A Complete Guide to the 13th Annual Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

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It is fundamentally human to take things for granted. Even when we know we shouldn’t, most of the time it is almost inevitable to succumb to this perspective trap. But if the pandemic has taught us one thing, it is not to take even the most basic things in our lives for granted. Going to the movies, meeting up with friends and sending the children to school – all of these seemed invariably to be concrete parts of everyday life – until they weren’t.

And so it was when we went out to eat. We found our favorite restaurants to need our support, and that no company – no matter how popular or traditional – is safe from extinction. Supporting our favorite local restaurants has taken on a kind of civic duty since the outbreak of the pandemic. Here in Santa Cruz, many restaurants have expressed extreme gratitude and credited the local community for taking possession of their favorite eateries to make sure the doors stay open and the grills stay hot. GT asked the participants of this year’s restaurant week two questions, one looking back at the pandemic and one looking forward to this year’s offers. Here’s what they had to say.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE PANDEMIC ABOUT THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY?

“We have really excellent regular customers who supported us at the height of the pandemic and shutdowns. A customer came through the restaurant and tipped each employee $ 100. It really breathed life into the restaurant. “

– Ben Kralj, Head Chef / General Manager at Back Nine Bar and Grill

“Even after so many years in business and trying to be successful, you never know what can go wrong. We survived the .com bubble and the 2008 recession, but I never saw that coming. “

– Jean-Pierre Iuliano, Chef / Owner of Café Mare

“The pandemic really taught us how adaptable we can be. We had the opportunity to turn the beach into a fantastic outdoor restaurant and develop a take-out system that we had never done before. Most of all, we were reminded of the incredible strength and support from the entire Santa Cruz community. “

– Alisha Dodds, manager, crow’s nest

“The industry itself is very resilient – especially in Santa Cruz, where more restaurants have survived.”

– Paul Cocking, owner, Gabriella Café

“Not to take personnel and supply chains for granted. It also taught me to be patient and learn to accept the things that I cannot control. “

– Liza Wadstein, General Manager, Hula’s Island Grill

“The importance of adapting and maintaining a more sustainable relationship not only with our guests, but also with our local farmers and fishermen.”

– Greg Karjala, Head Chef, Jack O’Neill Restaurant and Lounge

“We definitely appreciate our regular customers on site. We saw many identical faces during the pandemic and we really appreciate the support. “

– Roberto Castagno, Manager, Kianti’s

“I believe that not only we, but all restaurants are more focused on the guest and pay attention to cleanliness and pollution.”

– Giovanni Spanu, Chef / Owner, Lago di Como

“Restaurants are a really collaborative community effort. I am particularly grateful to our employees and our loyal, loving and patient patrons. “

– Patrice Boyle, owner, La Posta

“It was definitely a challenge, especially for a new restaurant, but it gave us the opportunity to engage with the community in a unique way. It forced us to get creative. “

– Anthony Sitch, General Manager, Makai Island Kitchen and Groggery

“It is very important to have full staff and to cater to the needs of each guest so that they are comfortable while eating.”

– Joseph Moens, Executive Chef, Michael’s on Main

“The industry cannot be taken for granted; You can be here today and go tomorrow. And that you have to be flexible and resilient. “

– Damani Thomas, Chef / Owner, Oswald

“Just make sure your employees feel confident, that the culture is positive, and that they are aware of our current environment. And also to be more transparent about what happens behind the scenes. “

– Ron Bonifacio, Operations Director, Palapas

“The industry is resilient and has very hard-working employees. And it really gave the industry the opportunity to think outside the box. “

– Margaux Keizer, Manager, Paradise Beach Grille

“To be grateful – for our jobs, our community and for the people who help us. I also give the delivery drivers free food. It’s not about the money, it’s about supporting the community. “

– Ayoma Wilen, Chef / Owner, Pearl of the Ocean

“People’s expectations do not change, although restaurants are known to be scarce. But we are still working very hard to meet those expectations and many of the staff, including myself, are doing the work of multiple people. “

– Ryan Koehler, General Manager, Riva

“The service and hospitality industries play an important role in our society. What we do is really important and people need to have social experiences together. We all need to be able to celebrate life and each other, and there is a lot to be said for caring for others and making those moments easier. “

– Steven Miller, General Manager, Seabright Social

“I always thought my job was safe. But that showed me that gastronomy can also be influenced by external factors. “

– Ken Drew, Executive Chef, Severino’s Bar and Grill

“We have a great community here in Santa Cruz that supports us and other local restaurants. We consider ourselves very lucky and are grateful for all the support. “

– Dede Eckhardt, Managing Director, Soif

“It’s difficult to work with fewer tables and less capacity, so we had to find another way to serve our customers, such as take away.”

– Marco Paoletti, co-owner, Sugo

“How wonderful and amazing the Santa Cruz Community is that I’ve known since we opened in 2012. But now it’s even stronger. And that high quality food always wins and how important it is to have a team that is like family. “

– Luca Viara, owner, Tramonti

“It showed me that individual employees who want to make a difference have shown up and provided exceptional service. Especially with so many restaurants with tight staff, those who are here are doing the work of several people. “

– Laine Elliott, Food and Beverage Manager, The View at Chaminade

Hulas. PHOTO: Tarmo Hannula

WHICH DISH RESTAURANT WEEKS THIS YEAR’S RESTAURANT WEEK MENU MOST LOVED?

