RANCHO SANTA FE —Meet Brian Freerksen the new chef at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club.
He came on board just a few weeks ago and is already meeting with members to determine their desires.
“This is their place. I have been going out and talking to members to get a feel for what they want, he said. “It’s their home away from home.”
Freerksen’s credentials are impressive. He has been the head chef or executive chef for some of the most well-know restaurants in the area from the Hotel Del Coronado to the Marine Room. Yet, he could be described as salt-of-the-earth genuine and easy going.
“I am a simple eater myself and I am not picky,” he said. “I like simple, clean food.”
When the golf club put out the call for a new chef, there was a lot of interest.
“After an exhaustive search we interviewed dozens of candidates and elected the top five to come in for cooking interviews,” said Al Castro, general manager. “With his ability and skills, plus the great personality, he was just who we were looking for.”
Over his years of experience Freerksen said he has learned that when people go out to dinner and it is not a special occasion, they order what they recognize.
“I do the common things and put a twist on them,” he said. “One of the things on the menu is liver and onions. I am not going to touch that. It’s one of those things you love or not.”
But her said, for non-liver lovers, he is offering specials every night.
“We’re doing a lot of seafood, some red rice and Forbidden Rice. It’s a black rice from China that got it name because the emperors were the only ones allowed to eat it. We’re doing some pasta and teaming it up with fish,” he said.
Freerken’s relationship with food began early. His first job was at McDonalds.
“I was the burger flipper and the Egg McMuffin flipper. I did that for about two years.”
He then joined the army as a cook where he was stationed first at Fort Dix and then in Germany where he was a baker.
“I was the night baker. I was baking all the cakes and pies,” he said.
At that job, he realized he didn’t like baking very much mainly because baking ingredients must be exact and allowed very little room for creativity.
He put in five years active duty and three in reserve.
Out of the army he got a job at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knotts Berry Farm, but he didn’t last there because they could not give him enough hours. So, he went to work at a warehouse driving a fork lift for a while.
“Working at a warehouse was not my thing,” he said.
“He went off in search of a cooking job.
“I actually applied for a job at Michael’s in Santa Monica. It was pretty big back then. The chef told me if was serious about this I should go to culinary school,” he said.
He signed up at Western Culinary Institute and excelled.
He graduated in 1991 and went to work for the Hotel Del Coronado as a seasonal part-time, outside chef.
“I was outside making Cesar Salads and Shrimp cocktails,” he said. “I got my break when the chef pulled me up to the Prince of Wales – it was their fine dinning place. He saw I could handle it and I stayed there for about two years.”
He went on to open the Lowes Coronado Bay as a cook and then was pulled back to the Prince of Wales, he said.
When the hotel management decided to change the whole concept of the restaurant, they explored getting a well known chef to head it, but they gave him a chance to compete for the job, which he won, he said.
“I planned a menu and did a tasting for 20 people,” he said. “They decided ‘this is our guy,’” he said.
There he stayed for about five years, until he was approached to be chef at the Marine
“I wasn’t there very long when I was approached to be the chef of Dakota’s downtown.
“I was there to get more experience in a free-standing restaurant. All I had done had been at hotels or resorts,” he said.
The restaurant at the time had a southwestern influence, but he had little experience in that brand of fare.
“They sent me to New Mexico, I went and ate for three or four days and then came back to see what we could here,” he said.
There he stayed for 2 years until he was invited to be the chef at a brand new restaurant Baleen at Paradise Point.
“From there to a local beach and tennis club for four years and now I am here,” he said.
He said all his moving around was to try to do something different,
“I like change and I like to teach people and learn from them,” he said.
He said he took the Rancho Santa Fe job because he is at a time in his life when he wants to settle down.
“I can’t keep popping all around. I have six kids. I don’t know how I had time to do all that,” he said.
But he has a confession to make.
He loves all kinds of fast foods.
“At Taco Bell I love their Burrito Supreme or Taco Supreme,” he said.