The Octopus Carpaccio with citrus, frisée and yuzu vinaigrette, pictured above, was a stunning example of the magical fare emerging from the kitchen of Executive Chef Greg Harrison, the culinary talent behind Orange County’s acclaimed Five Crowns, and its sister restaurant, SideDoor (both members of the Lawry’s family of restaurants). In August, Executive Chef Ryan O’Melveny Wilson and General Manager Jim Columbo introduced members of the media to Executive Chef Harrison, who assumes the helm at Five Crowns while Wilson continues as Executive Chef for Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc. A native of Los Angeles and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Harrison is an experienced and well-traveled chef who has been crafting remarkable cuisine for over a decade. Wilson is the fourth generation of the Frank and Van de Kamp families to be active in Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc.
Executive Chef Greg Harrison (left), Harrison and Lawry’s Executive Chef Ryan Wilson (right)
Five Crowns, a historic landmark with English flair in oceanside Corona del Mar, has enjoyed decades of popularity and received an injection of spirit and new-found energy with the launch of SideDoor, a charming English-style gastropub, following a recent renovation. The distinguished restaurant features the best organic ingredients carefully selected from farmers markets in Orange County as well as the Santa Monica Farmers Market, for a thoughtfully prepared menu. A mild southern California evening in the verdant garden of Five Crowns was marked with delightful tasting portions of seasonal menu offerings and refreshing cocktails artfully prepared by head barman and mixologist extraordinaire, Koire Rogers.
Koire Rogers prepares English Punch: Pimm’s #1, orange bitters, housemade strawberry lemon-lime soda, cucumber ribbons
Chef Harrison and Chef Wilson will be two of the elite Southern California chefs to participate in Green Feast, a five-course farm-to-table outdoor dinner benefitting The Ecology Center this Saturday, September 8, 2012. A wildly popular Southern California event for the past four years, this year’s Green Feast is already sold out (contact the center if you’d like to be added to the wait list). Green Feast takes place at The Ecology Center and features notable chefs, organic farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and vintners who provide hors d’oeuvres for the Eco App-Off, and the family-style alfresco dinner using farm-grown, artisanal foods – all sourced within 200 miles – to over 200 supporters of The Ecology Center, a renowned eco-education facility located in San Juan Capistrano, California.
Green Feast begins Eco App-off with a fun tasting element where guests select their favorite guests select their favorite appetizer among those prepared by renowned Scott Brandon (LinX), Erika Tucker (The Cellar), Cathy McNight (What a Dish), Jenny Ross (118 Degrees), Casey Overton (Montage Resort), Matt Tobin (True Foods Kitchen), Justin Miller (Pizzeria Ortica), Adam Navidi (Future Farms), Gina Galvan (Chomp Chomp Nation), David Pratt (Brick Pizzeria), Pascal Olhats (Pascal), and Paul and Dana Buchanan (Primal Alchemy). With a brilliant sunset providing a stunning backdrop, guests will savor the colorful taste explosion of culinary creations prepared by Chefs Harrison and Wilson, along with Rich Mead (Sage and Canyon), Paddy Glennon (Santa Monica Seafood), Justin Monson (St. Roy Chef’s Pub at Vine), and Yves Fournier (Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine); all sharing their special approach to organic, pasture-raised and sustainable farming.
Green Feast generates funds to support eco-education programs at The Ecology Center, a non-profit organization founded and operated by ecologist Evan Marks. The South Orange County learning facility is housed in an historic farmhouse where children, families, and adults learn practical ways to grow organic gardens, to conserve water and energy, and to design environmentally responsible living environments.
Among the benefactors participating in this year’s Green Feast are Santa Monica Seafood, Carlsbad Aquafarm, MM Livestock, South Coast Farms, Weiser Family Farms, Edward Sellers Vineyard and Wines, Tablas Creek Vineyard, and Oso Libre Winery. The event also includes a silent auction, for which Chefs will offer elegant dinners and other experiential items to be sold to raise funds for The Ecology Center.
For more information on The Ecology Center and/or Green Feast, please call (949) 443-4223 or visit their website.
If you’re like me and didn’t hear about the Green Feast until it was too late, try your hand at recreating one of the innovative appetizers seen here or Chef Wilson’s Gazpacho (recipe below). Photo below: Anna carries a tray of gazpacho with prosciutto and basil panino), a popular Five Crowns menu item, that now carries Executive Chef Harrison’s signature touch. Also pictured are crispy fried squash blossoms stuffed with Buratta cheese, and tasting spoons of dates with bacon and Point Reyes cheese.
Or, you might be inclined to take a drive down to beautiful Corona del Mar and savor first-hand the magic they’re conjuring at Five Crowns and, don’t worry, if you are a lover of Lawry’s famous prime rib – it still has its place, front and center, on the menu. Check out my write-up on Five Crowns being one of the first restaurants in Orange County to feature Skuna Bay salmon.
by Executive Chef Ryan Wilson | (Makes 10 to 12 servings)
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 English cucumber, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ medium red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon Spanish paprika (mild, medium, or hot)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons sherry or red-wine vinegar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Additional salt, paprika, crushed red pepper, vinegar, olive oil
Combine the vegetables in a non-reactive container with room for liquid to accumulate. Add salt, spices, vinegar, and olive oil and toss to incorporate. With your hands, gently squeeze and toss vegetables to break down flesh slightly.
Cover loosely with plastic, and nest a slightly smaller container on top of the mixture. Weight with several large cans. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Spoon softened vegetables into blender container with half of accumulated liquid, and purée. Add remaining liquid and purée completely or to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, crushed red pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Serve very cold.
3801 E. Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625