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Vote for Your Favorite Costa Mesa Chef, Presented By Wells Fargo

Written By: Jordan Ligons Chef in Costa Mesa

Niki Star, MESA Chef in Costa Mesa

Niki Starr is born and raised in Orange County and today, she is reinventing modern California cuisine. She prefers simple dishes, evoking strong feelings with attention to detail and utilizing seasonal ingredients.

Noah von Blom, Restaurant Marin Chef in Costa Mesa

In May 2016 Chef Noah von Blom and his wife Marin introduced a modern day diner to Orange County with the opening of Restaurant Marin. This sophisticated yet casual concept, located next to acclaimed sister restaurant, ARC, will be joined by a third concept, The Guild Club, set to open Fall 2016, also at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Collection.

Antonio Cagnolo, Antonello Ristorante Chef in Costa Mesa

A native of Northwestern Italy, Antonio Cagnolo has been the owner and executive chef of Antello’s for 37 years. He has earned national acclaim for the award-winning Italian cuisine served at his venerable Antonello Ristorante and, in fact, has been the recipient of such prestigious honors as Circle of Fame Awards, Golden Scepter Awards and was named “Restaurateur of the Year” by the Southern California Restaurant Writers.


Amar Santana, Vaca

Chef Amar Santana was runner-up for Bravo’s Top Chef in season 13 and is passionate about all things pork. The award-winning executive chef has honed his skills of dried meat and charcuterie. In 2011 he opened his first restaurant, Broadway By Amar Santana, in Laguna Beach and a year ago opened Vaca.


Brian Jenzer, SOCIAL Costa Mesa Chef in Costa Mesa

Hailing from Orange County, SOCIAL Costa Mesa’s Executive Chef Brian Jenzer is continuing to harbor his passion for bringing people together through food. His approach to the menu is to offer familiar dishes, as well as more adventurous options like liver, bone marrow, beef cheeks, and more.


Juan Carlos Nuñes, La Vida Cantina

From Riverside, Nuñes has been cooking with passion, and dedication for the last 17 years. He has worked at 21 Oceanfront in Newport Beach, The Beach House in Laguna Beach, and landed at La Vida Cantina where he continues to prepare delicious fare for one of Orange County’s hottest spots.


Jonathan Rollo, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop Chef in Costa Mesa

Revolutionizing the gourmet fast-casual dining experience, Jonathan Rollo, “Commander-in-Leaf” of Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop embarked on his passion project in 2007 opening his first Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop. Creating authentic, community-based dining experiences is what separates Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop from other restaurants in the healthy-living marketplace. With a full bar including fresh craft cocktails, indoor and outdoor patio seating, and on-site chef’s garden, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop is the modern farm stand.


Mark McDonald, Old Vine Cafe Chef in Costa Mesa

Mark McDonald serves as both the Executive Chef and Owner of Old Vine Cafe, an award-winning restaurant at THE CAMP in Costa Mesa. Since opening 9 years ago, Old Vine Cafe remains a favorite contemporary dining destination in Orange County due to the often-changing and delicious seasonal tasting menu. Chef Mark accredits the menu’s creativity to his desire to create fresh interpretations of traditional dishes as well as his culinary training in southern Italy.


Noah Rosen, Class Kitchen Chef in Costa Mesa

This 17-year-old super-star is the Executive Chef and Co-Owner of CLASS Kitchen. He is currently a student at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Santa Ana. This unique set-up is completely student run.


Anthony Meidenbauer, Holsteins Shakes and Buns Chef in Costa Mesa

With more than 20 years of experience, Anthony Meidenbauer, Block 16 Hospitality Executive Chef, created and launched Holsteins Shakes and Buns, the contemporary burger concept in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and the brand’s flagship location. Using the freshest ingredients, he has taken an innovative approach to traditional American fare featuring house-made selections including organic burgers, hearty appetizers and snacks along with signature “Bam-Boozled” milkshakes.

Ross Pangilian, Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge Chef in Costa Mesa

Raised in an Asian-American Orange County home, Ross Pangilinan has always had an interest in cooking shows and tasting various styles of cuisine. His menu exemplifies his life story–contemporary Californian cuisine with international influences.


Carlos Salgado, Taco María

Prior to returning home to Orange County, Chef Carlos Salgado spent a decade in San Francisco and Oakland, learning in many of the Bay Area’s best kitchens before opening Taco María. He was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2015, and is a 2016 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: West.


Justin Miller, Pizzeria Ortica

As the executive chef, Miller says his favorite ingredient is the pizza dough because of how challenging it is. He gets to work with his hands every day at Pizzeria Ortica and that it’s the most exciting reason to come to work, he says. Pizzeria Ortica uses fresh, traditional, and locally sourced ingredients with an additional of select wines and cocktails.


Flourent Marneau, Marché Moderne

Executive Chef and Co-Owner Flourent Marneau opened Marche Moderne with his wife, and pastry chef, Amelia. Located at The Penthouse at South Coast Plaza, this “modern market” is centered around French bistro with a modern American twist. He brings to Orange County a traditional three-course prix fixe “Spontanée” menu.


Miguel Quintero, Habana

At Habana, Chef Miguel Quintero serves Cuban and Pan-Latin cuisine at The Lab. Habana has been a Costa Mesa popular spot since 1995. Quintero is one of the few chefs that serves a full menu until midnight, which includes their popular late night happy hour.


Helene An, AnQi Gourmet Bistro

Helene An is over the family’s five restaurants, including AnQi located in South Coast Plaza. She is not only the executive chef, but also runs their catering business. Her “Yin and Yang” kitchen philosophy derives from Eastern medicine where she aims to use ingredients that are rich in antioxidants and used at their peak of freshness.