The Loft’s chef de cuisine, Casey Overton, came to Montage Laguna Beach at just 27 years old. He was working at Studio, a restaurant that he considered (and still considers) to be one of the best restaurants in California. “That was a huge blessing to me and a huge challenge,” he says. “I definitely do not take that for granted.”
Fast-forward five years, and he’s heading the kitchen at The Loft, another Montage Laguna Beach restaurant with a revered culinary team, inspired wine and cheese programs, and an undeniably gorgeous ocean view. You can find Overton here at all hours of the day, creating menus, overseeing operations, prepping, talking to guests and even on the line, cooking alongside his teammates. His specialty is simple yet elegant plates, for which he selects only the highest quality ingredients in order to let the food speak for itself.
“I love feeding people and I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces when I make something,” he says. “It’s just something that’s thrilling to me.”
Fortunately for festival goers this year, Overton will be sharing that love in the Grand Tasting Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 3. The chef took a break from his busy schedule to chat with Newport Beach Magazine in preparation for the event.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH CASEY OVERTON
What’s the first dish you remember cooking?
The first dish I ever cooked was pancakes for my family. I was 7 years old. I woke up before dawn, by myself, and started cooking. The pancakes came out terrible. I had cooked them in olive oil.
If you visit a farmers market, what’s the one thing you can never leave without purchasing?
I always buy the local honey at the farmers market. You can find some amazing different types of honey that are indigenous to that area. My favorite that I found was star thistle honey!
Which of your dishes does your family most request you make for them?
They love fish. Another dish I have made often that they all seem to like is barbecued shrimp.
What’s the most memorable dish you’ve ever eaten? Do you remember the chef and restaurant?
One of my most memorable meals was at Terra Restaurant in St. Helena, [Calif.]; this is chef Hiro Sone’s restaurant. It was a sweetbread entree with wild mushrooms. It definitely left an impression on me.
What is the absolute best thing about being a chef?
Mentoring cooks into chefs and of course working with the extraordinary chefs themselves.
30801 South Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach
Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival
—Written by Linda Domingo
Newport Beach Magazine is a sponsor of the 2015 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival.