After two years at the helm of La Jolla's iconic La Valencia Hotel, Eater has learned that well regarded executive chef, and San Diego native, James Montejano will become the new culinary director and executive chef at Seaside Market’s soon-to-be-opened Mezzanine kitchen and event space in Cardiff. Fellow La Valencia alumn, Justin Cullimore, is also onboard as executive sous chef.
As part of the store's extensive two-story expansion project, which got under way last June, Montejano tells us the new culinary event space will host intimate pairing dinners, tastings, private cooking classes, parties and pop-ups, with capacity for around 50 – 70 people. Under Montejano’s direction the revamped, chef-driven market will showcase more "chef-ready" cuisine, in-store demos and even a composting program with local farmers. The market, which already featured upscale butchery and seafood counters, is adding a new deli case with high-end charcuterie, plus a pre-prepared foods section with a focus on vegan and Paleo dishes, in addition to a brand new pastry section.
Montejano says that despite the move he will remain very much involved with the Berry Good Foundation, KAABOO, San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival and upcoming I Love Poke Festival, in addition to numerous other off-site charity events.
"Some chefs are bouncing out of restaurants because the pay isn’t so good and the hours are long. For myself as a chef, quality of life and spending time with my family is extremely important, so I’m very excited about this partnership and my future with Seaside Market."
In a statement, managing director Mark Dibella said, "La Valencia thanks James for his wonderful loyalty and dedication and creativity and we support him in his new culinary career change."
Expect to see Chef Montejano in and around Seaside Market within the next couple of weeks.