Chef Amy DiBiase will join La Jolla Shores working with executive chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club and the Shores.  Great views, wonderful property…Can hardly wait to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner there after she settles in after August 22.

Other chef news: In Mission Hills, Tom and Trish Watlington who own  The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar and The Wellington Steak and Martini Lounge have just promoted  Daniel Manrique from sous chef to executive chef for the two properties. Best known for his role as the executive chef at  Jayne’s Gastropub and sous chef at Parallel 33 (the prior incarnation of The Red Door), Daniel will oversee a menu that incorporates “earth to table” ingredients–many from the newly planted Red Door garden in Mt. Helix.

We’re hearing that Joseph Melluso, who brought life (and lots of drama) to the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant in Old Town, is out of that property and the kitchen he was running.  He still has an interest in the place but has sold most of his shares to Catherine Miller who has been involved with the property for quite some time. Buzz left a message for Melluso for more information,  but no word back, yet.  We hear too that Melluso has some new projects in the fire.


Oh what a mess has been wrought with the Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant, owner Joseph Melluso, chef Amy DiBiase and the Union-Tribune’s, Keli Dailey.  This is a sordid story about editors and a reporter looking to sensationalize a story with writing that gives all parties, most notably the readers, a bad taste and does not help the San Diego restaurant community.

For those of you who missed it, Buzz reported on November 5 that DiBiase (whom Buzz knows) had left Cosmopolitan.  Next came Dailey’s one-sided story (relying only on owner Joseph Melluso) that appeared online on November 10, then the next day, in edited form, printed in the Business section of the paper. Melluso said (among other things) that there were financial and creative issues that caused the split.  Missing in the story is any acknowledgement that he, as the owner, had anything to do with the problems.

As a seeming consequence of the many negative online comments about the U-T story, either Dailey or her editors must have thought it wise to connect and interview DiBiase, as the original Dailey “story” noted, “DiBiase could not be reached Wednesday evening for comment”.  When Dailey did catch up to DiBiase the “rest of the story” – that is, her side of it — can be found online (and so far not in print).

Why run a half-reported story?  And more important, it seems that lately the U-T has resorted to old-fashioned tabloid journalism to report on such restaurant matters.  Restaurants open and close, chefs come and go, and any major newspaper notes such things in just a few paragraphs.  But the U-T has recently evolved into gotcha journalism, with the snarky story about Roseville closing, then this mess.

Buzz checked to see if the paper ever ran anything when Jeff Thurston left the Cohn’s Prado where he had been for many, many years. Nothing. Why? By contrast, the recent change of chefs at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego merits a mention in Dailey’s online column (which is at should be, a few sentences at best).

So what gives?  What purpose did Dailey’s story serve to the public, to the restaurant or to the chef or even to the owner?  No purpose at all except to harm the business and reputations of those involved.

Arterra’s new wine director is Jeff Q. Rose.  He comes with wine buying and bar managing experience from three of north county’s top wine haunts:  Tastes Restaurant, North County Wine Company and Harvest Ranch Market.  He is currently enrolled in Level 2 of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is a certified wine professional from the Culinary Institute of America.

Accolades to Barona’s top toque, Chef Dean Thomas who was named chef of the year by the San Diego chapter of the American Culinary Federation for his extensive outreach to the community and promoting the culinary community here.  Thomas was instrumental in getting the Fancy Food Show to San Diego as well as having the first ever chefs cookoff at the show and works with local groups including the Navy, Slow Food among many others.

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina just redid the entire property.  The Red Marlin restaurant sports drop dead fabulous bay views, overlooking the hotel’s marina and at night, the lights of Mission Bay.  Large picture windows make the room open and airy and I don’t think there’s a bad table in the place.  Chef Danny Bannister creates breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes that use local, fresh ingredients.  For reservations: 619-221-4868.

Theater goers at La Jolla Playhouse may soon have a new venue for dining as rumors continue to swirl that Wolfgang Puck will be involved in the venture.  No confirming word yet from either the Playhouse or Wolfgang, but do stay tuned.

If you want to do something unusual, book a table at The Marine Room for high tide dining May 3, 4, 5, 6, 7  and 31, and dates in June, July and August also.  High tide means the waves are crashing against those large picture windows during dinner that is served nightly from 5:30pm.  Reservations:  858-459-7222.

Bourbon comes to The Palm restaurant on March 14, for a four course meal featuring Knob Creek Whiskey, all for $125 per person.  Reservations:  619-702-6500.

Point Loma now has truffles and chocolate, made daily at The Elegant Truffle, located on the north side of La Scala restaurant at the corner of Scott and Canon.  Owner Jennifer Marie Muratore hand dips seasonal fruit, makes luscious brownies and the cutest, tastiest espresso kisses, shaped like lips.  The store just opened last week, is closed on Sundays and open from 10am to 7pm the rest of the week.  619-222-1889.

Blanca‘s chef Wade Hageman heads east to New York to cook at the prestigious James Beard House.  He’ll be there on Saturday, March 8. If you’re in New York it is worth the trip to enjoy what is being billed as Hageman’s French-Inspired California Cuisine that will feature his porcini-lobster bisque among others of his signature dishes. Hageman was named one of Esquire’s Four Chefs to Watch in 2006.

In the original post about Gavin Kaysen, Buzz neglected to mention restaurant reviewer Steve Silverman of San Diego Home/Garden magazine who was way ahead of the curve in recognizing Kaysen’s talent. In June 2007, Silverman gave him a special Gilded Silver Fork Award and said this about him:  

We championed the cooking of Chef Gavin Kaysen more than a year ago in this magazine…and how right we were! In 2007 Kaysen represented the United States in a world culinary competition in Lyon, France. He’s since gotten a full-page write-up in Time Magazine and was featured on NBC’s Today Show.  In April of this year, Kaysen was chosen as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs for 2007.”  That’s a lot of tribute for a 27-year-old, but it all goes to one single point: the kid can cook.  To sample what he can do, head for the Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Buzz hears that San Diego Magazine’s contributing writer David Nelson (and restaurant writer) will be doing a piece about Gavin Kaysen who left El Bizcocho in October to take the prestigious job of executive chef at Café Boulud in Manhattan.  Isn’t it a bit late for the magazine to finally write about Kaysen who last year represented the US at the world chef competition called Bocuse d’Or (in Lyon, France) and earned national attention as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Ten Best New Chefs for 2007?  Too bad the cover of San Diego Magazine’s August 2007 restaurant issue didn’t include Kaysen next to Oceanaire’s executive chef Brian Malarkey–two of this city’s star chefs–while Kaysen was still in San Diego. Nowhere did the issue mention El Bizcocho or Kaysen.  Unfortunately it points up the provincial and political good-ol’ boy thinking that keeps San Diego’s restaurant scene static rather than cutting edge, and why chefs like Kaysen move on to grander cities with more appreciative diners and reviewers. 

A few weeks ago, executive chef Justin Hoehn took his toque from Del Mar’s Paradise Grille to Epazote.  The Grille plans to take its menu in a more casual direction, and Epazote offers Hoehn a broader arena for his creative cuisine.  Hoehn trained at the California Culinary Academy and has put his talents to work locally at Winesellar & Brasserie and La Valencia and Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco.

The Hyatt Regency on Mission Bay opened Red Marlin with chef de cuisine Danny Bannister at the helm.  Barrister formally trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.  In San Diego, his resume includes stints at Laurel, Pamplemousse Grille, and The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro.   The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers bay-side views and a chef’s table near the wine wall of the restaurant.  It’s on Buzz’s list of places to visit.