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TIDBITS : County fairgrounds' restaurant is seeking a cook who will serve as chef after expanded club facility is built.

March 24, 1994

If Madalyn Johnson has her way, a meal at the Ventura County Fairgrounds' Watch and Wager facility will be a dining experience. And she's searching for someone who can help make that happen.

"I'm looking for a chef to help with our existing (restaurant) and then when the fairgrounds builds its beautiful new million-dollar turf club facility, I want that person to be able to walk right into that," Johnson said. "I know the difference between a cook and a chef, and the person is going to have to be a cook for awhile, but in the meantime, we'll be working on the new menu."

What is the difference between a cook and a chef at the Watch and Wager?

"Right now, we're in a smaller kitchen where we're doing stir-fries and some hamburgers, club sandwiches, deli sandwiches, breakfast foods. It's kind of a line cook position," Johnson said. "In the new facility, the cook has to be a chef, so we can do pasta of the day, fresh fish of the day, homemade bread and soups. What I need is someone who is schooled."

That's why Johnson visited Santa Barbara City College's culinary program and pitched the idea to the graduating seniors. Expect the new chef to be hired by early next month.

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Saying hello to a new chef at the fairgrounds doesn't mean saying goodby to the old one. Jose Quezada, who has been on the job for about three years, will continue as a line cook.

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After the ceiling fell down, half the bar was destroyed and all the food in cold storage spoiled, courtesy of the January earthquake, the folks at Chelsea's Bar & Grill in Simi Valley figured that it was as good a time as any to make some changes.

The place reopened a month ago this week, with new lunch and dinner menus, a new manager and a new atmosphere. "We've changed from fine dining to more of a casual restaurant," manager Weber Bunnell said, "and we've altered the menu to include a lot more fish and chicken." There are also pasta and prime rib dinners.

One thing that didn't change is the restaurant's "mission statement," Bunnell said. "The emphasis was and still is, organically grown foods, and steroid- and hormone-free beef and chicken," he said.

Customers can find dinners of sea bass, salmon, red snapper or trout (soup or salad, veggies or rice included) for less than $6. The restaurant is at 2354 Tapo St.

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