Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bringing Pride to the Institute- Part 2: Tempo Urban Kitchen

Hello Readers, from me to you, I hope you enjoy a look inside the Culinary World!
-Timothy Fisher  

What would a story about a Chef be without a story about his food?  I had to try all the Tempo had to offer, and I wanted to share my experience with you, to show the delicious side of what being a Culinary Institute of America graduate really means!

Tempo Urban Kitchen is located in Brea, CA and is the home to modern American cuisine, with a menu created and carried out by CIA graduate, Zach Geerson '13.  The atmosphere, the decor, the bar, the tables, and even the uniforms all sync up with the theme of blending modern and classic America into one cohesive environment.

Hospitality. I felt from the moment I sat down at the bar to get a drink and chow down on some good grub for lunch. A Pisco Sour to start, the real deal folks, call me old fashioned, but if you don't make it with egg whites, then you shouldn't have it on your menu. These guys deserve to have it on their menu. One of the best cocktails I have ever had, I knew it as soon as I saw the bartender pick up the shaker. Balanced, frothy, with a hint of sweetness... I feel like I might have to work my way through the entire drink menu after just one sip.
Then the spicy steak tacos came. As my tastebuds exploded and my mouth was sent on a fiery ride of flavor, I looked around and watched as not only the servers, but Exec Chef Zach made it a point to come out and talk to the various tables and he himself does the table side liquid nitrogen ice cream, adding a little Tempo Flair at the same time. That's not all, the owner, Jorge Cueva  is out on the floor too, making rounds just like Zach, insuring the quality of not only the food, but the service and restaurant as a whole are kept up to standard. Definitely needed that Pisco Sour after those tacos...

Then came the Porchetta Sandwich. Wow. Tender, moist, bursting with flavor, paired with salsa verde and pickled cherry peppers. Served with house made fries and house made ketchup. I didn't look up, I didn't talk, all I could do was eat. It was that good, and I say this all remaining objectively unbiased as a writer. Did I mention that everything is made from scratch, in-house? You can taste not only how fresh everything is, but how passionate the hand are that create all of it. You don't get that everywhere you go, but here, this is something special. I sat for 2 hours at the bar and I was never forgotten. They made me feel like I was sitting in my kitchen at home.

And that was just lunch.

I returned to the dining room of Tempo for dinner, this time with several friends and we got seated at a table rather than at the bar because I wanted to make sure I got the full experience of the restaurant. From the get-go, no matter how busy it was, I always felt like I was being given the attention I deserve as a customer and experiencing the hospitality I had felt at the bar when I was dining by myself. It was made personal, with a good balance of casualty and professionalism.  From start to finish, we were not only taken care of by our excellent server, Freddy, but by the Jorge and Chef Zach as well.  It was seemingly their goal to make us feel like part of the Tempo Family.  The fried pickles were a fresh take on a bar classic, and the charcuterie board was bursting with flavor.  The highlight of the board was the house made beef jerky which, odd as it sounds, was more like beef candy.  Unlike any other jerky you've ever tried, this was slightly crunchy with a bit of chew, spicy with a hint of sweetness to balance completely. If I could buy it by the pound there wouldn't be any left for the other customers.

Then the gnocchi. An extremely classical take on gnocchi, this is unlike any other I have tried as it is actually worked by hand instead of any kind of machine from start to finish, giving it an incredibly unique mouthfeel and flavor.  My mind... And stomach was reserved however for my upcoming ribeye.

Beautiful presentation caught my eye and kickstarted my stomach as I gazed upon the literally glistening glory of the steak, surrounded by perfected roasted vegetables with just the slightest bit of char for a smoky characteristic to match the smoked cauliflower purée.  The purée caught me off guard, but in a good way, it was a new dimension given to a very traditional cut of beef that was much needed in a world where some things really should be changed for the better like they are here at Tempo.  To finish off the night, we ordered the Table-side IceCream as a group.  A flavor that changes constantly, made right in front of your eyes with liquid nitrogen then garnished on the table is an absolute crowd-pleaser.  Even before we got to it, like I mentioned before, I saw it ordered by most of the tables around us and each time it was made by either Jorge or Zach.

 No matter how busy they were, they always had time for their customers, proving that they are indeed the top priority.  They truly march to their own beat as they take the classics and spin them in a way that is both clever,fresh, and served with true passion that you can taste in every bite.

All in all, Zach and the Tempo Team have worked extremely hard with Jorge in order to create an incredible dining experience, a venture in which this writer claims it to be an absolute success.  I look forward to seeing what Zach and many more CIA graduates have in store for the industry, because this is just of over 46,000 possible stories in the making.

Looking for info on Tempo? Check out

If you are like me and want to be a part of the incredible institution that is the CIA, get in touch with us! Go to for more information.

1 comment:

  1. Derrick Foster created that place....Never been there probably never will but good luck...