Committee Member: Craig Strong
Orange County - Restaurant Owner and Chef
As a chef since the age of 15, it is no wonder that Craig Strong has finally opened his own restaurant after working at prestigious hotels and resorts around the world for most of his life. Strong, a California local has found his way back to the West coast to open up Ocean at Main in Laguna Beach. Strong explains that as a Gemini, there is a ton of duality in his life, especially related to his culinary tastes. “I have run fine dining restaurants that have earned Michelin Stars and Forbes 5 Star ratings, and have always had a deep love for tacos and pizza,” says Strong. Though the duality resides, Strong’s love for coastal California and its cuisine hasn’t seemed to change much over the years.
I grew up in San Diego but attended high school in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Arch Beach Heights, Laguna Beach.
I attended L’Academie de Cuisine for my culinary education. It’s a small school in the Washington DC area taught by two classically trained French brothers.
NFL Football. I am a huge Chargers fan - Go Bolts!
I enjoy golfing and regularly go mountain biking in the trails of Laguna.
Wakaya Club & Spa on the amazing island of Fiji.
My ideal dinner is spent in the backyard enjoying simple grilled meats, fish, and vegetables from the garden with good wine and great friends.
My all-time favorite dessert is spice cake. We offer my ideal of this dessert at Ocean at Main called Craig’s Spice Cake with hazelnut crumble, whipped créme Fraiche, and banana ice cream.
I’m from Southern California - tacos are my go-to favorite.
Perfectly roasted chicken with sherry vinegar sauce. You can often measure a great chef by his or her ability to roast chicken and make a good sauce.
There have been many memorable meals, some of the very best include The Fat Duck in London, El Bulli in Barcelona, and Eleven Maddison Park in NYC.
Lissa Strong (my wife) she is an actress. She is beautiful inside and out with a great sense of humor and contagious laugh.
I listen to a lot of different music.
If I’m driving, I’m usually listening to Tool, Rush, or other 80s rock.
If I’m with friends at a dinner party, I enjoy Amos Lee, Alabama Shakes, Santana, to Jarabe de Palo.
When I’m mountain biking, I’m listening to music by Chevelle, Metallica, and Rage Against the Machine.
When I’m with Lissa, we’re listening to Eagles, Sade, Fleetwood Mac, or Gypsy Kings.
Not at work. In the kitchen, I wash my hands so often that a watch feels cumbersome.
Margarita. My wife’s family is Mexican, so you know we enjoy a little tequila from time to time.
Only when I’m not working.
Here in Laguna Beach, I like snorkeling in front of the Montage at Treasure Island Cove.
Find something you love and give it everything you’ve got!
I love working as a team and the feeling of a big family. I get to eat pretty well, too.
I started working in restaurants when I was only 15 years old. I grew up in kitchens and have really had only one job as a cook. That passion has taken me all over the world and afforded me the opportunity to work in some of the world’s most prestigious hotels and resorts. It led me to the opening of my own restaurant, Ocean at Main.
I am grateful to be able to participate in many charities that serve our local community. I have hosted events for Share our Strength to raise money to stamp out childhood hunger; have supported the local arts scene through fundraising efforts for Laguna Art Museum; and as well as dinners benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
As a Gemini, there’s a lot of duality in my life. My passions and interests often have two sides: For exercise, I find zen through yoga stretch classes with my wife at the Art of Fitness then listen to heavy metal while mountain biking in the hills of Laguna Beach for cardio. I have run fine dining restaurants that have earned Michelin Stars and Forbes 5 Star ratings, and have always had a deep love for tacos and pizza. I am always trying to balance my time and the things that bring me joy: my work family at Ocean at Main and my lovely wife Lissa and darling daughter Scarlet.