Chicks with Knives

These female chefs rock to their own beat in some of O.C’s best kitchens.

Taco Maria’s Carlos Salgado Returns to His Culinary Roots

Carlos’ menus are full of those kinds of oblique references. They are allusions to home cooking as experienced by a first generation Mexican American in Southern California who in 2015 was voted one of America’s best new chefs by Food & Wine magazine.

Azmin Ghahreman

As chef-owner of Sapphire Laguna, Azmin Ghahreman applies the same techniques and fresh-food standards in his San Juan Capistrano home kitchen as he does in his restaurant: “I won’t cut corners. I take ingredients seriously at home, too.” It’s a dining philosophy that he and wife Laura instill in their children—from left above, Rori, 7, Roan, 4, and Liam, 8—and one he takes to elementary schools. He teaches cooking and gardening classes at schools such as St. Anne’s in Laguna Niguel. “They prepare students for a lifetime of healthful eating,” Ghahreman says. “We have to teach our kids about the Earth. Once you teach them how to garden and cook, they can never go hungry.”

Praveen and Geeta Bansal

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.”

Ugo Allesina

Irvine's a little hard to call home when your old stamping grounds are the rural hills of Italy's Piedmont region. So when chef Ugo...

Deborah Schneider

  Published July 2010

Michael Jordan

 Published June 2010

Jenny Ross

Published May 2010 

Marc Cohen

The man behind 230 Forest, Opah, and Watermarc carves out time to cook at home with his wife and kidsThere’s a promise chefs make...

Marc Cohen

 There’s a promise chefs make to themselves at least once in their careers: Cook what you know, and they will come. It’s a saying...