A number of celebrity chefs will come together to prepare fresh farm-to-table delicacies to further Share Our Strength’s mission to end childhood hunger in Orange County and across the nation. Event attendees will enjoy an afternoon of delectable tastings, fine wines, signature cocktails, and picturesque panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean at Montage Laguna Beach.
In addition to delicious food and drinks, the event will feature a silent and live auction with live entertainment by the local band, The Kalama Brothers.
The newly opened Sirena Cocina Latina restaurant offers a true gourmet Latin Cuisine inspired menu, with many dishes having roots in the food culture of South America.
Located on the corner of Columbia and Fir Streets in San Diego’s Little Italy, the new Sirena restaurant boasts a neutral color palette accented with wooden walls and dark tables, making it the perfect spot for a romantic date or upscale business dinner.
The philosophy behind the menu at Sirena is to showcase fresh ingredients with simple flavors. “We wanted to bring San Diego a unique and unmatched culinary experience with a one-of-a-kind menu,” says Executive Chef Jaime Chavez.
Sirena stands out from other restaurants in the area by a few trademarks. First, Sirena is the only true Latin American-inspired restaurant, with many dishes having roots in the food culture of South America, while taking on a new life with modern and inventive preparations. Secondly, the caliber of their fresh, seasonal and sustainable ingredients is unmatched. “We do everything we can to feature only locally or regionally-caught seafood and in-season produce,” Chavez says. “We even grow some of the produce ourselves. The menu is creative and complex, while still allowing simple ingredients to shine through.”
Sirena utilizes a unique combination of ingredients for a distinct flavor and appearance. For example, their purple cauliflower is delicately pickled and prepared with oysters and a a fresh coconut-ginger sauce is paired with braised scallops. Additionally, even though Sirena is a seafood restaurant, they also cater to vegetarian and vegan diners. Chavez explains that several members of his kitchen team are not-meat eaters, so much time has been devoted to developing techniques to replicate some of their favorite dishes into vegan-approved options, including cauliflower that tastes like ceviche or mushrooms that imitate raw oysters. “Food can be very creative, which is our inspiration in the Sirena kitchen.”
A majority of the ingredients on the menu at Sirena are not only fresh, but sustainable. Born in Puerto Montt, one of the main cities in the south of Chile, Chavez liked to go to his grandfather’s house in a little fishermen’s city called Maullín, where they had a farm. At a very young age, he learned about fish and seafood. “I was able to open clams before reading,” he says. Chavez also says his first approach with cooking was during the holiday season. “It is common in my family to slow roast a half lamb with a chimichurri lacquer. So, while it was very annoying for adults to rotate the lamb for four hours, it was a very attractive job for a little kid.”
In the south of Chile, Chavez explains that there was a significant German influence, thus his family developed German pastry traditions. “I think cooking and baking is in my blood,” he says. “To be honest, while growing up, I never thought I wanted to cook for a living, but at some point what was in my blood was stronger than my own wishes.”
Chavez attended Inacap, in Santiago de Chile, the oldest culinary school in Chile. He started in 2004, studying in the daytime, and working in different places at night. From fast food to taco shops, Asian eateries to sushi restaurants, he’s worked all of them, gaining invaluable skills, techniques and experience.
In October 2006, Chavez moved for an internship to Peralada a little village in Alt Empurdá Barcelona in a little boutique hotel. He learned there the importance of respecting the ingredients. During his internship, he spent a couple of weeks at El Cingle, a Michelin star restaurant. It was there he received his training in contemporary Catalan cuisine with Montse Estruch; a revolutionary in the field.
Eventually, Chavez headed back to Chile to finish school. Looking for new experiences he moved to a restaurant called Emilio, the best Peruvian fine dining restaurant in Santiago. He started there as line cook and in less than three months, he was promoted to sous chef. He stayed there for a couple of months, until he received an offer to open a Peruvian restaurant in his home city. “It was a beautiful and hard experience, but it was there that I realized that I really loved this life,” he says.
One day, Chavez was in his office and received a call offering him a pastry position at El Cingle, the Michelin star restaurant he had trained at. It was an opportunity he could not turn down, pastry or not. When he arrived at the restaurant, he was informed that there was actually no chef de cuisine at the restaurant, so he jumped from pastry to chef de cuisine in a couple of minutes!
Chavez explains that managing a Michelin star-awarded restaurant was very different than managing other any of the other restaurants he had worked for at that time. At El Cingle, there was no space for mistakes and the place was very demanding. We worked eighteen hours a day, almost every day. “There are so many details to take care of, that you can’t even imagine,” he says. “I had so much to read about, invested several hours in research, practiced my plating skills, and developed a creative process for making new dishes. That place made me who I am now.”
Eventually, Chavez left Spain to follow his wife to Tijuana, Mexico. There he was an instructor at a cooking school, teaching students how to experience food and cooking. From Tijuana, Chavez and his wife came to San Diego, where they have worked in several hotels and restaurants in the city, finally bringing him me to Sirena as the new Executive Chef. “Now, I wish to provide a way for anyone to enjoy and experience those possibilities through my culinary creations,” he says.
