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Lick the Plate on KPRi – Bernard Guillas from the Marine Room

Maitre Cuisiniers de France and Award-winning Chef Bernard Guillas joined La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc. as executive chef in June 1994. Right at home in La Jolla, Guillas’ affinity for the coastal lifestyle reminded him of his home in Brittany. “When I lived in France, the smell of the sea and the lure of its bounty were constantly part of our table,” Guillas recalls. “I’m inspired by the variety and quality of the local produce and seafood found throughout our region. I love to use my classical training and my love for Pan Pacific flavors in all our restaurants.” Guillas is responsible for directing the resort’s three restaurants and all catering operations for the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, the Shores Restaurant at the La Jolla Shores Hotel, and the landmark Marine Room restaurant.

Guillas, no stranger to classic tradition, insists, “a good cook is a sorcerer who dispenses happiness on a plate.” For this chef, it is the magic of adding unusual seasonings to titillate the palate. He learned his alchemy early. Born into a family of butchers, bakers, and restaurateurs, Guillas’ Britannic upbringing was influenced by his daily exposure to fine cuisine. He began his formal training in 1978, at Le Bretagne Restaurant in Questembert, France, where he apprenticed with the legendary Georges Paineau. Over the next six years he expanded his culinary knowledge with several Maitres Cuisinier de France fine dining restaurants.

Jumping continents, Guillas moved on to become chef de cuisine at Le Dolmen in French Guyana. Richly diverse South American flavors still influence his food today.

In 1984, Guillas moved to Washington DC as chef tournant, chef saucier, and sous chef under Pierre Chambrin, former White House executive chef, at Maison Blanche. In 1989, he relocated to San Diego and spent five years as chef de cuisine at the Grant Grill, located in the US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego’s historic district. In 2001 Guillas was inducted into the International Restaurant & Hospitality Rating Bureau’s American Chefs’ Hall of Fame. Guillas is one of only fourteen chefs to receive this honor.

Recently, Guillas has added and self-published his first cookbook, Flying Pans with co-author and chef de cuisine of the Marine Room, Ron Oliver. Flying Pans was awarded two IACP book of the year awards in the categories of Chefs and Restaurants and the coveted People’s Choice. The cookbook was also named as IACP top three finalist in the category of Food Styling and Photography. Flying Pans was awarded top 10 Cookbook in America at Book Expo America in 2010.

A recent appearance on The Today Show added to the list of Guillas’ multiple television appearances to his roster of impressive credits. Chef Bernard was selected as one of fifteen “Rising Star Chefs” (1996), he has appeared in Food Arts Magazine, the “Rising Star Chef” cookbook and PBS’ “Rising Chef” television series and has been a guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio show and KPBS. He was recently featured on the Today Show and is a regular guest chef on KTLA morning show in Los Angeles.

Guillas continues to infuse the local culinary scene with his unique talent and engaging personality.

Chef Guillas promotes sustainability and plays an active role in supporting his local community. He regularly participates in Mama’s Kitchen, Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation fund-raiser for hunger relief, the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, annual guest chef for Celebrities Cook for Cancer, a fund-raiser that benefits the University of California San Diego Cancer Center. Guillas is also the chef spokesman for the Macy’s School of Cooking where he shares his passion for the culinary arts. He travels extensively throughout the world promoting his restaurants and the San Diego region.


This week on Lick the Plate Radio – Executive Chef Eugenio Martignago from Bistro West and West Steak & Seafood

Chef Martignago was born and raised in Musano, a small town just outside of Venice, Italy. He grew up on a on a farm so the West farm in Carlsbad that supplies both of his restaurants with seasonal produce is nothing new to him. After graduating from Scuala Alberghiera di Venezia culinary school in Italy, Martignagoʼs passion for refining his cooking style led him to Germany and France where he cooked alongside some of the finest chefs in Europe. He has worked in at  Nickʼs Fish Market and the Black Orchid in Honolulu and  Bistango in Orange County and Los Angeles. Martignago is known for demonstrating his creativity in the kitchen by often planting particular vegetables with a menu special in mind. True to his childhood passion, Martignago works in the farm each day and brings an authentic farm-to-table experience to both restaurants. Bringing a French and Italian influence to his menus, Martignago describes his cooking style as a collage of his culinary experiences from around the world.

The cuisine at Bistro West result can best be described as  contemporary comfort food, all made from scratch, with French and Italian influences in a relaxed yet elegant setting. It is quite a nice environment that is difficult to describe but it’s a beautiful space.

Bistro West has a big menu with something for everyone on it.  Right now is a good time to visit as they are reaping the bounty of their summer crops. Check out their hours, menu, and location at .


