Chef John Tesar Is the Star Lighting up Laguna Cliffs Marriott’s New Outer Reef.

When a celebrated talent like the late Anthony Bourdain refers to someone as “the single most talented cook I ever worked with,” you know this person has earned his chops. It’s certainly the case for John Tesar, who honed his skills at some of New York’s most notable restaurants, then went on to open the uber-successful Knife Steakhouse in Dallas.  Then there are the multiple James Beard Award nominations, appearances on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and countless other accolades. So we were thrilled at the chance to catch up with Tesar to talk about his expansion into O.C. with the Outer Reef at Laguna Cliffs Marriott.

Chef John Tesar
Photo credit: Steven Visneau

So what do you think of O.C.?

I really like it. I think it has tremendous dining potential, and it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth. I feel lucky to spend time here.

You have a reputation for being bold and daring. Will you be treating diners at Outer Reef to that same bold and daring style?

I can’t be anything else but who I am. What people perceive me as is a non sequitur. But I live my life with passion, and I’m going after this project as a passion project. It’s my return to seafood, and I’m right on the ocean there. And, of course, it’s bold and daring, but with the consideration of what people really want to eat.

The five words you’d use to describe the Outer Reef vibe are…

aquatic, carnivorous, delicious, exciting, relevant.

Tell us about the menu.

It has a lot of coastal seafood from Baja to Seattle and beyond, including Alaska. However, because of the success of Knife and what I feel to be the some of the best steaks in the country, we’re going to bring a little of that to the seafood mix.

Imagine it’s a Friday night. What do you see when you walk into Outer Reef?

A packed house with happy people enjoying the hospitality, food and ambiance.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for the opening of Outer Reef this Fall.


Laguna Cliffs Marriott | 25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point, California 92629 949-661-5000| Marriott.com


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