What’s Cooking

By David Perloff / Photos by Brevin Blach

Amanda grew up in Los Angeles and is now the executive chef at Herringbone, Brian Malarkey’s new restaurant in La Jolla. Matt, a San Diego native, is the chef/ owner at Table 926 in North Pacific Beach.

These two chefs live two blocks from each other in Little Italy, but they never met before about half an hour ago, when an Epic Limo picked them up for tonight’s blind date. Before they arrive in Old Town for tequila tasting, let’s review the pre-date interviews.

PacificSD: What do you do for
MATT: I like wine and beer tasting, try to travel or at least dream of traveling, going to Padres games, cooking on the grill, trying new restaurants and practicing to join a pro bocce ball team.
AMANDA: For fun. Let’s see...I practice piano. I’m a little short on hobbies, sorry.

What are you best at?
MATT: I am a chef, so I guess I’m best at cooking great meals for people.
AMANDA: I’m really good at Scrabble.

What are you looking for in a
MATT: Witty, open-minded and unpretentious, like me. I like someone who can be comfortable being themselves around me. Self-confidence is very sexy, and nice curves definitely do not hurt.
AMANDA: If I knew what I was looking for in a date, perhaps I would have found it by now. But, generally speaking, they should like cool bands, take less time to get ready than me and be smart.

What’s the sexiest thing about
MATT: My height - or my thick, distinguished, slightly salt-and-peppery hair.
AMANDA: I dunno, shucks.

What do you like least about
MATT: My initial shyness and my long work hours.
AMANDA: I guess I wish I could be less awkward sometimes.

What is your biggest fear?
MATT: It’s a tie between failure and being eaten by a shark.
AMANDA: My biggest fear is spiders. And I’m not too keen on failure, either.

What’s your favorite thing to
MATT: Duck confit or carne asada burrito.
AMANDA: I love shitty Chinese food.

What’s your favorite drink?
MATT: A cold beer, or a nice wine that doesn’t come out of a box.
AMANDA: I drink Blantons [single-barrel burbon], neat.

What food are you most like
and how?
MATT: I’m like good sushi: I’m simple and good for you.
AMANDA: I’m not like food; that’s probably why I cook it. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have a conflict of interest or something.

What traits could your date
exhibit that would be complete
MATT: Being conceited and snobby. No one wins with that kind of attitude.
AMANDA: If my date were a republican, it’d be a deal breaker.

What’s your surefire trick for
making a date with romance?
MATT: Oysters, wine and chocolate - and trying really hard to not get smashed.
AMANDA: I’m not good with romance, so I leave that up to the men.

After about an hour of tequila tasting and appetizers at the nationally recognized El Agave, Amanda and Matt jump back into their Epic Limo for the ride downtown to Katsuya, the chic sushi and robata (Japanese barbecue) restaurant at Andaz San Diego.

Epic Limo
858.270.LIMO (4566),

Taster’s Choice

One tequila, two tequilas, three tequilas...

As the chefs/daters talk over cocktails at Katsuya, chef Adam Cho emerges from the kitchen to give
them a private lesson in sushi-rolling. After they’ve had a chance to rock a few rolls and enjoy sushi and other dishes created by the master himself, the couple is split for mid-date debriefings.
One tequila, two tequilas, three tequilas more

PacificSD: How’s it going so far?
MATT: It’s fun; it’s good times. Great to meet a chef, so we have a lot in common. I’ve been to her restaurant before and respect her.
AMANDA: It’s going well. He’s very nice, and polite, and well-groomed and a nice young man from a nice family.

Is this the type of person you’d normally date?
MATT: Yeah, I think so. She’s girl-next-door solid brunette, nice cheekbones, good package. And she’s definitely got the personality for it, definitely fun to hang out with.
AMANDA: I don’t normally date, so I don’t really have an answer for that. I don’t normally talk to boys. I don’t normally get out much. I’m kind of a nerdy girl.

How was El Agave?
MATT: The corn fungus was really interesting and nice. It’s been about 15 years since I’d been there. The tequila was outstanding, and the margaritas were very good.
AMANDA: We had a really delicious five-year-aged tequila anejo [El Agave’s own brand]. It almost tasted like bourbon, really sweet. I also tried the corn fungus for the first time, which I can’t pronounce. It was really good.

