In the 10 years since he graduated from the Culinary Institute of San Diego, Phillip Esteban has built an admirable chef career that has spanned two coasts. Beginning at Barrio Logan’s progressive The Guild Restaurant & Lounge, he next ventured to Little Italy where he spent a year as sous chef of Craft & Commerce before joining the Tender Greens team, learning the art of charcuterie from master craftsman Pete Balistreri and spending five years helping to expand the brand in Southern California.
Esteban took his talents to New York City in 2012, where he landed in the kitchen at David Chang’s acclaimed Momofuku Ssäm Bar. In his off time, the chef furthered his culinary education via staging stints in some of the city’s other powerhouse kitchens, from Eleven Madison Park and Per Se to Marea and the now-shuttered wd~50. In 2013, Esteban returned to San Diego to join local all-star Jason Knibb at La Jolla’s NINE-TEN before moving on to launch The Cork and Craft in 2014, where, through his efforts as executive chef and various chef collaborations, he succeeded in putting the Rancho Bernardo restaurant on the culinary map .
His departure from The Cork and Craft was announced just this week, and Esteban is heading straight into his next project. In his new role is Research & Development Chef of CH Projects, Esteban will oversee menu development and contribute to the hospitality group's culinary growth as it continues to refine its current restaurants, including Ironside Fish & Oyster, UnderBelly and the recently-reopened Craft & Commerce, and preps to open Born & Raised, its new steakhouse concept in Little Italy which is scheduled to open in early 2017.
Esteban starts with the group on November 1 and tells Eater that his goal is to help grow and change the culture of the company and hopes to "foster leadership, knowledge, technique and character through team opportunities like farm tours, culinary and beverage education and volunteering". He says that he's particularly grateful to CH Projects Chef/Partner Jason McLeod, who he looks forward to having as a mentor.
McLeod shared, "We deeply admire Phil’s likeminded passion for education and mentorship, and we look forward to growing our team in an effort to push San Diego’s culinary conversation and the standards of expectation forward."