Ross Pangilinan, Orange County’s Rising Star Chef

Ross Pangilinan, chef and owner of the new restaurant Terrace by Mix Mix in Costa Mesa

Ross Pangilinan, chef and owner of the new restaurant Terrace by Mix Mix in Costa Mesa

If you’re a foodie or into restaurant culture, by now you may have read or heard the buzz about Mix Mix, Terrace by Mix Mix and the name Ross Pangilinan. Let’s start with Ross Pangilinan a former executive chef at Leatherby’s Café Rouge and sous chef at the flagship Patina at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Pangilinan was also instrumental in helping Patina earn its Michelin star in 2007. Ross was born in Tennessee from Filipino parents, and grew up in Orange County, CA. The talented chef/entrepreneur started his passion with food when he and his father went to different restaurants (Indian, French, Italian, etc) during his wonder years. After high school, he knew what he wanted as a career. Pangilinan enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. He went on to work at various Southern California restaurants and in France for the two-Michelin-starred Les Trois Marche in Versailles. At the age of 21, when kids his age are only starting entry level jobs after college, Patina Restaurant Group offered him his first sous chef position at Pinot Provence in 2005. After a couple years, Pangilinan returned to France to work in the Michelin-starred Regis restaurant where he shined in back of the house operations. Pangilinan was also part of the team when the modern Italian restaurant Sinatra opened its doors within Encore at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

In 2016, Pangilinan started Mix Mix Kitchen Bar in downtown Santa Ana. The restaurant served a Filipino inspired menu with European fusion. In 2017, accolades kept pouring in. Mix Mix Kitchen Bar was named the 2017 Restaurant of the Year by Orange Coast Magazine and has garnered recognition from major media such as the Los Angeles Times, The Orange County Register, NBC, and Modern Luxury.

“Mix Mix is, however, the home of unexpected expressions from a Filipino chef in his creative prime. Free from the shackles of corporate cooking, Pangilinan is halo-halo-ing the heck out of the world. All you have to do is eat it.” – LA Times

“Not one to seek the limelight, ingenious chef Ross Pangilinan slyly astonishes an unsuspecting audience at his new Mix Mix Kitchen Bar.” – — Orange Coast Magazine

Recently Pangilinan also nabbed 2018 Rising Star Chef of the Year from the 2018 Golden Foodie Awards in Sept. 2018. This was just in time for the opening of his second restaurant Terrace by Mix Mix. Terrace is located in the Macy’s Home shopping court of South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, CA. His new restaurant focuses on market-driven small plates and showcases Pangilinan’s eclectic style, which is influenced by French, Italian, and modern Filipino flavors, as well as his refined technique.

Terrace by Mix Mix a Euro-Filipino Restaurant located in Costa Mesa

Terrace by Mix Mix a Euro-Filipino Restaurant located in Costa Mesa

Popbuff: Although you’ve been in the restaurant/food industry for awhile, you’re a new business owner. Can you tell us, how has it been so far?
Ross: t’s been a lot of hard work. Running a restaurant or business is really tough. Especially now… the public expects a lot out of you. To make ends meet it’s hard enough. The public doesn’t care if the dishwasher or server do not show up. They’re paying. They want a good experience. They want good food. So we do our best to do that. You have someone good, all of a sudden one
day…they don’t show up. So It’s hard. We’re a little company. One key member does that, and it really sets you back.

Popbuff: Were there any mishaps since you opened your second restaurant?
Ross: When we first opened this restaurant … it was the second or third day of lunch and the alarm system went off right before lunch. The fire suppression system started spraying out of nowhere for no reason. And apparently the people who set it up didn’t screw tight enough and the sensor went off but it was fine. It took a few hours to clean up. We lost a lot of products.The fire company came back and refilled it. We just opened a couple hours later than normal. Things happen all the time …you should always have a back up plan.

Terrace by Mix Mix has a small wine bar, additional seating, an open kitchen and a counter offering a weekday lunch quick-service menu.

Terrace by Mix Mix has a small wine bar, additional seating, an open kitchen and a counter offering a weekday lunch quick-service menu.

Popbuff: Why did you decide to own a restaurant with an eclectic menu but with Filipino flavor?
Ross: I wanted to bring some Filipino flavor to my menu but I also wanted be able cook other things. I don’t want be so close-minded. I wanted to be able to cook everything. It’s even more approachable when I do put out Filipino ingredients and items on the menu because people are more comfortable with seeing other things paired with that. If people just see Filipino restaurant, they might not want to try it or they might not be in the mood for Filipino food.

Popbuff: How has the feedback from the public been when you opened your second restaurant?
Ross: Mix mix in downtown Santa Ana was great. People didn’t have high expectations …. people would come in and gave us a shot. We really blew people away. We did a great job. We’re still doing a good job. Here in Terrace, we have a different kind of clientele. People from all over the world are coming to your restaurant. They’ll see our menu, they think it’s too expensive…it’s not a pizza place..it’s not a burger place. It’s a lot harder to make everyone happy here. As opposed to Santa Ana, it’s more a destination restaurant. You go there and you know what you are getting.

The beautifully designed covered terrace off the west end of Bridge of Gardens

The beautifully designed covered terrace off the west end of Bridge of Gardens

Popbuff: What is your favorite Filipino food?
Ross: My favorite Filipino food … kare-kare, pinakbet and adobo. We make our adobo with pork cheek. It’s the best piece of meat for adobo. It has such good texture…it’s not too soft and has a good fat in it.

Popbuff: Who are your mentors?
Ross: Opening up this restaurant, a lot of people mentored me that I’ve never even worked with before in the Orange County community. I was meeting chefs that had restaurant experience like. Ryan Adams. He has a few restaurants. Anytime I have questions I just called him and he always has good answers for me. Ed Lee co-owner of Wahoo’s, I met him at a charity event. During the event, I asked him, “How do you open a restaurant?” And he told me to call him. I called him and then he took me to lunch and it kinda started from there. Anytime I needed advice or needed a contact, anything from who’s your plumber to how do I do this with the city… Wing was always there. He also introduced me to our lawyer who helped us with our liquor license. Hopefully, one day I can be in that position and help people.

Terrace by Mix Mix

Popbuff: How do you feel winning these awards?
Ross: My mom was very proud. My dad passed away already. There was a big party that Orange Coast magazine put on. For my team and I, it was not expected. It was pretty amazing to win these awards.

Popbuff: What words of advice can you give young chefs and entrepreneurs?
Ross: It’s a lot of work. Put your head down and work. Know your stuff and do you research. Know what it is you are doing.

Ross Pangilinan’s eclectic menu earned glowing reviews from Southern California’s most sophisticated critics

Ross Pangilinan’s eclectic menu earned glowing reviews from Southern California’s most sophisticated critics

 

Popbuff blogger Ruchel with acclaimed chef Ross Pangilinan

Popbuff blogger Ruchel with acclaimed chef Ross Pangilinan

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