Chef-restaurateur Zov Karamardian, who was awarded Chef of the Year at the Golden Foodie Awards last month, has more celebrating in her future. January will mark the 30th anniversary of the opening of her Tustin flagship that’s the hub of the Zov’s mini-empire. Thirty years is a lifetime in the restaurant business! Zov’s is no retro relic, though. Karamardian is responsible for introducing many Southern Californians to Middle Eastern flavors, interweaving them into her dishes in a way that is as fresh and modern today as it was at the beginning. What does the award mean to someone who’s long been on the avant edge of O.C. food? “The O.C. community has embraced our restaurants and loves coming to dine with us because they know our food will always be consistent and delicious,” Karamardian says. “Zov’s has become an institution here in Orange County, especially in Tustin. Culinary talent in Orange County is overflowing these days. I am honored and humbled to still be standing and thriving after almost 30 years.”
But accolades don’t distract Karamardian from cooking, her true calling—which is a big reason why her restaurants are successful. Every year she can’t resist making preserves from fresh summer produce. At the moment, you can find the fruits of her labor from the summer just past—and pickles, too—at Zov’s Bakery in Tustin ($13.95/jar). I love this video of Zov jamming—so inspirational! As is her eschewing pectin, a bugaboo of mine when it comes to fine preserves, as I’ve written before. This is part of the reason the apricot jam in the above video looks a little dark in color. Karamardian says, “Zov’s is proud to offer preservative-free jams. I do not use any pectin or citric acid, as these additives distort the color of the jam. The more additives, the lighter the color. Because there are no additives, the jam requires a longer cooking time to thicken, which in turn creates a darker amber-colored jam.” Hurry in, though. When they’re gone, they’re gone—until next summer.