5 Questions for Judy Han

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Judy Han is executive chef of Mendocino Farms, the chain of sandwich shops that just opened its fifth location at Fairfax and 3rd Street in Los Angeles. Owners Mario Del Pero and Ellen Shen plan to expand into Orange County and the Valley next year, then go national. Meanwhile, chef Han’s the mastermind behind some of L.A.'s favorite sandwiches. The summer Cubano, for example: slow braised carnitas, honey ham, Mendocino mustard, house-made dill pickles, Cuban mojo sauce and crispy plantains on Dolce Forno’s soft roll.

What’s coming up next on your menu? Definitely something with heirloom tomatoes for summer. It’s almost that time of season, and Scarborough Farm’s heirloom tomatoes are amazing and should be eaten as much as possible when they are at their peak.

Latest ingredient obsession? At home, it’s Red Boat fish sauce –- it’s really stinky, like an aged blue cheese, but I love it with eggs, added to soups, or with rice. At Mendocino Farms it’s our candied jalapenos. They are such an incredible condiment that pairs well with so many things. I love how sweet and spicy they are.

What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? 101 Noodle Express in Alhambra for low-key, family friendly dining. I can’t stay away from their soup dumplings, marinated pig ear appetizer or beef rolls. The Spice Table in downtown because it reminds me of my amazing trip to Singapore and [chef] Bryant Ng always keeps it interesting, creative and homey.


The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? Microplane. It’s great for cheeses, citrus zest and lemongrass.

What’s the last non-food book you read? ‘Bossypants’ by Tina Fey.

Mendocino Farms, multiple locations in Los Angeles and Marina del Rey,


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-- Betty Hallock