Great Ingredients, Wholesome Food and a Sense of Community
During Jay Dolata’s California childhood, his mom cooked for the family nearly every day. “Rarely did we ever go out to eat,” Dolata remembers. “I learned from her how to cook, and she instilled a real appreciation in me for good food made from good ingredients.” That appreciation has stayed with Dolata ever since.
Dolata has loved preparing food since he can remember—“I cooked for my dorm mates in college; I cooked for my family.” After college, Dolata moved to Detroit, where he worked in advertising and public relations. He married a wonderful woman named Chloe, and the couple had a daughter. Their new family inspired Dolata and Chloe to reevaluate their priorities and make a big change. “We decided to move back to California,” says Jay. “We love food and entertaining and wanted that to be at the center of our lives. We wanted to be outside all year round. Plus, we wanted to be closer to our families.”
They found Carmel Belle, fell in love with the charm-filled restaurant, and bought it almost exactly nine years ago. The restaurant has become a neighborhood favorite thanks to its high quality ingredients, satisfying food and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The counter service spot offers a casual and comfortable vibe. (Every Wednesday, they break out board games and decks of cards for an epic game night.) Dolata and Chloe have created a truly special place.
Highest quality ingredients are at the heart of Carmel Belle. Their meats are grass-fed, free-range and humanely raised in California. Their produce is organic and local whenever possible. So Beemster—crafted according to centuries of tradition with milk from herds that freely graze Holland’s Beemster Polder—was a natural fit.
The Carmel Belle team discovered Beemster Premium Goat while searching for the perfect cheese for their mac and cheese. The dish is made with quinoa macaroni—Carmel Belle often creates healthy takes on classic comfort food, but never at the expense of deliciousness. “We usually try to use domestic cheeses but we couldn’t find one that was quite right,” remembers Jay. When they tasted Beemster Premium Goat, they knew immediately that they had a winner. “We tried so many cheeses and this one stood out. The flavor was mild yet complex. The texture and the melt-ability were perfect.”
Although Beemster comes from across the Atlantic, it fits seamlessly with ethos of Carmel Belle, which is all about “high quality, well-made food.” Dolata and his team were impressed with the attention to detail that goes into every step of making Beemster, from raising the cows and goats on nutrient-dense pastures to aging the wheels naturally on wooden planks in historic stone warehouses. “If we find a really great product, that’s what we feature,” Dolata explains.
Carmel Belle’s signature dishes include a brined and slow-roasted free-range chicken, a house-made mozzarella and roasted tomato salad, and truffled egg toast with seasonal veggies.
As for Beemster, it’s a mainstay of the Carmel Belle kitchen. “It has a great distinct flavor, but it’s not too overpowering. Kids love it, adults love it, and we love it.”