Few in the restaurant scene in San Diego have been as ubiquitous and visible as Chef James Montejano the last couple of years. Turn on the TV almost any time of day, listen for the next big charity or chef collaboration dining event, see who’s judging or volunteering at the most current foodie gatherings – just about anywhere you turn in the food world the last 24 months or so will have you running into or rubbing shoulders with the chef, now formerly of La Valencia Hotel.
In fact, in an interview I wrote up last year with James Montejano, I mentioned “his multiple local television appearances (promoting La V and local community events), collaborative food events (Berry Good Night, Poke Fest, Chef Celebration and North County Chef’s Dinner in just the last couple of months).”
Whew, I got a little winded just reading that.
In our phone interview, he didn’t go into specifics regarding why he is moving on. But, the “between the lines” vibe of the conversation left me with the certain impression that Chef James, affectionately known as #peopleschef, is in search of, along with some of his top kitchen personnel, a more employee friendly environment (read: someplace that has an appreciation for the effort and sacrifices made by the men and women wielding sharp knives at strange hours to make our food as good as it can be).
This news, if it is accurate, is not surprising at all, considering that the huge name recognition juice that James brings to any discussion is a product of the long term and well established friendships, relationships and following that he has formed and fostered in the San Diego restaurant industry over decades of service. His reputation as a friend and mentor to many newer generation chefs is widely known.
Chef James Montejano will now bring the same enthusiasm, style and boundless energy to his new gig at Cardiff’s Seaside Market as their Executive Chef. Prior to this acquisition, Seaside Market’s biggest claim to fame has been their “Cardiff Crack,” a burgundy, pepper marinated Tri-tip that, once tasted, sets the standard for all future red meat endeavors.
As a result of bringing James into their family, Seaside Market will probably have to re-think their new and current expansion to around 13,000 s.f. which includes a new deli space, kitchen and dining area where gourmet dinners, collaborations and cooking classes will now be held under Chef James’ direction. In fact, they may need to build a new parking lot to hold the influx of Montejano fans that will now be trekking to Cardiff.
Best of luck to Chef James Montejano in his new endeavor and kudos to Seaside Market for snatching up one of the most popular chefs on the San Diego market today. Big things are afoot. Cheers, my friends!
Images by J.Dixx Photography (www.jdixx.com)