Barbara Zaragoza 8:04 p.m., Dec. 19
Ex-Counterpoint chef going the pop-up route
Chefing is a transient line of work. It’s common for culinary professionals from exec chef on down to prep cook to have lengthy résumés populated by a plethora of bullet-points denoting previous employers. It’s just the nature of the biz and nobody bats an eye when they hear a kitchen worker has left their post. Well, unless they are a part of the small sect of San Diego chefs that qualify as household names. They garner the attention of the dining public who, when they hear of a transition of any kind beg the questions: what, where and, inevitably, why?
In most cases, the why part is, frankly, nobody’s business but those who are part of the businesses in question. When everybody else in town is talking about they why, I feel inclined to as well, but prefer when I can stick to the what and the where. That’s what I’ll be covering here when talking about a recent chef move.
It was less than a month ago that I headed to South Park with some friends to get a second extensive taste of the cuisine being put out by the new chef to take-over neighborhood epicenter for food and socializing, Counterpoint (830 25th Street). That chef was Chad White, most recently of Point Loma’s Gabardine and Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park. We ordered nearly a dozen dishes. I photographed them all, took notes and was pleased that all that effort was worth it. The food was both delicious and creative; indeed worthy of being written about.Photo © Mike Pawlenty / Chefs Press, Inc.
This weekend, as I sat down to write, my iPhone buzzed. A text message had come through from White. As we thumbed our way through a conversation, he shared with me that he was no longer at Counterpoint. Considering I’d interviewed him less than two months prior, then spoken with him more during my last visit and both times he’d been extremely pleased with his job and the food he was putting out, this came as a shock.
Turns out, he wasn’t as ecstatic as he’d seemed and was jonesing to do something far different than the standard restaurant chef nine-to-five (make that eight-in-the-AM-to-midnight). Freshly severed from Counterpoint, he’s already working on his new venture, a pop-up operation called Plancha Baja Med. White’s new mission is to celebrate Mexican cuisine—not gringo-Mex, but the food he’s fallen love in since taking a huge interest, like most of the foodie world it would seem, in the authentic and cutting edge farm-to-table cuisine, both rustic and refined, being put out south of the border.
Starting on December 4, he’ll be posting up at North Park’s Carnitas’ Snack Shack (2632 University Avenue) on Tuesday evenings, presenting multi-course menus. Plancha is in its earliest stages. There aren’t many details, but surely there will be in the near future. A good way to stay on top of it is by following White on Twitter (@PlancaBajaMed).