After spending more than a decade working for various restaurants, two prolific chefs recently pursued a mutual dream they had on the back burner for a while—to own and operate an eatery that prioritizes food waste reduction through sustainable cooking practices.
Rather than invest in a brick-and-mortar, work and life partners Tiffani Ortiz and Andy Doubrava decided to take a nomadic approach with Slow Burn, a new venture they’ve described as a roaming kitchen with a rotating menu.
In the same way that bands go on tour, Slow Burn travels from venue to venue, “except instead of playing shows, we play ‘restaurant,’” the couple explained in a joint email to the Sun.
“We’ve spent a lot of time trying to put what we do into words, and I think that’s the comparison we landed on that makes the most sense to the general public,” said Doubrava and Ortiz, who have called the open road their home since their first “California Tour” began in November.
The couple has held pop-up restaurant takeovers at venues in Beverly Hills, San Francisco, and other cities over the past several weeks. Earlier this December, the pair reached Santa Barbara County, where they hosted their first Central Coast-based dinner at Bar Le Côte in Los Olivos. The startup chefs described the event as their most successful to date.
“Bar Le Côte was our smoothest service for sure,” Doubrava and Ortiz said. “I think we finally ‘found our sound’ by then.”
The last scheduled stop on the duo’s California Tour is the Cuyama Buckhorn in New Cuyama. On Dec. 31, Slow Burn will take over the Buckhorn’s kitchen for the venue’s New Year’s Eve celebration, A Night Under the Stars. Admission to the event—which will feature live music, dancing, and more—is free, while grub from Slow Burn will be available for purchase.
Doubrava and Ortiz will be preparing their offerings—which include sliders, skewers, grilled mushrooms and potatoes, and more—over an open fire during the party, which starts at 7 p.m. Food will be available for guests until about 10 p.m.
“We’re going to be doing some fun live-fire snacks for the New Year’s Eve event and also some party classics,” the couple stated. “The food shouldn’t be too stuffy for something like this. It’s a part of a larger experience that the team at Cuyama worked super hard to curate. We want people to feel like they can mosey on over and grab a snack from us, and then head over to the dance floor, or grab a drink from the bar without much fuss.”
For Doubrava and Ortiz, each venue that Slow Burn frequents becomes an outlet where the couple is able to explore nearly every kind of role in the food and drink industry.
“Playing ‘restaurant’ for us isn’t just cooking, it’s also making each space our home for however long, and working every position in a restaurant you can imagine—executive chefs, dishwashers, general managers, sommeliers, you name it, we do it.”
While promoting closed-loop cooking techniques, one of the ways Slow Burn practices sustainability is to make use of long-term misos, vinegars, charcuterie, and other items. Slow Burn also specializes in pickled vegetables and other foods.
So far, educating the public about reducing food waste in the restaurant industry has come easy to the pair, the couple explained.
“Luckily for us, our platform involves food, and everyone has to eat,” Doubrava and Ortiz said. “We consider ourselves as not being too preachy at the dinner table. The guest dictates their own experience, and we’re always happy to expand on any questions they may have along the way.”
Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood is accepting questions too. Send comments to [email protected].