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Behind the Scenes with TLT Food's Daniel Shemtob

At first glance Daniel Shemtob looks like a typical 28-year-old hipster – wavy black locks, just the right amount of semi-groomed facial hair and the signature cool-guy smirk. But Shemtob, who spent his formative years in Newport Beach and Irvine, is anything but typical.

When he was 23, the young chef put OC on the culinary roadmap by winning Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” The success didn’t stop there. His Lime Truck’s California fusion-style menu spawned several brick-and-mortar locations, including his latest in Newport Beach. When TLT Food opened last month on Bison Avenue, we caught the young chef getting off his motorcycle.

Coast: What makes Newport Beach a great fit for TLT Food?
DS: I split half my childhood here and in Irvine, so it only made sense to come back to Newport. I grew up here so it’s a special place for me.

Coast: How did growing up in Orange County help you as a chef?
DS: It’s a melting pot. As a kid in Irvine I would visit my friends’ homes. Their parents were making authentic food from all over the world. Plus there are a ton of ethnic markets. I find the most interesting produce and ingredients there.

Coast: If this is my first time at TLT, what should I order?
DS: You should definitely try sharing a bunch of things. When I’m eating with my friends I order everyone their own taco, then a few sharables like the Brussels sprouts (with chipotle-honey aioli), the ahi tuna tostada, the beef short rib hash fries, maybe a blue crab grilled cheese.

Coast: How will this TLT differ from your LA and Irvine locations?   
DS: Since we still have the truck, it gives me a chance to see what sells in different cities. In Newport, it’s all about the fresh stuff – the ahi tuna, the guac toast and the Cali ceviche.

Coast: How do you come up with new dishes?
DS: I’m eating and thinking of new things that work with flavors from when I was growing up or from traveling. The steak quesadilla salad bowl started out as something I ate all the time from a Mexican fast food place. But I changed it and use fresh ingredients. Now it’s completely different from what inspired it because I’m making it hyper local and fresh. That’s the cool thing about our food. The ingredients are super local.

TLT Food,1332 Bison Ave., Newport Beach, 949.873.5332 :: tltfood.com

Sommeliers regard Riedel as the crème de la crème glassmaker for choice vintages. This year, the 260-year-old heritage wine glass purveyor forged its way into the spirits market with a crystal Veritas collection. The long-stemmed vessels appear extremely delicate but are meant to hold hefty spirits. Think: Armagnac, cognac and Calvados. Sipping your after-dinner aperitif just got way more stylish. :: riedelusa.net

Pony up
Veuve Clicquot’s seventh annual Polo Classic Los Angeles returns to the Pacific Palisades’ Will Rogers State Historic Park on October 15. The open-air event attracts the celebrity set such as Selma Blair, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scott Foley. Take note now, since tickets go on sale this month. On September 8, reserve your VIP spot in the Rosé Garden on the tony south side of the polo field. The $400 ticket includes a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rosé, premium seating in the chic garden area, a gourmet picnic lunch and views of the hottest polo players to grace the lawn. :: vcpoloclassic.com

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