“Local Tastemakers” is a collection of intimate interviews exploring Newport Beach’s flavor and flair through the eyes of the city’s most captivating chefs and restaurateurs during a time that has heavily impacted the restaurant and hospitality communities. Follow along every week to get to know familiar faces and the secrets to the dish that made them a locals’ favorite.
Born and raised on the shores of Santa Monica, Chef Wayne Magnusen grew up with tongs in one hand and a spatula in the other. From the age of 13, he continually took the reins as “grill master” at friends and family gatherings, which at the time was merely a passion. After spotting an ad on TV for Le Cordon Bleu—a prestigious Paris cooking school—he decided to pursue cooking as a profession. Today, Chef Magnusen lives out his culinary dream as head chef of Hook & Anchor—a fast-casual fresh seafood restaurant in Newport Beach.
When he’s not behind the grill, Chef Magnusen enjoys surfing, golfing, spending time with his family and playing a competitive game of poker. In the summer, you can find him jogging the Back Bay, surfing the jetty or riding an electric scooter around the peninsula. But despite his love for Newport Beach, Chef Magnusen’s greatest joy comes from seeing the smiles on the faces of his patrons after an amazing bite.
Chef Wayne Magnusen & Hook & Anchor
What made you want to become a chef, and what is the best part of your job?
I started barbecuing at age 13 for friends and family, and it turned into a passion of mine. I love seeing the smile on peoples’ faces after a delicious bite. You can tell from the very first bite—that immediate expression will tell you if someone is truly enjoying their meal.
What is the most popular thing on the menu, and what’s your favorite?
The most popular menu item is definitely the lobster roll. We have two sizes (4oz or 6oz) that come on a buttered brioche bun. We serve our rolls two ways: Connecticut-style, which is hot with butter, and Maine-style, which is served cold and tossed in a housemade lemon chive mayo. My favorite thing to eat this time of year is Cioppino. It features two to three types of fish, shrimp, clam juice, mussels and clams. It just warms you up from the inside!
Looking Back at 2020
Talk to us about all the ways you pivoted your operation in 2020/21.
We are lucky at our Newport Beach location because we are set up so customers order at the front counter, and food is easily taken home fresh. We also added a tent in our parking lot to accommodate seating and offer curbside pick-up. With that being said, our business has not been affected as much as others have. Our other location inside Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton is a full-service restaurant, and we have been greatly affected by the pandemic there.
How has this year affected your staff?
At our Newport location, thankfully, we have not had to lay anyone off. We are actually hiring! Our staff is like family, and we are doing everything we can to keep them safe and working during these times.
The Silver Lining
What does it mean to be part of the Newport Beach community?
We take a lot of pride in being part of the innovative, diverse and successful Newport Beach community. Newport offers the opportunity to grow, learn and be a part of something special.
We have a supportive community; what are specific things people can do to help our restaurants?
Just keep showing kindness and understanding to one another.
What is your ultimate hope for 2021?
Probably the same as most. I can’t wait to trash the masks, fully open up both locations and serve up some more greatness. I’m also looking forward to a nice family vacation!