Right out of high school she attended Johnson and Wales Culinary School in Rhode Island. By the time she graduated, her parents were moving to North County, so she researched San Diego and at age 22 found a job as a line cook at Laurel under Jason Shaeffer (who had just replaced Boston-bound Douglas Organ, the original chef-owner). Eventually, she worked her way up to chef de cuisine, a job she’d held there for over a year when Tracy Borkum bought the restaurant and installed Fabrice Poigin as executive chef over the entire Borkum empire (which also includes Chive, Kensington Grill, and a catering company). A few months later, Amy was replaced. (A few months after that, Poigin resigned.)
“I’d been there four and a half years, so it was time to move on and learn something else, and I had an opportunity at Baleen as chef de cuisine under executive chef Brian Freerksen, who was a great mentor,” says Amy. “George Riffle here was a regular customer of Baleen, and he brought me in and introduced me to the general manager and the executive chef. We had a number of casual meetings and eventually a tasting. It was about a two-month process. They hired me to bring in a local chef, bring in some local business. I reformatted the menu while keeping their signature dishes — for a hotel restaurant they gave me a lot of creative freedom as soon as I earned their trust. I was such a shy person, even after all that time at Laurel I didn’t know the other chefs around town, but I starting doing a lot of charity events, things like that, to get local attention, and now I’m not shy anymore. Baleen gets a lot of attention in the national media, but they hadn’t done a lot locally. And since it’s a hotel restaurant, I learned the ‘numbers side’ of being a chef — how to run an efficient, profitable restaurant, accounting for the fluctuations in food costs and the labor costs. You don’t get to see that on a daily basis in an independent restaurant.
“This is my first executive-chef position, and it’s a whirlwind. You think that you’re prepared, and then you’re not. I thought I knew what was up with opening a restaurant from the bottom up. I think I did well with the hiring. I put in a little ad in craigslist and was really adamant about hiring people who were into food and wine and not [just] for a paycheck, and I have a great staff back there. We opened strong. A lot of people were surprised at how fast and how well we came together.” She still works on the line most nights, expediting and tasting plates before they go out. When necessary, she’ll fill in any position from garde-manger to line chef.
The final question: What are suprèmes? They’re the citrus fruit sections (navel orange, mandarin, ruby grapefruit, whatever) that lurk in the depths of the lemon parfait.
1125 Rosecrans Street (at Cañon), village of Point Loma, 619-450-6800, rosevillesd.com.
- HOURS: Seven days, 5:30 to about 9:30 p.m. weeknights and Sunday; to 10:30 p.m. weekends or when busy.
- PRICES: Appetizers, $11–$20; entrées, $19–$32; desserts, $8–$16.
- CUISINE AND BEVERAGES: California-French seasonal cuisine with fine ingredients. Well-chosen international wine list at wide price range ($29–$2950), 18 choices by the glass.
- PICK HITS: Asparagus salad, herb-crusted albacore, foie gras torchon, duck confit, pommes frites, hazelnut brown butter cake, lemon chiffon parfait. Chef’s picks: halibut with brandade, Monday-night special Meyer beefburgers (plus confit, lemon chiffon parfait).
- NEED TO KNOW: Hard-to-find, narrow restaurant entrance is between a large drugstore and Village Liquors (look for small dining patio). Parking (and actual front entrance) in back. Atmosphere elegant but comfortable; norm is dressy-casual to slightly dressy.