By Chef Katie Averill
Great Taste Magazine 2016 January February Issue
CHEF ANDREW MONTERROSA HAS FOUND A HOME AS THE HEAD CHEF OF TAPS, IRVINE. Having been open just seven months, the restaurant is packed at lunch time, which is considerable considering the large size of the dining room, which requires a hefty kitchen staff of twenty-two. Similarities can be found between TAPS Corona (where he worked previously) and TAPS Brea (as far as the oyster bar, restaurant layout and a handful of must-have signature dishes), but TAPS Irvine is unto itself, a unique experience. Chef Andrew takes freedom with his menu and includes food with ethnic ingredients influenced by his background (a mother from Belize and a Japanese father from El Salvador), as well as experience cooking in Maui. Chef Andrew grew up in Los Angeles, where he was very athletic at an early age, but caught the hospitality bug early, while catering during high school. He attended Johnson and Wales in Denver, earning a degree in Hospitality and Hotel Management. He realized that after getting his “feet wet” back of the house, that the front of the house was not where he would spend his career, but his extensive hospitality education comes into play every day. He found that he was good at cooking and had a knack for stepping in, instructing cooks, and then letting them execute their dishes. While at work, he jumps from kitchen station to station (and there are plenty) making many rounds.
TAPS Irvine is more customer-driven than any other restaurant where Chef Andrew has worked. With a history of working at several Roy’s restaurants, where the kitchen and chef focus on making daily menus and on what the “kitchen wants,” the philosophy of TAPS Irvine is that THE FAMILY is comprised of the kitchen plus the guests. Customer feedback is paramount to Chef Andrew, who checks in with customers every night—not to make an
appearance, but to get sincere, honest feedback from customers. The Irvine clientele prefers healthier dishes that pop with flavor. He is flexible and amenable, which are adjectives not often used when describing chefs.
The pizzas I tried were perfectly cooked, with fresh ingredients like house ricotta, heirloom spinach, hen egg (if an egg is on top, I am in), pear and buffalo mozzarella, just to name a few. These pies were perfectly thin and bubbly, coming right out of the stone oven, which you can see in their wide open kitchen. The tri tip chopped salad was heavenly! I especially loved the salad part—I could have just eaten a whole bowl of that chopped salad and still been delighted. Not-to- be-missed, however, is a completely separate charcuterie case, in the dining area, where small tapas style plates are brought out, specifically as ordered.
Irvine has clearly welcomed a happening new restaurant and a talented chef who is new to Orange County. As I read over the menu, there are many more dishes that I will be returning to try.
TAPS FISH HOUSE & BREWERY
13390 Jamboree Rd
Irvine, CA 92602
Monday – Thursday 11am-10pm
Friday – Saturday 11am-11pm
CHEF ANDREW MONTERROSA
1ST COOKING OR FOOD-RELATED MEMORY It’s my Grandmother cooking ropa veja, a refried black bean and rice dish from El Salvador.
FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB Working for the catering department for Whole Foods.
FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY The rush of the kitchen—how it was
controlled chaos, sounds, fire, and smells, all attracted me.
KITCHEN GADGET OR TOOL My 13-inch, single-side, Japanese chef knife
KITCHEN APPLIANCE Circulator
COOKWARE Medium sauté pan
CONDIMENT/SPICE Sparrow lane vinegar, Togorashi
DISH TO MAKE Birria, Lamb stew with Roasted Chili
OC RESTAURANT Zetton Ramen
DISH TO EAT Pork Shoyu Ramen
JUNK FOOD Pan Dulce (Mexican sweet bread)
RAW INGREDIENT Shallots
FAST FOOD Yoshinoya (Beef Bowl)
BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT WORKING IN THE KITCHEN Becoming the next Food Network Star is
not that easy and it’s not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. You need to be really passionate and resilient.
OTHER CUISINES WORKED WITH Japanese, Thai, French, Italian, & Indian.
YOUR BIGGEST CULINARY INFLUENCES Curtis Mar, Russel Sito, Tom Voss, Manuel Gonzalez. Tom Hope taught me that perfection and balance are the same.
3 WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE Layered, consistent, balanced.
3 WORDS TO DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE Disciplined, motivational, educational.
PREVIOUS INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS Roy’s Fusion, Vesta, Stanley Hotel, Estes park.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS INTERESTED IN THE HOSPITALITY AND CULINARY INDUSTRY It’s what you make it to be; nothing good comes easy; it takes time.