Let's Do Lunch
Nick Barainca now offers the ideal accompaniment to your Beacon Coffee order: big ideas in a limited lunch menu. As chef and owner of Gargantua, Barainca is taking advantage of the Ojai coffeehouse’s large kitchen to offer inspired dishes that change with the season “and/or if we come up with something better.”
Barainca describes his cooking philosophy as being based on intuition. It’s methodical in the approach, he says, but allows for moments of free-form. On the plate, this translates to “simplicity through maturity.”
Take the Old World Grains bowl, for example. Served in an organic pottery bowl that feels good in your hands, the springtime dish was an artistic arrangement of rye berries, emmer, glutinous brown rice, sprouted lentils and sunflower yogurt under a canopy of fresh peas, and unripe blueberry halves ringed with tender greens.
This summer look for dishes that incorporate bitter and sweet melons and stone fruits, he says. It’ll be interesting to see how the ingredients manifest themselves.
“Looking to a singular ingredient during its peak of the season is the biggest challenge for me as a cook, but it’s the backbone of our thought process when adapting techniques and new traditions to ‘California’ food,” he explains.
The former chef de cuisine at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, Barainca presented Gargantua-pop-up dinners in Santa Monica before starting them at Beacon Coffee last summer. One thing led to another, and Barainca settled in this spring.
Ojai has quickly become home. “The agriculture, the people, landscape, the list goes on and on,” he says of what he likes about the town. “And not to mention,” he adds, “the overwhelming sense of balance.”