Trailblazing Trendsetters

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Bobby Barza
“You are your style. Confidence in what you wear makes up 90 percent of how it looks. You have to love it and own it,”says Bobby Barza, founder and “Chief Dada” at fodada.

Five local guys, who create their own rules when it comes to style and career, share their ideal days in town.

By Sabrina Azadi

 

All with unique backgrounds, some hailing from different parts of the world, the standout men featured on the next few pages now live or work in Newport Beach (or both) and what unites them is the fact they dance to the beat of their own drum—when it comes to what they do professionally as well as how they choose to present themselves to the world.

Here, these guys share some of their favorite local joints as well their personal style philosophies. And whether it’s wearing a custom-made three-piece suit, a beloved vintage T-shirt or a favorite pair of beach-ready flip-flops, these local men with style know that being comfortable in their own skin is the only style rule they’ll ever need.

 

Bobby Barzi Family
Bobby Barzi, with his sons Royce and Pierce.

BOBBY BARZI
Founder and “Chief Dada” at fodada

 

Where were you raised?

My family emigrated to the U.S. from Iran when I was a teenager, sacrificing their well-earned comforts and “normal” lives so that my sister and I could have more opportunities. We moved around Southern California until I attended the University of California, Irvine. That’s when I … [began] my relationship with Newport Beach, … [Balboa] Island and Corona del Mar and fell in love.

How did fodada—your company that sells clothing and also helps support programs for dads and families—come about?

I am a dad, and I love the journey it has taken me on. There is so much in that statement that it moved me to begin this venture. So much opportunity and responsibility that I was compelled to start fodada, a social enterprise to support, promote and celebrate that opportunity and responsibility: the father-and-child relationship.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

[We are a] super close family. Our two boys, [10-year-old] Pierce and [7-year-old] Royce, are active as they can be, testing the limits of all that exists, reminding us daily of how lucky we are. Along with their amazing mama bear, we happily call Corona del Mar home.

Where is your favorite breakfast spot?

The boys have basically been raised in the Rose Bakery [Café] outdoor patio and continue to frequent it. The breakfast burritos are always a great call, not to mention a few stolen bites of the boys’ doughnuts.

What is your ideal day in Newport Beach?

Our go-to is always the beach at some point during the day. Whether it’s an early walk, midday lunch—from Tackle Box, [which is] amazing—and picnic, afternoon dip and shell hunting, to a sunset bonfire and s’mores. Endless possibilities. We also love the hikes through Crystal Cove on our way to the Shake Shack refueling station or [hiking from] the [Newport] Ridge [Community] Park … with a packed lunch on top of a giant boulder.

What does Newport Beach style mean to you?           

[With] the beach lifestyle as its canvas, Newport Beach provides great range of style and fashion. Obviously, the spectrum can be very wide in beach casual and leisure, but what I love the most is the understated class of an intentional casual ensemble. Newport Beach style, to me, combines the right casual pieces from shoes to accessories to pull together a look that can be unique—not only fitting in, but standing out in most environments.

What’s your favorite look?

Especially because of what we do, you’ll usually find me in a fodada shirt, jeans … and slip-ons.

Where are some of the places you like to shop?

American Rag Cie, Barneys New York, Garys and G-Star Raw, but I am always looking.

Where do you go for a night out?

There are great options for food and [a] lively bar scene in this area. That said, depending on what I am feeling, these are some go-to places: meatballs at Pirozzi [Corona Del Mar]…, martinis at Mastro’s [Ocean Club], burgers at The Place, wings at A&O [Kitchen & Bar], and music and people-watching at The (not so) Quiet Woman.

What’s the one thing you love about Newport and what is the one thing you would like to change about it?

My favorite thing about Newport Beach is the opportunity to have a completely unique experience from one day to the next. My one thing I would change is the local’s appreciation for what this cool little pocket has and can offer them.

 

Bo Glover
“If you like something wear it – even if it’s not in fashion right now. If you wear something with confidence, you’ll look good,” says Bo Glover.

BO GLOVER
Executive Director, Environmental Nature Center

Where were you raised?

