How many years have you participated in OC Chef’s Table?
Chef Ernie Alvarado:
This one in March 2020 will be our fourth year. It means a lot to me to be able to help these people, especially the kids. It just wrenches my heart when I hear what they’ve been through.

What got you interested in being a Chef?
I had always been in the industry from high school – server, busser, food runner, you name it. I just loved the energy of the restaurant business. One day it was like I suddenly noticed the FOOD in the kitchen, how they were preparing it … and I realized I really loved THIS. I loved everything about the food. All my life, I had been picking it up from my Mom – she was the best culinary school right there … but it finally just clicked for me. From that point, I only wanted to work in the kitchen. So, I found great chefs to learn from and worked my way up.

What do you like most about cooking?
I love the seasonings and layers of flavors. You might have a traditional dish with three ingredients, but I like infusing and experimenting, adding in 2 or 3 more to just give it that whole flavor experience.

What’s your favorite dish in Urbana right now?
Everything! I like making everything. I think just being a part of the Anaheim Packing District gives our food a special kind of energy, too.

We have a menu of favorites that people come back for on a regular basis, so my team and I focus on keeping those items fresh and consistent. But every week, I do specials, all of which are usually pretty spontaneous. I might go to the store or farmer’s market and see something that turns my head – and I find a way to put the ingredients together to make it special.

Recently, I’ve really liked the Filet Mignon Taco – we created it for our 3-year anniversary here at Urbana and haven’t removed it from the menu since. It might sound a little normal, but it’s my job to make it anything but normal. I really love the process.

Any plans yet for our OC Chef’s Table menu?
Oh, I’ve already started thinking about it. The key is to be very different from last year. I think that’s what all of us try to do, and that’s what makes it such an amazing evening.

The top chefs in Orange County (along with a few surprise visiting chefs) are getting together again for the renowned OC Chef’s Table at Disneyland® Resort on March 1, 2020, to provide permanent housing and services for homeless adults and children. With OC’s most imaginative chefs creating one-of-a-kind magical menus, it’s no wonder OC Chef’s Table is one of the most coveted gala tickets of the year.
See all 40+ chefs participating and secure your ticket at And, get to know this year’s phenomenal chefs as Diane Armitage sits down with each, asking 5 questions in just 5 minutes … 

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