DEL MAR— Local hospitality collective, Urban Kitchen Group, has added chef de cuisine Tony Torres to its roster. After graduating from The Art Institute of California - San Diego in 2006, Torres kicked off his culinary career at The Oceanaire in the Gaslamp, when Herb & Wood’s Brian Malarkey was its executive chef. Torres then went on to work at several notable Los Angeles area restaurants, ranging from Santa Monica’s Blue Plate Oysterette and Tar and Roses to the Michelin-starred CUT Steakhouse and Wolfgang Puck’s iconic Spago. In 2013, he returned to San Diego as chef de cuisine of Herringbone. He joins Urban Kitchen Group’s CUCINA enoteca Del Mar to support executive chef Joe Magnanelli and oversee the restaurant’s Cal-Italian menu and seasonal dish additions.
LITTLE ITALY & NORTH PARK— And there’s a changing of the guard at CH Projects’ UnderBelly restaurants in Little Italy and North Park, with Tony Guan tapped as the Japanese-inspired eateries’ new executive chef. The native San Diegan attended culinary school at The Art Institute of California - San Diego, where he earned the Brillat-Savarin Award for excellence upon his graduation. Since then, Guan has cooked at the coveted Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco and was most recently the sous chef at Cork & Craft, working alongside former executive chef Philip Esteban, who himself joined CH Projects last fall as the hospitality group’s research and development chef. This month, Guan will introduce weekly specials that delve further into Asian cuisine, including a kimchi gyu-don rice bowl with thinly sliced rib-eye stewed in soy dashi and caramelized onions and Thai red curry ramen served with prawns, sugar snap peas, bok choy, and cherry tomatoes. An entirely new menu will be launched in February, which will also feature refreshed and refined ramen options.