A recent fire at McKenna’s on the Bay has expanded Chef Art’s ability to create innovative menus while re-developing the restaurant’s back-of-house operations. The Long Beach establishment was forced to evacuate in March due to an exhaust systems fire leaving employees out of work for over a month. Chef Art Gonzalez has utilized this time to reflect on his career and the future of McKenna’s amidst the necessary reconstruction planning underway; Art has had to become a key contributor in negotiating with contractors and insurance professionals. Ver la version espanola del articulo.
Originating in Cerritos, Art’s diverse German-Mexican household showcased a broad range of cuisines and techniques. He continuously reverts to childhood memories of following his mother and grandmother around the house while they prepared daylong meals, retaining as many techniques as possible. Cooking has always been a passion for Chef Art, but he never really thought he would turn to the culinary industry as a profession. With dreams of becoming a firefighter dashed by injury, Art began his culinary journey as a dishwasher at Spaghettini. Though he was just in the dish pit, he knew that the kitchen was his true calling in life.
Following two and a half years at Spaghettini, Art moved onto Mahe and eventually the Hyatt New Mexico where he met mentor Chef Hans Sevlin and began developing his personal Asian infused techniques. As much as he learned while working at the Hyatt, Chef Art didn’t love the mass quantity cooking style the hotel culinary industry brought. He quickly became friends with the concierge of the Hyatt, who sent him to Santa Fe and introduced him to Eric Desteffano owner of restaurant Geroinomo. Eric and Art hit it off immediately and Chef Art was offered a Chef De Cuisine position- a dream come true. It was here his passion for European cooking was ignited.
Art helped Eric with two other restaurants in Santa Fe until he moved to Scottsdale to work at the Boulders Resort. He was not in Scottsdale very long before he realized that he missed New Mexico. He missed the farmers market, heavy Spanish influences and small town population. The locals, fresh ingredients and the atmosphere just weren’t the same in Scottsdale, so he returned to New Mexico and continued working in small boutique hotels as an independent chef.
Foreseeing an industry-wide revolution and a local industry revitalization, Art migrated back to Southern California where he joined McKenna’s with a goal of creating delicious, clean and simple food. Art knows that “Quality makes a world of difference, and the taste that you achieve from using great ingredients will change how people perceive food coming out of the kitchen.” When he first arrived at McKenna’s his first project was to adapt the already existing six-page menu. It was a struggle to try and convince people that less is more! Chef Art works hard, loves what he does and wants to have people from all over to come experience the food he serves making McKenna’s not just a restaurant but a destination. Chef Art recently hosted a fantastic wine dinner for the first time at McKenna’s that received a lot of attention and great feedback from local industry professionals. He has also stirred up a local crowd of fans who come in to eat his food regularly (sometimes even multiple times in one week), trusting him to create a delicious meal especially for them!
The career transitions that Chef Art has endured over the years have given him the opportunity to explore cuisine and gain hands-on experience in the restaurant industry enhancing his passion and fueling his drive to keep striving for the best.
Upon McKenna’s re-opening, Chef Gonzalez hopes to welcome guests back with a night of drinks and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate great people and great food with Great Taste.
Executive Chef Arthur Gonzalez
WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE? Seasonal Global Cuisine
ANNIVERSARY WITH THE RESTAURANT? Sept. 2007
RESTAURANT’S ANNIVERSARY? May 2004
AVERAGE HOURS YOU WORK IN A WEEK? 70 hours
FIRST FOOD RELATED MEMORY? Cooking with both of my grandmothers from Mexico and Germany.
FIRST JOB? Fire Fighter
WHAT FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? The love of cooking
FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB? Spaghettini
IF NOT A CHEF WHAT WOULD YOU BE? Fire Fighter
FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGET OR TOOL? Immersion Circulator
FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE? My wood grill
FAVORITE TYPE OF COOKWARE? French Saute Pan
FAVORITE CONDIMENT/ SPICE? New Mexico chili’s, truffles, meyer lemon , sambal
MOST RECOMMENDED KITCHEN TOOL AND SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP)? A sharp knife, Chefs’ Toys.
