January/February 2012 by Suzanna Hoang
In a town where the trees sway with cool, winter breezes, and the community shops, chats and eats along historic sidewalks, the perfectly situated Haven Gastropub fits right in. Like its home in Old Towne Orange, Haven settles right into the fabric of old-world coziness with a modern flair, like it was supposed to be there all along. Inside, with its stone and vintage wood interior, Haven is just as inviting as its address. Locals agree, with regulars coming in three to four times a week. Chef and partner Greg Daniels’ hard work and passion for life are two things that ring true for one of the hardest working men in Orange County.
Chef Greg Danielssteadfast belief in quality of product and service shows in his simple yet fresh interpretations of how pub food should be represented. Daniels and his team have helped the public gradually understand what the term of gastropub truly means. “It’s a casual space with good, freshly cooked food and a good selection of beer, wine, and spirits. A good place for anyone to hang. It’s not just a bar,” Daniels said. It’s a welcoming perspective that reflects his personality and life’s work.
Red Bull energy drink in hand, Chef Daniels, 35, sits as he recounts his journey of growth over past and recent years. These days, he is still deep in the nurturing stages of his third restaurant opening, Haven in Pasadena. In another area that feels like “walking down the street with your family kind of vibe”, downtown Pasadena, similar to Old Towne Orange, also has a comforting presence. Now called Haven Collective, Daniels runs Haven Gastropub Old Towne Orange, + Brewery Old Pasadena and Taco Asylum at The Camp in Costa Mesa.
As a chef and businessman who works an average of 60 to 80 hours a week, Chef Daniels stays consistently on top of his game. Hiring quality cooks and servers has certainly been a challenge in this economy, where the line of quality of standard and quantity of eager young professionals is very fine.
Patience becomes a virtue as figuring out numbers and dollar signs for the logistics of a synergistic staff do not come easy. Employment sources such as Craigslist.org and Starchefs.com showed applicant pools both deep and shallow. Restaurant recruiter and staffer Brad Metzger was finally called for hiring expertise, but filtering applicants to support the Haven staff remains difficult.
Every applicant with sufficient restaurant experience is asked to do a one-day kitchen audition called a stage. Chef Daniels filters through cooks by allowing them prepare and plate up two of their own dishes. If those dishes pass his taste palate test and share his eye for detail, he watches the cooks’ efficiency and speed for the remainder of the shift. Only a few from a sea of applicants make the final cut. At Daniels’ side are sous chefs, managers and partners that understand and help his flow and commitment to quality.
At his core, Greg Daniels is an individual who believes artistic challenges lead to personal and professional growth. Growing up around cooking at home and love of the arts, he brought thatinto his adult life. Having built great teams at the helm of Haven in Orange, Taco Asylum, and now Haven in Pasadena, his mind can rest a little easier. Menu development on Daniels’ team is an open, creative process. His managers and sous chefs also appreciate the creative freedom. “My kitchen manager at Taco Asylum came up with the falafel taco and it sold out instantly. I trust her,” he says.
The clientele at Haven and Taco Asylum have gradually opened up their palates to curried goat, octopus,
lamb neck and goose pastrami. “We’ve gained people’s trust. If they love a good pastrami sandwich, we’ve got one with our own twist and it’s still cooked slow and fresh.” The clientele in Pasadena are more open to game meats so the new Haven menu will feature them. At the time of its early December opening, Haven in Pasadena shared the same menu as the Orange location. However, with a larger kitchen, Haven in Pasadena will soon take advantage with more special menu offerings. “The space is so much bigger. The pastry department in particular will have much more space to bring ideas to life” he said.
With a solid team of chefs, Chef Daniels proudly advertises: his kitchens make everything from scratch. The goose pastrami, house ketchup, cured salmon, and charcuterie selections are just some of the products made in house.
Alongside his cooked-from-scratch values, Daniels and his team refuse to purchase anything that isn’t local, sustainable, humanely raised, and/or organic. If it means paying $35 instead of $12 for cage-free eggs, he does it. “I’ve read and researched the topic. I know too much. I need to stay true to the food
and the ethics.” he said.
