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Vote for Your Favorite Chef in Oceanside, Presented By Wells Fargo

Written By: Jordan Ligons Chef in Oceanside

Chef James Pyo: Love Boat Sushi

Chef James Pyo, has spent the last decade building the successful sushi chain Love Boat Sushi. After graduating from the culinary program at San Diego’s Art Institute, he was ready for a new challenge and decided to take the great things from Love Boat and improve on it with the addition of a robata grill and larger kitchen menu that incorporated more fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Never one to sit still, Chef James opened Blue Ocean Robata and Sushi Bar in Carlsbad, Blue Smoke Sushi Lounge at Fashion Valley Mall, and has two restaurants opening soon called Pokewan in Carlsbad and Del Mar.

Executive Chef Mark Millwood: That Boy Good

With a background in the Navy, Chef Millwood cooked his way through Desert Storm and Desert Shield, learning the skills to lead and inspire others. After the Navy, he returned to man the kitchen in 5 star locations like The Beau Rivage Resort in Mississippi, The Villa Marriott in Vail, and The Ritz Carlton in the LA Live arena. Today he has fulfilled his dream of opening up his own restaurant, That Boy Good , which serves up “no frills, no hoopla” Mississippi style food.

Chef Mario Moser: Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Mario Moser started his career at the San Diego Culinary Institute, where he then went on to do a three year stint with Jason Knibb of Nine-Ten in La Jolla before coming aboard the Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen in February of 2011. His style of rustic cuisine, and an emphasis on using local, organic and sustainable products (when possible), proves that farm to table can pack a mean punch when it comes to heartiness and flavor!


Executive Chef Davin Waite: Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub

When it comes to seafood, Chef Waite specializes in sustainability. He sources his ingredients locally, making do with what’s fresh and available during the season, as well as practices whole-animal butchery, which is utilizing every part of the product. He is able to work with quality foods, but does not hesitant in using “ugly fruit” that can be difficult for farmers to sell. With a little bit of love, he is able to transform something that was once undesirable, into something people can enjoy.

Executive Chef Steven Zurkey: 333 Pacific

Steve Zurkey discovered his passion for cooking at a young age.  As a kid growing up in the Midwest he would follow his grandmother around her kitchen helping her prepare dishes and giving suggestions on what to cook.  His passion for the culinary arts only grew from there. In 2015, Zurkey’s career path led him to Southern California.  Shortly after moving he joined the Cohn Restaurant Group as Executive Chef of 333 Pacific in Oceanside. “Once I saw the ocean view from 333’s dining room, I knew I was all in,” Zurkey declared.  With his experience in French Fundamentals and modern day cooking techniques, Zurkey’s goal is to create dishes with a balance of contrasting flavors, textures and colors. “I thrive on being in a constantly moving, high-stress, 90-degree environment.  My passion is what drives me to keep doing what I do…that and many, many cups of light roast coffee.”

Chef Josh Richardi: Masters Kitchen and Cocktail

Chef Richardi’s approach with food is to add exotic twists to known classics. His expertise in elevating flavors, is exactly what he is doing over Masters Kitchen and Cocktail. With a background in French technique, Richardi is both a technical and innovative chef who prides himself in keeping his cooking simple and focusing on big flavors.


Chef Luis Lopez Sr.: Lighthouse Oyster Bar & Grill

Owner and Executive Chef of Lighthouse Oyster Bar and Grill in the Oceanside harbor. With over 35 years of experience his culinary expertise shows a creative mix of Mexican and Pacific Islander influences. His charismatic creativity has made him a local favorite to the Oceanside community.


Chef Daniel Pundik: Local Tap House & Kitchen

Chef Pundik shows us that having a focus on making everything fresh and from scratch doesn’t mean it has to lack big taste and flavor. As the captain of the kitchen at Local Tap House & Kitchen, his menu, beer selection, and even the decor are handpicked and handmade locally. Pundik has truly helped build a place for the people, by the people.