Modern Fusion Bites Paired With Chef Inspiration

by Tanaya Ghosh | TanayasTable.com

TEMP tempo octo

Marinated Grilled Octopus (all photos by Tanaya Ghosh)

These days, the novelty and excitement when the words “modern American” and “fusion food” come to mind have pretty much worn off, at least compared to a few years ago. However, let me tell you about a great spot in Brea, CA doing something very different from your average New American restaurant. Something that’s worth getting excited about again.

Tempo Urban Kitchen does New American fusion food on shareable plates, using modern techniques and interesting flavor combinations. At the Gigasavvy Social Club dinner, we enjoyed a tasting menu of memorable bites prepared for us by accomplished Chefs Chris Tzorin, Charlie Medina & Salvador Carrillo, all age 30 and under.

Chef Chris Tzorin, a recent winner of Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, is a friend of mine whose story inspires me and many others to keep striving for success, despite the cards you are dealt in life.

Chef Chris grew up in the fine dining industry, as his dad was a chef. “My dad would cook at home, my mom too, and we would sit together at the table and talk about how the week was together as a family,” he reminisced.

“My dad always told me I’d be better than him one day, and now I tell Armani (his young son) the same thing, so he can take it to the next level when he grows up. He hangs out with me in the kitchen.” Indeed, Armani was right there with his dad that night at the tasting, wearing his own little personalized chef’s coat!

However, when the accomplished chef lost his other son, Chris, it changed him forever. He teared up as he spoke of little Chris, and said that after going through such a dark and trying time, “That’s why you hardly see me upset. Life could be so much worse. I want to be able to experience a lot in life, and meet as many people (as I can) and inspire them.”

I suppose I especially wanted to share Chef Chris’s story because I see a lot of myself in the way he’s grown from his personal tragedies, and how he’s transformed it into something that drives him every day to do the most with the life he’s been given. And although the two losses are not comparable, as no two losses are, I share a similar outlook on life after losing my best friend, my mother, much too early. Chef Chris’s story inspires me, as I hope it will inspire many of you, to always keep pushing forward with the best attitude possible, to accomplish great things.

Chef Chris explained that it was his two boys for whom he brought his A game to win Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network. “(After) two divorces and losing a child, after all the things I’ve been through… the blood, pain and tears, I’m still here.” And thank goodness, since he not only inspires people now, but makes amazing food in the kitchen, day in and day out.

Now that Chef Chris’s expansive career has led him to Tempo Urban Kitchen, he says he’s open to learning some newer techniques from the two younger chefs, Chef Salvador & Chef Charlie, who are big on molecular gastronomy.

“Here, we’re bringing more urban-style, outside-the-box food. Some will say, ‘No, you’re not supposed to do that,’ I’m gonna do it anyway…. I just want people to recognize me for who I am, and why I cook. It’s my life on a plate,” he concluded.

And with that, here’s what Chef Chris, Chef Charlie and Chef Salvador created for us at the coursed dinner:

Upon arrival, after a tour of the kitchen, we took a seat with fellow influencers who were also invited to this delightful dining experience. We started off with an Old Fashioned and a refreshing Mango Serrano Margarita with a Tajin rim.

TEMP tempo octopus

Then, it was time to eat! The first course was Marinated Grilled Octopus, made by Chef Chris Tzorin. The octopus was plated on a wooden plank, as were all the dishes. The menu items are meant to be shared, to encourage more social interaction at the table, as Chef Chris explained. The tender, charred octopus was served with guajillo chili oil, creamy serrano chili sauce, lime cream and chipotle mayo, along with a garnish of fresh microgreens. All the different sauces made for a customized experience, as we could choose which bit of sauce to dip our octopus into.

TEMP temp pork belly

Next up was a Korean-inspired, succulent Slow Roasted Pork Belly by Chef Charlie Medina. The soy lime glaze imparted a great tangy, savory flavor, and the tortilla puree it rested on was a unique element that brought the dish together as a “deconstructed Korean taco,” as Chef Charlie described it. The red cabbage kimchi and crema sauce completed the dish, along with a thin slice of rolled mango for a bit of sweet freshness. What made the pork extra juicy was its slow cooking in a traditional Caja China roasting box.

TEMP tempo steak

Our last savory dish was the Slow-Cooked Short Rib by Chef Salvador Carrillo. This brightly colored dish was created with yellow mustard seeds (what they called “vegan caviar”), pickled carrots wrapped in thin New York-style ham, and a bold brush of beet sauce across the plate. When Chef Salvador said “slow-cooked,” he really meant slow, as the cooking of the short rib for 28 hours made it extra tender.

