Chef Celebration Returns For Its 20th Dinner Series | Over 50 Local Chefs Unite To Build San Diego's Culinary Future

March 11, 2015

With a unified passion and desire to help build a foundation for San Diego’s culinary future, more than 50 award-winning chefs from around the county will come together to donate their talents and tastes for the charitable Chef Celebration Annual Dinner Series. Founded in 1995 by a small group of local gourmands, Chef Celebration strives to enhance the knowledge and potential of young, aspiring culinarians in San Diego. Through a series of events held annually the foundation has raised over $225,000 to provide culinary scholarships to more than 80 individual recipients, many of which have become staples within San Diego’s culinary community including Hanis Cavin of Carnitas’ Snack Shack, Victor Jimenez of Cowboy Star and Denise Roa of Art Institute.

This year’s 20th Annual Chef Celebration Dinner Series celebrates a monumental milestone. As one of the only charitable organizations of its kind within the United States, the foundation provides chefs the unique opportunity to unite as philanthropic leaders while stepping out of their kitchens to give back to the communities that helped build their success.

Trio of lamb from 2014 Chef Celebration Dinner at Pamplemousse
Luminaries such as Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room, Jeff Jackson of A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Stephane Voitzwinkler of Bertrand at Mister A’s, Jeffrey Strauss of Pamplemousse Grille and many more have been heavily involved with the foundation for the past decade. With an influx of powerhouse chefs getting directly involved on the Board of Directors for the first time, including Matt Gordon of Urban Solace, Amy DiBiase of Tidal, Jason McLeod of Ironside Fish & Oyster, Tim Kolanko of Stake Chophouse & Bar and Lance Repp of Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, in addition to a surge of first time participants such as Jerry Warner of Café Japengo, David Abela of West Steak and Seafood and Tina Luu of Art Institute, the organization anticipates 2015 to be record-setting year.

“Our organization has been so fortunate to have the enthusiastic involvement of so many great local chefs,” says Jim Phillips, President of Chef Celebration. “Our participating chefs volunteer their time to a number of charitable foundations throughout the year, but what makes Chef Celebration so unique and special to them is the fact that this organization directly gives back to their local culinary community. I invite all those who have benefitted from charitable chef participation in the past to come out and support one of the Chef Celebration events and acknowledge the philanthropic force of this amazing chef community.”

Chef Celebration’s Annual Dinner Series pairs teams of top chefs with ambitious young talent creating weekly, multi-course meals for one evening only at five participating host restaurants. Kicking off at Pamplemousse Grille on Tuesday, March 31, the series continues each subsequent Tuesday throughout April at Terra American Bistro, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, La Valencia Hotel, and Tidal at Paradise Point. Completing the series on Sunday, May 3, Chef Celebration’s annual Beer Master Pairing Event at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station will see an expansive selection of food & beer pairings from 13 of the city’s top chefs and 13 award-winning local breweries. “Certified Cicerone” and Stone Brewing Co. Craft Beer Ambassador Dr. Bill Sysak will be curating the innovative lineup of bites and brews.

Greg Koch, Jim Phillips and Alex Carballo
A portion of all proceeds raised by Chef Celebration’s collaborative ‘Annual Dinner Series’ as well as May’s ‘Beer Master Pairing Event’ directly benefit the organization’s culinary scholarship program that sends ambitious lower and mid-level cooks on an all-expenses-paid, intensive, weeklong training course at the highly regarded Culinary Institute of America Greystone in Napa. Last year, 12 young guns from notable eateries including Table 10, Ballast Point, A.R. Valentien, Urban Solace, Poseidon, Waypoint Public, and Juniper & Ivy attended. This year, Chef Celebration aims to send 12 new rising star chefs come late September, who will be given the opportunity to learn from the best in their profession.

Additional details for each Chef Celebration dinner are included below. Select beer or wine pairings for each menu will be available for an additional fee. Reservations can be made via phone with each restaurant directly. For more information on Chef Celebration and the 20th Annual Dinner Series, visit

5-course menu, $85 per person
Reservations available from 5-8:30pm.

Jeffrey Strauss | Pamplemousse Grille
Bernard Guillas | The Marine Room
Tommy DiMella | Del Mar Country Club
Stephane Voitzwinkler | Bertrand at Mister A’s
Jeff Jackson | A.R. Valentien, The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Pamplemousse Grille, 514 Via De La Valle, Solana Beach (858) 792-9090

5-course menu, $65 per person
Reservations available for a 6:15pm and an 8:15pm seating

Jeff Rossman | Terra American Bistro
Sam The Cooking Guy
Sara Polczynski | The Blind Burro
Hanis Cavin | Carnitas' Snack Shack
Matt Gordon | Urban Solace, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, Sea & Smoke

Terra American Bistro, 7091 El Cajon Boulevard (619)293-7088

5-course menu, $65 per person
Reservations available from 5-9pm

Lance Repp | Tom Ham's Lighthouse
Chad White | Común Kitchen & Tavern
Anthony Sinsay | Jakes Del Mar, Duke's La Jolla
Jason McLeod | Ironside Fish & Oyster, Soda & Swine
Joe Magnanelli | Urban Kitchen Group: CUCINA urbana, CUCINA enoteca

Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, 2150 Harbor Island Drive (619) 291-9110

5-course menu, $65 per person
Reservations available from 5:30-9pm

James Montejano | La Valencia Hotel
Jerry Warner | Café Japengo
Brian Brown | Cardiff Seaside Market
David Abella | West Steak and Seafood
Tina Luu | The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes

La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla (858) 454-0771

5-course menu, $65 per person
Reservations available from 4:30-8pm

Amy DiBiase | Tidal
Matt Richman | Table 926
Andrew Bachelier | CUCINA enoteca
Karrie Hills | The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar
Tim Kolanko | Stake Chophouse & Bar, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge

Tidal, Paradise Point Resort, 1404 Vacation Road (858) 490-6363



Top chefs and brewers from around the city will gather to celebrate the official closing event of the Chef Celebration Spring Dinner Series. Held annually at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station, attendees can enjoy live entertainment while they sip and savor 14 small dishes created by a number of outstanding local chefs alongside 14 brews paired by “Certified Cicerone” and Stone Brewing Co. Craft Beer Ambassador Dr. Bill Sysak. Tickets are $49 per person and are available online via Chef Celebration here or Stone Brewing Co. here.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens | 816 Historic Decatur Road | 619.269.2100 |