Chef Jason Quinn Talks Playground Restaurant, Daily Menus, and Pissing People Off

“There’s a million restaurants that will cater to you, and we don’t really like any of those places,” says Jason Quinn, ex-Food Network personality, ex-Lime Truck chef, and current Playground restaurateur.

We’ve covered Chef Quinn in the past, we’ve covered his win on Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, we brought to life his fiery responses to opinionated Yelp reviewers, we’ve even gawked and salivated at his restaurant’s delicious and adventurous menu.

So why are people — us included — still talking about him? Because his take on food reminds us of a cross between Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali and…well…that crazy ass 25-year-old Jason Quinn. If you go to his restaurant, he won’t change a damn thing, he doesn’t serve ketchup, and when you sit down for dinner with him, he’ll give you his unfiltered opinion on anyone or anything in the industry, in life, or that diarrhea-inducing hot dog stand across the street.

So today, when he sat down with our friends at Orisue for a quick video feature, he did just that — he spilled his soul, for better or worse, about the uncompromising way he runs his restaurant.

Quinn often jokes about how a select few customers will get upset when he refuses to make a particular dish without its initially designed ingredients. The joking doesn’t end there — when customers threaten to go across the street to somewhere else when a dish isn’t changed to their specifications, Jason has to hold steadfast to his restaurant’s game plan, stating “Well we just do it differently. Are you gonna make me go across the street? Yeah, if that’s what you wanna do, yes, you’re gonna have to go somewhere else to eat.

The topic of chef driven restaurants remains a hot button issue for the foodie community. While many appreciate the idea of going to a restaurant and enjoying a dish the way the chef intended it, there remains a select few who expect the ‘have it your way’ experience and will subsequently be met with a brick wall when visiting restaurants like The Playground.

Quinn is still jovial in his pursuit, though. Their restaurant isn’t out to nickel and dime the customer, but rather, to win you over. Didn’t think lettuce would work with that dish? Try it, if you don’t like it, they usually will cover that part of the bill. There’s a certain level of respect that can be attributed to an outsider group of chefs who want to make sure that if you don’t like their food, it’s because the way they designed it had a fault, not because you added ketchup to that sashimi dish.

What’s your take on Jason Quinn, chef-driven food, and uncompromising menus?

Food Trucks

OC’s Lime Truck Wins Great Food Truck Race

lime truck wins great food truck race

After a full season of twist, turns, heavy competition and even a cheating Food Truck, Irvine’s Lime Truck rose to the occasion and won Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race and $100,000. Owner Daniel (@daniellimetruck), Chef and OC Restauranteur Jason (@JasonLimeTruck), and fellow Lime Truck teammate Jesse overcame numerous obstacles and truck stops in the season finale.

Host Tyler Florence set the competitive tone early by challenging the trucks to earn $15,000 as fast as possible. Lime Truck’s competitor, The Hodge Podge Truck consistently served a higher price point menu including various preparations of foie gras, lobster, shrimp, mackerel steaks and an assortment of $35 combination desserts. The high price point seemed to  have worked in their favor, but Hodge Podge just never came back from a $1500 Truck Stop win from the Lime Truck.

Lime Truck’s cuisine throughout the finale included ceviche (which is a Lime Truck staple now), philly cheesesteak fries, mussels with texas toast and even featured a mascarpone quesadilla for dessert. We had the chance to interview Daniel at the OC Foodie fest a few weeks ago before they could say anything about their victory, and our very own Rudy won the Lime Truck chili eating contest. Check out Jason’s chile chili concoction, Rudy’s triumphant victory and my interview with Daniel in the video below. And we’re also waiting for Jason’s new restaurant to open in Santa Ana, we’re already salivating.