With a menu that strikes an edible equilibrium of bar food with steady entrées that attract full-on foodies, Executive chef Scott Cannon is changing the way people think about dinner at The Cork and Craft. “The best thing about being a chef is having something that is constantly pushing me to be better everyday, ” he says. “I love teaching and expressing myself through food.”
Cannon attended the Institute of Technology Culinary Arts program, but his hands-on training came from Paul McCabe and the culinary team he worked with at Kitchen 1540; his first kitchen job in San Diego.
San Diego-based hospitality collective CH Projects (Ironside Fish & Oyster, UnderBelly, Soda & Swine) proudly announces the addition of Research & Development Chef, Phillip Esteban (David Chang’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar, The Cork & Craft, Nine-Ten, Tender Greens) to Chef/Partner Jason McLeod’s team of culinary veterans. A native San Diegan, Esteban graduated from the Culinary Institute of San Diego in 2006, and began working at Barrio Logan’s former The Guild Restaurant & Lounge, where regulars included a young Arsalun Tafazoli, co-owner of CH Projects.
A serendipitous run-in with Tafazoli would later lead Esteban to join his team as in 2010 as sous chef of CH’s first Little Italy venture, Craft & Commerce. After nearly a year cutting his chops in Craft’s fast-paced, high-profile kitchen, Esteban’s innate desire to continue learning led him to a position alongside Tender Greens’ Pete Balistreri—who taught Esteban the ins and outs of crafting artisan charcuterie. Esteban spent the next five years traveling throughout Southern California to assist in Tender Greens’ brand expansion.
The Cork and Craft, North County San Diego’s talk of the town, might be located in a business park, but once you walk in the door, you’ll find yourself in a lively space with an up close and personal view of an open kitchen, wine vats and brewery in-cased in glass. “We are the only concept in San Diego and on the west coast with an urban brewery, winery and restaurant all under one roof, ” says Executive chef Phillip Esteban. “The closest similar concept is located in Florida.”
It was clear to me as soon as I entered the restaurant that Esteban is hugely influential in his kitchen, possessing an intuitive characteristic that enables him to serve carefully orchestrated and natural presentations of modern Californian cuisine with an emphasis on French techniques. He believes that educating his staff is one of the core values of being a chef. “Watching my kitchen team learn, grow and succeed in our industry is really amazing, but the one thing I HATE is that everyone is a “chef” these days. The term has been so loosely used and romanticized that the position itself has been watered down. Anyone can be a cook, not everyone can be a chef.”