Califonia Bountiful

The giving season

November/December 2018 California Bountiful magazine

Chef generates smiles and funds for charity year-round

Chef Porfirio Gomez credits his grandmother with igniting his interest in cooking. Photo: © 2018 Ajenda Public Relations

The holidays are known as a time of giving, but Andrei's restaurant in Irvine combines food and philanthropy throughout the year: 100 percent of its net profits are donated to a foundation committed primarily to people affected by vision impairment and blindness.

Although Andrei's operates under a purpose-driven philosophy, Executive Chef Porfirio Gomez and his kitchen staff share a more fundamental goal: "We try to make customers happy."

A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Gomez learned to cook around age 8. By 10 he was mastering the art of cheesemaking and delving into the world of butchery. Today, his menu at Andrei's centers around California flavors with Spanish and French influences, and reflects the chef's desire to continually learn and create.

"Innovate daily, that's pretty much my philosophy," Gomez said with a laugh.

Innovation doesn't always take place in front of a stove—sometimes it happens behind the wheel.

"Instead of listening to music or being on the cellphone, I just think while I drive," he said of his one-hour morning commute. "When I get 15 or 20 minutes away from the restaurant, I call one of the guys and tell him, 'This is the special we're doing today.' It's a way of thinking outside the box."

Constant change is one thing Gomez likes about the restaurant business: "It's always something new every single day. You're never going to be bored."

Plus, he said, it offers plenty of opportunities to make people happy.

"When I walk through the main dining room and see people enjoying their meal and laughing, and just a smile on their faces, that's what I like," he said. "That's my payday right there."

Barbara Arciero


Pork T-bones with cranberry chutney and celery root mash

Charbroiled lamb lollipops with cumin-coriander yogurt

Vegetables caponata with zucchini noodles

Jicama crab cones 

Warm mini-beignets 

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