Prominent restaurant collective Urban Kitchen Group, which runs Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill, Cucina Sorella in Kensington, and Cucina Enoteca locations in Del Mar, Irvine, and Newport Beach, has chosen a new leader for its kitchens; Blue Bridge Hospitality’s Tim Kolanko will be replacing longtime corporate executive chef Joe Magnanelli, who left the group to partner with Brian Malarkey and Chris Puffer on Animae, their splashy new Asian restaurant headed to downtown’s Pacific Gate by Bosa.
Kolanko, who was the founding chef de cuisine at farm-to-table temple A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, joined Blue Bridge as its corporate consulting chef in 2013, helping the Coronado-based group to develop and launch a slew of projects including Stake Chophouse, Liberty Public Market, and Maretalia. Blue Bridge Hospitality principal David Spatafore shared, “We have nothing but the deepest respect for Tim, and we appreciate all he’s done over the past few years. We wish him the best and will continue to support him in all of his future endeavors.”
Urban Kitchen Group will officially welcome Kolanko in mid-April, and the chef told Eater that he’s looking forward to helping its restaurants evolve and be more nimble while maintaining their reputation for consistency. Kolanko is known for his steadfastness to the sustainable food movement; among his plans after settling in are adding more seafood options as well as increasing the group’s community involvement.