Alan Greeley may not be the Iron Chef, but he has a title of some kind.
Sunday afternoon, at the tail end of the OC Fair, Greeley and Massimo Navarretta faced off in a cooking challenge to help promote the third annual Costa Mesa Restaurant Week. The contestants had to incorporate corvina sea bass into four dishes and had a slew of other ingredients at their disposal.
Greeley, chef and owner of the Golden Truffle, got the judges' nod over Navarretta, who oversees Onotria Wine Country Cuisine. So what does that make Greeley, exactly?
"Winner of the Orange County Fair chef cook-off is what they said," recalled Greeley on Thursday.
Hopefully, his other reward will be more patrons stopping by his restaurant over the coming days. This year, the Golden Truffle and Onotria will be among a record 40 establishments taking part in Costa Mesa Restaurant Week, which the city's travel bureau created to spotlight the city's diverse offerings.
Friday through August 23, participating eateries will offer discounts or special prix fixe menus. New to the lineup this year are: the Gypsy Den, Seventh Tea Bar, Pie-Not, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee, Blackmarket Bakery, H2O Sushi & Izakaya, Daphne's California Greek and Burrissimo.
Local institutions returning to the fold include Charlie Palmer, Scott's Restaurant & Bar, La Cave, Skosh Monahan's and Newport Rib Company. Kim Glen, marketing manager for the Costa Mesa Conference & Visitor Bureau, said in the past, participants have reported a 5% to 10% increase in business during Restaurant Week.
"It's a great event to highlight the dining we have," she said.
The specials next week range from full meals — the Golden Truffle's four-course dinner includes wild arugula crusted lobster tomato vinaigrette and braised prime Nebraskan short ribs — to sweet treats, such as the coconut cream pie doughnut and coffee offered by Sidecar and the banana cream tart and open-faced ice cream sandwich at Blackmarket.
Both eateries are new to Costa Mesa, having opened earlier this year. For Nicole Walcott, assistant manager of the Gypsy Den, the event is a chance to expand the restaurant's customer base — which happened in the past when it joined in Orange County Restaurant Week.
"Most of the time, when people come in for restaurant weeks, they see it online and we get really busy," Walcott said. "And then people will come back."
If You Go
What: Costa Mesa Restaurant Week
When: Friday through Aug. 23 (check individual restaurants for hours)
Cost: Prices vary