Chef Abair Returns To CAFÉ del REY

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Executive Chef Chuck Abair

Looking for good Mediterranean food and one of the best views in Marina Del Rey?  Nestled in the heart of the marina sits CAFÉ del REY. This long-stay Westside restaurant is undergoing an updating of its menu, thanks to Executive Chef Chuck Abair, who rejoins the CDR team after a brief hiatus.

At age 32, Chef Abair is already a 15-year industry veteran. He stared his career at age 17, honing his skills at Le Cordon Bleu Pasadena. When asked when his passion for cooking began, Abair can’t remember when he first caught the cooking bug but recalls “while other kids were watching cartoons, I was watching the Galloping Gourmet and Julia Childs”.

Among some of the innovations we’ll be seeing in the coming months, like wine pairings and whiskey dinners, is one of Chef Abair’s rising-stars of the new menu, Lobster Agnolotti with Black Squid Ink Pasta. Agnolotti is a type of ravioli that finds its origins in the Piedmont region of North-West Italy.

“We’re adding my own rendition of a chimichurri with tarragon which matches beautifully with the lobster and working on a larger portion size than the traditional petite  serving”

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Photos by M. Louie

Chef Abair on Inspiration:

“I’m influenced by everything. I might get tacos one night and might be inspired or by walking through the farmers market and seeing something and trying to figure out how I could incorporate that into a sauce.”

When asked “what are you passionate about?” Abair’s smile lights up as he begins bubbling about his one-year-old daughter, Summer Nicole. “Watching her growth and development; walking and talking, is just amazing. You hear other parents talking about the changes but you don’t really know until you’re watching your daughter run around. Makes you respect your parents a lot more that’s for sure! ”

Chef Abair will continue serving up some of the Café’s most popular dishes. Here are a few of my favorites that will be making the cut.

GRILLED TIGER SHRIMP – curry cilantro marinade, faro, cucumber, edamame, haricot vert, harissa vinaigrette. Grilled perfectly and plated beautiful, the Tiger Shrimp is not to be missed. The curry cilantro marinade gives this a CDR signature flavor.

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SCALLOPS – diver scallop served with a smear of cauliflower puree’ and shredded brussel sprouts. This was my favorite dish of all, but I love scallops. It’s hard to find good scallops that haven’t been cooked to death. These had a beautiful caramel colored sear and were cooked perfectly.

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DUNGENESS CRAB CAKE – baby heirloom tomato, kale, ruby red grapefruit, basil aioli. Very crispy no-filler crab-cakes that will satisfy that yen for warm coastal comfort food.

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SWEET POTATO GNOCCHI – roasted squash, baby kale, thyme.

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BEEF TARTARE – capers, cornichons, shallot, chives, whole grain mustard, quail egg, potato gaufrette. Beautiful and light, a traditional dish that I’m not sure how found it’s way on this Mediterranean menu, but I’m glad it did.

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CAFÉ del REY is located at 4451 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, CA and offer a wonderful brunch menu as well as lunch and dinner. For more information or reservations visit them at www.cafedelreymarina.com

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