Vote for Your Favorite Chef in Irvine

Written By: Alana Aronson Chef in Irvine

Nick Profeta – Director of Food and Beverage at Ruby’s Diner

Nick Profeta began work at Ruby’s Diner as the Director of Food and Beverage in April 2014. Having spent the previous six years at Mimi’s Cafe, four of which were in the Research and Development Kitchen with the Executive Chef, his passion for food and restaurants has continued to develop since his childhood throughout his graduation from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. Nick’s favorite Ruby’s Diner dishes include: the brand new Country Sausage and Biscuit Bowl, the Hickory Burger, and the Ruby’s signature Shredded Beef Chili – originally created on the Balboa pier in 1982. The Ruby’s Diner Irvine location is one of his personal favorites, as he believes that the beautiful view over the lake cannot be beat. He enjoys working with the Ruby’s team of fun-loving and like-minded individuals, and the thing that he loves the most about the team is their genuine dedication to guest  service and their longevity within the company – the Ruby’s Diner Irvine team includes multiple 15-20-year veteran employees. “From the time I was 12 years old, I knew I wanted to work in restaurants, it has always been a passion of mine. Carrying on Ruby’s Diner’s 35-year tradition of unparalleled service and quality it something I feel lucky to do, ” says Nick.

Yves Fournier: Executive Chef, Andrei’s

French trained Chef Yves Fournier joined Andrei’s as Executive Chef upon its opening in 2009 and he has crafted the award-winning menu ever since. He has fallen in love with California’s bountiful ingredients and the simple cooking that our regional agriculture affords. When he’s not in the kitchen, he can usually be found at home with his wife, Elyssa, a pastry chef, and their children, Maxime and Solenne.


Katy Smith: Executive Creative Chef, Puesto Irvine

Born and raised in Irvine, CA, Chef Katy Smith uncovered her love for the food industry while working in restaurants during college. Deciding to forge her passion into a career, Smith earned her advanced culinary arts degree from Baltimore International College while working as a cook at Michael Mina’s Wit & Wisdom at the Baltimore Four Seasons Hotel. A jack of all kitchen trades, Smith has held a wide range of jobs within the culinary industry including time in a 5-star hotel kitchen and owning and operating a personal chef business. Most recently, Smith served as the test kitchen director and culinary assistant to culinary legend Rick Bayless in Chicago. Smith brought her talents back to Southern California in Summer 2016 as Puesto’s Executive Creative Chef. At Puesto, Smith is constantly experimenting with new ingredients and testing recipes to give a fresh and innovative spin to authentic Mexican cuisine.


Timothy Doolittle: Executive Chef, Bistango

After honing his skills under the tutelage of iconic food celebs Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse for 10 years, Timothy Doolittle accepted the position as Executive Chef at Bistango, where he has worked for the past year.  Since joining the team of the acclaimed Irvine restaurant, he has introduced many new dishes and daily specials, created petite versions of many of the entrees and orchestrates monthly culinary salutes including celebrating Oktoberfest, Paella and Alpine cuisine. He launched his career at a number of fine dining establishments in the Kansas City area including City Tavern, Stolen Grill, Rivers Edge and The American Restaurant, among others. One of his career highlights was winning top honors at the Culinary Clash, a competition between 16 of Las Vegas’s top restaurants.  


Tony Trujillo: Chef de Cuisine, Cucina Enoteca

An Orange County native, Chef Tony Trujillo’s climb up the culinary ladder began when he enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Flourishing in kitchens at Montage, Stonehill Tavern, Church & State, Cobras & Matadors, and Parkway Grill to name a few, Chef Tony’s experience in the SoCal dining scene taught him everything from menu production to budget management. Now back in his native Orange County territory, Chef Tony Trujillo brings his extensive expertise sourcing and developing fine ingredients into beautiful offerings at CUCINA enoteca Irvine, where as Chef de Cuisine he meticulously crafts seasonal dishes to pair with the restaurant’s robust wine offerings.


Dylan Marsh: Co-Creator & Concept Manager: Chef, Pizza:90

Native to Southern Orange County, Dylan’s passion for food started at a young age. Growing up, you could not keep him out of the kitchen or off the grill. Dylan’s passion re-surfaced his freshmen year of college, quickly changing schools and majors to follow his new found love for hospitality. After studying at the Art Institute in Orange County and North Hollywood, he learned the basics in hospitality which lead him into starting his career with Pizza:90. “Being able to do what you love is what’s most important to me. When I started working on this concept, Neapolitan pizza was something I knew nothing about, ” says Dylan. After researching and training under Master Pizzaiolo Francesco Savinetti, Dylan learned the ancient and authentic practices for producing a proper Neapolitan pie. Pizza:90 now has two locations and opening up a third in Sherman Oaks, Spring 2017.


Adam Brown: Executive Chef, North Italia

Adam Brown has cooked at some of the most notable restaurants in the Southwest before relocating to Orange County to open North Italia as the Executive Chef. In Austin he worked as Chef De Cuisine of Searsucker under Brian Malarkey, before moving to Phoenix where he was the Executive Chef of Restaurant NOCA. From there, he headed out to the west coast where he was the Chef De Cuisine for Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak and Tailgate in Levis Stadium. Today, Adam can be found daily in the open kitchen of North Italia, located in Irvine, daily creating handmade pastas and pizzas prepared with the freshest ingredients.


Andrew Gruel: Owner and Executive Chef, Butterleaf and Two Birds

Andrew Gruel and team will bring these two concepts to TRADE, Irvine’s first food hall, opening soon: Butterleaf—a plant-based vegetable diner that the market clearly lacks and craves. Two Birds—a very simple chicken concept that will no doubt be more than simple—is a straightforward idea of properly grilled and fried chicken, helmed by Andrew Gruel.


Anne Marie Damaso: Co-Owner and Executive Chef, Sweet COMBforts


Anne Marie Damaso, Geoffrey Manila and their team members Kevin Nguyen and Mark Cruz of GD Bro Burgers, will bring this belgian liege waffle on-a-stick dessert venue to TRADE


Kurt Chen: Owner and Master Chef, Oo’Toro Sushi

Oo’Toro Sushi, specializes in “Omakase” multi-course fine dining. Owner and Master Chef Kurt Chen is passionate about only serving the best seafood to his guests—even if that means having seasonal fish flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market on special order.


Sarah Daniels: Executive Chef, Del Frisco’s Grille Irvine

As the first female executive chef to join the culinary team of Del Frisco’s Grille, good food has always been passion of Sarah Daniels. This Cleveland, Ohio, native started her serendipitous career in high school when she landed her first job in a sandwich shop. She continued working in restaurants while attending Ohio State where she earned a degree in Food Science and Technology, but her love of cooking kept her behind the kitchen door of some of Ohio’s finer Italian restaurants. Chef Daniels eventually made her way to New York City where she was hired to work as a line cook at the very first Del Frisco’s Grille. Her hard work, determination and talent had her moving up the food chain, so to speak, rapidly. She helped to open five Del Frisco’s Grilles before the company sent her west to Santa Monica to work her magic as a sous chef. Opportunity came knocking a few miles south in Orange County when Del Frisco’s Grille named her the executive chef of its Irvine Spectrum location. When Chef Daniels isn’t at work, she enjoys her days living the life of a newly minted Southern California girl.

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