I grew up in Lansdale, a suburb of Philadelphia, Penn. There was stream running through my yard and plenty of wild, open space, and I used to explore until the street lights came on. My parents encouraged my exploration of wild places and let my imagination lead my days of adventure.

What is the role of the Environmental Nature Center?

The ENC inspires all generations to protect the natural world by serving as our community’s foremost authority on ecological responsibility, sustainable practices and environmental education. I lead a team of amazing staff that make it possible for the ENC to provide quality education through hands-on experience with nature.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

I have a … 12-year-old daughter, Gabi, and a cat named Moosh. My mom and sister still live in Pennsylvania, and I visit them at least once a year. Family is the most important thing in my life.

Where is your favorite breakfast spot?

We live in Costa Mesa and love to eat breakfast at Pasta Connection. We frequently walk or ride our bikes there on weekend mornings. We also occasionally ride to Cappy’s [Cafe in Newport Beach] or go to Dick Church’s [in Costa Mesa]. I’m a French toast guy.

What is your ideal day in Newport Beach?

My daughter and I love to visit the peninsula to bodysurf, play Frisbee and make sandcastles using random things we find on the beach. Believe it or not, my daughter also just loves to pick up trash when we visit the beach, so we always bring a bag. We also love to visit the Shake Shack at Crystal Cove State Park, then explore the tide pools or hike in the backcountry.

What does Newport Beach style mean to you?

Laid-back, casual, unpretentious. I love that you can go almost anywhere in flip-flops although I prefer to wear my backcountry [hiking] sandals.

What’s your favorite look?

I like to wear unique, vintage shirts I find at flea markets and antique stores. I actually have a collection of vintage shirts with Joe Namath [by Arrow] labels. They are dress shirts with nature scenes on them—very groovy. I like to wear them on Fridays: My staff calls it “Fancy Friday.” Some of them have joined in and started wearing their own “fancy” styles on Fridays.

Do environmental factors affect the way you shop?

Most definitely. Some people have so many items of clothing, they could never possibly wear it all. Shopping for some is instant gratification; it’s not really about what is purchased, so much as the act of purchasing. Obviously, I enjoy purchasing vintage clothing, and reusing clothing has a lighter footprint on the environment. When I buy other clothing though—clothes for hiking or camping—I buy brands that will last a long time. I value quality over quantity. Currently, I am in the market for the perfect flannel shirt that will be “the” flannel shirt that I will wear for the rest of my life.

 

Mark Pomerantz
“I believe luxury should be lived in and enjoyed,” says Mark Pomerantz.

Mark Pomerantz
Menswear Designer and Tailor

 

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I was raised in Newport Beach, Calif., and earned my degree in menswear design and tailoring from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and continued my studies in Rome.

What is your approach to fashion design?

As a menswear designer, there is a distinctive “look” that my designs bring to life. As a tailor, there is unique “feel” that our clothing offers. The marriage of this look and feel is what inspires our clients to work with myself and wear our brand.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

I grew up an only child, which fostered a deep connection to my mother and father as well as lifelong friendships from a very young age. I had the good fortune to travel the world with my parents, visiting over 20 countries before I was 18.

What is your ideal day in Newport Beach?

It would start with a run, then breakfast near the water in Lido. I would head to my cigar club, Cubano Room, with a book or magazine, grab a cocktail at Billy’s [at the Beach] before a late afternoon bay cruise, then head to Gulfstream for another cigar and dinner.

Who’s your typical client and what’s the cost of having a custom suit made?

Men of a connoisseur mindset, usually entrepreneurial and/or C-level executives looking to up the ante in their wardrobes. Our hand-finished suits start at $1,895, and our completely handmade suits start at $3,295.

What does Newport Beach style mean to you?

Relaxed sophistication. This does not necessarily translate into casual. Whether dressing up in a suit or jacket, or down in a T-shirt and jeans, neither should be taken to the extreme nor too seriously.

What is your everyday look?

Most dressy days, I wear a three-piece suit in a dark color with white shirt and an open-collar or whimsical tie from my line. On a casual day, a James Perse T-shirt, blue jeans and loafers.

Where do you go for a night out?

