In a major changing of the guard, Kingfisher’s founding chef Jon Bautista, who recently split with the award-winning Golden Hill restaurant, has been named the new executive chef at the Fishery, the 25-year-old seafood restaurant that’s a fixture on the Eater 38.
Bautista will start in the position on May 1, and tells Eater that he’s excited about getting back to the coast — the chef was at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla for five years — and continuing to create dishes with local seafood and produce from area farms like Chino Farm. “I love making crudos and chilled seafood dishes so there will definitely be more of those,” said Bautista, “There will be lots of herbs, high acid, and citrus with strong flavors. It’s not about overly manipulating the ingredients but letting them speak for themselves.”
Opened in the mid-90s, the Fishery shares a roof with Pacific Shellfish, a local seafood wholesaler that’s been in operation since 1978. Owner Annemarie Brown-Lorenz has since taken over both businesses from her parents, which she runs with her husband Nicholas.
A longtime fan of Bautisa’s cooking, Brown-Lorenz says she’s looking forward to seeing what new dishes the chef will pepper into the menu while acknowledging that their regulars may hold fast to their favorites. She and Bautista have talked about also offering quarterly tasting menus that might revolve around seafood dishes from coastlines around the globe.
Part of this next evolution includes moving the retail fish market counter out of the restaurant and into the warehouse next door, making room for a new 8-seat oyster and champagne bar. Brown-Lorenz and her husband are both sommeliers, and she tells Eater that they’ll also be installing a wine wall at the north end of the space and replacing some tables with more comfortable booth seating.
The Fishery’s former executive chef Mike Reidy, who joined the restaurant in 2020 after cooking at spots like Little Italy’s Ironside and Melisse in Santa Monica, will be starting as the new chef de cuisine at Callie Restaurant on May 17. Reidy says that he loved his time in Pacific Beach but chose to move on in order to keep learning and growing under the mentorship of Callie chef-owner Travis Swikard. Swikard told Eater that Reidy will assist him with the day-to-day operations of the acclaimed East Village restaurant, which will allow him to focus on continuing to build its leadership team and exploring possible expansion into new projects.