“I am inspired by natural pure flavors” says Chef Syd, “I enjoy creating dishes with Asian & Southwestern influences.” He started his professional career in Austin, TX, developing a passion for cooking at a young age. Prior to landing an apprenticeship under Chef Janet Chaykin at Jean Pierre’s Upstairs, Chef Syd worked as a Private Chef for the Delta Zeta Sorority. This gave him the opportunity to spend summers working with a camp for chronically-ill children, Moncreif Mountain Ranch in Lake City, CO. After completing his training, he relocated to Colorado to work more closely with the camp and take over as Executive Chef & Co-Director of Moncrief Lodge. The lodge hosted weddings, corporate retreats, family vacations and Carson View Grill (the lodge’s public restaurant). He reminisces, “Working with the kids at Moncrief was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”
Wanting to expand his culinary knowledge, he started self-study of Asian cuisine. It was trying sushi for the first time that started a new direction in his career. Seeking out a sensei to train with took him to Santa Fe, NM and the opportunity to study under Sushi Master Toru Kumuro (originally from Sapporo, Japan) at Shohko Cafe. In 2001, he was awarded “Best Of” by Santa Fe Reporter for his Texas TnT roll – a unique sushi roll with a southwestern flair consisting of fresh Ahi Tuna with tempura green chile, avocado, cilantro and spicy sesame sauce. In the following years, he continued his studies with both Japanese and Korean Sushi Masters. His studies and travels eventually brought him to Southern California, where he took over as Sushi Chef for Market Restaurant in Del Mar, CA (2008-2011). “I consider myself a ‘non-traditional Sushi Chef, incorporating my Southwestern influences into my creations.”
During his career, Syd has worked in a variety of areas in the culinary field. Operating Zen Catering for several years (Santa Fe, NM), working with a private club; Las Campanas, teaching cooking classes (specializing in sushi), consulting with restaurants in opening sushi bars and developing menus, providing private chef services and training chefs new to the field. He has had the opportunity to cook for and meet celebrities and public figures, such as; John Travolta, Gene Hackman, President Bill Clinton, Adam Sandler, Governor Rick Perry and cartoonist, Charles Barsotti. Syd is currently working with several of the top restaurants and caterers of San Diego; Pamplemousse Grille, Toast catering, Convivial catering, Guiseppe Fine Catering, Cork & Platter, Eco catering, Coast Catering and Sushi Foods. Currently working with Big City Chefs (private Chef services). “The decision to become a Chef has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself.”
How long have you been working with Big City Chefs?
If I were a spice, I would be…
Cardamon-I love the warm spices and especially the exotic flavor of cardamon
My favorite local purveyors, artisans, and farmers:
Frequent the local Farmer’s Markets (Little Italy/Hillcrest) on a regular basis. One of my favorite parts of living in San Diego
What I love about cooking and hospitality…
I love creating dishes and events that resonate with the client, taking them on a food journey to places and cuisines they may not have experienced. I also like to give clients what I call the ‘Ratatouille (movie)’ experience, taking them back to a comfort food that reminds them of their early food experiences.
What are your top three go-to pantry items?
Tough to limit to 3-Infused Oils and Vinegars (housemade), Sriracha (craft hot sauces), Housemade Stocks and Demis