MOST RECOMMENDED FOOD INGREDIENT SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL STORE) FOR FOODIES? Terra spice company – www.terraspicecompany.com
BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT WORKING IN THE KITCHEN? Straight out of culinary school kids think they are the next celebrity chef (Emeril)
SIGNATURE OR FAVORITE DISH TO MAKE? Spatzel, anything braised
OTHER CUISINES WORKED WITH? French, Asian, Southwestern, South American, German
HOBBIES? Hiking with my dogs, music, traveling
FAMILY INFO? 2 kids, beautiful Girlfriend
FAVORITE OC RESTAURANT? Sea Food Cove, Empanadas Place
FAVORITE DISH TO EAT Pork Belly
FAVORITE JUNK FOOD Frito pie
FAVORITE RAW INGREDIENT any type of chili
FAVORITE FAST FOOD Bert’s burger bowl (Santa Fe, NM)
WHICH WATCH FOOD TV PROGRAMS ARE YOUR FAVORITESNo Reservations, Top Chef, Travel Channel
FAMOUS CHEFS YOU’VE MET Jose Andres, Sue Millikan, Roy Yamaguchi
CULINARY HERO (ES) Eric DiStefano, my Mom
WHAT OTHER PUBLICATIONS HAVE YOU BEEN FEATURED IN? Long Beach Magazine, Albuquerque the Magazine, Local Flavor (Santa Fe, NM.) The District
YEARS OF CULINARY EDUCATION – 0
PLACES TRAVELED TO EXPLORE & LEARN ADDITIONAL CUISINES Southwest, Europe, Mexico
YEARS IN BUSINESS – BOH 9
PREVIOUS INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS Spaghettini, Mahe, Hyatt, Geronimo
CHARITY AFFILIATION(S) Dining Out for Life, Project Seek, Jewels of the Night, and Cooking for a Cause.
McKennas on the Bay
190 Marina Dr.
Long Beach, CA 90803
Mon -Thurs11:30am – 10:00pm
Fri -Sat. 11:00am – 11:00pm
Sun. 11:00am – 10:00pm
CRISPY SZECHUAN BEEF
2 Pieceschuck flat or (8) short ribs
3 Cburgundy wine
2 Csoy sauce
1 Cbrown sugar
4 Sprigsrosemary – roughly chopped
4 Fingersginger – roughly chopped
2 TGarlic – finely chopped
Combine last 6 ingredients
Place beef in a non-reactive container
Let marinade overnight
Heat some oil in a large stock pot
Brown chuck flat on all sides, add the marinade
Bring to a soft boil, skim off impurities
Cover and braise for about 4 hrs.
Meat should be fork tender
Szechuan Pepper Sauce
2 CHoisin Sauce
2 COyster Sauce
1/2 CSuperfine Sugar
2 TGinger – finely chopped
2 TToasted Szechuan Peppercorns
Combine all Ingredients in a blender and combine
1 CIce Water
1 CA.P. Flour – sifted
Beat egg, slowly add ice water
Add sifted flower, mix lightly.
Be Careful not to over mix.
Sambal Pickled Savoy Cabbage
1 HeadSavoy Cabbage
1Carrot – julienned
1/2 CSambal Oelek
1 TFish sauce
1 TGinger – finely chopped
Finely chop cabbage, combine with carrots
Combine last 5 ingredients
Marinade cabbage for at least 30 minutes before serving
Instructions for Plate Up
Have fryer oil ready at 350
Cut short rib into 4 – 1/4″ thick slices
Dip into seasoned A.P. flour then into Tempura Batter
Fry until golden brown
Toss ribs in Sauce to coat
Plate Beef and garnish with roasted cashews and chili threads
Add a spoon full of the pickled cabbage to the plate.
Drizzle with chili oil