San Diego’s dining scene is bursting with flavor thanks to the creativity of notable under-30 kitchen sensations who are enticing taste buds at some of the area’s hottest restaurants.
Double Standard Kitchenetta is home to executive chef Chris Gentile. Just 24 years old, Gentile started cooking at 14, traveled the country to train under outstanding chefs and won an episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.” Known for his inventive Italian dishes, Gentile is a craftsman with a flair for flavor that he’s putting to good use at Double Standard. This Gaslamp hotspot is part Neapolitan pizza joint, part craft cocktail hotspot and all around outstanding neighborhood hangout.
“I love creating new dishes. It’s what keeps me coming to work every day and on my days off. It’s all I think about,” Gentile said.
He hopes to make Double Standard, located on Sixth Avenue, San Diego’s favorite Gaslamp eatery. Gentile’s full menu can be seen by visiting doublestandardsd.com.
Thirty-year-old Jaime Chavez serves up fresh seafood with a flavorful Latin influence as Executive Chef of Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Restaurant. Located in the heart of Little Italy, Sirena showcases locally sourced seafood and produce in a variety of home-made style dishes that let the pure flavor of the ingredients shine.
While training at a prestigious Chilean school and at a variety of professional cooking experiences-including time at a Michelin star restaurant-may have honed his cooking and presentation skills, Chavez notes the influence cooking with family as a child also plays in his work today.
“I cook dishes I used to eat when I was a child, but with a twist, so we can appeal to childhood memories,” he said, also noting they make many of their own seasonings at Sirena.
The flavor may be Latin inspired, but Chavez’s techniques are totally modern in this casual eatery known for its flavorful and colorful ceviches. Groups of six or more can schedule tasting menus in advance. Check out Sirena’s full menu at sirenagourmet.com.
Chef Christina Pancheri is putting her youthful outlook to good work as Executive Chef of Tavern in Pacific Beach.
“I think that my age coincides with my youthful spirit, which is brought out through my food. Our guests also share this spirit, which overall creates their valued experience at Tavern,” said twenty-seven-year-old Pancheri.
Pancheri, a graduate of the Art Institute of San Diego, joined Tavern’s staff immediately after being brought in do a tasting. Tavern’s “German Coastal” menu features home-made pretzel dishes served with house-crafted mustards but also boasts several new dishes that Pancheri believes show off her refined culinary side as well as the balance of flavors and creativity.
Stop by Tavern at 1200 Garnet Ave. or visit online at tavernatthebeach.com.
It’s been eight years since Abe Botello started his career as a professional chef in the San Diego area. Now Executive Chef of West Coast Tavern, Botello is putting his youthful energy to work.
“Being young in the kitchen leaves a window for you to continue to learn, keep up with the hottest trends, read about new techniques, test new recipes and remain very active. You have this fire burning that keeps you going and always keeps you bringing fresh ideas to the kitchen,” Botello said.
Botello’s youthful enthusiasm is a perfect fit for West Coast Tavern, which he describes as fun and a great place to catch a music show and enjoy a carefully crafted mean.
“Despite being a tavern, our food menu rotates seasonally. We source from local purveyors and have a team of very talented young chefs,” he added. westcoasttavern.com