What’s the most attractive thing
your date has done so far?
MATT: She’s very flirty with her bodily functions [editor’s note: he probably means “body language”]. She smiles a lot and has good eye contact, which I think is cute.
AMANDA: He carries himself in a very masculine and assured sort of manner, which is attractive.

What’s the least attractive thing
your date has done so far?
MATT: She seems to be unbalanced sometimes. Not mentally - sometimes she almost falls over. I don’t know if that’s the alcohol or the amount of time we both worked today.
AMANDA: He makes kind of awkward jokes.

What would your parents say
about your date?
MATT: They would be very happy to know that I can meet someone here and get along with them.
AMANDA: Daddy would be very proud, because he’s a doctor’s son and good-looking and respectable and clean and well-nourished.

Rate your date on a scale of one
to 10 for looks.
MATT: Eight, 8.5.

Rate your date on a scale of one
to 10 for personality.
MATT: Nine, 9.5

Do you want to kiss your date
MATT: I don’t think so, now. But we live two blocks away from each other, so who knows what could happen?
AMANDA: Maybe. He hasn’t really had the opportunity to do anything overly chivalrous, which is normally something that I find important.

Does your date want to kiss you?
MATT: I don’t know yet. Still working on it. I think so. Who knows? Coin flip.
AMANDA: I think he probably wants to kiss me.

If you had to leave now with
$100 cash or make out with your
date at the table, which would
you choose?
MATT: Definitely go back inside.
AMANDA: Do I get the $100 in singles?

El Agave
2304 San Diego Ave., Old Town

On a Roll

The daters get their hands into it at Katsuya

After their entrées arrive, the daters are finally left alone to enjoy the rest of their evening in peace. We call the next day to see what we missed.

How was Katsuya?
MATT: The food was great. I’m not sure either of us will be applying for the sushi chef position at Katsuya anytime soon, but it was fun nonetheless.
AMANDA: Katsuya has a very cool vibe. All of the staff was super friendly, especially the chef. They brought us a bunch of sushi mise en place [ingredients on the table], and then he came out and taught us how to roll sushi - mine was terrible.

What did you eat?
MATT: Chef Cho styled us out with assorted sushi and some of his favorite dishes. Highlights for sure were the striped bass and the Kobe rib eye. Tried monkish liver for the first time.
AMANDA: We ate spicy tuna, crispy rice, Kobe rib eye, monkfish liver, blue fin tuna. We didn’t order; they just hooked us up, cheffy style.

What happened after the
magazine crew left?
MATT: We sent the limo driver home and decided to stay downtown and head out. We headed to barleymash for some beers and shots, a chef ‘s favorite combination.
AMANDA: We went to barleymash for some whiskey and beer. We both live downtown, so we cut the limo loose after dinner and shared a cab back to little Italy.

When did you get home?
MATT: 12:30-ish.
AMANDA: I got home at about 12:30.

Was there a kiss or romantic
MATT: Sure, I gave her a kiss goodnight.
AMANDA: A lady never discusses such things.

What’s the funniest thing that
happened during the date?
MATT: Not sure about just one funny thing, but we shared a lotof good laughs.
AMANDA: We drank Coors Light out of champagne glasses in the limo.

Will there be a second date?
MATT: We both work insane hours and have little free time, but we live and work close to each other. I’d say there would be a good chance we’d hang out again.
AMANDA: It all depends on if he asks, right?

What’s one thing your date
really should know before his/
her next date?
MATT: She should make sure she doesn’t have parsley stuck to her teeth.
AMANDA: Matt is a perfect gentleman and a very good date. He didn’t do anything stupid like talk about his ex. He made a couple of corny jokes, but those were charming. I don’t think I have any pointers for him.

What food does your date
remind you of and how?
MATT: I’d say Amanda reminds me of one of her dishes she serves at her restaurant: she’s eclectic, good to look at and maybe a little spicy, too.
AMANDA: Matt is a person; he isn’t edible - outside of a downed-Cessna-in-the-Andes, life-or-death situation. And even then, I’d need to do some serious soul-searching.

Despite the risk of having too many cooks, this date had all the right ingredients. Matt says Amanda is “good to look at and maybe a little spicy, too.” She says he’s attractive but inedible, but she did ask if she could “get the $100 in singles,” so maybe there’s a spicier second serving in their future.

If these two chefs do reconnect, we hope the night will end with some friendly spooning, if not
another a good fork.

Bon appetit!

Katsuya (at Andaz San Diego)
600 F St., Gaslamp