What makes a meal stand out? For Melinda Morgan Kartsonis, it’s when it shows a little attitude. Like dinner with her son and husband in Udaipur, India: colors and spices bursting with life, seeming as much an inspiration to the nearby dancers as the gentle beat of the tabla. Or her homemade baklava, a perfect balance of nuts, with Nutella dolloped on top (inspired by a little shop she discovered with her Greek husband in the heart of Athens’ Plaka!) Or maybe it’s the simplicity of sashimi, like the hamachi at Wildfish Seafood Grille in Newport Beach, which she suspects makes even the chopsticks swoon with its freshness. Whatever the attitude, it leaves an impression. It’s a taste that’s not forgotten. And that’s what she adores.
Food is family & friend time, celebration, nourishment, comfort and adventure. For Morgan Kartsonis, it’s also a livelihood. She founded Irvine-based Morgan Marketing & Public Relations 20 years ago and built a largely food and restaurant clientele; now she’s even got a test kitchen built right into her office. (Yes, the sampling is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!) Being behind the scenes has brought food, drink and entertaining to life — she loves it more with each holiday feast, each glimpse of a new restaurant menu, each season’s local produce boon.
Hailing from Laguna Beach, she feels spoiled with the variety and quality of ingredients that come from the land and sea nearby. Morgan Kartsonis treasures every chance to experience something right at its source. Wine tasting on a Paso Robles vineyard. Gelato in Italy. Clam chowder on the coast. Chocolate chip cookies straight from her oven. She’s caught redfish in the bayous of Louisiana and fished for piranhas in the Amazon. (They cooked those toothy little suckers for dinner and guess what — they taste like chicken!)
She likes to learn in the same way — straight from the source. So she surrounds herself with respected experts — Les Dames d’Escoffier International, International Foodservice Editorial Council, American Institute of Wine and Food — Morgan Kartsonis has been involved with them all. She has found that some of the most fascinating tid-bits, though, come from casual conversations with chefs, restaurant servers, bakers and bartenders; people she encounters every day who share her passion for food and drink. She’s experienced this everywhere she’s lived: LA, San Diego, Chicago, Michigan — even Florence, Italy.
Here on her OC Metro blog you can read her thoughts on the good life — sometimes about drink, often about food, frequently with a dose of her travels, entertaining and right-brained workday discoveries thrown in. She promises to make it anything but bland.
About her day job…
Melinda Morgan Kartsonis founded Morgan Marketing & Public Relations (www.mmpr.biz) in 1991. They’re based in Irvine, Calif., with a client list including True Food Kitchen, Sapphire Laguna, Wildfish Seafood Grille, Chapter One: The Modern Local, Jenny Ross Living Foods, 118 Degrees, Wienerschnitzel, Tastee Freez, Panda Express, Daphne’s California Greek, Togo’s and Arizona Canning Co. She’s an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, and has been honored to earn the Distinguished Service Award twice from their Orange County chapter — both as an individual and an organization. The state of California awarded her a Small Business of the Year award in 2010, and locally she has also been named the Orange County Business Journal’s Top Businesswoman several times and been featured in Orange Coast magazine’s “Hot 11” in its Power of PR issue. She doesn’t like to toot her own horn, but, well, there it is.