Another 'Top Chef' alum has arrived in San Diego, although Giselle Wellman tells Eater that she is far more comfortable behind a range than in front of a camera. Wellman, who was a contestant on the most recent season of Bravo's cooking competition, is scheduled to soft open Pacific Standard in Little Italy on Monday, July 11.
It's a homecoming for the chef, a San Diego native, who cooked around town before joining Petrossian restaurant in Los Angeles and becoming the city's youngest executive chef at 26. Asked why she's coming back after five years in LA, Wellman acknowledges that the passing of a close relative and the stress related to her television debut led to her return home to be near her family. The growth of the local restaurant industry was also a draw; Wellman says she's impressed by the quality of chefs now running restaurants in San Diego and in particular, Little Italy.
Pacific Standard was developed to function as a stand-alone restaurant by LA's New School, with whom Wellman collaborated on the menu, but it will also serve as the food component for Pacific Highway's new Hilton San Diego Bayside Campus from Southern California-based hotelier T2 Development.
Starting out with dinner and breakfast, the eatery plans on adding weekday lunch and weekend brunch. Wellman says the coastal-inspired menu focuses on honoring California ingredients, from seafood to meat and produce, that will be :"sourced and cooked to perfection". Among her favorites are the shrimp toast, a tartine based on artisan Prager Brothers bread that she calls "California comfort food", the steak frites served with house cut fries, housemade aioli and topped with 10-herb butter, and the kitchen's house-baked brioche with olive oil and salt.
Her all-female main kitchen team includes chef de cuisine Ami Cisneros (JRDN, The Hopping Pig) and pastry chef Kaitlyn Dashnaw (The Continental Miami).