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THE FOOD PHILOSOPHER

The Expert: Jason Gethin, Chef/Partner at Table No. 10

WRITTEN BY: MARIA WATKINS | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: CHRISTINA SHOOK

Attention all locals! You may have noticed some changes in San Diego’s food scene over the past several years, and your taste buds do not deceive you! San Diego food experts are branching out, starting their own businesses, and taking some risks. An inside interview with San Diego’s renowned chef gives us a better idea of how the food culture has changed and where it is headed.  Food expert Jason Gethin, Chef and Partner at Table No. 10,  has a lengthy background in food service hospitality from all over the world.  He has been busy collecting knowledge, catering to customers, and creating perfection (in terms of food)! Now, with much experience and a significant career ahead of him, he has shaken things up in San Diego and invested his time, energy, and creativity into the food culture of the San Diego community.

Jason Gethin of Table No. 10 is pushing the boundaries of American cuisine with his one of a kind menu items that will have you coming back for more! Jason spent some of his college years trying to figure out where he fit in this world and what type of career would be best for him. While working at restaurants to put himself through school, he soon realized that was what he wanted to do. His interest in food and hospitality went beyond that of a regular waiter, and he quickly enrolled at the Louisiana Culinary Institute. Jason has a curious spirit that will not settle with a typical dish. The priority, of course, is an amazing taste, but he really tries to pair things in a way that people would never expect.

Table No. 10 certainly lives up to Jason’s “unique” expectations with incredible menu items and an elegant ambiance. Jason loves his work and loves being a part of the San Diego food scene. He sees a lot of potential for San Diego as a culinary capital, and he states that he has been noticing that shift. Stop by Table No. 10 and order something outside of your comfort zone!

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Q: I understand that you have a culinary degree and have spent a lot of time studying the art of cooking. How did you first realize your interest in this career path?

Jason Gethin: I spent four years in regular college and found that it was not for me. During college though, I worked in restaurants and really enjoyed being around food and in hospitality. I then went to Louisiana Culinary Institute for a two-year associate’s degree, and then received a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales.

Q: Cooper McLaughlin was the owner of The Corner, which you transformed into Table No. 10. How did that connection with McLaughlin happen and what inspired him to start from scratch?

JG: I have been friends with McLaughlin since I moved to San Diego 15 years ago. My wife worked with him in the mortgage business, and we got to know one another. He wanted something else to do with The Corner, and I was ready to do my own thing.

Q: I have heard that the name Table No. 10 refers to the table that is closest to the kitchen, “the chef’s table.” How did you and Cooper McLaughlin land on that name?

JG: The restaurant is on 10th Avenue, and it also refers to the table closest to the kitchen. That table also happens to seat 10 people!

Q: Is it true that each of your menu items is paired with a beverage? If so, how did you land on deciding on those pairings?

JG: All of our servers are very well-informed of the drinks and wines that go with each dish, and they make excellent suggestions.

Q: Table No. 10 has a menu of small bites, small plates and large plates that have a modern, American style. What is the new trend with modern American food, and how do you feel it has changed over time?

 JG: We are very much wanting to progress San Diego as a food city. We want to create things that are not typically what you would find on the menu in another restaurant nearby. To create the menu items, we deconstructed a normal dish and pushed the boundaries to make it more unique.

Q: You were previously the chef at Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas. How was that transition from working at an established restaurant, to jumping into something completely new?

JG: I was the opening chef for Union for three and a half years. It was fun bringing Union to the place it is now, and I wanted to do something on my own and try to bring it to that same place. This sounded like the perfect challenge.

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Q: Your menu items have some extremely unique ingredients such as bone marrow butter, sorrel chimichurri, and velouté.  Where did you get the inspiration for incorporating these types of unusual ingredients?

JG: With the bone marrow butter, we would cook the porterhouse and baste it in the butter. In the back of the house, we just started dipping bread into it and decided to make our own rolls and offer it on the menu! The fat within the butter makes a great flavor.

Q: What would you say is the most adventurous thing to order on your menu?

JG: The chicken skins took people back in the beginning. In the beginning, we only sold about 10 pounds a week, but now we sell 80 pounds a week. Also, the suckling pig lazy ravioli is adventurous because every part of the pig is shredded and used as the ravioli filling.

Q: When you finish a long day at work, what would be your drink of choice if you were to order one off of the menu?

JG: The bar manager had a lot of fun creating the cocktail menu after he was given the instruction to make something unique. However, my drink of choice is Budweiser. It is the only beer that we have on tap that has its own labeled handle. They had it put in just for me. I also enjoy a shot of Jameson.

Q: You studied cooking in school in Louisiana. What brought you to San Diego and what made you stay?

JG: My girlfriend at the time (now wife) got to choose the next place we would live, and she chose San Diego. I wanted to go to New York because I thought it was the mecca of culinary art for the US.

Q: The menu items at Union Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas are quite phenomenal! When choosing the menu items for Table No. 10, was there anything that you felt you wanted to take with you from Union?

JG: I left Union how it was and left the recipes there as well. At Table No. 10, we serve a little bit of grits with the mushroom dish (similar to Union), but we are trying to step away from the southern influence.

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Q: I think that many San Diegans have noticed a shift in the San Diego food culture over the years. What do you think has prompted that and where do you think it is headed?

JG: I believe the internet has prompted a lot of the food shift. Also, there are a lot of chefs who have been working at the same place and are now trying to venture out and start their own things. With our weather and produce we should be a food city. People are moving in from other cities and bringing with them their different interests in taste.

Q: It seems that many people love to stop by Table No. 10 for a small plate or bite and an amazing craft cocktail. What would you say is your most popular small bite/plate and cocktail combination?

JG: Our most popular cocktail is El Pinche Gringo. And our most popular appetizer is by far the scallop and pork belly dish because the pork is just so good! It is also a really beautiful dish and the flavors play really well off of one another.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world to meet with a chef and learn about their cooking technique, what place would it be and why?

JG: It would be a dream to work in London at The Fat Duck with Heston Blumenthal. He is pushing the boundaries and defining what food is, in a new and modern way.

Q: You recently added a brunch portion to your menu. What is the next exciting step that we can expect to see in terms of growth for Table No. 10?

JG: When football season started, there were not as many brunch customers because we don’t offer TVs. Otherwise, since we put brunch on the menu about a month ago, it has been a huge success! In terms of next steps, we are pretty new, so right now we are trying to get through the first year before we try to add on another project.

TABLE NO. 10
369 10th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
619.550.1262
www.tablenumber10.com