Cubano Room—my favorite cigars are Cohiba Talisman and Bolivar [Soberano Edicion] Limitada 2018. I like to order martinis along with oysters [or] salmon at Gulfstream and Billy’s, and sushi and wagyu at Nobu.

Do you have any favorite shops locally?

My favorite store in Newport—and perhaps anywhere in the world—is A’maree’s. I also admire the sense of community and culture that Alchemy Works: Harbor House in Lido [Marina Village] is bringing to retail.

What’s the one thing you love about Newport and what is the one thing you would like to change about it?

The sunshine and the water make me smile; luckily, Newport has this in spades. Newport, as a community, could use some younger generational blood. Rather than change, I would like to encourage a conversation that is idea-forward, attracting younger thinkers and entrepreneurs, not just established professionals or retirees.

 

Wing Lam
“If I don’t know who makes it, I don’t wear it,” says Wing Lam.

Wing Lam

Co-founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco

 

Where did you grow up?

My brothers and I grew up in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, after my parents fled communist China and moved to Southern California when I was 13.

How did you get into the restaurant business?

My dad, a chef, opened up one of the first Chinese restaurants in Newport Beach, regularly cooked at home and taught us our way around the kitchen. Our parents used to think we were crazy for wanting to be in the restaurant business like them, but my brothers and I love to surf and wanted to create a place where we could hang out and eat tacos all day. I [also] hold a bachelor of science [degree] from San Diego State University.

What does your job entail?

I work closely with my brothers, Ed and Mingo Lee, to run all 60 Wahoo’s locations. We all have a hand in the day-to-day operations, but my passion is in networking and marketing. Some would say I am the face of the brand, but would be nothing without the commitment of my family members and crew

What’s the philosophy behind Wahoo’s Fish Taco and why do you think it has such appeal?

Wahoo’s Fish Taco was inspired by my Chinese-Brazilian heritage, countless surf trips to Mexico and our philosophy is that we serve food that we would serve to our own families.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

I have an amazing wife, Kelly Lam, who is founder of The Whole Purpose, [a company that presents corporate wellness programs and events that promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle]. We have a 3-year-old son, Levi, who, surprisingly, loves eating fish (wahoo is his favorite), and I have a 31-year-old son, Greg, who lives in New York working in branding and marketing.

What’s your favorite breakfast spot?

Sambazon Acai Café in Newport Beach has amazing oatmeal bowls. They’re completely different than anything else out there. Whenever I go I always get the acai oatmeal bowl with strawberries.

What is your ideal day in Newport Beach?

An ideal day in Newport Beach would be surfing and having breakfast with my family. I’m pretty laid-back and easygoing so doing the things I love with the people I love sounds like the best day to me.

What does Newport Beach style mean to you?

People around here are inspired by the beach culture and you see it in the fashion. 

What’s your favorite look?

Any outfit that goes well with my Rainbow flip-flops. It drives my wife crazy.

Where are some of the places you like to shop?

I love supporting my friends. I get my Hudson jeans from [founder] Peter [Kim] and my board shorts from Hurley or O’Neill or the Boardriders Club. I have a few pairs of lululemon shirts and shorts that I wear because I know the founder. He was ahead of himself when he started Westbeach [Snowboard,] his first retail venture. I’m wearing Salt Optics sunglasses, a Nixon watch, Cuater belt—by Robbie McKnight, [the son of Quiksilver co-founder Bob McKnight]—Hurley shorts and Rainbow sandals.

What is your favorite local activity?

I love surfing. It’s just so relaxing and Zen-like being out there on the water. I like being able to surf right in front of my house in Newport Beach.

Where do you go for a night out?

My family loves going out to A Restaurant in Newport Beach—the rib-eye is amazing. The new [rooftop] patio at the Lido House [hotel] in Newport is a really fun place with great drinks. My wife Kelly likes Champagne and I always joke that I’ll drink anything with a little umbrella. Elks Lodge in Newport is also a great place for drinks. We always run into old college friends and my fraternity brothers.

Who is your style icon?

Jeff Yokoyama (of Yokishop in Newport Beach) is the coolest guy. He’s so hip and chill without even trying. He’s always in shorts and flip-flops, but when he dresses up he looks sharp.

