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San Diego Celebrity Chef Spotlight

Television Stars, Best-Selling Authors and World-Famous Top Chefs

San Diego's food scene has truly evolved in the past five years, with the city's culinary cred being elevated by the presence of our celebrity chefs.

By: Ann Wycoff

Celebrated Kitchen Talent We Call Our Own

San Diego has several Food Network stars, best-selling cookbook authors, television personalities and world-famous top toques right here in our backyard. Meet the talent who are stoking the culinary heat of San Diego.

Richard Blais

Top Chef All-Stars winner and Food Network and BRAVO regular, Richard Blais is a welcomed addition to the San Diego chef roster.

Accolades

Blais, who worked under Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulard and El Builli's Ferran Adria, has enchanted the town with his Juniper and Ivy and The Crack Shack eateries. Juniper and Ivy, which opened in 2014, occupies a 90-year-old warehouse that's been revamped into a vibrant gem with its colorful artwork, bustling exhibition kitchen, soaring ceiling, redwood beams, dangling curtains, center stage booths and curvaceous banquettes. Since opening, Juniper and Ivy has collected a slew of accolades such as U-T San Diego's "Restaurant of the Year", San Diego Magazine's "Best New Restaurant", and Zagat's "15 Hottest Restaurant Openings Around the U.S." Blais' locally sourced, inventive menu plays with molecular gastronomy and pairs unusual ingredients with clever presentation. Think oxtail tortellini with pickled chiles, carne asada crudo with quail egos or mushroom toast with smoked burrata. Blais has also launched a progressive chef's tasting menu on Thursdays only for eight lucky and food-adventurous guests who surrender to the chef's whimsy. He has also opened The Crack Shack, a casual, all-day chicken and egg eatery with locations in Little Italy and Encinitas. 

At The Present

When he's not cooking, you can catch Blais on shows like Guy's Grocery Games, Hungry Games and as a judge on Top Chef. His latest cookbook So Good was published in May 2017.

"Falling in love with San Diego is pretty easy. Beautiful products, beautiful people. We are just happy to be part of the conversation that puts San Diego in the same category as a dining city as LA and San Francisco. Why can't that happen?"

Brian Malarkey

Brian Malarkey paved San Diego's celebrity chef path, lending a face to the city's culinary scene early on from his time on season three of BRAVO's Top Chef. Today, he owns several thriving, high-design restaurants including Searsucker (San Diego, Del Mar, Austin and Las Vegas) and fish-centric Herringbone (La Jolla and Los Angeles).

Owner/Operator

Malarkey is also the owner/operator of the healthy, fast-casual concepts in San Diego called Green Acre and Farmer & The Seahorse, each with an organic garden and playful ambiance. In La Jolla's UTC area, Green Acre and Farmer & The Seahorse are part of corporate campuses and feature a grab-and-go market, wood-fire oven, colorful lounges, billiards, hi-tech meeting spaces, and a fabulous garden patio with fire pits, ping pong and more. Malarkey’s two latest projects are adjacent in Little Italy. Herb and Wood features roasted vegetables, meats, flatbreads and more in a stylish setting that evokes Paris 1920s with a dash of Cape Cod tossed in. Outdoor patio features a dual fireplace, lounge areas and lveoly greenery, while inside dazzles with a massive white marble bar, blue crescent booths and exhibition kitchen. Herb and Eatery is a casual café for fresh pastries, coffees, kombucha, healthy salads, poke, and more, aligned with a chef market for take away gourmet items. 

Accolades

The camera loves Malarkey who has guest-starred and judged several series on the Food Network such as Guy's Grocery Games, Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off, Chopped All-Stars and Cutthroat Kitchen. He was part of the winning team on ABC's The Taste. Also an author, Malarkey's most recent cookbook is called Come Early, Stay Late. Full of dynamic energy and never one to sit still, Malarkey continues to add to the San Diego food landscape, keeping us excited for whatever he dishes up next.

"The restaurant and the culinary scene in San Diego are electric right now, full of fresh ideas, new talent and incredible growth."

Melissa d'Arabian

Food Network star, best-selling author, and mom of four, Melissa d'Arabian shines as a trustworthy expert when it comes to healthy family home cooking on a budget.

Accolades

After a successful career in corporate finance and strategy, d'Arabian became a stay-at-home mom with a passion for cooking and smart shopping tactics. Her life shifted once again when she won season five of Food Network Star, and became well known for Ten Dollar Dinners, her popular Food Network show and New York Times bestselling cookbook. D'Arabian also serves as a recurring judge on the Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, and recently penned her second cookbook, Supermarket Healthy, that proves healthy eating can be easy, affordable and achievable with ingredients from the neighborhood grocery store.

At the Present

She and her family live on Coronado Island and love exploring the beaches, museums and parks around the area. When dining out, her favorites include Puesto, Juniper and Ivy and Sushi Ota.

"San Diego is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a culinary haven. Some of this country's (and Mexico's!) best chefs are landing here in San Diego to share their creativity and genius in the kitchen. It's like LA twenty years ago, but without the traffic. Lucky us."

Marcela Valladolid

Celebrity chef, television personality, designer, author and savvy businesswoman - what can't Marcela Valladolid do!

Accolades

Her professional career began at Bon Appetit where she served as a food editor, and then she made the jump into television and book writing. Valladolid grew her fan base hosting Mexico Made Easy for the Food Network and released a successful companion cookbook with the same name. 

Valladolid further spread her culinary wings by creating her own organic tequila, Hacienda de la Flor, which is produced in the highlands of Jalisco. Partnering with her brother on the project, their goal is teaching people how to sip and appreciate the nuances of the spirit beyond a frozen margarita. Her line of Marcela Valladolid food products can be found nationwide at Safeway, Vons, Pavilions and Albertsons.

At the Present

Presently, she co-hosts the Food Network hit, The Kitchen, and makes appearances on national talk and cooking shows. When in San Diego, she loves exploring the farmers markets and dining out with her son at their favorite eateries such as TJ Oyster Bar, Papaya's Fruteria, El Pescador Fish Market, Smoking Goat, Puesto, and Morton's Steak House.

"I love going to the Little Italy farmers market where Mark Lane from Poppa's Fresh Fish pops open a sea urchin and makes me ceviche on the spot. You can literally taste the ocean."

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