Kim-anh Nguyen

Head Bartender, Mecha New Haven
What is your favorite foodie experience?

Chefs Cook for Japan, Harvard Club, NYC, May 2011.
After a horrendous earthquake hit Japan in march of 2011, Chef Masaharu Morimoto hosted Chefs Cook for Japan, a Japan earthquake relief benefit in New York City. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this benefit, it really elevated my palate for food and and craft cocktails. Being able to watch Morimoto flawlessly fillet a 500-pound bluefin tuna was an experience in itself, let alone being able to eat the different ways he prepared it. The tuna literally melted in my mouth, no chewing was necessary and a few pieces were topped off with a salt water foam. The most standout amongst the delectable food I sampled was a duck foie gras on top of a savory, crispy chicharron with fresh herbs accompanied with a quail egg dropper. So many flavors in my mouth exploding in unison.  At that time, I didn't really know much about craft cocktails or much about spirits in general but I was able to try shochu for the first time. The shochu cocktail was made with lemongrass. WHAT? Lemongrass, you cook with that or so I thought. Hands down, this was my best food experience. I've had many others but this specific one kickstarted my love for well crafted food and drinks.

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

I'm a social worker turned full time bartender. I have a passion for fine crafted food and drinks. I enjoy brightening up people's days with the simple pleasures that food and drink bring. I spend a lot of time trying different and new restaurants and bars. Traveling and seeing live music are also very important to me. I feel like all great memories and/or experiences revolve around food and drink, well at least mine do.

Ramen or Pho?

This is tough because both are so delicious but I'm going to have to choose PHO. It's the food of my people. Growing up, Pho Sunday was my family's version of Italian's meatballs and fresh pot of sauce. We would gather at my aunt's or grandparent's house. Food brings people together and that's what pho did for my family. The children played, the women prepared the food and the men played cards and drank Heinekens. When everything was ready, we all sat down and ate together. I had the opportunity to be  able to experience eating pho on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon,) Vietnam. While sitting at a child's red plastic table and chair in 100 degrees heat, it does not get more authentic than that.

Jose Ocotl

Head Chef, Mecha Fairfield
What is your favorite foodie experience?

Mom’s home cooking back in Mexico, especially the pork spare ribs she makes.

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

I’m driven by my passion and love for cooking. My heart is especially full when I cook for my daughters, family & friends.

Ramen or Pho?

Ramen

Javelle Taft

Head Bartender, Mecha Fairfield
What is your favorite foodie experience?

One of my most memorable food experiences was at a little Southern gem called Mert's Heart & Soul in downtown Charlotte, NC. The dishes were a perfect representation of Southern cuisine. And who better to show Southern hospitality than the Southerners themselves?

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

Traveling is my newest obsession. I've been to 4 countries in the past 2 years. I enjoy being educated directly by the people on their culture.

Ramen or Pho?

Ramen!

Naitza Diaz

General Manager, Mecha Fairfield
What is your favorite foodie experience?

I love being able to have the confidence in my server or bartender to have them pick my food for me. Their own personality shines through their choices and allows me as a guest to experience the food in a more personal way. Usually, the servers and bartenders know whats best on the menu anyways, so it’s great to be surprised with the best stuff on the menu, accompanied by a beautiful glass of wine of course!

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

Reading The New York Times is my favorite thing to do on a day off. It’s a great day when I can finish a whole crossword puzzle — although this has only happened twice. A girl can try!

Ramen or Pho?

Ramen! Spicy Miso all day!

Jonathan Rodriguez

Beverage Shogun, All Mechas
What is your favorite foodie experience?

While in San Juan, Puerto Rico this past summer at a restaurant called Jose Enrique. The menu was written on a dry erase board and I pretty much ordered everything on it. Every dish was memorable and tasted like Puerto Rican soul on a plate. Our server made us feel like I had known him for years and offered recommendations to us to keep the party going. I would fly there just to eat at that restaurant again.

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

I grew up loving music. My dad played trumpet all his life and my mom, a dancer. Naturally I have always enjoyed playing instruments and dancing. Bars are always about showing people a good time and entertaining your guest. I love that.

Ramen or Pho?

Pho

Tsering Dickey

Khaleesi, Mecha Fairfield
What is your favorite foodie experience?

My favorite foodie experiences are finding hidden gems that have tremendous value, no fuss and just great food. There's a small taco joint in Bridgeport that totally transports you and they have the best carnitas ever!

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

I am Tibetian, born in India, and can speak three languages. I love hospitality because it allows me the flexibility to travel the world. I LOVE MARVEL AND GAME OF THRONES. 

Ramen or Pho?

They both are great comfort food but it all depends on the mood I am in.

Brian Reilly

Ramen Bushi - All Mechas
What is your favorite foodie experience?

Working the food and wine classic in Aspen. The chef I worked for at the time won top ten Best New Chefs for Food and Wine magazine and after that there was a huge party in Aspen that we got to cook at. Got to meet all of the culinary greats that I have looked up to over the years.

Describe yourself in 3 sentences or less.

I enjoy the outdoors. My favorite times are grilling with my family and trying to see who has the best hard-to-get beer.

Ramen or Pho?

I do not pick between my children, I love them all the same.