What’s the one thing you love about Newport and what is the one thing you would like to change about it?

One thing I love about Newport is that everything is in walking distance. One thing I would change is to make Newport less crowded and a little more green. If more people rode bikes instead of driving, it would help.

 

Jonathan Blackford
“Comfort is my key ingredient,” says Jonathan Blackford.

Jonathan Blackford
Corporate Executive Chef, River Jetty Restaurant Group (A Restaurant, A Market and CdM Restaurant)

 

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I grew up in Pittsburgh and lived there for 22 years. My first job was in a restaurant when I was 15 years old and I stayed on that path my whole life. I moved to [California] about 15 years ago (because my parents moved out here). Shortly after moving here I decided I wanted to train at The Culinary Institute of America in New York. After I finished school, I came back to California.

What does your job entail?

I’m the corporate executive chef for River Jetty Restaurant Group, which involves developing the menus for both A Restaurant and RJRG’s newest concept, CdM. I source fresh, local ingredients while tracking down unique flavors to incorporate in my menus.

What is the philosophy and concept behind CdM Restaurant?

We wanted to create a stylish community eatery—modeled after Soho House or a high-end, New York-style tavern—offering an unparalleled dining experience that is elevated [with] everything made in-house, yet comfortable and approachable.

Could you tell us a little about your family?

I have a wife and two sheepdogs, Bentley and Bogart. They’re my family.

Where do you like to go after your shift?

I usually just have a couple beers with my staff at either A or CdM [restaurants].

What are some of your favorite local restaurants?

Sol [Mexican] Cocina; I love the sauteed shrimp appetizer and their Vampiro taco is great.

What’s the one item you love on your menu at CdM Restaurant?

I really like our pizzas. The CdM Fancy Pizza is my favorite, made with mozzarella, house-made ricotta, potatoes, mushrooms, roasted garlic, truffle and arugula. They are the style of Neapolitan, but with our own twist. We wanted to create a thin pizza that doesn’t get soggy in middle.

What is your ideal day in Newport Beach?

Whenever I am in Newport Beach, I am working at either A or CdM. In my free time, I like working out and lifting weights.

What’s your favorite look?

Jeans and a T-shirt. Being from Pittsburgh, I didn’t really have the opportunity to wear flip-flops that much, so I’ve never really been a fan, but I’m a really big fan of Nobull shoes.

Favorite local chefs?

Ben LaFleche at Hilton Waterfront [Beach Resort] in Huntington Beach and Greg Daniels at Harley in Laguna Beach.

What is your personal style philosophy?

Comfort.

Where do you go for a night out?

Michael’s on Naples [in Long Beach] is probably our favorite date night place.

What dish does your wife love for you to make her?

My wife really loves when I make her veggie-forward dishes. We actually have great veggie section on CdM menu that I’m really proud of: barbecue carrots, cauliflower steak, vegetable samosas, etc.

Your favorite restaurant in the world?

It in my hometown—and just closed—it was called Cure. The chef got really good at making his own charcuterie, and is now transitioning to wholesale.

What’s your favorite look?

I really like the Ted Baker look—more of a slender fit (London style)—but, since I lift, I never fit into that type of look. My wedding suit was dark purple with a green pinstripe. I wore that with green Prada loafers.

Do you have a favorite ingredient?

Salt is the most important. We use four different types: fleur de sel and Maldon flake sea salt—[both] finishing salts—[plus] rock sea salt and Diamond Crystal kosher salt. Charcuterie recipes [and other] food is seasoned at every stage of the cooking process and salt is essential.

Why did you decide to become a chef?

I’m not a 9-to-5 office guy. The outlet of creativity in the kitchen is endless, watching people eat your food is instant gratification, I love the intensity and pressure of working in the kitchen.

What’s the one thing you love about Newport and what is the one thing you would like to change about it?

You get a feeling that the people here are carefree and open to everything. They like to have fun. There is definitely a culture here. I’m all about eating healthy and organic, but a lot of people are afraid to eat bread. They really shouldn’t be unless they have celiac disease, which is pretty uncommon.

 

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