The Votes are In! Make Your Reservations Now

Written By: Jordan Ligons Chefs in Bankers Hill

A neighborhood nestled in between the San Diego Zoo and Little Italy holds quality food, and quality chefs. Bankers Hill, sometimes known as Park West, is home to some of the top foodie destinations in San Diego—a hard task to feat. Ranging from a variety of types of specialties, these chefs all have one thing in common: they love what they do. Meet the top chefs in Bankers Hill, voted by you!

 

Dan Sobek, The Corner Drafthouse

Q: What made you realize that cooking is what you wanted to do?

Dan Sobek: I come from an extremely large family in Kansas, every holiday and celebration always included copious amounts of food provided by my mother, aunts and grandmothers. I would like to think this is where my passion for food comes from, it serves as a great vehicle to bring people together, creating memorable experiences, that is what continues to drive me today.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

DS: I love surprising people with technique or flavor combinations. At The Corner Drafthouse our food is extremely approachable, but their are a lot of surprises and we constantly surpass people’s expectations from what they are used to experiencing at Gastropubs in San Diego. We use a lot of interesting ingredients to put twists on dishes that people are familiar with in order to provide that unique experience.

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

DS: Growing up in Kansas City I remember attending many barbecue competitions and learning about the process of creating world class barbecue. I learned that cooking, be it barbecue or classical French, is truly a labor of love and takes time and a lot of hard work to create balance and layers of flavor. Those lessons learned cooking using live fire and many long hours taught me that, fundamentally, cooking is a manipulation of time and temperature. This straightforward approach to food has served me well in my career and made learning about the processes involved in the kitchen a lot less intimidating for me when I was a young cook coming up through kitchens from NYC to London.

Q: What does being voted as one of the top chefs in Bankers Hill mean to you?

DS: The Corner Drafthouse is a new restaurant in Bankers Hill and San Diego, so being included in this survey is an incredible compliment and we are extremely grateful. Top five and in great company, a few of the best restaurants in San Diego are included on this list. This survey also serves as validation that what we are doing is appreciated by the community so cheers to all the finalists.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

DS: This is a tough one, I particularly enjoy we are doing with seafood, we source all of our seafood locally and sustainably and move a ton of fresh fish. I would say it’s a two-way tie between our Ceviche Tostadas and the Tuna Poke. For our Ceviche, we utilize whatever fish is fresh and beautiful, it is dressed simply with a combination of fresh lemon, lime and orange juice. The Ceviche is presented with fresh avocado, mango salsa on fresh tostadas, they are delicious. Poke is having a moment in San Diego ours is a bit different it has many layers of flavor. We use local Yellowtail Tuna and make our own Poke Sauce from scratch using palm sugar, fresh ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime. It is served with fresh avocado, seaweed salad, black garlic purée, wasabi crema and sesame crisps.

 

Joe Magnanelli,  CUCINA Urbana

Q: What made you realize that cooking is what you wanted to do?

Joe Magnanelli: Cooking has always interested me, ever since I was little making brownies in elementary school and helping my mom in the kitchen. I started working in restaurants in high school, and I just knew that was where I wanted to be.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

JM: What really gets me excited is seeing a line of people at the door before we open that day.

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

JM: My most influential moment was when I got a job at Lespinasse in Washington D.C. Going from working at a small mom and pop restaurant to seeing how high-class restaurants functioned really made me realize cooking was the career for me.

Q: What does being voted as one of the top chefs in Bankers Hill mean to you?

JM: It means that Bankers Hill is becoming a nice little food neighborhood in San Diego, and that the chefs here are doing something memorable.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

JM: I can’t say. Picking your favorite dish would be like picking your favorite kid—I love all the dishes on the menu equally. But I do enjoy making anything with pasta.

Martin Bolteada, Hob Nob Hill

Q: What made you realize that cooking is what you wanted to do?

Martin Bolteada: At the age of 8 I used to observe my mother making tortilla’s and I was fascinated by the whole process and I would ask her if she would let me make the last bunch. My mom was a very busy lady and as I got older I was I found myself helping out in the kitchen making meals for my family.

Q: What gets you excited before each service at the restaurant?

MB: At Hob Nob Hill, we open at 7 a.m. so I get there very early to start my daily preparations. I know that our customers will receive fresh home cooked meals by using only the best quality of food each time they come in. Each day at the restaurant before opening I look forward to seeing all of our customers enjoying their meals and leaving with a smile on their face knowing that every dish I made was enjoyed by

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your cooking career thus far?

MB: The most influential moments in my career was having the opportunity to achieve the knowledge of learning by working my way up to the position I am now, which is being responsible for the way my kitchen runs and knowing that I must strive for only the best to maintain the highest respect and quality for Hob Nob Hill, which has been open for over 72 years. That is what keeps me motivated.

Q: What does being voted as one of the top chefs in Bankers Hill mean to you?

MB: Being voted as a top chef of Bankers Hill is amazing to me and by that it makes me realize that serving hundreds of people a day that they appreciate and acknowledge me and that they know where they can come for a home cooked meal. It makes me recognize that people value me for my hard work and they will never be disappointed in me.

Q: What is your favorite dish to make at your restaurant?

MB: My favorite dish to make is the Chicken & Dumplings. There are not many restaurants that serve this dish so I take a lot of pride knowing that if someone is craving it, they know where they can come. We were on Diner’s, Drive-in’s and Dives with Guy Fieri and that was one of the dishes he featured on the show so we have people from all over the United States coming in just for my Chicken & Dumplings.

 

Tyler Nodenburger, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background as a chef.

Tyler Nollenberger: I started working in restaurants in Santa Cruz when I was 16. I was a busboy, and at 18, I was a server. At 20, I went to culinary school and jumped into cooking right after that. My cooking wages paid for culinary school! I cooked around the Santa Cruz area for a few years and moved to San Diego, where I eventually landed at Market for six years, where I worked my way up to a Sous Chef. Then, this opportunity at Bankers Hill came up.

Q: When you’re not cooking in your own kitchen, what are some spots you like to grab food around SD?

TN: Given my hours, I usually eat at late-night places, so I like to dine anywhere that serves until midnight or later. I like going to Convoy to try Yakitori. Around San Diego, I also like Starlite or Izakaya Masa.

Q: What excites you about your job?

TN: My favorite thing about my job is the challenge. I have created a saying: “Embrace the challenge.” You can’t get mad every time something goes wrong; you have to figure out how to make it right. I also love building a team, finding cooks that believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of it.

Q: What is your favorite dish to cook? (Both on and off the menu!)

TN: That’s one of my favorite things about cooking – I never make the same thing twice. Part of the beauty of living in San Diego is the access to so much great produce and seafood. Some days I’ll wake up and say, “I want to make a big salad today.” So I’ll go to Chino Farms’ vegetable stand at Rancho Santa Fe (they have some of the most amazing produce anywhere) and grab some local yellowtail from the fish market. I’ll take those ingredients and just see where it ends up.

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