This Week on Lick the Plate Radio

As I was driving up to Encinitas Fire Station #2 with my son Quinn, who was along as a  photographer for this story on Firehouse food,  we were discussing how cool it would be if they received a call during the interview. Well sure enough, about halfway through our conversation, the bell rings and the guys start to scramble. We moved out of the way, not wanting to interfere with their business at hand, when the Captain asked if we wanted to ride along. All of a sudden I was transported back to my youth, hanging out at the local fire station, waiting for the alarm to go off and wishing I could accompany them when it did. Heck yes we wanted to ride along! We hopped into the fire truck and off we went, cruising through the streets of Cardiff sirens blaring, traffic yielding, women waving…yes, it’s true what they say. While there have been plenty of journalists embedded with firefighters, I’m guessing not many have been food writers. Hey, I’ll take it. This was a chance to see these pros in action and they responded quickly and efficiently to a man with chest pains at a local Cardiff restaurant. We were on a huge adrenaline rush as we made our way back to the station to finish the interview, and eat of course.

A gig with the Encinitas Fire Department is one of the most coveted in their field. Encinitas Fire Station #2 on Mackinnon in Cardiff, soon to move to a new station across Birmingham, is staffed by a rotating crew of 3 firefighters. I connected with Captain John Gonzales at the Leucadia Farmers market where he was running his side gig Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza. Given his immersion into the culinary scene through Bottaro, it made sense to cover his station for this story. We were also recording them for Lick the Plate Radio on KPRi which will air next week. Besides talking about food, we were going to taste each of their individual specialties.

The other firefighters were Engineer Tom Heer who is retiring in December after 30 years of service. Tom’s contribution to the tasting was his healthy Power Salad.  Duke Harbin is the third member of the team and is a Firefighter Paramedic with 8 years with the department and former Navy Seal. Duke’s signature dish is his corn Poblano chowder.  Captain John Gonzales would be contributing to the tasting with his Firehouse Pizza.

The consensus among all three was that fire house food has evolved over the years from an emphasis on hearty, filling meals to a more health conscious approach. That holds true even more in a sporty town like Cardiff with access down the hill to Seaside Market for fresh, quality ingredients. Tom’s power salad was a healthy mix of greens, veggies, beans and a homemade lemon dressing. It was a perfect mix of greens and proteins and variations on this salad are eaten almost daily at the station.

Duke Harbin, the station paramedic is also a hard-core surfer, biker, and all-around athlete. He had some great stories about his time as a Navy Seal and how that experience enabled him to travel the world and shape his appreciation for different cuisines. Duke’s poblano corn chowder was a heat packed combination of fire roasted poblano peppers, veggie stock, cumin, cayenne, some cream to thicken it up, and raw corn as a garnish. This soup packed some serious heat that was offset a bit by a dollop of sour cream. It was a good heat though as I could not stop eating it.

Next up was a sampling of pizza from Captain John Gonzales.  Bottaro is his mom’s maiden name and the inspiration for Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza. It’s a wood burning oven on a trailer that he can cater any size event with. They make their own sausage, use local ingredients, and organic flour.  The pizza bakes in about 90 seconds in an oven that reaches 900 degrees. The result is some of the best pizza around. The great thing is he can roll it up just about anywhere you are having an event. Check them out at .

I’d like to thank all the guys at Encinitas Fire Station # 2 for their hospitality, great stories, killer food,  and of course the ride-along. I could not have scripted it any better.


Lucila De Alejandro co-owner of Suzie’s Farm in San Diego

We spoke with Lucila De Alejandro co-owner with her husband Robin of the iconic Suzie’s Farm in San Diego. Suzie’s Farm supplies the best restaurants in town with seasonal, organic produce. Suzie’s Farm has changed the way San Diego eats….for the better.

Suzie’s Farm was started in 2009 on two acres and has since exploded into one of the premiere providers of high quality, organic produce to restaurants, farmers’ markets, and with its very popular CSA program. CSA stands for community supported agriculture where the community supports agriculture by pre-purchasing a share of the farm. They can buy a share of 12 weekly boxes and in return they get the best that the farm has to offer each week.  The boxes change so the customers really understand what it is to eat seasonally. They’re getting what the earth naturally produces at the time.

On the show we talked about Lucila’s background and the evolution of Suzie’s Farm into the success story it is today. We went into her musical influences as well as her favorite spots to eat in San Diego, not to mention the cool new happenings at the farm. To catch up on the interview check out the Lick the Plate section of KPRi at

Suzie’s Farm also hosts regular events on the farm. One of the more interesting was Weed Dating and they have some great ones coming up. Learn more about Suzie’s Farm and all their events at


This Week on Lick the Plate Radio – Drew Matthews of Annel & Drew’s Kitchen

Annel and Drew's Kitchen

This week I’m talking with Drew Matthews, half of Annel & Drew’s Kitchen, the culinary team that has developed a cult following at the Ocean Beach, Leucadia, and Oceanside farmers markets with their mobile gourmet farm to fork kitchen fare that includes the best Cuban sandwich in San Diego and much more. More about this innovative culinary duo at


Lick the Plate Radio is now on KPRi 102.1 FM San Diego

The show airs M-F at 7pm and features behind the scenes interviews with San Diego’s top chefs and restaurant owners.



Welcome to the first LTP blog! While my Coast News column tends to focus on what’s good about the North County San Diego dining scene, the LTP blog will not be so constrained. This is where you will get the good and the bad on everything food related in San Diego and beyond.

I will also include thoughts on culinary trends, notes from my travels, updates on Lick the Plate Radio, special events and recipes.

Look for weekly updates and your feedback is always welcome.