Chef James Returns to His Hometown after working with Michael Mina in San Francisco and helming The Trident Seafood Restaurant in Sausalito
La Jolla, CA – (May 27, 2014) Chef James Montejano has had his heart set on working at La Valencia since he visited over a year ago.
“I love San Diego,” he explains “and if you know the city, you know La V. When I heard this classic, oceanfront Southern California hotel was undergoing a renaissance under new ownership, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
A San Diego native, Chef James feels like his career path has been leading to La V and its varied culinary opportunities. His first job after graduating from the California Culinary Academy was at Aqua in San Francisco where he trained under renowned chef restaurateurs George Morrone and Michael Mina, and was promoted to sous chef within just two years.
He then worked with Jeffrey Strauss at Pampelmousse in Solana Beach, which became one of San Diego’s most popular dining destinations. His first Executive Chef position was in La Jolla at Japengo, where he spent three years and became known for his delicate and colorful Asian fusion cuisine. After winning two consecutive annual awards for Best Sushi from the California Restaurant Association, Chef James decided to widen his horizons. Over the next four years his experience included: heading a casino steakhouse in Valley View, launching Jade Restaurant in downtown San Diego, and introducing a sustainable, organic, farm-to-table menu at La Papagayo in Leucadia. He then grabbed an opportunity he couldn’t resist – working with Michael Mina again as part of the reopening team of his Michelin Star Restaurant in San Francisco. Chef James relished the chance to prepare seasonal menus for such a food savvy clientele.
He comes to La V directly from The Trident in Sausalito – originally founded by the Kingston Trio in the 60’s. His work there focused on introducing a new seafood driven menu to this iconic Bay Area food & music destination. His menu featured local produce, sustainable seafood and artisan products and heremained deeply involved in the community through working closely with local farmers and vintners,through local events, festivals and of course, social media.
“My mantra has always been that the art of successful cooking doesn't rely just on know-how.” Montejano explains. “It comes from the heart. A good menu should challenge the palate and it needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.
“The words of Alice Waters really epitomize my approach to cooking ‘Treasure the farmer. Nurture the soil. Plant wherever you are. Cultivate your palate. Eat whole foods. Share the harvest.’” Montejano says that he understands that La V’s management is clear about honoring the past while making the hotel relevant for today’s guest and it will be his pleasure to help take the hotel’s eateries to the next level.
“We honor each and every chef who has worked here,” says Mark Dibella, Managing Director of La V. “Each of them contributed to what makes this hotel so unique and right for its time. Our guests needs continue to be paramount and we’re confident that James skills will surprise and delight them.”
About La Valencia Hotel: Owned and managed by Pacifica Host Hotels – a division of Pacifica Companies – La V features 112 completely renovated guest rooms and villas overlooking Ellen Browning Scripps Park and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Dining options at La V have all been enhanced with the hotel’s recent $10 million “reimagining” and include THE MED, a signature ocean facing restaurant and terrace featuring New American Cuisine, with the adjoining La Sala Lounge and the brand new street facing European bistro, Café La Rue. Ocean view banquet rooms accommodate 10 to 175 guests and the property includes terraced gardens, heated pool & spa, fitness room and business center. La V is located in the center of the Village of La Jolla and steps away to premier retail and dining.
Renowned leisure destinations are minutes away and include the La Jolla Cove, Torrey Pines State Park, Scripps Ocean Institute, the Birch Aquarium as well as UCSD / La Jolla Playhouse and the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art.