Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Boulevard, is known as food heaven. Travellers can easily find a place to eat but it can be a difficult decision with such variety at your fingertips. Which is why North American Traveller has decided to share five minutes with Chef Nick Barainca to give you an inside peek at Gargantua, located at 3117 Ocean Park Blvd; a pop up restaurant that is getting rave reviews from food critics across the country.
Critically Acclaimed Cuisine
Santa Monica’s Ocean Park Boulevard, is known as food heaven. Travellers can easily find a place to eat but it can be a difficult decision with such variety at your fingertips. Which is why North American Traveller has decided to share “Five Minutes with Chef Nick Barainca” to give you an inside peek at Gargantua, located at 3117 Ocean Park Blvd; a pop-up restaurant that is getting rave reviews from food critics across the country.
What would a wandering traveller expect if they stumbled upon Gargantua?
Barainca: I think initially for anyone coming into Gargantua would be to not have any expectation of what it is or how it’s going to turn out.
When people walk through the door it almost seems unassuming for the quality and the type of food you are getting in a small 25 seat diner that does breakfast throughout the day and then transforms into this higher end passionate piece at night. Its overwhelming (in a good way) for the guest to get what they get in this unassuming setting.
What is it that you love most about the pop up concept?
Barainca: It allows for us to push the diner a little bit harder than they normally would in a freestanding restaurant. We push the boundaries a little bit as far as profiles with the freedom to be creative and to express ourselves in a more broader way.
It is really just me and one other guy doing all this. I think the limitations of working in a smaller space with a small crew allows us we to stretch our brains to see what different directions we can go.
You have done a lot of travelling and have worked in a more structured environment as a chef with the Four seasons. Looking back, what is the biggest lessons you have learned about yourself throughout your culinary adventures?
Barainca: I travelled later in life. When I was younger I was strapped to the kitchen but when looking back to make sense of all of it, I see that one pinnacle moment being when I went to Tokyo, Japan. The biggest thing I learned from that experience was self discipline and that latched on to me and allowed me to be the person I really wanted to be in the kitchen and outside of the kitchen for that matter.
What do you see coming forth for your regular customers in the new year, will it grow or become something else?
Barainca: For us right now that is the million dollar question. We are hunting around and kind of playing devil’s advocate a little bit and not being too particular about where we end up or how we get there, that is kind of how we started this project initially. Gargantua started out of frustration. Wanting to do something new and to really make an effort. For next year it is a broad spectrum. From LA to Santa Barbara there will be a permanent spot somewhere along that pipeline.
The Chef Nick Barainca Menu
A seasonal reflection of California’s rich agriculture” with items changing regularly. This five course menu is not only delicious but affordable with a $49.00 per person price tag. Even while browsing through Gargantua’s food photography one cannot help but feel inspired by his dishes which resemble works of art.