Royal Hawaiian

Written by Wendy Bowman

Presented by Mark Todd, Surterre Properties


On a bluff overlooking Newport Beach, this grand yet casually elegant Hawaiian Ranch-style custom estate epitomizes the quintessential SoCal lifestyle

Secluded behind the private gates of One Ford Road, this tranquil single-story residence captures the soul and spirit of a tropical resort-style estate. But behind the understated façade is, in fact, an unrivaled 10,000-square-foot trophy compound. 

Upon entry through a courtyard with a rock wall waterfall into a refined foyer, this home emits a sense of boundless warmth and timeless style. The excellent flow of space leads to an open floor plan that flows into a lavish backyard with breathtaking views spanning from Fashion Island to Palos Verdes. 

 “What you see is not what you get; there is so much more,” says Mark Todd of Surterre Properties, who is listing the luxurious property for $12.85 million. “I love the fact that it has all of these floor-to-ceiling pocket doors and gives you an incredible open-air feeling; it feels like a Hawaiian resort. I also love the volume of the rooms and how everything soars. It’s the best entertainer’s home in the city. With 12 refrigerators in the home, pool house and casita, you should never go thirsty for a beverage.”

Situated in the East Bluff Harbor View area of Newport Beach, the home was constructed in 2005 by noted Newport Beach builder Bruce Rielly as his personal residence. No expense was spared in the development process, with highlights including soaring, 14-to-18-foot rough-hewn beam ceilings throughout; custom furnishings (available with the sale); sliding pocket doors that open to extensive grounds; and a motor court with parking for six cars that could be easily expanded to host more.

 From the street, a welcoming walkway and gated entrance lures one past pristine landscaping and into a sandstone-lined courtyard with a cozy sitting area and relaxing waterfall feature. Then, an attractive 10-foot-tall wood and glass front door introduces the home’s towering grand hall foyer. This is where it gets really interesting…: once inside, the options include taking the exquisite mahogany hardwood path either left or right to uncover a maze of rooms such as an office with dual desk areas and built-in bookshelves and a formal living room sporting an attractive fireplace. Traverse further into the luxe labyrinth to discover a professional-grade kitchen, delightful billiard room and more.

As for the home’s sleeping quarters, its original seven bedrooms have been reconfigured to suit the current owner, with a duo of secondary bedrooms combined to create dual master suites on either side of the home. The first master features an entry foyer, ocean-view sitting area and backyard access, along with a sizeable bath boasting his-and-her walk-in closets; a dressing area; water closet highlighted by a bidet; multi-head shower room; spa tub, dual vanities; and 90-degree mirrors. eanwhile, the second master also offers a walk-in closet, ensuite bath and sitting area. Yet other dreamy sleep options include the charming casita (accessible just off the front courtyard via stylish French pocket doors with a refrigerator, built-in desk and bookshelves, as well as a bath with a shower and walk-in closet) and the housekeeping quarters across the hall from a laundry room with dual washers and driers and a partial kitchen. The popular “Bunk Room” also offers a set of twin-over-twin stacked bunk beds.

As for living space, the lanai-adjacent family room features custom furnishings and lighting, an attractive fireplace, a large flat-screen TV and a built-in curio cabinet. Among the home’s most show-stopping features, however, is the nearby chef’s kitchen, which is outfitted with a breakfast bar that seats six; a spacious island; high-end KitchenAid appliances (including an eight-burner cooktop, double oven, microwave and two dishwashers); four refrigerated drawers; a built-in refrigerator and freezer; and ample storage space. There even are two walk-in pantries (one a butler’s pantry with a wine cooler and refrigerator, the other for storage). Meanwhile, the neighboring formal dining room sports a large custom circular table and floor-to-ceiling pocket doors, while the sunken formal living room off of the grand hallway provides a fireplace and tall flat walls ideal for showcasing art.

Perhaps the estate’s most outstanding draw is its numerous outdoor entertaining spaces filtered throughout the expansive 30,000-square-foot lot. Among them are a sandstone lanai with several seating areas, ceiling fans, commercial-grade heaters and a fire pit; a putting green yard surrounded by a glass fence; plentiful palm trees; and yet another waterfall feature. The backyard also offers gated access to a dog run on one side and a secret garden on the other (rife with citrus trees, herb and vegetable plants, and more than enough space for screening an outdoor movie).

The pièce de résistance is the swimming area. Here, one finds a sparkling basin replete with a sitting ledge; rigging for a volleyball net; a shallow children’s pool; and an elevated spa with a cascading waterfall and a prime vantage point to view all the surrounding area has to offer. Alongside the water, a covered kitchen cabana features a wet bar and built-in barbecue with a rotisserie, smoker and grill, while the adjacent pool house comes equipped with a lounge area; walk-in bar with dual dishwashers and refrigerators, an ice maker and a wine cooler; bath; and accordion-style doors that open up completely to let the outdoors in.


 Rounding out the home’s entertainment profile is an indoor billiard room complete with four flat-screen TVs and a fully equipped walk-in bar. And, upping the ultimate lifestyle quotient even more, residents of One Ford Road also are privy to a “Disney-like” neighborhood including two Olympic-sized pools; a fitness center; children’s playground; professional putting green; basketball court; volleyball park; croquet lawn; and more. There’s also convenient entrée to nearby attractions, such as Fashion Island, Balboa Island and Corona del Mar State Beach, along with the top-ranked public and private schools in the Newport Mesa School District.

