Hot Stuff - What’s hot. What’s not. Who’s in. Who’s out.
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: At the 20th annual Gold Medallion Awards gala, hosted by the local chapter of the California Restaurant Association, 1,000 of San Diego’s eatery elite gathered to honor their own in 23 categories. Bertrand Hug took top honor of Restaurateur of the Year. The epicure owner of Mille Fleurs (which took Best French Dining honors) and Bertrand at Mr. A’s (Best Continental Dining) accepted his award from San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy and a standing ovation from his peers. Dick Enberg, Jenny Craig and Junior Seau, also a restaurant owner, all sent their best in a video in Hug’s honor.
TOP TOQUE: Trey Foshee, chef and now part owner of George’s at the Cove, accepted the coveted Gold Medallion for Chef of the Year. The award came on the heels of his statewide honor from the California Travel Industry Association recognizing Foshee’s work to promote tourism and hospitality.
SWAN SONG? When Casa de Bandini was announced as recipient of the Best Mexican Dining award, owner Diane Powers was not in attendance for the first time in 20 years. She was in Sacramento for hearings on the fate of Bazaar del Mundo, which Powers has run for 30 years. The state recently decided to award the Bazaar contract to Delaware North. A final ruling is expected this month. (“And it’s root, root, root for the home team!”)
BEST BITES: It’s high season for those out-of-town family and friends who conveniently remember each summer that they know someone who lives in San Diego. Need ideas on where to nosh? Roy’s La Lolla, operating in San Diego for four years, received its first Gold Medallion for Best Ethnic Dining. In- N-Out Burger and Marine Room remain unbeaten in their respective categories, Best Fast Food and People’s Choice Award. The Cohn Restaurant Group and Hug took home the most silver plates with gold centers—three apiece. The Cohn Group was awarded Best Casual Dining for The Prado at Balboa Park, Best Family Dining for Corvette Diner and Best Neighborhood Dining for The Strip Club——A Steak Place. In the crowded field of Best New Restaurant, Savory came out on top. Chef Pascal Vignau left Four Seasons Resort Aviara last year to open his award-winning eatery in an Encinitas strip mall.
FACES AND PLACES: Jean-Marie Josselin was the cover subject for a story in Restaurant Business magazine about celebrity chefs who’ve gone back to their roots. Just a few years ago, the French-born Josselin was a Hawaiian celebrity. He had five Pacific Café eateries and wrote a bestseller that spawned his own TV show. No more. Josselin gave up all that three years ago when he opened Restaurant 808 in La Jolla and Las Vegas. Now you’ll find him where his heart is: in the kitchen . . . Molly’s at the San Diego Marriott is receiving rave reviews of late, becoming more of a local haunt than a restaurant-in-a-hotel. The reason could be the talents of recently retained sous chef Billy Deaver . . . At the AAA Four-Diamond Rancho Bernardo Inn, a new culinary team is in place. Executive chef Lewis Butler left a career with Four Seasons Resorts, most recently in Beverly Hills, to join the inn. Gavin Kaysen is the new chef de cuisine at El Bizcocho, the inn’s finedining restaurant. Just 24, Gavin has accumulated worldwide culinary awards and worked under chef Patrick Ponsaty at El Bizcocho. The inn’s new menu direction is a lighter, fresher style that, we may hope, its décor soon will follow.
RESTAURANTS TO THE RESCUE: When Monarch School for homeless high school students opened, Ralph Rubio and his wife, Dione, built Cabo Café(open to the public daily at Cedar Street and Pacific Highway) to give students a place to learn skills and raise money. Now the school wants to expand, to accommodate the kindergarten through sixth-grade homeless siblings of current students. To help out, Michael and Victoria McGeath hosted a fund-raiser at Sofia’s Italian Table and raised more $50,000, bringing the total they have raised for the construction fund of a new building to $110,000.
IT’S REVOLUTIONARY: Get a flavor of all things French July 14 and 15 at Tapenade in La Jolla, when chef/owner Jean-Michel Diot greets chef Christophe Beaufront (of “L’avant gout” in Paris XIII) for two dinners to celebrate Bastille Day. Beaufront’s unpretentious chalkboard menu is one of the most-read in Paris. Sylvie and Jean- Michel Diot, who have been organizing guest-chef dinners for the past four years, also plan to host Anne-Sophie Pic, one of two French women chefs with the “Two Stars” Michelin title.
DINNER AND A SHOW: The combination of food, music and value is at its best in July with the concert show package at Humphrey’s by the Bay. The three-course meal includes choices from a concert menu and tax and tip and concert seating in the second through seventh rows for $49 per person. Concert ticket is additional. Humphrey’s has a taste for every palate with an eclectic lineup of 19 artists for the month. If you have the urge to splurge, go for the premium show package: Humphrey’s first-ever concert package with a hotel stay.
Patricia Walsh can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.