DOWN ON THE FARM at Chino’s Farm in Rancho Santa Fe, chef Carl Schroeder waved a yard-long, jade-and-ivory leek like a rapier and declared, “I’m developing a soup around Chino’s leeks. I’ll put in a carrot mousseline, and thicken it with some Chino’s potatoes, and . . .” he mused. Whatever that “and” may involve, Schroeder rocks. The La Jolla–born chef, whose passion for produce (a visit to Chino’s is a daily ritual) results in exceptional dishes, recently roiled the restaurant scene by departing Arterra at the Del Mar Marriott to join a group of investors in buying the nearby Blackhorse Grille, which has been renamed Market to reflect his intention to cook whatever is freshest that day. Schroeder left Arterra unaware that a just-completed poll of San Diego diners conducted by the Zagat Survey ranked the room fourth among top local restaurants; he may well expect to achieve the same at Market, whose backers include local skateboarding legend Tony Hawk—and, rumor reports, the Chinos . . . Another Chino’s regular, Christian Graves, took over Jsix at downtown’s Hotel Solamar in April, and is very much the do-it-yourselfer. In a delightful throwback to the old ways, Graves makes the restaurant’s jams and preserves, bakes bread to be drizzled with house-made tapenade and now is curing meats, such as bresaola, a prosciutto-like dried beef.
LOCAL CHEFS MUST WEARY of high-fiving one another as they pass en route to new jobs. Michael Davis, formerly catering chef at Pamplemousse Grille, now runs the kitchen at downtown’s refurbished Dobson’s, where the updated menu features items like crab hash with mustardy sauce remoulade . . . And there’s a new chef at Chive, Tracy Borkum’s “Swinging London” outpost in the Gaslamp Quarter. Joe Magnanelli dares to be different with corn-crusted diver scallops with bacon “foam,” and a pulled pork sandwich and cranberry bean-salad pairing that the chef impishly named “pork and beans” . . . Peripatetic pastry chef Jack Fisher, one of the town’s best, left Nine-Ten in La Jolla to work under chef William Bradley at Addison, the free-standing dining room that will serve Doug Manchester’s Grand Del Mar resort, under construction.
BUILDING BETTER BURGERS is the goal of local entrepreneurs Matt Baker and P.J. Lamont. In New Zealand, the pair stumbled upon an alleyway joint with no style, but, they say, heavenly hamburgers. The difference? Organic, grass-fed New Zealand beef is free of antibiotics and steroids. At their Bare Back Grill, New Zealand Burgers & ’Wiches in Pacific Beach (4640 Mission Boulevard, 858-274-7117), hamburgers made with New Zealand beef join such “’wiches” as fish, lamb and tofu burgers . . . If you’ve got $375 to spare ($750 for two), you might invest it in the November 4 fund-raiser held at La Jolla’s Tapenade bistro to benefit UCSD Cardiovascular Molecular Medicine. Super-chef James Boyce of Montage Resort in Laguna Beach joins Jean-Michel Diot in preparing the five-course dinner.