The 5 Best Seasonal Ingredients in Southern California

Greg Hozinsky is a talented young chef cooking out of Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, California. As an up-and-coming chef at the hotel's Zinc Lounge, Chef Hozinsky is praised widely for using seasonal, local ingredients in innovative tapas and small plates. Check out his previous list of  5 Tips Every Aspiring Chef Should Know. Now, as summer approaches, Chef Greg has the lowdown on the 5 best seasonal ingredients in Southern California.  And even if you're not out West, there are some great American staples on his list that will be hitting market stands within a few weeks. 

  1. Avocado: Who doesn't like avocados? California avocados in the summer have a higher oil content giving that wonderful natural butter like flavor to a dish.
  2. Strawberries: I grew up going to my dad's house in Oxnard, California and I remember driving by all the strawberry fields as a child.  You will never have a better strawberry than the ones that grow here.
  3. Heirloom tomatoes:  I love these things, they come in all different varieties and colors but my favorites are the Purple Cherokees and Brandy Wines.  They are deep and rich in color with wonderful sweetness, it will make you want to eat one like an apple.
  4. Spinach: Bloomingdale spinach is one of my favorite greens, and there are a few farms down here that produce it.  It's not your regular spinach, it is a bit hardier.
  5. Broccoli: I have become a huge fan of baby sprouting broccoli this past year. It's so versatile, and tastes great with meat, fish, pasta or just as a great veggie side dish. My favorite way to prepare it is with a little olive oil, chili, garlic and maybe a splash of vinegar.

What are your favorite summer ingredients?