And lest one think that this home is not fully entrenched in the 21st century, the property also showcases the latest in smart-home technology—including a Control4 system that operates climate, media, lighting and security. This amazing turnkey property’s all ready for a new owner to come in and just sit back, relax, have a cup of coffee, and listen to the peaceful waterfalls while taking in the glorious views and breeze. Just one word: Aloha!

Jimmy's Famous American Tavern

Chef and owner of Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, a popular Southern California restaurant specializing in artisanal American food, David Wilhelm brings experience in upscale restaurants to create a place that is both welcoming and hyper-focused on delivering quality meals. When bask chatted with Wilhelm, he revealed his lifelong love for the restaurant industry and the importance of butter in every kitchen. 

Chef and owner of Jimmy's Famous American Tavern, David Wilhelm

Chef and owner of Jimmy's Famous American Tavern, David Wilhelm

JFAT has quickly grown to five locations—what has that process been like?  

We actually opened our first location in San Diego in May of 2010, so our expansion has been a little more deliberate than it might seem. I kicked the tires and made several tweaks to the concept for two years before opening the new prototype in Dana Point. The greater success we had in Dana Point led us to expand our new version into the L.A. and Brea locations.  

What experience do you want diners to have at JFAT, and does each location have its own personality or do you aim for the same ambiance? 

I tell our staff that you need to approach each shift as though you were hosting a dinner party in your home. If you can embrace this mindset you will do anything and everything to provide your guests with every level of hospitality. Certainly the goal is to provide the same level of food, service, and ambiance in each location without it feeling ‘chain-like.’ In terms of décor, there are common elements that each location has, like our ‘FAMOUS’ sign, custom chandeliers, raw wood tables, and polished concrete floors, but each physical space has its own shape and personality that set it apart from the others.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time in the restaurant industry? 

Perseverance. Even when things are going smoothly, there are so many details you need to keep tabs on that it can sometimes seem overwhelming, but if you have the passion for the business it will drive you to always keep striving to be better. 

What ingredient can you not live without?

That’s an interesting question, but if I had to have only a single ingredient, it would be the one that enhances almost every dish: butter, especially a European-style like Plugra. As an example, one of the simplest but most flavorful and delicious dishes I’ve ever had was in the oldest restaurant in Florence, Trattoria Sostanza. They are famous for a dish called pollo al burro. It is simply two chicken breasts baked in a cast iron skillet with whole butter. It is seasoned with salt and pepper and finished with a squeeze of lemon, and it is like no other chicken dish I have ever had. Like the saying goes, butter makes everything better…or is it bacon?

How does your green philosophy influence the menu and operation of JFAT? 

One of the big menu influences would be our partnership with the Long Beach Aquarium’s Seafood for the Future program, which means we only offer seafood and shellfish species that are responsibly harvested, renewable, or aqua-farmed. Early on, aqua-farming had a bad reputation because many of these early sea farmers were not very green in their approach, often raising species in less than pristine conditions. That’s changed now due to pressure to improve aqua-culture techniques. Despite all our natural coastal fishing, the U.S. still imports a whopping 90 percent of all its seafood. There is no way that the oceans can continue to feed the world without aqua-farming.  

Operationally, we use green certified soaps and cleaning chemicals, and all our paper goods are made from recycled products. We use low-flow faucets, on-demand tank-less water heaters, and variable hood fans that sense the level of BTU’s [units that measure the heat given off by a stove’s gas burner] and adjust fan speed and electrical consumption accordingly. We also separate all food waste so that it can be composted.

With your experience in so many restaurants, many self-founded, what drew you to the JFAT concept? 

I think I was just looking to create something that was simple and satisfying to a wide variety of diners. Many of my past restaurants attracted lots of foodies, but I wanted to create something that had broad appeal and offered the kind of food that you could eat week in and week out. If you look at the crosscut of people that dine at JFAT, I think we’ve been successful at doing just that. Also, I wanted a place that was just plain fun to hang out in. 

What drew you to the restaurant industry to begin with? 

When I was in college, I worked summers in Manhattan waiting tables, bartending, and working as a captain, back when tableside service was still in vogue (around the time color TV was invented). I was immediately fascinated by everything about restaurants…the food, the people (staff and guests) and the social scene. After college, there was no doubt that I wanted a career in the restaurant business. It was only after years of working for others that I began to want to create something that had my own style and signature.

What do you see for the future of JFAT? 

The next step for JFAT is the opening of our Santa Monica location in early 2017, which I’m very excited about. It’s a great location on Ocean Avenue a couple blocks from the pier. After that, the plan is to continue to look for new Southern California sites and then eventually take the JFAT brand to other states. 

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern  25001 Dana Point Harbor Dr., Dana Point, CA ~ 949.388.8900 |


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Photo courtesy of Abrams

Photo courtesy of Abrams

The Forest Feast: Gatherings: Simple Vegetarian Menus for Hosting Friends & Family by Erin Gleeson

The third book in the Forest Feast series arrives just in time for the holidays, with food photographer and stylist Erin Gleeson once again on her game from the confines of her cabin in Northern California. With 100 veggie-centric recipes featuring seasonal ingredients and simple prep steps, this guide to the casually curated get-together is one to savor. The complete bill of fare includes recipes for everything—drinks to dessert. It even makes room for easily-done décor that will inspire you to pull out your party dress. $35,