Chef Anthony Sinsay leaving Jsix and San Diego for Seattle-based Outlier

Chef Anthony Sinsay is leaving Jsix in downtown San Diego to become the executive chef at Outlier in Seattle.
Chef Anthony Sinsay is leaving Jsix in downtown San Diego to become the executive chef at Outlier in Seattle.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Chef Anthony Sinsay, who helped propel the Filipino food movement locally, is leaving Jsix, where he has been executive chef since the summer of 2016, to assume the same position at Outlier in Seattle.

Sinsay is departing Jsix, a restaurant in the Kimpton-owned Solamar Hotel in downtown San Diego, for another Kimpton property, the Hotel Monaco in downtown Seattle.

“San Diego has, in my opinion, some of the best produce available anywhere in the world,” he said, but there was something about Seattle that’s always piqued his interest.

“Seattle is an amazing city with an infectious energy,” he said. “My wife and I have always loved Seattle. We visited earlier this year and just fell in love. It’s a beautiful city with no shortage of things to see and do, just as San Diego is. We knew we could raise our family and eventually find individual and tandem successes in both of our fields. Also, oddly enough, we love the rain.”

His last day at Jsix is on New Year’s Eve, when he’ll serve a farewell four-course dinner for $85.

Outlier is “a beautiful and dynamic space with tons of potential for … creativity,” said Sinsay, who took the helm at Jsix after its former executive chef, Christian Graves, left for Denver. Graves is now the executive chef at Citizen Rail in the Kimpton-owned Hotel Born in Denver.

Sinsay, a San Diego-born chef known for championing local causes and supporting local farmers and fishermen, said he “will definitely miss San Diego,” along with “access to the some of the best ingredients anywhere and a close-knit food community with camaraderie most cities just don’t have.”

He added: “I am born and raised in San Diego, so of course, the move is bittersweet, but our families are still very much rooted here, so San Diego will never stray too far from our hearts and minds. No matter where we go, I am still a fat Filipino kid from South San Diego.”

Once in Seattle, he said, “some of the things I am looking forward to (include) learning the seasonality of the produce and building relationships with the local farmers, fishermen and craftsmen. I loved how open everyone at Pike Place was about sharing the stories of the ingredients and where they come from. I am looking forward to visiting some of these sources and building relationships just as close as the ones I have here.”

Before landing at Jsix, Sinsay had already developed a reputation locally, serving as executive chef at Harney Sushi and Burlap, the Del Mar outpost of what was then a sprawling fabric-themed family of restaurants owned by celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and his business partner, nightclub impresario James Brennan.

Sinsay — who graduated from the Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena — did stints at Nobu Las Vegas, Viceroy Santa Monica and SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills before coming back to San Diego.

Of his time in San Diego, Sinsay said: “I only hope that the cooks and chefs that I have had the pleasure to teach and mentor during my time in San Diego remember the things we taught each other — remembering why we cook and why they fell in love with it. I know that I will always hold the relationships and lessons learned over the past decade here as important and impactful to my own progression. I always wanted my food to convey respect for the past and relevancy to the present.”

Sinsay, along with Filipino chefs such as Danilo “DJ” Tangalin, Evan Cruz and Kristianna Zabala, were already established chefs in San Diego when the Filipino food movement — an effort to put the spotlight on Filipino cuisine — took hold nationally. Together, they banded together and held Filipino-themed dinners, several at Jsix, meant to introduce Filipino food to the masses.

At Jsix, Sinsay wasn’t afraid to put traditional Filipino fare like pork-based sisig alongside carrot pappardelle and hamburgers. His dishes often burst with surprising and fresh flavors — many from locally sourced ingredients. Some dishes were so beautifully plated, with chicharrones positioned just so, that they were Instagram-ready right out of the kitchen.

“Cooking Filipino food is not something I did to be trendy or to ‘put Filipino food on the map,’ per se,” Sinsay said. “I wanted to cook food that I connected to. I wanted to cook food that my kids would be proud of one day. I came up in kitchens where European technique and avant-garde presentations were the standard, which left little room for an identifiable representation of what type of chef I could eventually evolve into. … I hope that the cooks and chefs who are striving to find their voice here in San Diego find it and use it clearly and confidently to show what San Diego’s dining scene can contribute to the conversation of American cuisine.”

Asked what he’ll miss most about his hometown, Sinsay rattled off a list, but added, “honestly the little things that I think we might take for granted.” Running into friends at Specialty Produce. Visiting local farmer’s markets. Picking up the phone to call a fellow chef when he needs a new sous chef for his kitchen.

“It’s hard to pick only a few things — San Diego is much more than just a collection of experiences,” he said. “It’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a feeling of home. I will cherish the time and experience I had at Jsix because I came to Jsix feeling broken. The team at Jsix helped me find my way and gave me a reason to love cooking again. They are a source of great inspiration and made me realize that there is still more to accomplish. Thank you does not even begin to express my gratitude.

“I look forward to cooking up north and learning — what’s next?”

Twitter: @outdoorlivingsd