One of the difficulties of being a great chef is trying to find the right balance of flavors and textures. An extra pinch of salt can make or break a dish. Chef David Parry, newly appointed Executive Chef and Vice President of Operations at Billy’s at the Beach, is not only working on the right balance of flavors in Billy’s menu, but he is also trying to find the right balance of the old and the new. Billy’s is a-changing, but do not fret, true-blue fans of Billy’s, Chef Parry is striving to polish this Newport Beach icon and get it back up on the mantle of premier food and beverage destinations in the Orange County area.
As one may expect with a change in ownership and Executive Chef, emotions are running high at Billy’s at the Beach. Everyone is very excited about the possibilities which Billy’s holds. It is in a great location and already has a faithful following. Now, the new owner, Kimberly Jones, is working to re-establish some aspects of Billy’s. A few highlights here and a few changes there will make Billy’s the star once again. One of the changes the new owners felt was necessary was to bring in long-time friend and professional chef, David Parry, from Australia. Since his arrival, Chef Parry has been busy coordinating small changes and upgrades while striving to maintain the integrity that Billy’s patrons have come to expect and admire.
Chef David attended culinary school in Australia. To hear him speak of his training is like listening to a graduate of a military academy reminisce of old times. Regular college class work was combined with culinary education and then followed by an apprenticeship. As soon as his education was complete, Chef Parry went to Europe where he worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens on the continent. Most celebrity chefs would be jealous to hear of his resume and travels.
While in Europe, Chef Parry met up with fellow Australian chefs and began opening restaurants. Through one of these friends, David discovered the possibilities of becoming a personal chef. He made a couple of contacts within the industry and was placed in the employ of some very prestigious families. He has worked for both European royalty and American celebrities. His work in the culinary industry has allowed him to travel the world a few times over with his wife and family.
David’s wife, Tonya, and oldest child are no strangers to Orange County. David and his wife lived in Huntington Beach some years ago and their first child was born there. Tonya is working with him in the restaurant and runs the front of the house while he commands the back. Family is important to David. He feels that cooking is not an individual effort; it requires the dedication of a family. He tries to run his business with a family type atmosphere. He says that on any given day at work he could assume the roles of both a big brother and a father figure to his employees.
This philosophy will remain true while working at Billy’s at the Beach. Some of the employees at Billy’s have been there since the doors first opened 18 years ago. With most of the crew being there for 9 to 10 years, David recognizes the loyalty the employees have shown to the restaurant and he’s not planning to make any drastic employee changes. He wants to keep the restaurant, the staff, and the menu as familiar as ever. There is good buzz within the restaurant itself and Chef Parry wants to keep the excitement within the staff up and project it onto the patrons.
Chef David knows that Billy’s is an icon and respects the establishment as such. To maintain that respect, he does not want to make any changes to the restaurant which will make it unrecognizable to its band of faithful followers. He will implement some of his own signature items on the menu while keeping it familiar. He plans to create superb dishes and add value for the money.
Before agreeing to take the job at Billy’s, Chef Parry worked at a seafood restaurant in Australia. Since he took over that position as Executive Chef, the restaurant won Best Seafood Restaurant for the last three consecutive years. Seafood is one of his favorite things to cook. According to his philosophy, seafood should be treated like mineral water. Rather than obscure the clean, fresh taste with heavy-handed seasonings, one should use subtle flavors that enhance the product without overpowering its purity. David’s motto when it comes to cooking is to “respect and know your product.”
The respect that Chef Parry mentions is rooted in his love of the environment and of sustainability. He truly appreciates how animal products make it to the table and makes every effort not to degrade the life cycle. His philosophy of respect does not extend only to flesh and bone. He respects and has a great knowledge of the most mundane of products. He speaks of vinegars as a sommelier speaks of wine. He believes that there is no substitute for the knowledge one gains of products through continual use in the industry. He reads cookbooks incessantly in order to continue to learn new interpretations of dishes.
David loves to explain food and wants his enthusiasm for his products to extend onto his kitchen crew. This way, they will have the same passion for the food that he does and the food will be consistently excellent. To David, consistency and value for money are key to running a successful restaurant.
Billy’s at the Beach has long been a classic, and Chef Parry hopes to keep it as such. Small tweaks such as a new Happy Hour and a little TLC will awaken the sleeping giant within Billy’s and turn this classic into the standard.
