Chef Azmin Ghahreman is a citizen of the world. Born in Iran, educated in Switzerland, having lived and worked all over the world. Over the last 20 years, this widely-traveled industry star has immersed himself in the cooking styles and cuisines of: classic and nouvelle French; Mediterranean, Hawaiian Pacific Rim, Asian, Middle Eastern, Modern Australian, American Southwest and American Pacific Coast/California.
He now calls Southern California his home and base for his various culinary projects which have been lauded by guests, customers and media from far and near. In fact, OCMETRO BUSINESS listed Ghahreman as one of the “2007 Hottest 25 People in Orange County” and dubbed him ‘rock star chef’.
In 2007, Ghahreman opened his first restaurant and lounge, Sapphire Laguna, with its adjunct gourmet specialty shop, Sapphire Pantry. From the very beginning, the restaurant and shop were embraced by the Laguna Beach community and beyond. His globally-oriented cooking style and avid interest in the best food products and wines from California, other parts of the U.S. and internationally have solidly placed him on the region’s culinary map. His motto has always been, “When you travel through the world’s markets with your palate, you don’t need a passport.”
Ghahreman’s goal to create a comfortable place with great service where people want to return often – a full sensual experience featuring an innovative menu, fun cocktail scene, beautiful patio with an ocean view and always a sense of conviviality – continues to be what he and his staff at Sapphire Laguna are constantly striving for. And, he looks forward to continuing to please diners from Laguna Beach, as well as travelers visiting Southern California with favorites such as: Vietnamese Lobster and Crab Spring Rolls; Crisp Barramundi; and Baked Kurobuta Pork Shank, Spaetzle and Brussels Sprouts.
A glowing two-star review in the Los Angeles Times describes Ghahreman’s cooking as “polished and precise without being too formal”, which is exactly what Ghahreman is striving for at Sapphire Laguna. Other kudos for Ghahreman’s food that “sends one on a trip around the culinary world without leaving home” have appeared in: Sunset, Coast, Orange Coast, Westways, The Laguna Beach Independent, The Orange County Register and other publications.
As a commitment to his love of artisanal cheese and its makers, Ghahreman and his team created and executed the inaugural American Cheesemaker Awards in 2007. This annual event will continue to be a four-day celebration of artisan cheesemaking in America, a comprehensive cheese event that includes the judging by an esteemed panel of experts of approximately 100 artisan cheeses; trade tasting and Cheese Academy seminars; two days of a tasting marketplace for the general public and a cheesemakers’ awards gala.
Prior to opening Sapphire Laguna and Sapphire Pantry, Ghahreman devoted five years of outstanding service as executive chef of the four restaurants at AAA Five Diamond St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa, Dana Point, California. He was also opening executive chef consultant of The Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah where he supervised the dining facilities for the 2002 Winter Olympics; and was the as executive chef of The Regent Sydney in Australia, which was the official hotel for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games International Olympic Committee.
Chef Ghahreman has held executive chef positions at various five-diamond and five-star Four Seasons Hotels throughout the world in the following cities: Sydney, Australia; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Kona Coast in Hawaii; Istanbul, Turkey; Singapore; and Wailea, Maui. Prior to his years of chefing for Four Seasons Hotels, he trained and worked at Fairmont Hotels in San Jose, California and Dallas, Texas.
His accomplishments are numerous and include, leading a nine chef winning culinary team in 1997 and 1998 in the Malaysian National Culinary Competition; heading an eight chef team at the United Nations Food and Art Festival for the Malaysian Tourism Board in 1997; and being a judge for an Australian cheese competition in 1999. Ghahreman’s global experiences have given him the prestigious opportunity to cook for over 30 kings, presidents and heads of state, among them, President and Mrs. George H.W. Bush; and the past prime ministers of Singapore, Thailand and Pakistan; and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
As a culinary expert, he has appeared on many television shows including: KTLA Los Angeles; The Food Network’s “In Food Today”; “Good Morning Singapore”; BBC’s “Good Morning London”; and KITV-ABC4 Honolulu’s “Great Chefs of Hawaii”.
Ghahreman holds an International Diploma in Culinary Art from Collège Du Léman in Versoix, Switzerland and attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where he earned a diploma with a concentration in French Cuisine. He also has a mixology certificate from the American Bartending School.
He is an actively involved with local school efforts to educate children about healthy and sustainable foods, as well as a supporter for cause-related organizations, including The March of Dimes; Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; National Kidney Foundation; Miracles for Kids, and the AIDS Foundation.
This 47-year-old resident of San Juan Capistrano shares his life and culinary passions with his wife and their three young children. His hobbies are very much related to his profession and include gardening, everything about wine, learning more about the worlds of spices and cheese.