Chefs and Sommeliers That Shape the O.C. Restaurant Scene

Food and wine is the most diverse, classic and delicious pairing in human history. When enjoyed together, they push flavors, elevate tastes and entice the senses. But it takes a skilled chef and a savvy sommelier to make it all come together. Finding dishes and bottles that work together throughout a meal is like expertly crafting a great love story — and these are some of the best talents around. Here, the teams best adept at creating those experiences. Discover what makes each pair so uniquely qualified. 

A Winning Combination 

Selanne Steak Tavern’s Chef Josh Severson and Sommelier Vito Pasquale think like teammates when pairing culinary creations with spectacular wines. 

At Laguna Beach’s Selanne Steak Tavern, it all begins with the food. Chef Josh Severson takes great care in choosing every ingredient that goes into a dish, ensuring the melding of flavors achieve a perfect balance on the plate. And that makes the task of wine selection effortless for Sommelier Vito Pasquale, a respected authority in his own right. A key step in the process, Pasquale says, is respecting the ingredients and understanding how the dish is crafted. Then he draws from a massive reservoir of options to choose just the right wine. The general assumption is that a steakhouse will lend itself heavily to red wines, and that rings true here. The restaurant boasts a list of more than 270 various reds. Another key step: Severson and Pasquale taste everything together, so they develop a shared comprehension of how the flavors play o of each other and can communicate that to their guests. If you find yourself particularly hungry, we suggest ordering the Lord Stanley. (The name is a nod to owner and former Ducks hockey star Teemu Selanne.) This tomahawk ribeye comes adorned with foie gras butter and scores big points when paired with Ca Cult Cabernet, delivering the flavor equivalent of hoisting the Stanley Cup for yourself. 

Taste the Magic 

Leave it to Napa Rose’s Chef Andrew Sutton and Sommelier Philippe Tosques to create Grand experiences. 

Working with a menu that changes weekly, Chef Andrew Sutton and Sommelier Philippe Tosques strive to provide guests with a level of dining excellence that you’d expect from a legendary company like Disney. That’s exactly what you get at Disney’s Grand Californian’s Napa Rose, where Sutton creates a malleable collection of decadent dishes. Pair any one of his offerings with an award-winning wine specially selected by Tosques, and you’re in for a truly magical experience. With more than 1,000 bottles on hand, there’s an abundance of options available to Sutton and Tosques as they guide their guests on a culinary journey of wine country flavors. And careful consideration goes into each pairing. “It has to do with personal memories and likings,” notes Sutton. “And it has to hit all the potential spots, like acidity, flavors, temperature and combinations.”

Hanging With ‘The Boyz’ 

With The Winery’s Chef Yvon Goetz and Sommelier William Lewis, great food and nectars are served with personality and panache. 

If there’s one thing beyond excellence that Chef Yvon Goetz and experienced Sommelier William Lewis bring to the kitchens and cellars of The Winery restaurants, it’s charm. I dare you to find two people so on top of their games professionally, and at the same time so full of wit and character. With locations in Tustin, Newport Beach and San Diego’s La Jolla, The Winery restaurants are celebrated for dishing out fine food and drinks with a flair for the dramatic, a wry smile and an air of whimsy. Spend five minutes chatting about wines with Lewis, and you’ll want to pop open a varietal you’ve never cared to try before — and you’ll enjoy it with the same enthusiasm as a child displays when presented with a sweet piece of candy. His love of wines and his craft are that infectious. It’s commonplace for Lewis to dash into the kitchen with a glass of a new wine for Goetz to sample. A few sips later, and Chef will reach for ingredients to create a perfectly paired dish. Sometimes, it’s the other way around: An ingredient takes hold of Goetz, and Lewis scrambles to find a nectar to partner with it. And it might just be a bottle from The Boyz, a private label produced by Lewis, Goetz and fellow owner-partner JC Clow. 

A World of Tastes 

At The Resort at Pelican Hill’s Andrea, Executive Chef Jeane-Pierre Dubray and Food & Beverage Director Hayato Nogaki create dining adventures with global appeal. 

Executive Chef Jean-Pierre Dubray, and Food and Beverage Director Hayato Nogaki bring a world-class level of knowledge and skill to the kitchens and tables at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Whether they start with the food or the wine, the goal is to create a harmony of flavors, each enhancing the other in texture, acidity, tannin, boldness, lightness or sweetness. Dubray and Nogaki work together to understand the various characteristics of the wines, allowing the duo to develop pairings that entice their epicurean guests to venture to places they’ve never been by way of the culinary arts. One recent dinner showcased a bevy of French classics. Dubray’s favorite, however, paid homage to the late legendary French icon, Chef Paul Bocuse. It featured Dubray’s take on Bocuse’s truffe soup, with duck consommé, brunoise of vegetables, foie gras and fresh truffes baked in puffpastry. Nogaki paired it with a 2011 Seppi Landmann Pinot Gris from Alsace. 

Classic Cravings 

Expect a taste of Old World classics paired with wines from around the world, thanks to Cucina Enoteca Beverage Director Augusto Ferrarese and Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli. 

Urban Kitchen Group’s Corporate Beverage Director Augusto Ferrarese knows that the best food-and-beverage pairings take chemistry into account. And when he works with Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli, the elements for success combine naturally. The result is an amalgam of Old World classics inspired by seasonality and regional composition, and guests at Urban Kitchen’s Cucina Enoteca can’t get enough. Magnanelli’s kitchens are cooking up foods that evoke memories derived from familiar flavors and perpetuate an immense satisfaction from the whole experience. In a world of grand crus and foie gras terrines, it’s refreshing to see a menu bring so much pleasure with such approachability and familiarity. 

Savoir Fare 

A delicate dance takes place daily at Newport Beach’s Marché Moderne. Just ask Chef Florent Marneau and GM Nadine Hotong. 

Whether it’s an extravagant dinner that exclusively features big Bordeaux wines or a dish of seared foie gras paired with a rare Sauterne, Chef Florent Marneau and General Manager Nadine Hotong work to provide diners with a thoughtful pairing. And so do their staff — every server is certified as a level one sommelier, elevating each guest’s experience to a standard of excellence far above average expectations. Marneau always starts with the food, then pairs from there to guide the meal, often taking the wines and dishes from lightest to boldest. And he’s never afraid to mix it up and have some fun with the experience. With so much wine expertise on staff and such a rich history of haute cuisine at Marneau’s disposal, you might think the potential for outlandishly fabulous pairings of food and drink would be endless, and you would be right. Marché Moderne has done meals ranging from all-Champagne dinners built with crudos and wonderful fish dishes, to all Sauvignon Blanc dinners and more. The aforementioned entirely Bordeaux menu, which culminated in a finale of dishes, including classic preparations of duck and squab, is still one of Marneau’s most memorable. 

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