By Chef Katie Averill
French 75 holds great memories for many Laguna Beach locals. More than likely special anniversaries and extravagant date nights come to mind with great live music and an old school bar complete with the bartender shaking martinis. With the recent arrival of Chef Greg Moro comes a youthfulness and fresh creativity that makes French 75 seem more accessible, like a place you might come to eat more casually.
Chef Greg worked his way up with the tutelage of O.C.’s well respected Chef Pascal Olhats, thus we are assured that he has mastered proper French technique. Add “Gourmet Greg” to that, and we get great French with a fun twist. I am still thinking about the BLT mussels; classic moules frites with a “twist” of bacon, leeks, and tomato. The mussels were perfectly cooked, the frites homemade, and the bacon moved it to divine.
Greg grew up expecting to be a surgeon like his father or a professional hockey player. He dabbled in foodservice when he was young working at a deli. Later he became a server in a restaurant where he was required to make his own pantry dishes (as a server!)
It was there he had a chance encounter with Pascal, who was dining at the restaurant. Greg saved his money and attended the California Culinary Academy, one of the top schools in the nation, and earned a culinary degree. He returned to Southern California and, seeking to work with the best, he interned at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
Greg must have made an impression on Pascal because he called to offer Greg a training position. Greg worked through every station at Pascal’s restaurant, Tradition. When Pascal began a whirlwind year of traveling, Greg, who had risen to a “sous sous chef” position was called upon to travel from Hawaii to Florida, preparing dinners for the likes of presidents and movie stars as Pascal’s right hand man.
When the head chef position became open at French 75, which Pascal continues to oversee, Greg was the obvious choice. He had proven himself worthy in the toughest situations at catering events both off-site and out-of-state, and he had staying power. Greg has since been given creative freedom to run the kitchen and create the menu at French 75. He particularly enjoys the bistro menu where he takes the chance to show French food can be colorful and farm-to-table.
Greg describes his kitchen style as stern and focused, yet you can tell he is a friendly person with a sense of humor after spending just a short amount of time with him. The passion he has is evident through the gleam in his eye as he explains his original ice cream making technique that involves both dry ice and heat from a torch. On occasion you can find him preparing this table-side “complete with smoke wafting through the room”. Chef Greg’s career is one to watch.
1464 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Daily – 4:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
1ST COOKING OR FOOD-RELATED MEMORY: I remember as a young boy being in the kitchen with my mom, grandma, aunts, and sister during the holidays, standing at the counter watching them cook, always trying to take tastes of the food.
WHAT FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? Food fire and knives.
IF NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A professional motorcycle or car racer.
FAVORITE CONDIMENT/SPICE: Aioli because it is versatile and can be flavored anyway you want.
FAVORITE THING: One of my favorite things to work with in the kitchen is dry ice fun and efficient.
MOST RECOMMENDED KITCHEN TOOL AND SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP) FOR HOME KITCHENS: A great knife is a must have! chefknivestogo.com.
SIGNATURE OR FAVORITE DISH TO MAKE: Beef stroganoff
FAVORITE OC RESTAURANT: Da Bianca Trattoria in Orange FAVORITE DISH TO EAT: Farfalle Veniziana with mozzarella melted on top, Gourmet Greg style not on menu, AMAZING!
CULINARY HERO(ES): Anthony Bourdaine, Pascal Olhats, James Beard.
WHAT OTHER PUBLICATIONS HAVE YOU BEEN FEATURED IN? Super Street Bike Magazine, StuNews
PLACES TRAVELED TO EXPLORE & LEARN ADDITIONAL CUISINES: New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles (mainly just eating ).
WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE? Gourmet, colorful, delicious.
WHAT THREE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE? Stern, creative, focused.