The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 108 of 124

PAIRING Making his Marc: Chef Cohen's White Cedar Planked Salmon. FIN-esse I Chef Marc Cohen of Watermarc in Laguna Beach, CA. CHEF MARC COHEN IS IN THE SWIM AT WATERMARC, WHERE THE WINE PROGRAM MATCHES HIS EVERY STROKE by Dick Rosano / photos by Dave Tosti tinerant chefs are the norm in an industry that's always in search of "what's new." Marc Cohen's peripatetic travels have kept him largely in the United States, but he is forever in search of the continent's fi nest seafood at Watermarc, his restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA. Educated at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, Chef Cohen won a place on the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Culinary Olympic Team that won gold medals in Frankfurt, Germany. Then he packed his knives and headed to the nation's capital, where he was recognized as one of Washington's top chefs for his work at Blue Point Grill. In time, he surrendered to the siren call to "go West" and, in 1994, he relocated his practice to the Pacifi c Coast. Here, as most of his loyal fans would agree, he is doing his greatest work. First, there was 230 Forest Avenue in Laguna Beach, where Cohen's culinary emphasis ran solidly to the treasure trove of fresh seafood that literally laps at the shore. Next was Opah, named after the moonfi sh of the same name that's considered a fi sherman's talisman—a prophetic symbol of the good fortune that would follow Cohen's expanding empire. "We look for future locations as they present themselves," he says. Shortly afterward, Cohen conceived of Watermarc in Laguna Beach, fea- turing small plates designed for grazing and accompanied by an extensive and eclectic list of wines that marry beautifully with his dishes. Joseph Guillena Jr. is responsible for maintaining the high quality of the wine list. He has run wine programs in Hawaii and California, but was drawn to Watermarc by Cohen. "It's rare to fi nd such a dedicated and passionate chef/owner with his energy, creativity and loyal following," Guillena says. With a menu that features multiple small bites, it's always a challenge to single out a particular wine that complements all the fl avors on the dish. "Instead," says Guillena, "I strive to have enough interesting selections fl anked by well-known heavy hitters and some value-driven brands." Guillena remains convinced that consumers still fi nd the budget for a fi ne meal. "But to offset the cost," he says, "they are purchasing down when it comes to wine." His fondness for Pinot Noir shows best with Watermarc's White Cedar Planked Salmon. The cedar is marinated over- night in a mixture of soy sauce, orange juice, brown sugar and bourbon. The salmon rub includes highlights of Dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic and chopped herbs. When baked, the fl avors of the marinade and salmon rub mingle to produce an exotic medley of aromas and fl avors. (See the complete recipe at The result calls out for a fi nely tuned, yet still fruity Pinot Noir, perhaps Erath, Sonoma-Cutrer, Domaine Drouhin or Willakenzie, all available on Watermarc's extensive list. 108 / the tasting panel / june 2012

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