Veteran chef Perfecte Rocher, whose extensive experience includes marquee restaurants like El Bulli and Martin Berasategui in his native Spain and San Francisco’s Campton Place and Gary Danko, as well as acclaimed spots in L.A. and Seattle, has joined hospitality group Consortium Holdings, also known as CH Projects, as its new director of culinary operations.
Rocher helped open the acclaimed smoke.oil.salt in Los Angeles before moving to Seattle, where he and his wife Alia owned Tarsan i Jane, a tasting menu restaurant that was named one of the 10 best restaurants in America by GQ Magazine and earned four stars from the Seattle Times. He and his family relocated to San Diego last year.
Chatting with Eater a few weeks into his new position at CH, Rocher says he’s relishing the role and his interactions with the team, especially co-founder Arsalun Tafazoli. Having already made fast friends with Travis Swikard of Callie, who chose Rocher to kick off his East Village restaurant’s all-star guest chef series last fall, the chef is eager to contribute to San Diego’s rising culinary scene and take advantage of the unparalleled resources that exist here for chefs, including the ability to work closely with local fishermen.
As he rotates through all of CH’s restaurants, “building on the good bones that are already there”, Rocher has already added 10 new dishes to the menu at CH steakhouse Born & Raised, including a panko-crusted sous-vide pork chop served with celeriac-apple chutney and pork sauce with apple and mint. He’ll next spend some time in the kitchen at Seneca, the group’s Italian spot atop the InterContinental.
Opening 19 restaurants and bars over the last 14 years doesn’t come without growing pains, acknowledged Arsalun Tafazoli, who spoke with Eater while meeting with Bells & Whistles, the original designers of Starlite who are helping CH to update the landmark San Diego restaurant that will reopen in May. While CH Projects has become renowned for its design and bar prowess, inconsistencies have affected the performance of some of its restaurants, and Tafazoli seems resolved to turn the group into more of a culinary contender.
Rocher will be involved in the development of the seven hospitality venues opening in June 2023 at the Lafayette Hotel, where he’ll have a test kitchen and work with a team of other R&D chefs. The chef says he would also like to open a Michelin-caliber, tasting menu restaurant somewhere in San Diego and Tafazoli confirmed to Eater that they may be willing to help Rocher bring his vision to fruition. Tafazoli says he imagines the restaurant would function as a training ground for young cooks, hiring and developing the next generation of chefs for not only his group but for San Diego.