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Jennifer Costa on Seasons & Desserts To Go

Howdy, it's Industry Dish, a bi-weekly feature on Eater San Diego. In this space, our town's restaurant and bar pros weigh in on their favorite eats and drinks, give their thoughts on local food trends and talk about what it's like to work in the San Diego community. Know a chef or bartender who wants to do some sharing? Let us know.

jennifer%20costa.jpg[Photo: Lyudmila Zotova]

Pastry Chef Jennifer Costa, of The Lodge at Torrey Pines and A.R. Valentien, graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a degree in pastry arts. After an internship in England, she returned to her hometown of Healdsburg, CA to join the team at the two Michelin-starred Cyrus Restaurant. From there, she moved to Las Vegas to hone her French pastry skills in the kitchen of the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Guy Savoy in Caesars Palace, an outpost of the famed Guy Savoy in Paris. Costa's desserts combine classic technique with seasonal ingredients, and she occasionally conducts cooking demos for A.R. Valentien and local news stations. In this Industry Dish, she tells Eater where she likes to eat when she's not working, and how she feels about people that take desserts to go.

What's your favorite thing on your menu right now and why?
Well, of course every new item is instantly my favorite; that's how it always goes, an item stays on the menu until one day I wake up and just hate it and need to change it that day!

Right now we are getting these super tasty Mandarin oranges from a farm up north called Sweet Tree Farms and they accompany a vanilla brulee that after baking gets rolled up in an almond sponge and served with a spicy clove tuile and an orange champagne caramel.

Where do you like to eat when you're not working?
I love CUCINA urbana for any of their fresh pasta dishes, since home made pasta is not something I have the patience to make for dinner myself. I especially love their garganelli with beech mushrooms and pecorino. And of course Jack Fisher makes some of the best desserts in town so dessert is always a must there.

And an almost weekly obsession of mine is this fantastic little Thai restaurant in my hood called Thai Go, where their green curry with eggplant and tofu really curls my toes!

Anything that you're "over", in terms of played-out restaurant and food trends or ingredients?
The term "Farm to Table" makes me crazy since it really should just be a way of life. Food in season tastes better, and really how natural do you think it is to have a strawberry in December?! Good food comes from getting good produce, so what restaurant in San Diego (or anywhere in California for that matter) is not really farm to table?
Do you have a wish or request for San Diego diners?
Expand your food world and don't be afraid to try something new. Oftentimes when you take something off of a dish, it changes the entire profile and will not be a delicious as it could have been. We spend hours and sometimes days playing with textures, flavors, and portion sizes to make sure a dish is perfectly balanced; when you remove a piece, the puzzle is no longer complete.

Taking a dessert to go breaks my heart since I know by the time the guest gets home the ice cream has melted, the cake is smashed and the cookies are broken. Please stay a few minutes longer and enjoy your dessert in the comfort of our restaurant!

What makes cooking in San Diego different than other cities you've worked in?
Seasons! Prior to San Diego I was in Las Vegas where it seemed that money was no object and any item you could want could be found year round. It was a refreshing and much needed change to come to a place where your produce gets delivered by the actual farmer and it still has a little dirt on it.
· The Lodge at Torrey Pines [Official Site]
· All Industry Dish Interviews on Eater [~ESD~]

A.R. Valentien

11480 North Torrey Pines Road, , CA 92037 (858) 777-6635 Visit Website

CUCINA urbana

505 Laurel Street, , CA 92101 (619) 239-2222 Visit Website

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

11480 N Torrey Pines Rd La Jolla, CA 92037 (858) 453-4420