The menu at Sirena is inspired by Chavez’s background and by the food culture of South America. Many of the dishes are inspired by things his mother would make, but with a special spin. “I love simple, clean flavors with a complex preparation,” he says. “But, there are also other menu items that play up the quality of seafood we are able to get here in San Diego. Nekkei, our take on a “sushi-style” dish, spotlights how fresh and flavorful our seafood is, even when served raw.”
One of Chavez’s favorite dishes on the menu is the Peruvian Ceviche where the flavors are very fresh and clean with a hint of spice. The fresh oysters are also a favorite, offering a unique presentation, served with pickled vegetables and toasted squid-inked black bread. As a main dish, the braised scallops set atop a fresh coconut-ginger sauce, mirasol chili oil and a cauliflower puree is absolute perfection. “I love every dish we have on the menu,” says Chavez. “When I started, I was convinced about the flavors but I had to test the textures. I especially love the scallops because it’s a simple dish and the flavors are amazing. There are so many textures, that every bite is a difference experience.”
EXPERIENCE THE BELOVED WINES OF LEBANON’S CHATEAU MUSAR WITH A WINEMAKERS DINNER AT BANKERS HILL BAR + RESTAURANT
Tweet It: Join @BankersHillSD for a wine pairing dinner featuring wines from Lebanon’s @chateaumusar on Tuesday, April 5 #BankersHillSD #wine #cheers
BANKERS HILL BAR + Restaurant will host a rare opportunity to attend a winemaker’s dinner with Marc Mochar of Lebanon’s Chateau Musar on Tuesday, April 5th.
The four-course dinner, priced at $95 per person, will begin at 6 p.m., and start with an amuse bouche of spring berries, pancetta, whipped Bucheron with grilled levain; paired with a 2014 Musar Jeune Rosé. The first course is smoked duck confit with poached kumquats, watercress, Cara Cara oranges and pickled baby potatoes, served with tastings of the 1999 and 2003 Chateau Musar Blanc.
Adams Avenue Unplugged takes place the weekend of April 30 and May 1, along a two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue, from University Heights on the West through Normal Heights, and into parts of Kensington to the East. The event will feature 150 live musical performances staged inside restaurants, bars, coffee houses and galleries lining the neighborhood. Being able to pair the Avenue’s unique dining and drinking establishments, each with their own special ambiances and selections, with free musical performances, makes Adams Avenue the place to be on the last weekend of April. The AABA hopes to treat musical aficionados and foodies to the rich neighborhood culture.
Music is scheduled from 12pm to 10pm on Saturday, April 30th, and 12pm to 7pm on Sunday, May 1st. Some artists will be playing multiple sets allowing attendees more opportunity to catch their favorite performers.
Augie Meyers performance at the Ken Club is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Buy them HERE
Adams Avenue Unplugged is free and open to the general public.
Parking is limited to residential neighborhood streets and can get quite congested. MTS bus routes 2 & 11 will service the neighborhoods. Wear comfortable walking shoes and plan on getting your exercise by exploring all the avenue has to offer.
CHEF CELEBRATION KICKS OFF SPRING DINNER SERIES MARCH 29TH AT PAMPLEMOUSSE GRILLE
San Diego’s Top Chefs Come Together for Weekly Dinner Series to Raise Funds for Culinary Scholarships
For the past 20 years, Chef Celebration, a locally based non-profit ‘by chefs, for chefs,’ has made it their mission to build a foundation for San Diego’s culinary future by raising money to provide scholarships for San Diego’s young, aspiring chefs. Founded in 1995 by a small group of local toques, today the non-profit has grown to include more than 50 of the city’s most respected chefs, including Jeff Jackson (The Lodge at Torrey Pines) and Jeffrey Strauss (Pamplemousse Grille) among others, and has raised over $283,000 to provide culinary scholarships to more than 100 individual local recipients—many of which have become staples within San Diego’s culinary community including Stephen Gage (Underbelly), Hanis Cavin (Carnitas’ Snack Shack), and Victor Jimenez (Cowboy Star).
“RE:SOURCE” TO BE HOSTED AT THE RED DOOR ON APRIL 6TH
San Diego Food System Alliance will launch the first Re:Source event, an Unwasted Food pop-up dinner series, on April 6th at the Red Door for two seatings at 5:30 P.M. and 7:45 P.M. The first dinner coincides with BioCycle, an international industry conference on food waste held at Mission Valley.
This pop-up dinner series will partner with San Diego’s top chefs to use creativity to transform ignored or un-coveted food that would otherwise become ‘waste.’ “The Red Door is the perfect host for the launch of this series due to owner Trish Watlington’s commitment to sustainability, from her farm to table garden hosting Solana Center’s composting classes to food waste pickup arrangements with Closing the Loop,” says Elly Brown, Alliance Director of San Diego Food System Alliance. “In addition, Chef Miguel Valdez promises to amaze his fans by creating delightful meals out of un-coveted ingredients.”