

Cueva recently opened his second location in Anaheim Hills, with plans to expand to Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, and Tokyo, Japan in the coming year. Storts will helm the expansion in the kitchen, with his first item of business being the launch of Tempo’s brunch menu this weekend.  … Read more…

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!!

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 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…

Grits Fullerton releases “Dirty South” menu for Beer Dinner Friday, June 24—You can win 2 tickets!

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Grits Fullerton is headed to The Dirty South this Friday, June 24, as Chef Cody Storts teams up with Victor Novak of Golden Road Brewing and Golden Road Pub Orange County for a 6 course beer dinner featuring brews you’ve never had before. Tickets, $135, including food, drinks, tax and service, are available here: bit.ly/GritsAndGoldenRoad.

The restaurant is holding a contest through Thursday evening to give away 2 seats to the dinner. You can get those details at the Grits Fullerton Facebook Page. Keep reading for the dinner and beer menu. … Read more…