By Linda Domingo
The title of executive chef at Del Frisco’s Grille belonged to a boys’ club until Sarah Daniels came along. The Cleveland native starting working in the industry when she got hired at a sandwich shop in high school, cut her teeth in fine Italian restaurants throughout her college years at Ohio State University until she took a line cook position at the first Del Frisco’s Grille in New York City. Her dedication to the company and craft eventually landed her in the Irvine Spectrum location, as the first female executive chef of Del Frisco’s Grille.
The restaurant is known for its steaks and burgers, but has plenty of other options that offer twists on the traditional bar and grill menu. “I always strive to cook what I think people want to eat: simple, fresh ingredients cooked right to build flavors,” Daniels explains.
Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival attendees will have the opportunity to experience that approach at the Del Frisco’s Grille station in the Grand Tasting Pavilion on Sunday, Oct. 4, when Daniels and her team will be serving ahi tuna tacos with avocado guacamole and spicy mayo in a crispy wonton shell. For a sweet treat, she’s also offering a decadent Nutella bread pudding with house-made caramel and espresso whipped cream. Newport Beach Magazine got to know the chef a little better with just five questions.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH SARAH DANIELS
What was your most embarrassing cooking moment?
When I first started, I had to make an employee meal and I mixed together ground beef with puttanesca for a pasta sauce. That’s how I learned what puttanesca is.
Biggest culinary guilty pleasure?
What would you eat for your last meal?
Our long-bone wagyu rib-eye smothered in blue cheese
First thought that comes to mind when you hear “TV cooking shows”?
I will never go on one! I’m petrified of being the first one kicked off for doing something stupid, and then never being able to live it down. I’ve got nothing to prove. I just enjoy cooking good food and creating happy guests.
What did you make for dinner last night?
Pasta salad with pepperoni, pepperoncinis, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheddar cheese [and] spicy vinaigrette
772 Spectrum Center Dr., Irvine
NEWPORT BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
Newport Beach Magazine is a sponsor of the 2015 Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival.