On Tuesday, September 4, 2012, Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon will be making a stop on Eat St on the Cooking Channel. It’s been a little over a one year since Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon hit the streets serving up rustic Italian food. Chef Joe has come a long way with his artisan pizzas and his love of culinary delicacies like foie gras, frog legs, and now caviar. The one word to describe Chef Joe’s food is FABULOUS! No matter if it is rustic pizza to a four-course meal, the flavor is always perfect and consistent. His food truck was custom built for him and his crew so they can crank out the best food possible, even wedding receptions and corporate events for Orange County companies like Wet Seal, Tilly’s, and ReVision Optics to name a few.
Let’s take a look back at some of the creations that have been created by Chef Joe:
If you manage to catch Chef Joe at a local farmers’ market like SoCo, he’ll definitely have some breakfast items. On New Year’s Eve 2011, Crème Brulee French Toast was on the menu. The French toast was actually made from croissants that were soaked in vanilla cream with a turbinado sugar crust. This was the best French toast ever! Normally made with white bread, the croissant offered a more in-depth flavor of buttery goodness that you just can’t get from a loaf of white bread. This reminded more of a bread pudding with a strong custardy flavor and texture. The sugar crust put it over the top and I was in heaven. What a way to end a year! Thumbs up, way up!
Chef Joe makes the best gourmet burger I’ve ever had. The patty was huge, juicy, and full of fresh Angus beef flavor. It was a handmade patty, which is always a plus in my book. It was topped with sautéed porcini mushrooms, bleu cheese, and fresh arugula. I got a bite of this burger and then my husband finished it off. He said it was too good to stop eating. I’ve been dreaming of this burger since then (October 2011). Chef Joe, please put this on the menu again! This time I’m not sharing! Thumbs up, way up!
Another version of his famous burgers is the Tuscan Smashed. It encompasses everything Italian – fresh tomatoes, oregano, garlic, olive oil, basil, and mozzarella. Mama Mia! Put this on top of a freshly grilled, juicy Angus beef burger and it’s to die for! Coming from a gal who can’t eat tomatoes, I took the chance and it was so worth the hurt. Thumbs up, way up!
Slider Duo is two sliders, one with the Tuscan smashed and the other with American cheddar cheese. Like mini versions of his famous burgers, these are bigger than the slider you’ll see in a restaurant or pub. The patties were handmade and took up the whole brioche bun. The Tuscan Smashed was exactly like the normal version with Chef Joe’s Tuscan tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. The American cheddar cheese was better than any burger you’ll get at a fast food joint. Always grilled to perfection like a burger should be! Thumbs up, way up!
Calamari Tacos are the best seafood tacos you will ever have. If you’ve read my previous article, Chef Joe’s calamari will make anyone a fan of squid. Usually, people think of calamari as tough and rubbery. Chef Joe’s marinating process tenderizes this mollusk into soft, tender pieces of perfection. The calamari was lightly battered and fried to a golden brown. The tacos were filled and topped with a cabbage slaw that added a little creaminess. Everyone I know who was not a fan of calamari and then tried Chef Joe’s calamari are now big fans. No one else makes them better! Thumbs up, way up!
Porchetta Sandwich is a wonderful sandwich. The bread had a crusty and crispy exterior and chewy texture interior, like a French baguette. The juicy, roasted sliced pork seeped into the interior of the bread as not to waste a single drop. Topped with greens, homemade aioli, and bacon, what could else could anyone ask for? It’s a pork lover’s dream in sandwich form! Thumbs up, way up!
Carbonara Pizza is topped with crispy pancetta, caramelized onions, black pepper, and Parmigiano cream sauce. Being a non-tomato sauce eater (not by choice), I love that Chef Joe offers pizzas with sauces other than just tomato/marinara based sauces. The pizzas are freshly baked on the truck (yes, this truck has a pizza oven on it). The flavors on this pizza are just awesome, from the smoky, salty pancetta to the sweet caramelized onion, and the creamy Parmigiano cream sauce. Chef Joe’s knows exactly what tastes pair perfectly together. Thumbs up, way up!
Bianca Pizza is Fol Epi, Mozzarella, Brie, and Manchego atop a béchamel sauce (sometimes topped with some fresh greens, like baby arugula). Talk about love! This is the best “white pizza” I’ve ever had. The béchamel was perfectly creamy with a velvety consistency. I love cheese so any combination that Chef Joe decides is fine with me. Thumbs up, way up!
Lap Cheong Pizza was an Italian and Chinese infused pizza that made the menu for a little stint. Lap Cheong is a slightly sweet Chinese sausage. It reminded me of a stuffed bao but in pizza form. The sausage was sliced to exude the fat and juices onto the vegetables and pizza dough during the cooking process. The pizza dough that Chef Joe makes is so much more flavorful than the typical white bao bread. The creativity is endless and I love that he has fun and makes it different for his customers every time they come to the truck. Thumbs up, way up!
Arancini are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and filled with ragu, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. I had never had Arancini before and would see people ordering it in droves. I had to see what it was all about. Served as a pair, like any balls should, with a side of Chef Joe’s amazing marinara for dipping, the exterior was crispy on the outside. The interior is a whole other experience. The rice was cooked al dente like risotto. The ragu was braised goodness – rich and robust. The mozzarella was gooey and stringy just like you would expect. I can’t believe it took me so long to order these. Thumbs up, way up!
Ever since Chef Joe opened with his fabulous Foie Gras Slider, he was trying to think of other ways to infuse this favorite of his. Why not Foie Gras Pizza? A fabulous pizza was born! The pizza was topped with roasted foie gras, prosciutto, balsamic reduction, baby arugula, and caramelized onions. The foie just melted in your mouth with luscious, dreamy goodness. He also experimented by topping it with duck bacon (yes, I said duck bacon), walnuts, and cranberries as well. Every combination he had made was just jaw-dropping good. I have never loved a pizza more than this one. Thumbs up, way up!
And unfortunately, June 30, 2012, was the last day Foie Gras was served due to a bill signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 banning the sale of foie gras starting July 1, 2012. June 30, 2012 will be a day in California culinary history that will be remembered by all foodies. Chef Joe made a special menu on June 30, celebrating his culinary flare with this delectable ingredient. Let me take you on a tour of foie fabulousness:
Foie Gras Trio was celebrated right at the SoCo Farmers’ Market. A reserved table set with a white tablecloth for customer who ordered this fantastic creation. Served on china with silverware to match, Foie Gras shined like no other. First up was foie gras infused into a sauce and tossed with fettuccini. It was absolutely cream and luxurious. The sauce coated your tongue with a smooth velvety consistency yet was packed full of the foie flavor that I love. Second was the foie gras pate. Lovingly spread on a triangular piece of thick toast and topped with sweet, tart cherries. The pate was smooth and velvety as expected, but the cherries just put it over the top. The sweet and tart flavor intermingled well with the savory, fatty flavor of the foie causing an instant OMG moment. The third and final star of the dish was a savory bread pudding topped with a good portion of pan-seared foie gras and handful of microgreens and herbs. The foie was seared to perfection with the natural flavor of foie to delight the taste buds. The savory bread pudding was soft, custardy and actually pushed the foie flavor to a heightened level of food orgasmic glory. This was an absolute masterpiece and just a mind-blowing experience! Thumbs up, way up!
Another delicacy that hit the truck was Fried Frog Legs. OMG, I love frog legs. Ever since my trip to Toronto in 2010, I have missed having these jumping good amphibians. The frog legs were lightly battered and fried to golden brown crispiness. The interior was juicy and tender like any good frog leg should be. The homemade aioli was a great complement to the frog leg’s unique flavor. Chef Joe, you have to bring these back! Thumbs up, way up!
If you ever see a dessert on the menu, get while you can. He doesn’t make them very often. Here are some that you might see:
Chocolate Molten Lava Cake was the best I’ve ever had! The scent alone was mesmerizing. The rich, seductive chocolate flavor called my name over and over again like a siren (mermaid). It was so good. I didn’t even notice that I finished it, frantically scraping the sides of the foil pan to savor the goodness. Thumbs up, way up!
Crème Brulee is one of my favorite desserts. Actually, anything in the custard family is good as gold. This crème brulee was absolute 3-star Michelin restaurant quality. Foil pan aside, the crème brulee was perfectly cooked and set. The burnt sugar crust on top was just like the restaurant – take that spoon and crack the sugar glass! Everyone I know who has tried it says it’s the best crème brulee they have ever had as well. So don’t just take my word. Thumbs up, way up!
You’ve heard all of the fuss. What are you waiting for? Check out Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon’s website and get some delectable grub for yourself. Or call him up to cater your next event!
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars
- Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 5pm PST – Tune into the Cooking Channel for debut of the Eat St episode called “The Truck Stops Here”. http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/eat-street/the-truck-stops-here/index.html
- Kaiser Permanente Get Fit Festival at Angels Stadium – http://info.kaiserpermanente.org/html/partnersinhealth_scal/august2012/getfit_miscellaneous.html
For more information:
Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon
Trucking around Orange County