“I have a regular who comes in and orders it for breakfast almost every morning,” Oak Grill executive chef Brittany Valles said. We don’t blame him. The Oak Grill’s new chef’s cheesy banana grits – yes, she creams ripened bananas into savory grits with heaps of shredded Parmesan – are surprisingly delicious. The hearty side dish served alongside a jerk-spiced slab of sea bass is Valles’ nod to Jamaican cooking. It is a lighter, more Southern Californian-suited version of jerk chicken and fried plantains.

Location: Oak Grill at Fashion Island Hotel, 690 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, 949.760.4920


Tacklebox chef Brian Huskey combines the vinegary goodness of Buffalo wings with the health benefits of cauliflower for savory Buffalo cauliflower bites. Dipped in creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing, it’s a hit!

Locations: 3029 Ocean Blvd., Corona del Mar, 949.723.0502

3321 Hyland Ave., Suite E, Costa Mesa, 714.486.3301


Vegetable Menus

The Institute of Culinary Education in L.A. has partnered with Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts to offer veg-centric courses. The nationally licensed and accredited program provides plant-based, health-supportive and nutrition-focused culinary knowledge. Offerings feature a robust menu of healthy cooking and baking classes, including multi-day immersion courses in vegan and gluten-free baking, and an intriguing course in vegan umami. For serious students, in-depth, two-week certificate programs in food therapy and culinary nutrition also are available. ::

EAT WELL: vegan cheese sauce recipe

Glen Ivy Spa incorporated a limited series of vegetarian-forward cooking classes. We took one with Parisian chef Sarah Safarian, who shared her guilt-free, vegan cheese recipe with us. Interestingly, the nutritional yeast tastes similar to Parmesan cheese. It also gives the tofu a convincingly cheesy, yellowish-orange hue. Bon Appetit!

Chef Sarah’s vegan cheese sauce

1 block organic silken tofu

1 cup nutritional yeast

Cayenne pepper, pinch

Lemon juice, to taste


Using a Vitamix blender, combine the nutritional yeast with the organic silken tofu. Add Cayenne pepper, lemon juice and any other desired spices.

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