One of my long-standing questions on episodes of the Lick the Plate radio show is what my guest’s last supper would be.
They get a starter, a main and dessert for their last meal on Earth. My starter changed recently to the Albacore Crudo with avocado, kiwi, red onion, Fresno chili, Thai basil & ginger-lime syrup from Executive Chef Jordan Beall at PrepKitchen in Del Mar.
It’s a perfectly light, flavorful and fresh way to start a meal. Just in case you are curious, my main is steadfast with the beauty of a rib eye from Gene & Georgetti in Chicago and my dessert would be any homemade pie from my sister Maryanne.
Besides that amazing starter, the Caesar salad at PrepKitchen was more than enough for two and they encouraged the baby romaine to be eaten as a finger food, and oh boy, was it good. I also had the whole chicken fried trout with coleslaw, sauce gribiche, charred lemon dill and watercress and loved it.
The Fusilli Bolognese with beef, pancetta, tomato, porcini, rosemary and Parmigiano-Reggiano was a standout as well.
I had a conversation with Beall recently to learn more about his influences and style.
You were born in Oceanside and moved up north to the bay area, what do you think of the recent culinary resurgence in Oceanside?
I think that what’s happening to our part of Southern California, as a whole is really amazing. In such a short time our cities have really boomed in the culinary field. I think Oceanside has plenty of room to grow still and I am really looking forward to see what new talent and food comes up.
What was your first restaurant gig, and did that influence your decision to make it a career?
My first cooking job was at Campo di Bocce in Livermore, Calif., at 15 years old. It was supposed to just be a summer part-time gig that turned into a full-time job. I continued working there while still going to school as well. When my Chef Michael Wogen saw potential in me, he suggested I look into going to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America). I doubled up on my schoolwork and graduated a year early and got accepted to the CIA.
Culinary school at CIA in Hyde Park, NY sounds amazing. What was that experience like?
It was a culinary experience unlike any other, that I will never forget. It was amazing to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. Everyone on that campus shared a love for food, wine, etc. The campus was absolutely gorgeous, too, being tucked away in a small corner right off of the Hudson River. Definitely need to make a trip back to visit.
Where did you land when you graduated?
After graduating I landed my first job at PrepKitchen’s mother restaurant Whisknladle. Started as a morning Garde Manger cook and over time slowly moved up the line; started working nights and eventually became one of the opening sous chefs for our Little Italy location. I have been the executive chef of PrepKitchen Del Mar for about a year and a half now.
Now that you are running the kitchen at PrepKitchen Del Mar, how would you describe your style?
Having been here for some time now I think it is still hard to say what my specific style of cooking would be. Ultimately I would say I like simple and comforting food. Trying not to alter ingredients too much to let the food speak for itself, especially in San Diego we are blessed to have so much awesome food to choose from. It’s an old, but, good saying, “K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid.”
Besides the two dishes I was gushing about above, what are some of your favorites on the current menu?
Two of my favorite items on the menu would probably have to be the charred bone marrow, with Maldon salt, parsley, capers, lemon zest and shallots. The other would be our “Old Fashioned” pork belly, whiskey-angostura bitters simple syrup glaze, creamy polenta, fresh cherries and charred gem lettuce with a buttermilk tarragon dressing.
PrepKitchen is located at 1201 Camino Del Mar, in Del Mar. Visit prepkitchendelmar.com for hours and menu.
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.