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Mom Trained Chefs

April 21, 2014

Mother’s Day is May 11, the perfect day to thank our mom’s for all they did for us—including teaching us how to cook!

Three local chefs – Zov Karamardian of Zov’s Bistro in Newport Coast, Cathy Pavlos of Provenance in Eastbluff and Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina – recently regaled us with their memories of cooking with mom.

“My mother was a fabulous cook,” recalls Chef Zov, who specializes in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Armenian cuisine. “I remember her always being in the kitchen and cooking all the time, whether it was at home or a ladies auxiliary or volunteering in schools cooking lunch. She loved cooking and sharing. We cooked every day like it was Mother’s Day. It was not a special day because we were always together. Whenever I called my mother on Mother’s Day, I would say ‘mom, this is an official call—Happy Mother’s Day.’”

Zov said her signature golden lentil soup is a family recipe, as is her hummus and baba ghanoush.

“They’re family traditions—they were all her recipes,” says Zov. “Some of my dishes, like the rack of lamb, is a derivative of my mom’s cooking. It’s all inspired by what she used to cook, which was traditional Armenian food.”

And what will Zov be doing on Mother’s Day?

“I will be working,” she laughed. “Maybe we’ll go out, or maybe I’ll cook.”

To cook like Zov, and her mother, visit her website to access a lengthy list of recipes, from rosemary crusted rack of lamb to Greek salad, at

Zov also has two cookbooks available on her website that make perfect Mother’s Day gifts.

Chef Deborah Schneider of SOL Cocina has four cookbooks available on her restaurant’s website that also make great Mother’s Day gifts.

Chef Deb specializes in south-of-the-border cuisine, which is unusual for someone who was raised in Canada.

“I grew up in a tiny rural town in southern Ontario,” Chef Deb told us. “My mother grew up on a farm and is a great simple cook. When I read about farm-to-table, I smile, because that’s how everybody ate when I was a kid: local beef from a butcher we knew, farm eggs and chicken, local cheese, and of course eating out of our gardens through the spring, summer and fall.”

Chef Deb says she learned to cook from her mother, starting with her family’s holiday recipes at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“I still make gravy in the pan just like she does, and her stuffing is the best!,” states Chef Deb. “Mom’s cooking style can best be described as ‘great fresh ingredients and don’t do too much to it.’ My favorite meal at home is still the Sunday roast beef dinner with local veggies (now grown by Mennonites) and my stepdad’s homemade wine.”

Visit the SOL website at And visit Chef Deb’s personal website at to view a video of her making her signature tacos vampiros.

Chef Cathy Pavlos, who recently opened Provenance (sister restaurant to her noted Lucca Restaurant in Irvine), grew up in Southern California. Her grandfather was a commercial farmer in Huntington Beach, so she grew up cooking and eating only her grandfather’s farm-raised produce, fresh fish from the docks in San Pedro, fresh fruits from family orchards in Whittier, and proteins butchered on the farm.

“I learned to cook when I was four years old, at the side of my Italian grandmother, who was known to be the best cook around,” says Chef Cathy.

When diners enter Provenance, one of the first things they encounter is a hostess station. What’s unusual is that it’s created from Chef Cathy’s grandmother’s 1948 stove that she kept in her kitchen until the day she died—the same stove Chef Cathy learned to cook on when she was a small child.

Visit the Provenance website at

Written by Visit Newport Beach

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