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3 favorite S.D. chefs

Let me get the disclaimers out of the way first.

These are "favorite" chefs, not "best" chefs. Favorite is 100% subjective; best somewhat less so. So the usual dissection, criticism, rebuttal, and surrebuttal that would ensue from a listing of "best" chefs...well, I'm hoping there'll be no compulsion for that here.

Just a fun list for those who may wish to participate. I look forward to seeing which names pop up most often.

If you're a sushi aficionado, a vegan, think Mexican cuisine is tops, or Italian, or Chinese, then your trio will no doubt include chefs from those areas.

I've thought a lot about this and with my three it's all about taste, creativity and consistency, in that order:


PAUL MC CABE (Kitchen 1540)


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  1. Carl Schroeder (Market)
    Jeff Jackson (AR Valentien)
    Olivier Bioteau (Farmhouse Cafe)

    And special mention to Bobby Mates (Wine Vault and Bistro) for putting forth a Supermanesque feat in his 5-course/$30 tasting menu.

    1. In honor of stevewag23, I'd like to nominate Deborah Scott for all three slots.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        I agree. No further discussion necessary

        1. re: Josh

          Funny, I had the exact same thought but decided to edit myself.

          1. re: foodiechick

            I'd like to play, but I don't know the chefs by their names, only their restaurants:
            Yu Me Ya

            1. re: SDgirl

              Jason Knibb

              Philippe Verpiand and

              YU got ME, YA you do

              1. re: mcgrath

                That's hysterical! Thanks for making me laugh out loud and thanks for the names.

                1. re: mcgrath

                  Yumeya is run by the Nakai family, with the father and mother doing most of the cooking and their daughter Fumika occasionally improvising a dessert, so for now let's just leave it as Yumeya...

            2. re: Josh


              She won't be SD's best chef.

              She would be best chef ever.

              Since food was invented.

            3. Jeff Jackson (ARV)
              Trey Foshee (George's)
              Aaron La Monica (Blind Lady Ale House, formerly of Delirio's)
              Andrew Spurgeon (Waters)

              I had to choose four. I based it on food, personality, and philosophy, and in some cases, playfulness.

              1. Jean-Michel Diot
                Philippe Veripand
                I'm gonna have to think about a third one a bit. First two are no brainers for me.

                1. Carl Schroeder (Market)
                  Morita-san (Kaito)
                  The whole staff at Okan

                  1. I'm going with (in no order):
                    1. every French chef so far listed plus Jason Knibb
                    2. Jack Fisher
                    3. every Japanese chef listed, plus the personnel responsible for the food coming out of Tajima and Ba-Ren

                    1 Reply
                    1. Oyster guy at Oceanaire.
                      Tuna Sandwich guy at Point loma seafoods.
                      Sandwich guys at Mona Lisa.

                      (I am not joking).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: stevewag23

                        Nabe at Yakitori in hillcrest.

                        That's four.

                        1. re: Sampaguita

                          Wow. Sinnott and Maitland were on my short list. I didn't think anyone knew of them. Two young guys with a world of potential, and who are very talented now. Plus, you gotta love Jason's tattoos.

                        2. Ken Lee of Nozomi Carlsbad
                          William Bradley of Addison
                          Paul McCabe of Kitchen 1540

                          1. Chef Kazuo Morita - Kaito Sushi (Encinitas)
                            Chef Sam Malhotra - Curry and More (San Marcos)
                            Chef Nakai - Yumeya (Leucadia)

                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                The food that really fires me up is not so much fine dining as it is great ethnic food. That being said I've really been impressed with Carl Schroeder. However the ones that really knock me out with their authenticity and almost stoic dedication to their craft tends to be the ones that pursue a single calling and are true specialists in their area:

                                Kazuo Morita - Kaito Sushi - Encinitas
                                "Nabe-chan" - Yakitori Yakyudori - Hillcrest (If it's not Nabe-chan on the grill that night, I won't eat there)
                                Elizabeth - Elizabethan Desserts - Encinitas (always accomodates my request for removing as much sweetness as she dares!)

                                I'll even add this. It's easily overlooked how much the individual hand the barista has on the resulting quality of the drink...

                                Anna Lynn - Caffe Calabria, barista - North Park (unfortunately she's no longer at the bar)

                                Was tempted to recognize the folks at Okan and Oton, but I haven't had enough meals there yet.