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Chef Zov Karamardian

by Julia Loschiavo May 30th, 2013 | Chef Interviews
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zovsgardenChef Zov Karamardian is the owner of 5 restaurants in Orange County that bear her name and a best-selling cookbook author two times over (Simply Zov and Zov: Recipes and Memories From the Heart).

Zov’s Bistro and Bakery serves some of Southern California’s finest Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine set in chic, yet comfortable
environments. Founded in 1987, Zov’s Bistro in Tustin, California, has become one of the most recognized restaurants in Orange County, with an award-winning bakery, banquet facilities, full-service catering, and cooking classes Her two other restaurants, Zov’s Neighborhood Cafés & Bar, are located in Newport Beach and Irvine and she has two locations at the John Wayne Airport. Visit www.zovs.com to find out more! She places a high priority on fresh, garden-grown ingredients to enrich her menus.

I was able to speak with Chef Karamardian to find out more about her garden and restaurants.

JL: What types of foods do you grow in your garden?

CK: Swiss chard, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes and herbs (basil, mint, Italian parsley, sage, garlic, green onions).

JL: As an owner of five restaurants, how do garden-grown ingredients inspire all of these menus?

CK: At Zov’s Bistro and Bakery, I offer a seasonal menu
that is inspired by ingredients that are fresh and readily available. My latest summer menu emphasizes fresh veggies, my garden is bursting with them! It’s a great way to incorporate the flavors of the season.

JL: In particular, what seasonal items are you growing and using right now?

CK: Artichokes, fava beans, swiss chard, asparagus, potatoes … My
summer menu includes Zahtar crusted skirt steak sautéed with Swiss chard and served with shoestring potatoes for $23.95; an 8-0z herb-roasted chicken breast served with garden succotash and crispy potato cake for $17.95; and pan-seared barramundi in a lemon and thyme broth served with a rustic vegetable potato medley for $21.95.

JL: How do the seasons influence your menu choices?

CK: Each season we have access to wonderful produce, I love to create menu items that accentuate these fresh ingredients and tie them into the season. For example, right now summer is upon us and the menu is light and fresh whereas the winter menu is warm and hearty. We utilize the ingredients accordingly.

JL: Which fresh-grown ingredients inspire you most?

CK: I love working with fresh heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs (I love basil), and this time of the year all types of corn are amazing!

JL: As a cookbook author, what advice do you have for the home cook
interested in gardening?

CK: Start small and plant what you love.

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