Three founders of Chefs Who Surf, a group that promotes ocean conservation and sustainable seafood, give us a taste of their seasonal specialties.
(From left to right) Micah Fields, chef at Hash, Venice, California
Vincent Muraco, chef at Zimzala, Hungtington Beach, California
Philippe Breneman, chef at Aquarius, Santa Cruz, California
For more on the Chefs Who Surf fund-raising efforts, visit chefswhosurf.com
ZIMZALA, 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, California
Learned to cook: at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco
Learned to surf: in Waikiki Beach, Hawaii, with a friend on a high-school graduation trip
Surf secret: Vince’s favorite Huntington Beach surf spot is Bolsa Chica.
Kitchen secret: His Japanese Masahiro chef’s knife is the one tool he could not live without.
What we love about Zimzala: The name, for starters. Riptionary, an online surf lexicon, defines zimzala as a “free-spirited person who finds peace with sand between his toes.” That’s also the vibe inside the Surf City, U.S.A., hangout with an open kitchen and a chic bar where mixologists concoct new twists on classic cocktails, like the Heirloom (tomato) Bloody Mary. On the menu, coastal Mediterranean dishes like spicy Portuguese crab cakes and made-for-sharing mezzes (small plates) are prepared right in front of diners. Our favorite accessory: the saffron and turquoise mini-tagine-pots-turned-salt-and-pepper-cellars on every table.
The dish on his dish: Seafood pasta from an Italian-American chef who grew up on the coast seems like a natural, predictable choice, but this dish
is full of subtle surprises. Take one of the more underappreciated delicacies from the sea, for instance, the braised octopus,
which adds a nice heartiness to the dish. With rich Lobster Sauce and salty sea beans, Vince’s seafood pasta will warm bellies
on a cool fall day.
Recipe: Seafood Pasta
HASH, 1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice, California
Learned to cook: at the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena
Learned to surf: in Venice Beach. After buying all the gear for a college surf class he never got to take, Micah taught himself in Dog Town during his off-hours.
Surf secret: Micah rides in board shorts by Arbor, a skate company based in Venice.
Kitchen secret: His favorite ingredient is lemons, because “they make everything a little fresher.”
What we love about Hash: The down-home, market-fresh menu is the main attraction here. Featuring new twists on comfort food favorites like green eggs and ham, Cap’n’s French toast (stuffed with Cap’n Crunch), fish-and-chips, and the best burger ever, breakfast or dinner at this groovy café will not leave Venice shoppers and surfers hungry. The price is nice, too―the most expensive item on the menu is $23.
The dish on his dish: It’s simple―all that’s required is hashing, or chopping ingredients such as turkey, sweet potatoes, and apples, into small
pieces, followed by a little sautéing. In spite of the dish’s relatively easy preparation, the flavor is surprisingly complex,
thanks to seasonal ingredients at their peak and three different types of apples.
Recipe: Day-After-Thanksgiving Hash
AQUARIUS, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, California
Learned to cook: at L’Orient restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska, while working through college
Learned to surf: in Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz, during beach excursions with friends while growing up nearby in the Silicon Valley
Surf secret: These days, Philippe rides a Santa Cruz Mini Mal board.
Kitchen secret: He most enjoys running the line on a busy night. It gives him a rush like conducting a well-tuned orchestra.
What we love about Aquarius: That’s easy, the million-dollar, panoramic views from the restaurant’s oceanside perch. The food―all locally grown or caught, organic, and seasonal―is pretty darn good, too. There’s a certain refined elegance to both the menu, which predominantly features seafood cleverly divided into “hooks” (appetizers), “lines” (soups and salads), and “sinkers” (entrées), and the sleek but airy decor―all the better for focusing on the food’s freshness and that killer view.
The dish on his dish: Who doesn’t love a pie during the holidays? This one’s a new twist on the classic; the ingredient list reflects Philippe’s
penchant for combining seasonal items in a simple but sophisticated dish in which the flavor of each really shines. And it’s
versatile, too: Slice it thinly to serve as an appetizer or into large wedges for a main course.
Recipe: Dungeness Crab Pie