Ocean to Table
Meet some of our local heroes: the people in Orange County who grow or catch our food, and the local restaurateurs who seek them out.
By Priscilla Mayfield
Sean Patrick Burke
Pilikia fishing boat
From June through November, the Dana Point native catches swordfish from Point Conception to Mexico in Bluewater Grill’s Pilikia. “I only eat harpooned swordfish, fresh from California waters,” he says. “We believe in supporting a sustainable, clean, ethical fishery. That’s why we do it ourselves. If the public boycotted long-line-caught fish [which harms other sea life], the oceans would be better off.”
“Long-line fishing boats can be out for two weeks; the Pilikia is a day boat,” says executive chef Brian Hirsty. “Swordfish is definitely a locavore kind of dish—very much a local phenomenon, and a cherished thing. The quality is like nowhere else in the world. It’s a California specialty, and it’s not endangered.” The population is so strong that it’s a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch “best choice.”
Bluewater Grill only uses mature swordfish, 180 pounds and up; once the catch included a 575-pound behemoth. The Pilikia can bring in six a day, occasionally more. pilikiacharters.com
Grilled swordfish, potato-saffron emulsion, fennel salad, oil-poached tomato, and wilted bok choy, $27. 630 Lido Park Drive, Newport Beach, 949-675-3474; 2409 Park Ave., Tustin, 714-258-3474, bluewatergrill.com
Behind the Counter
Five Crowns and SideDoor’s new executive chef, Greg Harrison, who worked with Michael Mina and Iron Chef Morimoto, brings to the Corona del Mar restaurants the skills he honed with these mentors.
By Priscilla Mayfield
What’s your style?
My heart is in the contemporary mindset, and I worked in a wonderful Italian restaurant for eight years. My technique is simple and precise. I want to keep the dining experience exciting.
What dish exemplifies this most?
Piedmont-style red wine-braised short ribs—food should taste good and be really satisfying.
Vinegars, citrus, and smoked paprika to complement a dish’s primary elements.
New on the menu?
Fried veal sweetbreads and waffles—my version of chicken and waffles. It’s a SideDoor dinner item on occasion.
Is the prime rib dinner sacrosanct?
I would never take a No. 1 dish away from our guests.
This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Orange Coast magazine.