*In response to our original post naming both Fletcher Jones, Jr. and his wife, Kimberly, as owners we received the following:
“Although I applaud my wife 100% in her new ventures, I am not financially or operationally involved in her ownership.” -Fletcher Jones, Jr.
Chef David Parry
AVERAGE NUMBER OF HOURS YOU WORK IN A WEEK: 60
AVERAGE COVER FOR ONE GUEST, INCLUDING BEVERAGE? Lunch: $30 Dinner: $50
1ST COOKING OR FOOD-RELATED MEMORY: Like most young kids, baking with my gran.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB? Chef Apprentice
WHAT FIRST INTERESTED YOU IN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY? I always wanted to be a chef, I love every aspect of this industry.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST HOSPITALITY JOB? Chef
IF NOT A CHEF, WHAT WOULD YOU BE? A stand-up comic, but I am the only one that finds me funny. Well, my kids find me funny.
FAVORITE KITCHEN GADGET OR TOOL: Without a doubt, my chef’s knife
FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE: Pacojet
FAVORITE TYPE OF COOKWARE: Le Creuset
FAVORITE CONDIMENT/SPICE: The King of Spice: Saffron, & Seasalt
MOST RECOMMENDED KITCHEN TOOL AND SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP) FOR HOME KITCHENS: Microplane, any kitchen store.
MOST RECOMMENDED FOOD INGREDIENT SOURCE (ONLINE OR RETAIL SHOP) FOR FOODIES: Finger limes, Ingardia Bro’s have gotten them for me.
BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT WORKING IN THE KITCHEN: We are all good looking. So not true. It’s more like 80%.
SIGNATURE OR FAVORITE DISH TO MAKE: Anything fresh and seasonal.
OTHER CUISINES WORKED WITH: I am lucky enough to have lived and worked in most countries, they all have something to offer.
HOBBIES: Surfing, food.
FAMILY INFO: Married for 3 months to my partner of 19 years. 2 children: Paloma, 8 yrs; Jetson, 4 yrs.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Quay in Sydney.
FAVORITE DISH TO EAT: Anything Peter Gilmore makes.
FAVORITE RAW: Hiramasa Kingfish.
FAVORITE JUNK FOOD: The Burger.
FAVORITE INGREDIENT: 1st pressed olive oil.
DO YOU WATCH FOOD TV? IF SO, WHICH PROGRAM(S) IS(ARE) YOUR FAVORITE? Yes, all, even if they are bad. I am addicted.
FAMOUS CHEFS YOU’VE MET: Ramsey, Tetsuya, Neil Perry, Bosley.
CULINARY HERO(ES): David Thopson, Heston Blumenthal.
WHAT OTHER PUBLICATIONS HAVE YOU BEEN FEATURED IN? Vogue Australia, Gazette, Restaurant and Caterers.
YEARS OF CULINARY EDUCATION: 4 years at Cairns College of Arts, Australia.
PLACES TRAVELED TO EXPLORE & LEARN ADDITIONAL CUISINES: Morocco, Spain, France, Thailand, Indonesia, England, Mexico.
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 21.
WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOUR CULINARY STYLE? Clean, fresh, care.
PREVIOUS INDUSTRY EMPLOYERS: The River Cafe, Le Pont de la Tour, Bluebirds, the pharmacy, Rockpool.
Billy’s At The Beach
2751 W. Coast Hwy.
Newport Beach, CA 92663-4753
OPEN DAILY: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Hot Cakes with Banana and Palm Sugar Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream and Salted Peanuts
1 1/3 C Ricotta
3/4 C Milk
4 Eggs – separated
1 C Plain Flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1 Pinch Salt
50 g Butter
Fresh bananas – halved and coated w/ lime juice to prevent
Icing sugar for dusting
Roasted salted peanuts pulsed in blender
Vanilla ice cream
2 T Honey
Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl and mix to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined. Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches with a large metal spoon. Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 T of batter per hotcake into the pan (don’t cook more than 3 per batch). Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble with other ingredients. Stack 3 hotcakes on a plate and top with banana slice, vanilla ice cream, then salted peanuts and palm sugar. Dust with icing sugar and serve.