Archive for the ‘mediterranean’ Category

Top Chef at Zov’s

October 23, 2009

A small faux-painted sign on the wall above an antique buffet in Zov Karamardian’s Bakery reads: Zov’s Queendom. It goes largely unnoticed by the throngs panting on the bakery cases, politely purchasing and then mauling pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies with velvety chocolate cream cheese frosting and ogling the key lime tartlets with meringue peaks toasted the impossible golden brown of a perfect campfire marshmallow. One thing is clear to Zov’s royal subjects: she’s in the details. If you get the sense it wouldn’t be the same without her physically there, you’re right.  

Chef chat.

Chef chat.

That’s why when the Bravo reality show Top Chef Masters asked Zov to be a contestant on the show this year,  she demurred.The show offers the winner $100,000.00 cash for their favorite charity. Still, to earn it, chefs have to be sequestered from family and friends, contend with sleep deprivation and such insane elimination competitions  as creating an amuse bouche from items out of a vending machine. What’s next, dumpster diving for power garnishes?  

Chef struck!

Chef struck!

In a moment of serendipity, Top Chef Season One veteran Dave Martin ate at Zov’s recently and hit it off with Karamardian. Last Sunday,  Martin led a cooking class at the bistro. I like to cook, but all that tedious standing around and manual labor can make me cranky and hungry. Especially when the only consolation is a meager sample of my own cooking. In this class, I watched a demo while the steps were fully explained and questions were answered, ate a full-sized meal and went home with the recipes-hooray!  

He's not your bitch.

He's not your bitch.

Teddybearish and disarming, Martin fumbled with the gas burners and introduced his mom during the demo. A pleasant surprise considering his signature line on the show was, “I’m not your bitch, Bitch!”  

Black truffle mac and cheese has become as ubiquitous in OC as chef-celebs with meat-cutting diagram tats and flesh plugs. Still, when done well, who can resist? Bill Bracken serves an elegant version at Palm Terrace and there’s a decent homespun-if-too-creamy take at  Old Town Orange’s Haven Gastropub. Brandy and sherry fortification lended a fondue-like quality to Martin’s version for a result both comforting and upscale. Substituting the usual pasty roux with a liaison to thicken the sauce garnered a lighter result. Though based in NYC, he’s welcome in our kitchen anytime.  

Mac daddy.

Mac daddy.

 Zov’s Bistro, Café and Bakery 17440 East Seventeenth St. Tustin, CA 92780 714.838.8855. www.zovs.com Dinner for two, $80.00, food only.  

www.chefdavemartin.com