Chefs of Morro Bay to battle at Sunset Savor the Central Coast

Serendipitous stars twinkled three years ago when Sunset magazine’s Savor the Central Coast selected two chefs from Morro Bay to compete in the Battle of the Bay during its grand savoring weekend at Santa Margarita Ranch.

The battle will rage again Sunday between Taco Temple’s Chef Adam Pollard and the Inn at Morro Bay’s Chef Paul Arangorin. Tim Allen, Emmy Award winner, author and host of Food Network’s “Chopped” will host, while Sunset’s new editor-in-chief, Kitty Morgan, will judge the “farm to table” showcase.

Chef Adam has owned Taco Temple for 16 years and has been in the business for 30 years. He started washing dishes at 15 for Peggy Lee and son Greg at Hung Low in Morro Bay.

“They taught me my work ethic,” he said, “but Bill Hoppe taught me the rest once he learned I was serious about the business. My wife, Dawnelle, is a talented food artist and dessert chef. Eventually, we wanted to do our own thing.”

First they opened in Cayucos on D Street, but soon outgrew the space and established Taco Temple at 2680 Main St. in Morro Bay in 1998. “It took off,” he said. “We were not afraid to use fresh ingredients and lots of spices and make it pretty on the plate. Everything is prepped daily from scratch. Our entire family works at the restaurant.”

Executive Chef Paul has been at the Inn at Morro Bay for two years. He’s been in the business since 2004 but cooked his entire life.

“My dad was the cook for all the family celebrations: baptisms, graduations, weddings. I always helped,” he said. “After Mission Prep High School, I was in nursing school, but cooking was my passion.”

He attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in San Francisco and watched food shows on PBS to learn the art of cooking from European chefs. He landed cooking jobs and promotions at Hyatt hotels in San Francisco, San Diego and La Jolla before taking a job closer to home with Troy Tolbert in Solvang.

Recently, he was promoted from sous chef to executive chef at the Inn at Morro Bay.

Both chefs will get a box of fresh, local ingredients filled with items such as oysters and avocados to prepare in a limited amount of time before the audience and judge Morgan.

“We can bring our own secret weapons,” said Chef Adam about his spices

“In America, ‘farm to table’ is a trend, but in most parts of the world, it is a way of life,” Chef Paul said. “I’m excited. It’s my style of cooking.”

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.