Food News: Catching Up with Restless Chefs

This week in San Diego restaurant news:

Malarkey fan club, set your DVRs! What’s missing from San Diego’s fabric-themed restaurants right now? Brian Malarkey, the bon vivant, restaurateur and chef of Gabardine, Gingham, Burlap and Searsucker. He’ll be cooking on the Today Show Friday morning (March 23) so get your M-fix there, super Malarkey fans. (I’m talking specifically to the local blogger who said “Why am I such a huge fan of Malarkey’s? No, it’s not just because of his good looks...” Update: Showtime is 10:45 a.m. with Hoda, not early morning as reported.

The spot formerly known as Taco Banh: The coupons and early reviews were already out last week. Then Chris Sayre closed his Asian-Mexican taco-themed Hillcrest spot after three days. “I apologize. It seems unprofessional,” that’s Sayre, the former chef of Paradise Grill. “I kinda painted myself into a corner” with the concept, he said.

Friday is supposed to mark a do-over and the opening of Sayre’s new Urban Eats. Local craft beer, short ribs, meatballs, salads, and a Taco Banh holdover - the Kobe beef tacos. “I wouldn’t suggest anybody do a taco shop with wooden floors and leather chairs,” was Sayre’s takeaway about the whole experience.

Harney heartbreak: Anthony Sinsay has left the building. Actually, both of Harney Sushi‘s locations. Sinsay was Harney’s executive chef over hot foods (the only fish he touched met with a four-burner range, fryer or grill). He just quit after three years, what he called a good run. “I think it’s time for a new challenge. I made the decision. What I’ll miss the most are the relationships that I built with the owners and with the staff.” A year ago I wrote this profile of Sinsay, in which I say his entrees were undervalued at Harney, called “No, chef Sinsay does not make sushi.”

Profile interruptus: I was right in the middle of profiling Aaron Martinez at 1500 Ocean when he resigned as chef de cuisine, a post he’d held since June. I get it. You don’t tell a reporter when you’re up for a hot job in San Francisco and mess up your fallback gig at the Hotel del Coronado‘s signature restaurant.

Martinez was cool enough to explain why he quit. “It’s best to wash my hands. It’s not just a job for me. I thought they wanted to refine the restaurant a little more. I was maybe being a little stupid.” Martinez will be sous chef at Daniel Patterson’s innovative Coi Restaurant in SF. But not before he makes his final San Diego appearance as part of the Chef Celebration dinner series. He cameos at Delicias on April 10 with Chris Kurth (Grant Grill), Patrick Ponsaty (Mistral), Matt Gordon (Urban Solace) and host Paul McCabe (Delicias). $65, info:

Bradley didn’t get the award. Monday’s bad Beard Award news, you already heard. Addison chef William Bradley did not advance to the finals for Best Chef of the Pacific region. He was the only SD nominee for the nation’s top food honors this year. The final five continuing through the best Pacific region chef bracket are: Michael Chiarello (Bottega, Yountville) Chris Cosentino (Incanto, SF) Christopher Kostow (The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena) Matt Molina (Osteria Mozza, LA) and a guy luring young chefs toward his brightness, Daniel Patterson of SF’s Coi (see the blurb about Martinez, above).

Moveable feast for a cause: About that Chef Celebration. It hits many restaurants, brings out the old guns, the young guns...and Pancho.

The 17th installment of this multi-chef circuit starts at Pamplemousse on April 3. The menu’s made by in-house chef Jeffrey Strauss, with toques like El Bizcocho’s Nicolas Bour and, according to the event’s website, an assist from “Pancho.” The Celebration moves to Delicia’s on April 10, where chef-owner Paul McCabe shares his kitchen and menu with four other notables. On April 17, Bertrand at Mister A’s Stephane Voitzwinkler plays host to a chef guest stars. On April 24 chef Jeff Rossman lets Gabardine’s Chad White and more chefs handle his stoves. And finally Amy DiBiase and Bernard Guillas have a chef crew featuring Jason Knibb (Nine-Ten) in to work at the Shores Restaurant on April 24. For the full lineup, visit At $65 a head, the dinners support culinary scholarships for rising stars.

Walking into the Red Door: Miguel Valdez has been with the restaurant family for more than a year, and rose to the executive chef post just last month. (The former chef Daniel Manrique rose to the top of the farm-to-table spot last fall and disappeared. You know how chefs are.) Chef Valdez will continue the Chef Market Dinner tradition on April 4, where he leads diners through the Mission Hills farmers market before making a meal with piles of fresh produce. The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar, 741 W. Washington St. and The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge, 729 W. Washington St.

Read more of Keli Dailey‘s San Diego dining reviews on

Source: DiscoverSD