Celebrate spring with a weekend brunch that you prepare from our chefs’ customized recipes. Then take a bow to rave reviews!

 Imagine it’s one of those picture-perfect sunny SoCal mornings with a light coastal breeze. Your friends, who entertain in a style worthy of Martha Stewart or Ina Garten, invite you to their gorgeous home for brunch. 

 As you enter the stunning al fresco setting, sunlight glistens off waves in the distant ocean. You are greeted with a chilled tropical mimosa. A sumptuous spread reveals beautiful platters of verdant asparagus showered with Parmesan shavings and a luscious frittata. Mini meringues with jewel-like berries and a fluff of softly whipped cream beguile. A sense of well-being overcomes you.

No fantasy—we’ve put together the perfect brunch with recipes from four of South Coast Plaza’s talented chefs. It’s the best time of the year to spend a relaxing afternoon with those you love. Commemorate it with wonderful food and drink!




Chef Ross Pangilinan, Terrace by Mix Mix

Asparagus with Parmesan Shavings

Chef Tony Esnault, Knife Pleat 

Frittata with Gruyère and Caramelized Onions

Chef Nick Weber, Populaire 

Pavlova with Mixed Berry Compote, Vanilla Anglaise

Chef John Park & Pastry Chef Keri O’Neill, Tableau Kitchen and Bar

Many guests return again and again to Terrace by Mix Mix for weekend brunch and begin the ritual with a Tropical Mimosa. The classic OJ is replaced by a more exotic fruit. Flavors frequently change but offerings may be mango, yuzu, hibiscus, strawberry or passion fruit, according to chef-owner Ross Pangilinan. 

Pangilinan often uses The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley for the fruit flavors—a longtime favorite of chefs and mixologists that is now available to the home cook by ordering online. Other substitutes can easily be made. 

Chef Ross Pangilinan, Terrace by Mix Mix


1 ½-2 tablespoons thawed, frozen fruit purée
(strawberry, mango, passionfruit, etc.)

Organic agave nectar
(if purée is not sweetened) to taste

4 or more ounces of sparkling wine
(a dry prosecco, cava or sparkling wine)


Add sweetened fruit purée to the bottom of a champagne flute or small wine glass. Pour in sparkling wine, then give it a mix.  Garnish with fruit or edible flower of choice.

Note:  If using purchased frozen fruit, purée in a blender, adding agave nectar to taste if fruit is unsweetened.  Make sure purée is smooth and pourable.  Refrigerate until ready to use. For a clean pour, use a small pitcher to add purée to champagne glass.  

Michelin-starred chef Tony Esnault is known for his meticulous attention to produce. The inspiration goes back to his childhood, when he spent time at his grandparents’ farm in France’s Loire Valley.  Esnault’s “legumes de saison,” seasonal vegetables individually cut and arranged like jewels into a beautiful composition, has been an evolving signature dish for years and is frequently featured at Knife Pleat

The vegetable whisperer created the asparagus appetizer recipe for South Coast Plaza’s TASTE Magazine in 2020.

Chef Tony Esnault, Knife Pleat


36 green asparagus* (see note)

3 tablespoons of aged white balsamic

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ oz coarse ground black pepper

Salt & pepper

2 oz coarse salt (for blanching)

1 shallot 

1 ½ oz Parmigiano-Reggiano

Coarse sea salt for finishing


Clean the asparagus spears from top to bottom with a paring knife or peeler. Divide into 3 equal bundles. Bring 5 ½ quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot; once boiling, add the coarse salt. Place the asparagus bundles to cook in the boiling water, this should take between 10 to 12 minutes depending on their thickness – the asparagus should remain firm. Once cooked, stop the cooking process by placing them in cold water. Strain and drain on a cloth.

Prepare the vinaigrette in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Finely chop the shallot, add 3 tablespoons of aged white balsamic vinegar, then the EVOO. Mix together.

Shave the parmesan (ideally use a mandolin or vegetable peeler) and season.

Re-heat the asparagus for a few seconds in boiling water. Strain and place on kitchen towel. Divide the asparagus among the 6 flat plates and drizzle with the vinaigrette and the parmesan shavings. Add a light sprinkle of coarse ground black pepper and finishing salt.

*Note:  Chef Tony Esnault’s preference is for the California Delta asparagus, known for its thicker stems and sweeter taste. 

Nick Weber, Populaire’s co-owner and executive chef, has an extensive resume. Besides years spent with the Patina Group at Catal in Downtown Disney and Pinot Provence at the Westin South Coast Plaza, Weber served as executive chef at the Cannery in Newport Beach. 

