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You Voted For Your Favorite Chefs in Costa Mesa and Here They Are! Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Written By: Carli Critchfield Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
Photographed By: Brian Chan

You voted and now here they are; the results for Top 5 Favorite Chefs in Costa Mesa, presented by Wells Fargo. Costa Mesa should now be the first place that comes to mind when you think of culinary greatness and Ross, Brian, Mark, Justin and Jonathan are keeping it that way one plate at a time! These guys are changing the SoCal culinary game with unique ingredients and recipes with every plate that each of these chefs prepare. Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Jonathan Rollo

Credentials: Commander-in-Leaf of Greanleaf Gourmet Chopshop

Question: What made you realize that cooking was what you wanted to do? Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Jonathan Rollo: I loved cooking before I ever knew you could do it professionally. Some of my earliest memories are in the kitchen with my family and sharing the joy of food around the table, be it holidays, or parties or dinner.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

JR: The collaboration of the team and working out each service’s final details always brings an adrenaline rush, but once the wheels are in motion and food is flying out of the kitchen, I always smile knowing that what we do is really fun and the food we make is great!

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

JR: Well, it goes back to the bet I made with my mother one Thanksgiving 15 or so years ago. You see, when I made the choice to go quit my job and go to culinary school, my parents were worried that I was giving up a promising career for the unknown life as a chef. My mother told me her favorite traditional Thanksgiving dessert was a croquembouche and if I could make a perfect one in two hours, she would understand and give her blessing. Through a flurry of pastry cream and spun sugar, I did it and the rest has seemed easy in comparison.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Costa Mesa mean to you?

JR: Being voted as one of Costa Mesa top chefs is a massive honor! I’m thrilled. At Greenleaf, our mission is to root ourselves deep in our communities, to be an important part of the patchwork of people that live and work around us-so, this vote is a giant high five from our own community (a rare gesture for most chefs). Hell yeah! High five right back!

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

JR: I’ve had a culinary love affair with each dish on the menu—that’s how they got there in the first place. But right now, I’d have to say our Summer Special – The Grilled Peach Salad. It’s a perfect combination of juicy sweet peaches that are slightly cartelized on the grill, fresh and spicy arugula, creamy goat cheese and our tangy peach vinaigrette. Truth be told, I just had it for lunch, so maybe this is my very satisfied stomach speaking.

Greanleaf Gourmet Chopshop
234 E. 17th St
3321 Hyland Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
949.200.3950

Ross Pangilinan

Credentials: Executive Chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge

Question: What made you realize cooking was what you wanted to do?

Ross Pangilinan: I realized cooking was what I wanted to do at an early age. When I was a kid, I used to love watching cooking shows and my dad would take us to all kinds of restaurants. My grandparents use to cook a lot too. I ended up going to culinary school when I was 17, working in France when I was 20, and becoming a sous chef when I was 21. I have never pictured myself doing anything else.

Q: What gets you excited before eat service at the restaurant?

RP: Something that makes me excited before each service is when I walk the line and do mise en place checks. I love to see the food ready to go and how hard our cooks work to make sure they are ready for service. I also get excited when the first tickets come in and the first plates of food come out- but the best part is when the empty dishes come back. I guess you could say the way the whole system works gets me excited.

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

RP: I would say the most influential moment of my cooking career has been becoming an executive chef for Patina Restaurant Group. Since I have been here at Leatherby’s Café Rouge and the Segerstrom Center, we have been able to accomplish a lot of great things. I have learned a lot here, especially about how to run a business.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Costa Mesa mean to you?

RP: It means a lot to me! My friends and family are all very proud to hear about this honor. Still, I am always learning and trying to be better. I have a lot more to do in my career and I look forward to the future.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

RP: That’s hard to say! My favorite dishes change with the season and what is available locally. I also like to change the menu frequently, which makes every day exciting. But overall,

my favorite dishes are our soups and our crudos, I think they are unique and delicious.

Leatherby’s Café Rouge in the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
South Coast Plaza, 615 Town Center Dr.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.429.7640

Best Chefs in Costa Mesa Best Chefs in Costa Mesa Best Chefs in Costa Mesa Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Mark McDonald

Credentials: Executive Chef and Owner of Old Vine Café

Question: What made you realize that cooking was what you wanted to do?

Mark McDonald: I knew since the second grade. I grew up centered around food, around the table. My family cooked frequently, it was something that I was just born into. My mother and grandmother always cooked and baked. I was always in the kitchen helping my family.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

MM: Waking up every morning doing what I love. Knowing that my dreams have come true and watching and living them gets me excited.

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

MM: It’s hard to narrow it down to one moment. I’d have to say though living in Italy and going to the Italian Culinary Institute is what shaped me most.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Costa Mesa mean to you?

MM: I feel honored to be in such great company. After nine years of being in the business there are a lot of challenges and it’s great to be in a mix of such talented individuals. Orange County is starting to become a culinary destination.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

MM: There’s no way to decide. Any dish with quality ingredients is my focus.

Old Vine Café
2937 Bristol St A102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.545.1411

Brian Jenzer

Credentials: Executive Chef at SOCIAL

Question: What made you realize that cooking is what you wanted to do?

Brian Jenzer: After high school it was the only thing I felt comfortable doing. During an attempt at community college I ended up taking a cooking class and decided that’s what I wanted to do. So, I decided to go to the Culinary Institute of America in New York and then I was dedicated.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

BJ: You never know the possibilities, not one day is the same or whether or not I’ll be ready for it. The VIP’s that come in, too, are exciting and getting special requests for meals.

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

BJ: When I was living and working in Singapore. We did the collaboration with this restaurant Mugaritz (located in Spain). How the people worked from Mugaritz and how they respected their employees was amazing. They were so dedicated and I thought to myself this is how I need to work.

Q: What does being voted as one of the top 5 chefs in Costa Mesa mean to you?

BJ: It means people are starting to acknowledge what I’m doing. I’m from Orange County, but haven’t cooked here since I was 18. It’s really cool because that was my goal, to leave OC and then come back and cook here.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

BJ: The half pig head. It’s deep fried and it’s just such a process. We start it 3-4 days before serving and it feels great when it comes out perfectly.

Social Costa Mesa
512 W. 19th St Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa, CA 92627 Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
949.642.2425 Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Best Chefs in Costa Mesa

Justin Miller

Credentials: Executive Chef at Pizzeria Ortica

Question: What made you realize cooking is what you wanted to do?

Justin Miller: After four failed years of junior college. I always enjoyed cooking at home and my mom suggested culinary school. So, I went and enrolled at The Art Institute for cooking. I Stepped into my first kitchen and day one I just fell into it.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

JM: I’ve been at Pizzeria Ortica for eight years this January and it’s just a huge reward seeing families year after year. You see guests getting older and growing up, it’s cool. I like to provide meals for families.

Q: What does being voted one of the top 5 chefs in Costa Mesa mean to you?

JM: It think it’s rad! Costa Mesa is an amazing city and I’m proud to add to the culture. The people here are real.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

JM: Hm, I think rabbit ragu is my favorite. It has brown sugar, butter, sage— it’s just really good.

Pizzeria Ortica
South Coast Plaza, 650 Anton Blvd Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa, CA 92626 Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
714.445.4900 Best Chefs in Costa Mesa
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