New in South Coast Metro 08-21-18 | Further than Fusion
From Coast Magazine
The Gourmet Issue – August 2018
By Jenn Tanaka
Futher than Fusion: Tony Nguyen & Ross Pangilinan
Five Chefs inspired by their ethnic backgrounds are changing Orange County’s dining landscape.
After years of cooking in renowned kitchens, these Orange County chefs have made waves on the Southern California culinary scene. By showcasing their own versions of modern fusion food, these cooks pull inspiration from their pasts and their various ethnic backgrounds to produce some of the most interesting and inspiring food served today.
Chef Tony Nguyen is a showman. He unapologetically cooks with liquid nitrogen and smoke machines.
Nguyen, who cooked for “the Godfather of Sustainability” Rick Moonen and in other well-respected kitchens, does not shy away from pressure. He is comfortable in front of the camera and has seen a decent amount of screen time throwing down on Food Network competitions against Bobby Flay. Since he does not mind the spotlight, you can tell that Nguyen is well on his way to becoming a celebrity chef. But, at his roots, he is still old-school; Nguyen gives respect where it’s due.
These days, Nguyen is a busy guy. He continues to oversee the kitchen inside AnQi at South Coast Plaza while managing the renovation of Crustacean’s two kitchen in Beverly Hills.
AnQi remains Nguyen’s space to present his more playful dishes. (For now, he also manages the pastry department.) Tableside ice cream is prepared with, yes, a bath of liquid nitrogen. The play on a deconstructed sundae is part performance art – a server vigorously stirs the concoction as clouds of liquid nitrogen flow down the table, simultaneously setting the ice cream – and part delicious desert. Nostalgic touches abound in Nguyen’s food. An Orange County-inspired dessert with syrup-drenched pineapple cake, dehydrated pineapple slices and Nguyen’s version of “Dole Whip” ice cream is at once a slice of mom’s home cooking and a pleasant stroll through Disneyland memory lane. Nguyen’s food transports you to a place where nostalgia and pleasure meet.
AnQi Gourmet Bistro and Noodle Bar at South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa
Ross Pangilinan is a serious guy. Underneath that refined persona is a fiercely competitive spirit with hints of a wild streak. After graduating from culinary school in Pasadena, Pangilinan found himself cooking at Big Canyon Country Club. At the time he recalled feeling that he would be happy working there forever. But the executive chef at Big Canyon saw potential in him. He would eventually be the catalyst for the young cook’s move to France.
People try to pigeonhole Pangilinan as a Filipino-American chef. While he is of Filipino descent, one would not necessarily describe his food as distinctly Southeast Asian. Others would speculate that his style is French, possibly because of his classic training at Le Cordon Bleu and his time cooking at Les Trois Marches. Pangilinan also spent seven years as executive chef at the French-inspired Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge inside Segerstrom Center.
Besides juggling the popularity of Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, he is planning to open a highly anticipated eatery at South Coast Plaza this fall.
Pangilinan’s lastest endeavour, Terrace by Mix Mix, will boast a menu that fully utilizes the existing large pizza oven. Since it was a key element of the space, Pangilinan chose to embrace the equipment to its fullest. The new menu will feature flatbread and pizzas, oven-roasted vegetables, baked fish and charred meats, and, of course, a healthy offering of freshly made pastas. It will undoubtedly bring new life to that side of the plaza.
Terrace by Mix Mix at South Coast Plaza coming soon