Jacob Moss and Maegen Loring are both executive chefs of Lido at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa in Shell Beach. Moss handles the restaurant responsibilities, while Loring heads up the pastry duties and off-site catering services.
Moss discovered his passion for cooking in fifth grade when he was tasked with cooking a weekly meal for his family. He went on to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, an experience that included an externship at a restaurant in Florence, Italy.
Moss worked at restaurants in Los Angeles and Chico before becoming sous chef and ultimately head chef at Café Roma in San Luis Obispo. He joined Lido as a sous chef in 2012 and soon stepped into one of the resort’s executive chef positions.
Loring is well-known to local diners and food producers, and she brings a lifelong passion for food to the table.
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Her palate, skills and knowledge of global cuisines led her to embrace the concept of market-fresh cuisine many years ago. As Lido’s website notes, “This has become a standard on the Central Coast, but Maegen was among the first to actively promote the concept among her peers and with her clientele.”
Q: What is your favorite local/seasonal ingredient that you’re currently using in your menu?
Jacob Moss: Peas. They’re a great springtime item, and there are several different types of peas with endless applications.
Q: How are you currently using peas?
JM: This year my spring menu features a warm pea salad with caramelized shallots; the salad is served with Alaskan halibut. I am also using sugar snap peas with a roasted half Jidori chicken and red pepper potatoes. One of my favorite dishes is the pasta carbonara, and last year I served it with pea tendrils.
Q: How do these particular dishes represent your culinary style/background/philosophy?
JM: All three dishes showcase how I prepare “contemporary California cuisine” featuring Italian influences.
Q: How would home cooks approach this ingredient in their own kitchens?
JM: Frozen peas have been a staple in home kitchens for a long time. But this time of year, farmers markets have wonderful peas that have a lot of natural sweetness. They can be used raw in salads, steamed or sautéed.
Maegen Loring: Spring peas (shelling peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas) can be used interchangeably. They are best cooked fast to keep their green color and fresh taste. I like to quick sauté peas with herbs, notably basil or mint.
Q: What is your favorite dish to cook at home and why?
JM: Outdoor barbecuing — it is the one technique I don’t get to do at work.
ML: Right now, I’m making a spring pea salad with fresh mint, citrus vinaigrette and shavings of ricotta salata (a semi-hard, salted sheep’s milk cheese). It represents the freshness and newness of spring. After winter cooking — which consists of a lot of root vegetables, potatoes and squash — it is refreshing to have the green, sweetness and crunch of a pea.
Q: What is your favorite food and wine pairing and why?
JM: Pizza and classic Italian reds. It is the most simple, yet one of the most diverse meals around, with thousands of possible combinations.
ML: I love a rich white wine with peas. As peas have a bit of starch in them, they hold up to a richer white wine like a Roussanne or Marsanne (both Rhône varietals).