Getting Outside the Kitchen

Getting Outside the Kitchen

Those that follow me on Instagram or Twitter have noticed that we’ve been doing a fair amount of guest chef/food events this summer. While we say "no" more than we say "yes" to these requests throughout the year, there are four reasons I like to get outside the restaurant and participate:

  1. It’s a cause I believe in and feel I can contribute to by participating.
  2. It’s a city I want to visit.
  3. It’s someone with whom I want to cook.
  4. It’s good for the restaurant from a marketing perspective.

Here’s a look at our recent run of events and why we opted in.


On July 17, I did a collaboration dinner with Chad White at his new restaurant Común Kitchen and Tavern in downtown San Diego. Chad and I have crossed paths doing other events together and I’ve watched his career path and been impressed with his relationship with Baja—his first restaurant was opened in Tijuana. I’ve felt for years that San Diego chefs (including me) have not supported active collaboration with our south of the border restaurant friends. So, it was good to see him bridging the gap the same way Javier Plascencia did in the opposite direction.

Chad has a huge local following and the opening of his new place was big news. So, in addition to feeling honored to be his first guest chef on the restaurant’s first night open to the public, it was also a great opportunity to get in front of a new audience and remind guests that while George’s at the Cove may be a 30-year old restaurant, we’re still highly relevant and a respected leader in the industry. It was a great experience, and I felt really comfortable and excited to play with Chad’s style of Baja/Mediterranean/San Diego food. Check out some pictures from the event below. 

Soaking chiles for mole.

Dried fig mole.

Jidori chicken with fig mole, almonds, onion and Chino Farms corn.

After party tacos of tres chanchitos, pork tail, crispy ear and cuerito salad.


Next up was Austin to cook with Ned Elliott at Foreign & Domestic. Ned and I have been social media friends for a while, and he knew of me from working with some guys that used to work for me, including Rory Roman whom he worked with at Alain Ducasse at the Essex. Ned started an annual event called “Indie Chefs Week” and a series called “Indie Chefs Table” where he brings up-and-coming and established indie chefs into his restaurant. Coupled with the fact that Austin is a super fun town with great food, I couldn’t resist the invitation.

Foreign & Domestic is a very small restaurant, just 45 seats, so it’s a way to really connect with both a chef I admire and a small, devoted group of guests. We decided to do a Mexican theme–WxSW–given both our cities are heavily influenced by Mexican culture. It was too good to pass up. Check out a few photos from the event below and view more here.

Jon Bautista, our chef de cuisine, traveled with me and stayed an extra day to spend some time in the kitchen at Qui, his friend Paul Qui’s place. If you’re planning a trip to Austin, make sure to check out Jon’s blog post with the top five places he ate during his time there.

The menu for August 4th.

Chef Trey and Chef Ned discussing the details during line-up.

Chef Ned’s blistered corn and squash with sungolds and crema.

Chef Trey's California Modern fish taco.


A few days after I got back from Austin was an event I help to organize each year—the ECOLIFE Annual Gala to benefit my good friend Bill Toone’s non-profit. I do whatever I can to help his cause, which in this case involves choosing the chefs to help cook for the fundraiser. I tend to choose friends, as it’s a very relaxed environment. We each take a course for the family style dinner, and all help out. As far as charity events go, this hits all levels for me—it’s local, I believe in it and it’s a great way to hang out with my San Diego chef friends, which is hard to do when you’re running a restaurant. Check out photos from the event here.

Getting outside the kitchen is important for chefs. Whether spending time in another chef’s kitchen or spending time at a community event, it allows us to keep an open mind and question what we do day-in and day-out. I always come back from these experiences with a renewed sense of what we are doing at George’s, as well as some ideas that will undoubtedly help make us a better restaurant.