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Vote for Your Favorite Chef in La Jolla, Presented By Wells Fargo

Written By: Jordan Ligons Chef in La Jolla

Luisteen Gonzalez,  Executive Chef of Puesto

Executive Chef Luisteen Gonzalez is a native of Mexico City whose passion for food comes from his grandmother, who taught him to cook when he was just 10 years old, and his father, a fisherman of over 25 years. At 14, Luisteen prepared his first dinner for a Quinceañera party in his hometown. This experience influenced him to follow his passion for food and home cooking and turn it into a culinary career in San Diego, which he has called home for the last 20 years. Chef Luisteen has elevated the taco to new heights with Puesto.


Colten Lemmer, Chef at Wheat & Water

Growing up in a small city in mid Michigan, Chef Colten learned a love for comfort food and the importance of using ingredients at their prime time. He is bringing that, along with a sustainable approach to food to Wheat & Water in La Jolla. Using recipes and techniques that remind people of a simpler and happier point in their lives. Dishes that we remember from sitting at Grandma’s table as a child. He hopes to create a memory flash back for all guests. He attended a two year culinary program at Bay Arenac ISD in Bay City, as well as an A.C.F. apprenticeship under Chef Jim Phillips. A Chef Celebration Scholarship recipient to attend courses at C.I.A. Greystone in Napa Valley. Previously worked at Hotel Del Coronado, Pamplemousse Grille, and most recently the Chef De Cuisine at Sea & Smoke in Del Mar under Matt Gordon.


Jason Knibb, Executive Chef at NINE-TEN Restaurant

Jamaican-born Jason Knibb has spent more than a decade as Executive Chef at La Jolla’s NINE-TEN. A self-trained chef who has had the opportunity to train under some of the country’s most celebrated chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Roy Yamaguchi, Hans Rockenwagner and San Diego’s Trey Foshee, Jason creates regional cuisine using the freshest, local products available.  He is renowned for blending an eclectic mix of classic techniques with modern styles inspired and coupling that with his own vision of new American cuisine by taking traditional dishes and giving them a simple, elegant twist.  A recognized name in culinary circles across the country, Jason has amassed many local, regional and national awards and accolades for his style and cuisine.


Trey Foshee, Executive Chef and Partner at George’s at the Cove and Galaxy Taco

Trey Foshee is executive chef and partner of George’s at the Cove. A classically trained chef from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, Foshee was named one of “America’s Best New Chefs” by FOOD & WINE magazine in 1998. Since taking the helm of George’s in 1999, Foshee has refined the culinary experience at San Diego’s iconic restaurant and helped define San Diego’s regional cuisine. He was named “Chef of the Year” by the California Travel Industry Association in 2004, joining the likes of Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (Matsuhisa, NOBU), and in 2010 was an inaugural inductee into San Diego’s Chefs Hall of Fame. In 2015, Foshee opened Galaxy Taco, a casual restaurant in La Jolla Shores that explores the food culture of Mexico.


Bryan Dey Stuppy, Sous Chef at DRIFT eat + drink

Sous Chef Bryan Dye Stuppy of DRIFT eat + drink is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts program at the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh, PA and completed his externship at the five-star, five-diamond Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO. Bryan spent six years at The Broadmoor, making his way up to Sous Chef of La Taverne, the property’s legendary steakhouse.  At DRIFT eat + drink, he focuses on offering guests California comfort cuisine featuring dishes inspired by local and regional cuisines catering to today’s trend of clean and healthy eating, with a menu that features absolutely no fried items and has a varied selection of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. In his spare time Bryan enjoys playing the guitar and time at the beach with his wife, son and dogs.


Dustin Karagheusian, Chef at Catania

After a brief stint at Roppongi, Chef Dustin has worked his way up in the ranks with Whisknladle Hospitality and has become an exemplary model of the success of the company’s internal training program.  He began his time with the company more than four years ago as a line cook at Whisknladle before moving onto the position of sous chef at Prepkitchen Del Mar and Prepkitchen Little Italy.  During a 15 day trip through Italy in 2014, he traveled from Milan and Rome to Florence and Bologna, gaining inspiration in Italian cooking techniques along the way. Dustin brought that knowledge with him to his next career step, working side-by-side Chef Vince Schofield as the Sous Chef on the opening of Catania.  Together with Whisknladle Hospitality Corporate Chef/Partner Ryan Johnston, Chef Dustin plays an integral role in continuing to evolve the coastal Italian menu at Catania.  


Aarti Sanghavi, Chef at The Hake

Born in Chicago and raised in Rancho Cucamonga, California, Aarti Sanghavi’s journey to becoming a chef started a bit differently than that of many chefs in her industry. As a young woman in a traditional Indian family, her interest in cooking was frowned upon and at times even forbidden, as her heritage culturally favors a formal education above all else. To honor her family, Aarti went to Temple University in Philadelphia and earned her degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management. Upon graduation, Aarti decided to pursue her enduring passion and enrolled in Miami’s Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Arts Program. After an externship as a sauté cook at Latitude 41 in Columbus, OH, Aarti made her way to San Diego and worked at Arterra, an American eatery serving locally-sourced cusine in Del Mar for two years. From there, she joined the team at Searsucker, where she started as a line cook and quickly saw her career catapult within the company, eventually becoming Chef de Cuisine at their Scottsdale, Arizona location, followed by a position working closely with Herb & Wood Co-Executive Chef Shane McIntyre and Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey as Executive Chef at Searsucker in downtown San Diego. In 2015, Aarti left the Hakkasan Group and accepted the title of Chef de Cuisine at Puesto, where she honed her skills in Mexican street-style cuisine before joining the team as an integral part of the re-opening of The Hake.


Chef de Cuisine Jason Gethin and Partner Brian Malarkey at Green Acre

The secret hot spot located near Torrey Pines Reserve is lead by celebrated chef Brian Malarkey and Chef de Cuisine Jason Gethin, the menu offers a diverse array of breakfast and lunch items. Malarkey is partner/operator of Green Acre, and Farmer & The Seahorse the healthy, fast-service restaurants. Malarkey is a regular judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, makes regular appearances on the “Today Show”, and was a “Top Chef” finalist and a winning mentor on ABC’s “The Taste.”


Hermant and Saransh Oberoi, Chefs at Masala Street

Masala Street is run by a  father and son team. Chef Hemant Oberoi is an iconic Indian chef, who’s cooked for everyone from the Obamas to Brad Pitt. His son, Saransh Oberoi, is a CIA New York alumni and has worked in almost every continent and for Michelin starred restaurants from Jean George’s NYC to Campton Place in San Francisco.