Chef James Montejano Departs Downtown San Diego's Huntress To Lead Kitchen At International Smoke In Del Mar

June 3, 2021

Seasoned San Diego chef James Montejano has left his role as corporate executive chef of RMD Group and their Gaslamp steakhouse Huntress and will return to the employ of his mentor Michael Mina, taking the lead in the kitchen at International Smoke in Del Mar. 

Highly-respected native chef James Montejano joined RMD Group in fall 2018 to assist the growing hospitality company in developing the culinary side of the company's numerous dining venues, including the multi-concept restaurant constructed at the historic Grand Pacific Hotel building in the heart of the Gaslamp. When Huntress steakhouse finally opened last summer, Montejano led the kitchen at the downtown destination restaurant. 

After graduating from the California Culinary Academy in 1993, James Montejano started working 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. His first Executive Chef position was in La Jolla at Cafe Japengo. After winning two consecutive annual awards for Best Sushi from the California Restaurant Association, Chef James decided to widen his horizons

Over the next few years, Chef Montejano headed a casino steakhouse in Valley View, launched Jade Restaurant in downtown San Diego, and introduced a sustainable, organic, farm-to-table menu at La Papagayo in Leucadia. He then seized an opportunity to return northward to work with Michael Mina again as part of the reopening team of his Michelin Star Restaurant in San Francisco. Before taking over the kitchen at La Valencia in 2014, Chef James worked at The Trident in Sausalito. In April 2016, the self-appointed "People's Chef" left The Pink Lady to assist in the expansion of Cardiff Seaside Market. Montejano’s accolades include People’s Choice and Best Seafood honors at the 2014 San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, and in 2015 he was voted Best of the Best Dining at Battle of the Chef Bands, as well as March of Dimes’ Best of the Fest.

Montejano will take over as Executive Chef of Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry's International Smoke, which opened in Del Mar's One Paseo complex in July 2019. Expect Montejano to add his own flare to the chef-driven wood-fire based menu. There is no word on who will take over as Executive Chef of Huntress.