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Opinion

The Crowd: Terrace by Mix Mix offers a view of the culinary future

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Knife Pleat owner Yassmin Sarmadi toasts her husband, chef Tony Esnault, and Terrace by Mix Mix chef Ross Pangilinan on the penthouse level of South Coast Plaza.
(Photo by Reza Allah-Bakhshi)

The cultural shift brought on by the millennial generation has made seeking out new experiences a vital part of living an enriched life. If you ever wonder why it seems like every plane is overfilled, every concert is sold out and restaurants exploring the most exotic and unique culinary creations are on every corner of every American town, it is surely related to the millennial philosophy of living for the moment and seeking out every possible life experience.

To that point, the Orange County restaurant scene has evolved dramatically over the past decade. Last week in Costa Mesa, one of O.C.’s most critically acclaimed chefs, Ross Pangilinan, invited the crowd to celebrate his native Philippines-inspired culinary journey at his restaurant, Terrace by Mix Mix. Literally on a terrace, the penthouse level of South Coast Plaza’s Crate and Barrel/Macy’s Home Store wing, Pangilinan, who was joined by his wife, Tara, mother, Ana, and his young son, Maddex, welcomed the deputy consul general from the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, Ambrosio Brian Enciso III.

They were joined by a crowd of some 150 culinary experience seekers, sampling foods not found on any other menu in the vicinity. Pangilinan prepared his signature tastes, such as bacon-wrapped dates, goat cheese toast with caramelized figs, shrimp lumpia, hamachi crudo with watermelon vin, smoked salmon-dill cylinders, peach-burrata-heirloom tomato skewers, pork cheek adobo with garlic fried rice and cherry panna cotta with madeleines. The crowd, including South Coast Plaza’s Debra Gunn Downing, award-winning chef and nationally syndicated radio chef Jamie Gwen, dining columnist and food connoisseur Lana Sills, top-shelf restaurant marketing executive Lee Healy and O.C. sushi master James Hamamori, all praised Pangilinan’s array of tastes.

The culinary crowd toasted Pangilinan on the one-year anniversary of opening Terrace by Mix Mix. The crowd congratulated him on being named chef of the year 2019 by the Orange County Business Journal, and his restaurant being named one of O.C.'s best by Eater L.A. and Orange Coast magazine. The destination restaurant also won an important listing in the “Michelin Guide 2019 Bib Gourmand.”

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Spotted at the celebration were Kate and George Eastman and Barney Page, as well as the O.C.’s famous taco celeb, Ed Lee of Wahoo’s Fish Taco. Front and center were chef Amar Santana from Vaca and the Hall Global, and Yassmin Sarmadi and her husband, chef Tony Esnault, who have recently opened Knife Pleat, bringing their much-talked-about L.A. culinary experience to the O.C. crowd in search of the latest food evolution.

O.C. influencers and media voices, including Kedric Francis, Donna Bunce, Alison Mitchell, Samantha Dunn, Steve Zepezauer, Sara Hall and Christopher Trella, sampled the cuisine in chef Pangilinan’s Balinese-inspired terrace, which allowed views spanning from Costa Mesa to the hills of Newport Coast.

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