TEMP temp ice cream

After the drinks and three shared protein dishes, a cart rolled out for tableside ice cream! We watched in anticipation as the ice cream fully froze right before our eyes. Minutes later, as wisps of liquid nitrogen lifted, vanilla ginger ice cream emerged! The liquid nitrogen technique made the ice cream extra creamy in texture, and the mini cones they rested in gave a great crunch to the dessert. What a fun way to end a great dining experience!

Thanks to Tempo Urban Kitchen and Gigasavvy Social Club for having us. Go here for more information on visiting for a unique and memorable dining experience!

Until next time, let’s connect on social media!

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Cheers!

Ordering New Menu Items Off iPads At STACKED: Food Well Built

Tanayas Table Stacked iPad Pink Cocktail

I still remember the time I got to treat my family and friends to a dinner out after landing a new job. We decided to keep it local, opting to go to STACKED: Food Well Built.

I was excited to show them how they could customize their own dishes on the nifty iPads at this hi-tech spot by the Cerritos mall. A few years ago, it was an even newer concept, so it was extra fun to see our culinary creations come to life.

My family loved the experience, and ever since that day I’ve had an extra special association with the STACKED in Cerritos. Thus, you can imagine how enthusiastic I was about getting an invite to a media dinner they were hosting, with new menu items.

Tanayas Table Stacked Burger

The new Short Rib Sandwich, with an egg on it.

I tried the short rib sandwich with horseradish aioli off their new sandwich section of the menu, and even added an egg to it… because you can do that at a place like this.

The food is so customizable that co-owner Paul Motenko told me they even have 139 gluten-free options, across all categories of their menu! There really is something for everyone here.

It’s quite the thrill to build your own mac ‘n cheese burger, top your pizza with pastrami, or even put potato chips on your pasta… or include all the superfoods you want in your nutritious and delicious salad.

Heck, you can even customize your own milkshake or ice cream sandwich on that iPad! Then, it comes to life when they bring it out of the kitchen on onto your table… and it’s every bit as good as you imagined it would be when you were creating it!

Check out all the items I tried here, including candied bacon and a Cadbury Egg seasonal milkshake:

Check out new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

Check out the new menu items in this one-minute video inside our media dinner!

To visit STACKED: Food Well Built, you can find all the info on their website. Stay tuned for a lot more foodie finds to come. Cheers!

New Opening: Unique Asian Fusion At Red Eye Fish

Video: One minute of some of the most unique happy hour dishes at this new Asian fusion spot.

Video: 20 seconds of the most unique happy hour dishes at this new Asian fusion spot.

The newly opened Red Eye Fish’s motto is “not just sushi.”

Indeed, this new Asian fusion spot in Artesia, CA has much more to offer than your traditional sushi (which I am always down for too, given top quality!). We stopped in for a bite and found that there were a ton of creative food mashups just waiting to be explored!

It happened to be happy hour when we went, and it seemed that it was about a dollar or two off the original prices for happy hour items. Here’s what we got, and how it was:

Kimchi Fried Rice with Pork Belly

Kimchi Fried Rice with Pork Belly

The kimchi fried rice has pork belly, and rich savory-sour-spicy flavors. Besides being a bit on the greasier side (as most fried rice dishes are), it’s a really fantastic dish paired with some other items.

Tanayas Table Red Eye Fish Hot Cheetos Sushi Roll

Hot Cheetos Sushi Roll. Yes, you read that right!

Hot Cheetos Roll. Our server said that this is their signature dish, and claim to fame. It is essentially a California roll topped with spicy tuna and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crumbles.

Somehow, I was expecting more uniqueness and cohesiveness in this dish, but hey, I love all the ingredients in the roll. Plus, my not-so-secret guilty pleasure happens to be those little crunchy bites of heat (a.k.a. Hot Cheetos). So it was awesome to get for the novelty, but I think there are even cooler things on the menu that I would get again next time.

My favorite happy hour item!

My favorite happy hour item!

This leads me to my most favorite item on the menu, the — wait for it — Sushi Pizza!

This baby has a ton of flavorful sushi fillings that go right on top of the crispy rice “crust,” along with a bit of cheese to bring it all together as pizza. It is SO good. My favorite thing so far!

If you’re an adventurous foodie, you should definitely give this place a try. Go here for more info on the new restaurant, and check out the video above for all the aforementioned food in action. Cheers!

One more shot of that sushi pizza. It's just that good.

One more shot of that sushi pizza. It’s just that good.