Watch Cooking Channel

All in a Hard Day’s Work

Ben Sargent

Surfing, scuba diving, sunshine and sea urchins in San Diego: now we’re talkin’.

It was time to move on from the cold weather, burly man stuff. I wanted sunshine and surf and that’s just what I got in beautiful San Diego. The first thing I discovered is I need to work on my West Coast surfer lingo — “gnarly,” “rad” and “hella cool” are in frequent use. I also discovered my actual surfing skills could use some work. Compared to the locals, I was totally not “one with the ocean” that day at all.

Luckily I got my second chance to commune with the surf when I met up with Peter Halmeck. Diving for sea urchins is something I have wanted to do my entire life. Urchins are stubborn to catch, but Pete made it look easy. He pried about 100 urchins off the rocks in the time it took me to get 10. And I broke half in the process, making them unusable for wholesale. Did I mention they are spiny? Ouch!

I took the few I managed to catch to Baci Ristorante. I was a little intimidated when I arrived, what with the white tablecloths, red carpets and being in the classy part of town. But Chef Domenico Alioto was just about the coolest guy I have met shooting this show. And what he did with that urchin was seriously to die for. It’s very easy, too, as the urchin gonads are what give the dish its creamy texture.

The sauce practically makes itself. All you do is saute some garlic in olive oil, add fish broth once the garlic turns golden brown, and then add a little white wine. Pour that right over some al dente linguini, add a little seasoning and you’ve got an amazing dish. It’s the best thing on Baci’s menu, hands down.

Ben Sargent at Baci Restaurant

How can I be so sure? The owner, Tony, wined and dined us with practically everything else they serve until we about rolled out the door. We had a lot to celebrate as we wrapped round one of shooting Hook, Line & Dinner. It was a wonderful day, capped off by a dinner to remember. Talk about ending on a high note!

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Comments (42)

  1. Up Chuck posted 08/03/2011

    I won't watch it. He displayed lack of talent AND class in "Art Race". This guy couldn't hold a candle to his opponent.

    Then he pops up on "Chopped" and is eliminated in the first round. Glad the judges saw him for what he was.

    Now, like a bad penny,he pops up once again. Cooking Channel can do better than this.

  2. KEB posted 08/12/2011

    Up Chuck…you seem so passionate about someone you apparently don't care for. If you are that sickened by him – leave it at that.

    I personally like this show and think Ben is a breath of fresh air.

    Alas, everyone is entitled to their opinions though.

  3. D.S. posted 09/22/2011

    Ben, have you ever considered opening your own seafood restaurant in NYC?

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