Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., March 16
La Jolla Shores Stalwart's Chef Rotation Is All Aces
I often compare the chef scene in San Diego to professional sports. Like the scores of teams that make up the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball, the restaurant industry is constantly in flux.
There's always some spot letting go of or hiring on kitchen talent. It's like a never-ending free agency period, and this year has been one of the craziest since SD started moving higher in the national resto food chain. Last week, I reported that Augie Saucedo had left his post as chef de cuisine at The Shores Restaurant to take an executive chef position at Sycuan Resort & Casino. Well, it took less than a week for the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club (to which The Shores Restaurant belongs) to sign coveted veteran free agent, Amy DiBiase.
DiBiase made a name for herself and her cuisine in a big way at Laurel, a Bankers Hill spot for haute cuisine that was converted to Cucina Urbana two years ago, long after DiBiase had moved to Roseville. The latter venue provided DiBiase the opportunity to showcase her Mediterranean-ingredients-meet-classic-French cuisine. Locals and fans from Laurel responded favorably and her involvement with local celebrichef group, Cooks Confab (http://www.cooksconfab.com), provided her increased visibility, to the point where she was regarded as being near or at the top of San Diego's female chef heap by the majority of local foodies.
Despite solid food, Roseville struggled to bring in a steady clientele. Shortly before that restaurant closed its doors, DiBiase made an unexpected move to The Cosmopolitan in Old Town that registered as the tiniest of blips on her résumé after disagreements with management resulted in a parting of ways shortly thereafter. Since then, DiBiase has been consulting and, though she's been out of the spotlight, she's not been forgotten.
Her resurfacing into a full-time role will be significant for SD dining enthusiasts who've enjoyed pelting me and other food writers with the question, "Where's Amy at?" and "When's she coming back?" With that question answered, now we can all start wondering how she'll operate with one of San Diego's longest-tenured and most-respected chefs, Bernard Guillas (most popularly known as the head of the Marine Room) as her boss.
Going back to the sports analogy, the LJBTC's current line-up of chefs -- Guillas, DiBiase, and Marine Room chef de cuisine Ron Oliver -- is a lot like the Philadelphia Phillies' current starting pitching rotation...all aces. There is no weak link, and it'll be interesting to see how such strong chefs balance the selflessness required for long-term collaboration with the inherent desire to shine by their own merits.
DiBiase will officially take over the second-to-last week of August. The Shores Restaurant is located at 8110 Camino Del Oro in La Jolla.