Wine & Food Festival Chef Spotlight: Raj Dixit

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By Allison Hata

A tomato tasting—with surprises like a “sundae” and sweet marmalade—captures the cooking style of Stonehill Tavern chef Raj Dixit: playfulness rooted in solid culinary technique. His self-described interpretive regional American cuisine places a focus on ingredients, which is more than evident in his tomato “discovery” menu at The St. Regis Monarch Beach’s signature restaurant (available through Sept. 27).

“My emphasis is on freshness and purity of ingredients seeking to capture the highest level of flavor; ingredients are utilized in season, in the relation to time of harvest,” the chef says. “My methods highlight the importance of the relationship between suppliers, farmers [and] fisherman.”

Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Dixit worked his way across the country and landed in kitchen at Dana Point’s Stonehill Tavern, where he serves as executive chef. Newport diners will get a taste of his creative cooking at the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival Oct. 2-4. The chef is charmingly cryptic when asked what festival-goers can expect to try during his Sunday Grand Tasting Pavilion showcase: “A singular taste with a lasting impression,” he says.

 

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH RAJ DIXIT

Stonehill Tavern - Raj Dixit 2-web

What is your comfort food?

A whole roasted chicken (the thighs)

 

What’s the first dish you remember cooking?

Making Jell-O when I was 4 years old

 

Three most important cooking tools?

6-inch Petty knife, ooks mini turning fork, solid steel tablespoon

 

Who or what influenced you to begin cooking?

My grandfather.  My mother would always prepare him fish stews with various species of fish. The aromas you smell as a young boy never leave your memory.

 

Name one famous figure you’d most like to cook for.

Marco Pierre White. He wrote a book called “White Heat” that inspired my generation to rebel in the kitchen and chase perfection.

 


 

STONEHILL TAVERN

One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point

949-234-3318

 

NEWPORT BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

newportbeachwineandfood.com

 

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