Winter at Haven brings comfort in the form of braised meats, cassoulets, and pot pies with hearty, rich sauces. This year his menu features pheasant pot pie. For Daniels even Jidori chicken didn’t push the envelope enough. He also looks forward to discussions with his meat purveyor about what kinds of
interesting cuts he can incorporate into his specials.
In an incestuous industry where social and print media perpetuates news from every angle, Chef Daniels maintains that honesty is always the best quality. “Why are people okay with mediocrity? I don’t understand it”, he says. With more tasting menus, staff training, social calendars, and his new path of
fatherhood on the horizon, Greg Daniels stays happily busy. He keeps his friends and family close to him. “It’s all about finding and maintaining balance,” he says. “I still learn something new every day”.
190 S Glassell St, Ste C&D
Orange, CA 92866
Open everyday 11:00am-2:00am
Chef Greg Daniels
AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS YOU WORK IN A WEEK? 70.
IF YOU OVERSEE MULTI UNITS-HOW MANY? 3.
WHAT IS YOUR ANNIVERSARY WITH THIS RESTAURANT? 4/09.
WHAT IS THE RESTAURANT’S ANNIVERSARY? 9/4/09.
1ST COOKING OR FOOD-RELATED MEMORY: I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom, doing light prep and washing dishes. We had “taco night” every Friday, and I would watch my dad very carefully garnish his tacos. He probably doesn’t realize the influence that had on me to make food not only taste good, but look beautiful as well.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? Paperboy for the Whittier Daily News.
WHAT FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? When I worked in the front of the house, it had to do with the flexibility of my schedule. I could work a few nights a week, and make the money that most people made working 5 days/40 hours.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB? KFC cashier.
IF NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? Writer.
FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGET OR TOOL: The Smoking Gun – all of Polyscience’s products are fantastic, but this one has a special place in my heart. It’s under $100 and allows you to cold smoke anything, from fish to beer.
FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE: CookTek Induction range – at our new location in Pasadena, we’re having a lot of fun with this. Very controlled cooking environment without fire – you can hold something on the lowest of temperatures, without having the worry of the flame going out.
FAVORITE TYPE OF COOKWARE: All-Clad Stainless.
FAVORITE CONDIMENT/SPICE: Salt – I even have the Morton Salt girl tattooed on my shoulder. Food just tastes better when salted. I’d argue that it has taste with salt and lacks any true flavor without.
MOST RECOMMENDED KITCHEN TOOL AND SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP) FOR HOME KITCHENS: Polyscience Sous Vide Professional immersion circulator. These beasts can do so much and are now available at Williams-Sonoma at your local mall. It isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely a workhorse. We use these on a daily basis for anything from steaks to eggs that are perfectly poached in their shell. www.williams-sonoma.com $800.
MOST RECOMMENDED FOOD INGREDIENT SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP) FOR FOODIES: www.terraspicecompany.com.
BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT WORKING IN THE KITCHEN: A lot of people think that it’s glamorous and easy. The perception of the restaurant industry as a whole is viewed this way. In all actuality, it requires a lot of hard work and a lot of patience.
SIGNATURE OR FAVORITE DISH TO MAKE: I’m very proud of The Haven Burger. When developing it, I was trying to make it fire on all cylinders, touching on all 5 basic flavors: sweet (roasted red bell peppers), salty (St. Agur Bleu cheese), bitter (wild arugula), sour (pickled red onions), and umami (both the custom ground patty and the St. Agur cheese). It has constantly averaged a full 10% of our overall sales at Haven, including alcohol.
OTHER CUISINES WORKED WITH: Classical French. I still have a fondness for it, and it influences my menus on a regular basis.
HOBBIES: Guitar, reading, writing, travel, eating.
FAMILY INFO: Married for 13 years, 1 daughter just born in November ’11.
FAVORITE OC RESTAURANT: Tsuruhashi.
FAVORITE DISH TO EAT: Miso beef tongue.
FAVORITE JUNK FOOD: Peanut butter filled pretzels.
FAVORITE RAW INGREDIENT: Red onion.
FAVORITE FAST FOOD: In ‘n Out.
DO YOU WATCH FOOD TV? Yes Which programs are your favorite? Top Chef, No Reservations, The Layover.
FAMOUS CHEFS YOU’VE MET: Ludo Lefebvre, Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz.
CULINARY HERO: Thomas Keller – he strives for perfection in everything he does and usually achieves it.
WHAT OTHER PUBLICATIONS HAVE YOU BEEN FEATURED IN? OC Register, Riviera, COAST, Orange Coast
YEARS OF CULINARY EDUCATION: 1.5. SCHOOL: California School of Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu.
OTHER EDUCATION: AA Goldenwest College.
Places traveled to explore & learn additional cuisines: England, Ireland, France, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Mexico.
YEARS IN BUSINESS:
WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE?
Warm, creative, fun.
WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE? Firm, respectful, calm.
PREVIOUS INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS: Pascal Olhats (Tradition), Andrew Sutton (Napa Rose), Sterling Fogg (Sterling’s Cucina), House of Blues, Dave and Busters, Bobby McGee’s, Slidebar, Heat Ultra Lounge, Mesa.
CHARITY AFFILIATION(S): March of Dimes, Mana (Mother Administered Nutritive Aid), Christermon Foundation.
190 South Glassell Street
Old Towne Orange, CA 92866
42 S. De Lacey Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Open everyday 11:00AM-2:00AM
Braised Pork Shank with Dijon spaetzle and Olive tapenade
4-6 Berkshire pork shanks
3 Yellow onions (rough chop)
3 Carrots (rough chop)
6 Celery stalks (rough chop)
1 Bottle of red wine
1/2 Bottle of port
16 oz Tomato juice
Chicken stock (as needed)
Sachet (thyme sprigs, peppercorn, parsley stem, bay leaves in cheese cloth)
Begin by searing off all pork shanks in a large roasting pan to a deep brown color on all sides. Once browned, remove from pan and add all vegetables and caramelize them again to a deep brown. After vegetables have been caramelized, deglaze pan with wine, port, and tomato juice. Scrape off the fond on the bottom of pan and reduce by half. Put pork shanks back into pan and cover with chicken stock. Add sachet and bring to a boil. Once boiling, take off stove, cover pan with a lid or foil and cook in the oven at 300 degrees for 4 hours or until tender. Carefully remove shanks from liquid, and reduce braising liquid until sauce consistency. Strain through a fine sieve and use on plate.
1 qt Water
1 C Chives
I6 C AP flour
1/4 t Salt
1 T White pepper
1 C Dijon mustard
Place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. As you wait for pot to come to a boil, blend chives and 2 pints of water in a blender. Pass through a fine sieve, and reserve. In a large bowl add flour, salt, white pepper and mix with a whisk to combine. Crack eggs on top of flour; add water/chive mixture and Dijon to bowl. With your hands, break yolks and use fingers to blend. The mixture should resemble pancake batter and should have a green hue. Let rest for 10 min. Place a perforated pan over boiling water, turn heat on low. Have an ice bath ready nearby and begin to spread batter through holes 2 cups at a time. Stir with a slotted spoon until the droplets float to the surface and boil for one minute. Skim dumplings out of water and place in ice bath. Repeat until all batter is used. Dump ice bath into a colander and wash spaetzle to remove extra starch. Let sit for 5 min. to drain; toss lightly with grape seed oil.
Saute in butter until golden brown and serve under braised pork shank.
3 C Pitted cured black olives
1/4 C capers
3 Garlic cloves
1/2 T Ground black pepper
1/4 C Extra virgin olive oil
Add all ingredients except for oil into a food processor. Begin blending and slowly drizzle olive oil until consistency is that of a spread.
Use as a garnish on the braised pork shank.
Top with micro dijon greens.