Monday, February 13, 2012

5 Questions With... Blue Cow Kitchen, opening today

After a week of preview lunches, the Dr.Dre-release-a-new-album-already-like anticipated Blue Cow Kitchen finally opens its doors downtown today. Lucky for us, the man behind BC and the ever-popular Mendocino Farms chain, Mario Del Poro, took time out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions about his new restaurant.

1. What exactly is Blue Cow and how did the concept come about?
MDP: Blue Cow to Chef Judy [Han] and I- it is a workshop restaurant where we can continue to create our most creative sandwich ideas and get our loyal guests' opinions, then figure out how to create the most popular Blue Cow Sandwiches at the Mendo Store level.  As we grow Mendo- we want to continue to be the edgy sandwich place- not just a watered down chain.  
Blue Cow for the guest is just a New American restaurant with a clearer point of view than most- it is owned by the Mendo guys- so, it pays homage to the sandwich.
2. I've read that you plan to have esteemed local chefs come in from time to time to feature their creations on the menu. What chefs and what sort of dishes can we look forward to?
MDP: Some of our friends are some of the best chefs in the city.  From time to time, we want to invite them to help us create some of our most creative sandwiches.  We are calling it a Sandwich Sabbatical.  For a day, weekend or maybe a month- our friend chefs will work with Chef Judy and [Blue Cow Chef] Josh [Smith] on some of our most interesting sandwich ideas, bringing in their point of view.  The sandwich will first debut at Blue Cow and, if successful, will roll out to the Mendos.

Right now, we are in talks with a couple of our friends and trying to work with their schedules- so, I'd rather wait until we confirm when they will be coming to work with us.  Also, we are really just trying to focus on opening Blue Cow. 
3. You and Jason Travi went on an LA burger conquest of sorts recently. What do you think you learned that you will apply to the B.C. burger?
MDP: Funny- my Dad is a third generation butcher- maybe one of the most knowledgeable meat guys in the country- he also accompanied Jason and I on the Burger Eating Mission.  He commented early on that the blend does matter, the quality of the cow does matter- but, most significant are three aspects- the amount of fat (buttery to your tongue), the grind (and how you hold the grind, so it does not become packed) and how you cook it.  We had an all chuck burger- no blend at Comme Ca and it was fantastic, where we had a complicated blend from Rustic Canyon and it was equally good.
4. Should we expect any crossover between the Blue Cow and Mendocino Farms menus?
MDP: You already are seeing it.  Chef Josh came up with a Spanish style of chicken sandwich- Chef Judy loved it and created a simpler version that is currently the Chef's pick this week [at MF].  Chef Josh did a BarbaFaux'A Torta with the seitan that we have been using at Mendo- he took it in a totally different direction- Chef Judy again made an interesting rendition that you will seeing at the Mendo stores this Spring.
5. Any plans for further expansion of either Blue Cow or Mendocino Farms?
MDP: No more Blue Cows- a guy doesn't need two workshops.  But, we are currently building a Mendo at 3rd & Fairfax on the hard corner, directly across the street from Short Order.  We will be the end cap for one of the largest Trader Joe's in California.

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