I have a Lick the Plate interview bucket list of sorts that includes admired San Diego chefs and culinary personalities who are at the top of their game.
I’ve been checking that off lately with folks like Jeff Jackson from A.R. Valentein, Javier Plascencia from many fine establishments, Troy Johnson from San Diego Magazine and another Encinitas local Bernard Guillas from the Marine Room.
I just added chef-owner Trey Foshee from Georges at the Cove and his new venture Galaxy Taco.
Besides having the coolest chef name ever, he really is a chill, easy-going guy with a knack for storytelling and of course a huge culinary talent and I should say, superior taste in music, which means all over the map, the good music map. We had a fun conversation that airs the week of Sept. 21 on KPRI and is sampled from below.
You grew up in Hawaii and Ojai, California, what are your memories of food around the house and in each of those locations?
In Hawaii we had a lot of Japanese and Filipino friends growing up. I remember chewing on soy marinated and grilled tuna bones after a day of fishing, I used to fish and crab out the back of our house and my mom would cook the crabs and we would have them for dinner.
I grew up like any other Hawaiian kid, eating lots of rice and fish. Ojai we became a bit more pedestrian but started going out to dinner. One of our favorite places was The Ranch House, which ended up being my first restaurant job as a busboy.
You graduated from CIA Hyde Park, what was that experience like and where did you land out of culinary school?
I had a lot of experience going into Hyde Park and I took it pretty seriously. Lots of my classmates were less experienced and less serious.
I did my externship at L’Orangerie in Los Angeles and ended up staying longer because I was learning so much. I was the first extern to be allowed to work the hot line there. After graduation I moved to Santa Barbara and worked at San Ysidro Ranch then to San Francisco to work at La Folie, then to LA to open Rockenwagner restaurant and Bakery.
Tell me about your road to George’s at the Cove, where you have been for 16 years now!
I had been in Utah as the executive chef of Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort for a couple years, that’s where I married my wife Ximena and we had bought a home and were very happy.
I received the Food and Wine Best New Chef award in 1998 and that puts your name out there in all the headhunters. I was getting calls daily and turning them down.
Then I got a call and the headhunter talked me into a phone call with George, he was looking for a partner not a chef. Sundance countered but it was not enough and we sold everything and moved to SD.
I had an opportunity to experience your new venture Galaxy Taco in La Jolla Shores. Tell me how that came to be and describe the concept and the menu.
I have had a love for Mexican food and culture for years. I have always traveled and read about it and a couple years ago George and I figured out a way of making it happen. The concept is pretty casual; the only thing we take seriously are the ingredients. We source non GMO heirloom corn from Mexico and cook and grind and press our own masa for tortilla daily — not many places in California do that. We have a mixture of appetizers that fit our area near the beach with lots of seafood. We have 10 tacos available for both lunch and dinner as well as six entrees that all come with fresh corn tortillas and salsas.
One thing I noticed about Galaxy was the killer soundtrack. Tell me about that and some memorable shows you’ve experience.
Thanks! I wanted a really feel good vibe. I started with Mexican but I did not want it to be too standard so I started researching what music inspired bands like Los Lobos and that led me all over the place. I also feel there is a synergy between all the great Mexican music and rock and roll, and rock and roll allows us to also include country, soul and blues. We have everything from Lila Downs, Mariachi El Bronx, the Staples Singers, RL Burnside, the Clash, Lou Reed, Texas Tournadoes and Los Tucanes de Tijuana. I just kept picturing me in the restaurant drinking Mezcal and if the sound fit it went on the list. Memorable shows would be seeing REM in Santa Barbara in the mid-80s, Jane’s Addiction acoustic at the Laja Club in LA in like ‘85. Lots of great shows with X. I lived in the valley in LA and went to the Palomino a lot, saw lots of rock-country bands, Blasters, X, Knitters, Dave Alvin, even Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams played there back in the day.
You live with your wife and kids in Encinitas, what are some of your favorite restaurants in town?
We keep it pretty simple and eat at home a lot. They go to Chipotle for convenience, we also visit Kaito sushi on a regular basis, Solace and the Moonlight lounge to see my buddy Matt, we hit up Besta-Wan, VGs, Lotus café for healthy stuff, Bettys tacos, El Nopalito, there is a new place called Good on Ya that’s great for breakfast and for coffee its Zumbar in Cardiff. My wife and I get to The Sake House every once in a while as well.
Are there other local businesses that you and your family frequent?
We do a lot of beach stuff so all the surf shops including Mitch’s and Hansen’s. Food shopping includes Seaside Market and Whole Foods.
You are a surfer as well, what spots do you enjoy the most?
I like to say anywhere from O’side to Del Mar but lately with Galaxy taking up a lot of my time it’s a quick bodysurf at Georges. I surf Boneyards, D Street and Georges the most.
Any events at George’s or Galaxy that folks should know about?
Heck ya! Restaurant Week starts Sept. 20 through Sept. 27. On Oct. 18 we are having a book signing at Galaxy Taco for Enrique Olvera, one of the best chefs in Mexico and owner of Pujol in Mexico City and Cosme in NYC. Info at goodearthgreatchefs.com to make reservations call the restaurant at (858) 228-5655
Nov. 1 Dia de Los Muertos dinner with Chef Ray Garcia from Broken Spanish and B.S. Taqueria in LA, Carlos Salgado from Taco Maria in Costa Mesa and Javier Plascencia from Bracero in Little Italy and numerous spots in TJ. We are still working out the details but check our web site and sign on with your email to receive our email notices.
We also started brunch a couple weeks ago on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cheers!
Lick the Plate can now be heard on KPRi, 102.1 FM Monday – Friday during at 4:10 and 7:10 p.m. David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.