I love good BBQ. At our house, you can find my husband Tim out on the patio almost year round cooking on his grill. BBQ is taken very seriously in our home. So, when I was invited by my friend Ralph Montes to join him and Chef Shad Newton to attend their first Newtown Culinary Pop-Up Dinner billed as an “elevated backyard BBQ experience,” I didn’t have to think twice.


Chef Shad grew up in Yosemite with a love of nature and an appreciation for the simple things in life. His culinary career has led him through the kitchens of world-renowned restaurants, such as Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen and San Francisco’s Foreign Cinema. Today he works at Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec in Los Angeles. Ralph too has an extensive culinary background, having worked his way up through kitchens in Orange County and L.A. to currently cooking on the line with Chef Shad at Trois Mec. Quite an amazing achievement and a testament to his talent, considering only five years ago when I first met him he was working as a server in a Downtown Santa Ana restaurant.


The Newtown Culinary Pop-Up Dinner on July 10th in Orange, California was a first for Chef Shad and Ralph. Together they came up with a concept of a Pop-Up Dinner to highlight a new approach to BBQ – as they put it, “A simple farm food concept.” Of course the essentials – plenty of fire, lots of friends, and outdoor Summer dining – were the basis. But this pair were able to showcase what you can really do with imagination, the right suppliers and ingredients, and outstanding culinary know-how. From gorgeous barbecued fresh oysters to slow-roasted heirloom beans and everything in between, it was sensational. A personal favorite of mine was the Stemple Creek Ranch beef from Electric City Butcher prepared and served two ways: spit roasted, and sous vide-then-seared. Definitely not your average backyard BBQ.

Below you can feast your eyes on what we lucky BBQ attendees experienced on July 10th. Rumor has it that these boys are planning a second Pop-Up Dinner for September involving the terms “Tiki” and “Whole Suckling Pig Roast.” You won’t want to miss it. Stay tuned to the Newtown Culinary website for details. And meantime, you can catch Chef Shad on August 13th live in the Top of the Line Cooking Competition at The Park Restaurant on Sunset. Click here for ticket info.

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