"Italian enchiladas, orange chicken mole and a homemade, savory corn bread waffle topped with a grilled steak chili cheddar cheese and topped with a fried egg."
Executive chef Paul Setola, 28, is running down a few of the new items that he has created at Fuzion, or rather at a restaurant inside Fuzion called Z.
Last year, the massive Huntington Beach entertainment complex, Endless Food & Fun on Edinger Avenue near Gothard Street, shut its doors. It has since been reopened and reinvented by one of the former owners, Keeli Scott Lisack.
She, along with marketing manager Stuart Takehara and some of the other original investors, has replaced the huge buffet with a bar and a brand-new sit-down restaurant — that would be Z.
Fuzion houses a huge high-tech game arcade, dual redesigned laser tag arenas, the Surf City Comedy Club and a host of banquet rooms available for private parties, meetings and get-togethers.
But as Lisack told me, it's the restaurant that they're counting on to bring in customers. And it's Setola's menu that she's confident will do the trick.
"He's creative, enthusiastic and hungry," Lisack said. "What more could you ask for?"
Setola, a New Jersey transplant, has been cooking since he was 14. He went to culinary school, worked in Italian restaurants (his specialty) and, after moving to the West Coast a number of years ago, scored a job at Slater's 50/50 in Huntington Beach. He soon became regional kitchen manager and opened seven restaurants for the owners.
"What can I say except this is the dream," he said of the job that clearly gives him the most responsibility to date.
The restaurant was just days from opening. Back in the immense but quiet kitchen, he described his strategy.
"I want this menu to make it hard for the customer to order, in that I want people to look at it and think, 'Wow I can eat almost everything on here'" he said. "And I have created a series of items that reflect the Fuzion philosophy, that is merging cultures and doing things differently.
"That's why we have something like orange chicken mole, which blends Asian and Mexican cuisines. That's been my favorite part of the menu to work with, where I have been able to get creative and experiment."
He's proud of the fact that outside of the french fries, everything in the kitchen is fresh. Z staff cut their own meat and make their own pizza dough and bread.
"It's as close to a scratch kitchen as I've ever worked in," he said. "From the fish to the produce, and everything in between, everything back here will be as fresh as it can be."
Several nights after we spoke I returned to Fuzion and had a chance to sample some of Setola's creations, as he got in some last-minute practice directing his staff. The pizzas are incredible, as was the orange mole chicken. My favorite burger from the ones I sampled was called the Breakfast in Bed, which features bacon, a fried egg and maple syrup toasted on a brioche bun.
The menu is reasonably priced and sure to attract everyone from foodies to couples to families, while the large bar will no doubt do well late at night and during happy hour.
The place opened officially this week, and it's hard to not be excited when you see a young man get this kind of opportunity. He'll be spending some time in the dining room when he can, so make sure you say hello.
And by all means, leave extra time for some comedy or games on the other side of the building. I'm partial to low-tech things like Skee-Ball and mini bowling.
Fuzion is at 7227 Edinger Ave. between Beach Boulevard and Goldenwest Street.
Student writing contest
It's time for the annual In the Pipeline essay-writing competition. This is the call for any high school student in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley or Seal Beach to tell me about a special person, place or piece of history in your community.
I'm looking for things or people I might not be able to find on my own. Submit 500 words or less — and photos if you like. Entries are due April 4. The winner will get to cut the ribbon at the spectacular Taste of Huntington Beach on April 27, as well as attend the food festival with family. Send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHRIS EPTING is the author of 19 books, including the new "Baseball in Orange County," from Arcadia Publishing. You can chat with him on Twitter @chrisepting or follow his column at http://www.facebook.com/hbindependent.