Shooting for Top Chef

Oceanaire’s young executive chef and operating partner Brian Malarkey has already cooked up a winning career


Published:

CAN LIFE GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?

“You know,” says Brian Malarkey, whose culinary creations helped win Oceanaire Seafood Room top honors from San Diego Magazine this year for best seafood, “I keep thinking of that Talking Heads song from Down and Out in Beverly Hills: ‘And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself: “Well . . . How did I get here?” ’ ”

Malarkey got here with lots of talent and hard work. A native of Oregon, he took his culinary inspiration from his grandmother, whose beach-house kitchen was often frequented by her old friend, the legendary chef James Beard.

Although he took a stab at acting in school —he was a theater arts major for one year at Santa Barbara City College—Malarkey says he soon discovered “You can always eat in a restaurant.” And so he enrolled in the Western Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and, on completion, set his sights on California. After working under French chef Michael Richard at Citrus in Los Angeles, Malarkey ate his way through a tour of Europe and North Africa before returning to the States and joining the Oceanaire restaurant group.

His long list of awards includes the California Restaurant Association local chapter’s citation as chef of the year and the San Diego Magazine readers’ polls and critic’s picks in 2006 and 2007 for best seafood restaurant. This summer, Malarkey is stirring some show biz into the mix. He’s in the thick of the competition with 15 of the country’s best chefs in a series of Top Chef cook-offs on the Bravo network. We won’t know until the final show airs in September if he won. But Malarkey does seem to have the recipe for success.

More »Related Stories

Sweet Spot: Cinnamon Churros

These airy, crispy-but-soft-inside churro puffs are muy, muy fantastico

Wake Up And Smell the Coffee

As American coffee culture moves past the nonfat vanilla lattes toward a more elevated brew, San Diego is right on trend

Celebrate the Craft

Slow food feast returns to The Lodge

Most Popular

  1. Secret San Diego
    Psst! You didn’t hear it from us, but this town has all kinds of "hidden gems" (yes, we said it). And we’re not talking ghost stories at the Hotel Del.
  2. FIRST LOOK: Bottega Americano
    With Bottega Americano opening this weekend, Downtown gets its first gourmet food hall
  3. FIRST LOOK: Fairweather
    Anthony Schmidt tackles "sunny" vacation drinks at Downtown's new patio bar
  4. 5 Reasons to Visit the ‘Coastal Living’ 2014 Showhouse
    For the first time ever, ‘Coastal Living’ selects a California home for its annual showcase, and it just so happens to be in Coronado.
  5. ROAD TRIP: Convivia
    One of the most exciting new trends has been the collaboration of San Diego and Baja chefs. Now a new restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe gives that movement a permanent home.
  6. Best of San Diego 2014
    Our annual list of the best of the best in San Diego right now — with an emphasis on the now.

Promotions

Best of Ensenada 2013

Where to eat, drink, sleep & play

Hawaii: Island Fresh

A handy guide to Hawaii's farmers markets

Connect With Us: