Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
Since opening Searsucker in the heart of the Gaslamp last year, partners Brian Malarkey and James Brennan have been riding a wave of initial success nearly unheard of in San Diego's fickle food scene. Easily the biggest thing to hit the local diningscape in the past year, the success of Searsucker (which is regularly packed all nights of the week and was mobbed to the point that they ran out of eggs during their inaugural Sunday brunch this weekend) has provided the duo the liberty to think big and move forward at a remarkably rapid pace.
Already, work is almost complete on Burlap, the duo's next restaurant (think whole animals on spits and plenty of Malarkey's cowboy personae with a bit of Asian flare thrown into the mix), which is slated to open in mid-to-late July in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center. Yet, even pre-open, that's already old news. Earlier this evening, Malarkey confirmed that he and Brennan are forging ahead with another ambitious project, a catering operation that will be called Campine.
This latest venture came about during a brainstorming session between Malarkey, Brennan (the businessman behind some of downtown's most patronized night spots, including Stingaree) and Stingaree executive chef Antonio Frisicia. Given Searsucker and Stingaree's wide-ranging appeal, the basic idea sounded solid, but in order to pull it off, they knew they'd need to bring in a top notch catering professional. They instantly fingered the man for the job and wasted no time approaching Andrew Spurgin, the executive chef/director at Waters Fine Catering.
Spurgin, who is regarded by many as SD's finest for-hire food firer, accepted their offer and immediately put his stamp on the operation by developing its handle. Campine refers to a specific type of chicken bred in the Campine region of Belgium. With three cocks in this henhouse, one might expect a bit of peckishness, but a system will be in place where each chef can play to their strenghts.
Campine will provide a wide-ranging variety of options to clients and chefs will be assigned to projects based on the individual desires of said clients. Those looking for pigs on spits or robust down-home flavors will be serviced primarily by Malarkey while customers looking for ultra-refined farm-to-table fare will get the doting, artistic brand of service Spurgin has made his name behind. A time table has yet to be set for the company's official debut, but given how fast everything else has come about for Malarkey and Brennan, it can't be too far around the corner.