Claud & Co. Catering.
Why another endeavor? Why Claud & Co. Eatery?
“Because I’m crazy,” Chef Claud Beltran replies matter-of-factly. He smiles. “It was either that or make it into a storage room for the catering company. So, why not?”
We ask more questions. He answers easily, looks relaxed, not making us feels as though we’re eating up precious time that he doesn’t have, even though it’s already 5 p.m. and the Eatery is officially open. Claud looks to be in his element—in a restaurant, near his kitchen, about to do the thing he loves to do, which is cook.
Once we conclude the interview, Claud moseys into his kitchen, jokes and jibes with his staff, and leisurely gets ready for the evening. Chef de cuisine Eric Rouse is pouring white chocolate with green tea (and other ingredients we’re not allowed to share) into a mold, creating a small treat that will be served with the check. A bit later, we see Chef Claud slicing a watery-white colored block and inquire into its nature.
“It’s turnip cake.”
“I’ll fry you some in a minute,” he says.
Now it’s paramount that we keep taking pictures—to fill up the space and time it takes Claud to finish his preparations, so we may partake in said promised chef’s specialty.
Finally (and after he steals back “his” salt from Eric’s station), all is as it should be and Chef fires up the flames. He drops a domino-sized slice of turnip cake into a pan with oil.
We get distracted by Chef Shawn who’s offering us see-through slices of lomo, which is acorn-fed pork; the meat of the tenderloin used to make a salami-type log. We concentrate in an attempt to taste the affect of feeding a pig solely acorns and don’t quite succeed, but it’s still delicious. Also on the “meats” tray is salumi, chorizo, coppa, tascano, barzi, and calabria. The tray of resting cheeses looks pretty appetizing, too; even more so to taste as we happily accept some Brillat Savarin on a slice of fig cake with walnuts. Shawn excitedly informs us about the influx of Texas cheeses that will be arriving next month and we wonder if this will be a part of the Southern Comfort theme that Claud said was a comin’ soon.
By the time we turn our attention back to Chef Claud, he is pouring a thick trail of cilantro green curry onto a white appetizer dish. He then places the pan fried turnip cake slice on top, followed by a single cherry tomato that’s been roasted with garlic, salt and pepper, and herbes de provence. Chef sprinkles on some cut chives and passes us the plate. The “mushroomy, brown, dirt” taste of the turnip cake is minimal next to the other flavors, but its consistency is lovely and helps soak up the cilantro green curry sauce (the leftovers being finger-scooped into our mouths when we think no one is looking). Yes, this amuse-gueule whets our appetite quite nicely.
The theme for the menu in April was “Hail to the Pig” with such dishes as roasted chicken leg with corn bread pancetta stuffing, proscuitto-wrapped scallops, mini pork and mushroom wellington, while one of the dessert choices was a bacon, apple, and pecan turnover with whiskey ice cream.
The month of May is “Asian Fusion.” This translates into tempura Shitake mushroom salad with totsoi, red pepper, and miso vinn or 5-spice duck confit with chow mein noodles, Shitake, bok choy, and red pepper coulis. Chef Eric explains the pan fried ono with marinated cucumber and sesame wasabi “foam.” The sauce is poured down the center of the fish just before serving. It begins to bubble—to foam—while the plate is being carried to the table. Finally the foam dissipates and spreads, covering the top of the fish, just as the plate is set in front of the awaiting patron.
This coming Friday, “Celebrate Spring Garlic” with 7 courses begins at 7 p.m. (one seating only) at $60 per person. The event is already sold out, so we urge all interested parties to go to Claud & Co.s website and join their mailing list here to learn about upcoming events.
Claud attributes his love of food to his stepmother and his grandmother—after enjoying a delicious meal at Grandma’s house, the first thing out of young Claud’s mouth was, “What’s for breakfast?”
Decades ago, in another lifetime, he was in the aerospace industry, but then took a UCLA Extension program and Claud’s journey into victuals and libations took root. He worked under Thomas Keller at the Checkers Hotel in L.A., cooked at Dickenson West in Pasadena, and owned Cayo next to the Pasadena Playhouse before turning Halie from serving amateurish “prop” food to helping the restaurant”find its groove” (“Finally, a Chef to Match“ by S. Irene Virbila/Times staff writer/2003).
After a time at Madeleine’s on Green Street, Claud opened Noir Food & Wine with Mike Farwell and Alex Gallegos and Claud began “turning out some of the best cooking of his career” (“The Review” by S. Irene Virbila/Times staff writer/2009).
The best ingredients, time for playing and creating, good company, and a heavy dose of laughter—for Chef Claud Beltran, it’s simply another workday—with all the necessary elements.
Claud & Co. Eatery, 488 N. Allen, Pasadena 91106. 626.688.7256. ClaudandCo.com/Eatery. Tues., Wed., and Thurs. only, 5-11 p.m. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: The eatery’s chandelier went through 4-5 designs before Claud and his team were satisfied and took two months to create and install. Claud was inspired by master glass blower Dale Chihuly.