Our Story

coastphoto3-sm“Do what you love and keep your family close,” is the motto owner and chef Dee Nguyen lives by.

Break of Dawn was born out of a lifetime of unexpected twists and turns. For Dee Nguyen, whose culinary journey began at the San Francisco-based California Culinary Academy and rapidly rose to the Executive Sous Chef position at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, his was a career destined for success.

Then, unforseen tragic circumstances beset his son Berlin who was discovered to have Eagle-Barrett syndrome, and while undergoing one of the procedures, his breathing tube was mistakenly blocked by uncleared mucus, causing him to go without oxygen for more than ten minutes. He was in a coma for a month. Miraculously, he survived the episode, but the effects were devastating.

At a major crossroad in his career, Nguyen chose to follow his heart and his true passion – his family. He left behind his lucrative and prestigious position to open a modest 50-seat breakfast and lunch restaurant, located only three miles from home, to have a more manageable schedule to better care for Berlin.

Break of Dawn open its doors in Laguna Hills on Aug 23, 2006 where it remained for seven years before relocating to its current spot just a few doors down. The decor is modern eclectic with graffiti art on the wall and church pews as banquettes. Look closer and you will see tabletops sitting on recycled sewing machines. Everything at Break of Dawn is a labor of love especially when it comes to Nguyen’s cuisine. His fine dining style comfort food ranges from classics such as mac n cheese, to bacon and eggs. But don’t expect a traditional dish to hit the table. There are always twists and turns always reflecting Nguyen’s out-of-the-box creativity and desire to bring a touch of his Vietnamese heritage to the plate.

The experience at Break of Dawn may be different to what you might be used to, but once you immerse yourself into the heart and soul of Break of Dawn, you will embrace it like so many others have before.

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