Praveen and Geeta Bansal - Dining - Chef Profiles - Orange Coast Magazine

DINING | Chef profiles

Praveen and Geeta Bansal

Clay Oven couple bring the world to their home kitchen

1/18/2011

For many, outdoor cooking is a summer thing. For Praveen and Geeta Bansal, the chef-owners of Irvine’s Clay Oven, which they opened in 1986, it’s a daily ritual. “We have a complete outdoor kitchen,” Geeta says. “It’s rare that we ever cook inside. It gives us a chance to be as close to nature as possible, and we’ll pick things right off the trees and use them.” The two, along with son Tarun, 23, also love exploring the world outside their back yard. Their kitchen has flourishes of Barcelona, Paris, and the world’s wine countries, along with gadgets from their native India. “Everything in our house reminds us of a place we’ve been,” Praveen says. “Everything has a memory.”

GARDEN OF EATIN’
The Bansals have a small orchard in their back yard. “In summer, we have 22 varieties of tomatoes,” Geeta says. “We also have clusters of seedless pinot noir grapes, figs, apples, and a mulberry tree.”

HIGH TEA
“I have a colonial habit of having tea at 4 p.m.,” Geeta says. Her collection of teacups includes more than 50 designs. “I have a very old one I got in England. It must be 40 years old now.”

CELEBRITY CHEF
One of Praveen’s prized possessions is a restaurant menu signed by chef Paul Bocuse. “We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at his restaurant in Lyon.”

A ROSE IS A … FLAVOR
“I make rose preserves with the roses in our back yard,” Geeta says. “You can spread it on bread, or put it on top of yogurt or ice cream. It has a very polished flavor. I also dry some of the petals, crumble them, and add them to Himalayan sea salt.”

LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
“We’ll entertain with a French sit-down dinner, and sometimes we’ll have Japanese night with bento boxes,” says Geeta. “We love to have dinner parties that are influenced by our travels.”

Clay Oven
15435 Jeffrey Road
Irvine
949-552-2851
clayovenirvine.com

Photographs by Ethan Pines

This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue.

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