He also spent time at 24 Carrots, a premier catering company in Southern California. Having catered hundreds of breakfasts and brunches, Weber know a foolproof crowd pleaser:  frittatas.  He’s made quite a few for South Coast Plaza events, and we can vouch firsthand for their deliciousness.  

Chef Nick Weber, Populaire


12 large eggs

¾- 1 cup caramelized onions (see recipe)

1 stick butter 

1 ½ cups coarsely grated gruyère cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper 


3 lbs. yellow onions, peeled and sliced

 ½ stick unsalted butter 


Arugula or fresh pea tendrils

Crispy shallots
* (see notes)


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Crack a dozen eggs and beat in a bowl with a whisk. Heat a 10-inch Teflon sauce pan on medium heat; melt 1 stick of butter to the bubbly stage; slowly pour in beaten eggs. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Add the caramelized onions to the eggs, dispersing them in about 1 tablespoon size portions around the pan. Then top with gruyère cheese. Let cook, watching edges; when a thin crust appears on the edges, place pan in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, until lightly puffed and when tested with a pick in the center, it comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes. Take a large dinner plate, place over top of pan, and flip, inverting the frittata onto the plate. 

Garnish with greens and fried onions/shallots. When ready to serve, slice in pie shape wedges, or squares. Optional sauce below. May be served warm or at room temperature.  

Optional sauce garnish:  To one cup crème fraîche, add a teaspoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of gochujang—a Korean red chili paste. Beat together lightly. Spoon a small portion next to the plated wedge of frittata. 

*Note: crispy golden fried onions may be purchased at Middle Eastern markets as a substitute. 

Chef John Park has been praised for his talent with both savory and sweet cookery. At Tableau Kitchen and Bar, his love of pastry and desserts is reflected in wonderfully satisfying and creative brunch dishes such as Jasmine Milk Tea French Toast or Earl Grey Panna Cotta, which recently graced the cover of Orange Coast Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants” issue. 

Another strength of Park’s is recognizing talent and mentoring up-and-coming culinarians, among them pastry chefs Keri O’Neill and Holley Sao. O’Neill assisted with the pavlova recipe and Sao helped create the panna cotta featured in Orange Coast Magazine

Chef John Park, Tableau Kitchen and Bar



2 each jumbo egg whites (or 3 large egg whites)

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon high quality vanilla extract

1 teaspoon corn starch 


½ cup blueberries

½ cup raspberries

½ cup blackberries

½ cup strawberries (optional)

Pinch salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar


1 cup heavy cream

½ cup milk 

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar 

1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped**

2 tablespoons sugar 

4 each yolks 

**1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean.


Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place egg whites in the mixing bowl.

On a medium speed, whip egg whites until frothy then slowly start to add in sugar. Once all sugar has been added, turn mixer to medium-high speed and whip egg whites until stiff and peaks have just started to form. Once stiff peaks have formed, gently fold in lemon juice, vanilla extract, and corn starch.

On a sheet tray lined with parchment, form 3-inch circles using a spoon (can also be piped). 

Bake for 15-20 minutes, remove, and let cool.  It is normal for small cracks to occur.

Note: You can make the meringue bases ahead of time. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to two days. If weather is humid, the meringue may become soft and chewy.


Rinse berries gently in a sieve. Mix everything together and add to a pot. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender and there is minimal liquid left in the pot. Remove from heat and let cool.


In a pot add cream, milk, sugar (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon), vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer. While cream mixture is coming to a simmer, whisk together sugar and egg yolks in a bowl. Once liquids have come to a simmer, pour a small amount into the egg yolk mixture while whisking to temper the egg yolks. Continue tempering until all dairy has been added to egg yolks. Return mixture to pot and cook on low heat while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook until mixture starts to slightly thicken and remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean. 

Once cooled, cover and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

*Editor’s note: For the ultimate dessert shortcut, follow the lead of The Barefoot Contessa. “Vanilla ice cream is essentially crème anglaise that’s been frozen,” Ina Garten wrote in Cook Like a Pro. “I reverse the process and end up with crème anglaise!” As demonstrated on her long running Food Network show, leave a pint of high-quality vanilla ice cream (such as Häagen-Dazs) on the kitchen counter to melt. By the end of the meal, when you are plating dessert, it will be ready. 


Divide the vanilla anglaise between shallow bowls.  Center a pavlova on each one; spoon berry compote over each pavlova.  Optional:  top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream that has been lightly sweetened.