“I’m really looking forward to our grilled dorado (mahi-mahi) with a mango salsa. After visiting Mexico recently, I was very inspired by this fish and combined it with tropical flavors. “

– Ben Kralj, Head Chef and General Manager of Back Nine Bar and Grill

“The pork scaloppini with roasted Californian chestnuts, shallots and white wine. It’s a perfect autumn dish, suitable for the season, and the chestnuts make it unique. “

– Jean-Pierre Iuliano, Chef / Owner of Café Mare

“We are really excited about the menu this year, it sets the perfect tone for these hearty autumn flavors. At the beginning the pumpkin and carrot soup shouldn’t be missing, it really warms you up. “

– Alisha Dodds, manager, crow’s nest

“Our Fettuccine Bolognese, which now contains freshly prepared Bigoli noodles from Watsonville.”

– Paul Cocking, owner, Gabriella Café

“Our Bali Hai Barbeque pork ribs, which are cooked slowly, fall straight off the bone and have a good, tangy mango barbeque sauce. They are served with our island-style coleslaw with pickled ginger and jasmine coconut rice. “

– Liza Wadstein, General Manager, Hula’s Island Grill

“Our pumpkin soup, which combines local pumpkins with local organic products. It’s perfect for autumn and shows the local terroir of Santa Cruz. “

– Greg Karjala, Head Chef, Jack O’Neill Restaurant and Lounge

“Our gourmet pasta, which has long been popular. It’s a very rich, creamy pesto pasta dish with bacon, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes. “

– Roberto Castagno, Manager, Kianti’s

“The nectarine panna cotta, made from organic nectarines, cream, milk and sugar. It’s a traditional Italian dessert and a specialty of our new pastry chef Crescenzo Pellicia. “

– Giovanni Spanu, Chef / Owner, Lago di Como

“The wild arancini mushrooms will be fantastic. It’s a great season for wild mushrooms and they’re served with a slightly spicy tomato aioli. It’s super seasonal, light and spicy. “

– Patrice Boyle, owner, La Posta

“Our poke bowl is definitely my favorite entree on the menu. It has fresh ahi tuna along with some unique flavors like lychee and our sriracha cream sauce. ”

– Anthony Sitch, General Manager, Makai Island Kitchen and Groggery

“I like our Kalbi style short ribs, which are unique and different. The spiciness and sweetness of the dish balance each other out very well and the meat is fork-tender. “

– Joseph Moens, Executive Chef, Michael’s on Main

“Our starter, the hearty oyster bread pudding. It’s been a while since I rolled this out. It used to be a crowd favorite at our old location. “

– Damani Thomas, Chef / Owner, Oswald

“Our rock steak entree, which for us is a specialty and one of our most popular items. It’s Harris Ranch beef and comes with rice and beans that are homemade by our chef every morning. “

– Ron Bonifacio, Operations Director, Palapas

“Our freshly grilled salmon with lemon-saffron-beurre blanc and coated with homemade garlic-mashed potatoes and wilted spinach.”

– Margaux Keizer, Manager, Paradise Beach Grille

“Our wild-caught salmon curry based on my mother’s recipe. It’s very unique, the flavors and the sauce, and people have probably never tried anything like it. “

– Ayoma Wilen, Chef / Owner, Pearl of the Ocean

“The locally caught halibut with a homemade orange-rosemary-cream sauce, rice pilaf, mixed vegetables and garnished with our famous fried zucchini stick.”

– Ryan Koehler, General Manager, Riva

“Our variant of grilled street corn is something everyone loves. It’s a modern take on the classic Mexican dish, sautéed in butter and fresh lime juice and topped with homemade garlic aioli, grated parmesan and cayenne pepper. “

– Steven Miller, General Manager, Seabright Social

“A dessert that I tasted to help me get this job. It’s a pumpkin creme brulee served in a real mini pumpkin. People love the presentation, it’s perfect for autumn. “

– Ken Drew, Executive Chef, Severino’s Bar and Grill

“The short ribs, a hearty and comforting dish that welcomes the changing seasons. The meat is very tender and tasty. “

– Dede Eckhardt, Managing Director, Soif

“The egg fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and sausage in a creamy Marsala rosemary sauce.”

– Marco Paoletti, co-owner, Sugo

“The new dessert that we offer: a meringata made from Italian meringue, whipped cream and berries and pastry cream inside. It was my favorite dessert as a kid in Turin and I used to go to the pastry shop to buy it. “

– Luca Viara, owner, Tramonti

“The fresh, local and wild king salmon, which is served with roasted fingerling potatoes, Kalamata olives, pancetta and chervil and rounded off with a sherry gastrique. It’s a brand new dish that the chef is looking forward to. “

– Laine Elliott, Food and Beverage Manager, The View at Chaminade



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