Chef DJ? This man is legit.

I know…Random intro, but straight to the point.

This past Monday, I had the opportunity to attend a pop-up dinner at JRDN, the oceanfront steak and seafood restaurant at Tower 23 Hotel, helmed by Chef “DJ”.

Aptly themed Surf & Turf, it was a collaboration between Chef DJ & one of San Diego’s local seafood distributors, Pacific Shellfish. In case you missed it, make sure you’re following our Facebook page to stay in the know! Over the past few years, JRDN has been a go to hangout of mine, more so during the summer months, where you can catch great sunsets, cocktails and food.

Chef D.J.

Photo Jan 12, 1 43 32 AM

As of a few months ago, he’d been promoted to Executive chef of JRDN, and thanks his social media pages, I was re-inspired to come back to visit, this time in the winter!

If you haven’t met Chef DJ, ask for him next time you’re at his restaurant. Do it. From the get go, you’ll make note of a few things. He’s a humble and nice guy, and when it comes to his food, he wants you to love it. He really puts his heart into each dish, and reading over his Chef’s Roll profile, you’ll see why. He spent his childhood surrounded by food saying, “Cooking and running a business was imprinted in my DNA…both my parents are great cooks…”

Enter Pacific Shellfish.

PacificPhoto Jan 12, 1 27 38 AM

The locally owned and operated seafood company has been in business for 30 years, focusing sales and distribution exclusively to the San Diego community. I had a moment to talk to Rich, one of Pac Shell‘s sales reps, before the dinner, and you could tell he was just as excited as I was. He had worked with Chef DJ previously at Whisknladle and was excited to continue that relationship. On my way to my seat, I saw a couple of familiar faces and made new friends. My table-mates were lively, funny, and enjoyed food as much as I did. Win! Good food pairs well with good times!

The dinner was kicked off by an army from the kitchen, alongside Chef DJ.

From the get-go, he thanked us for attending and started us off with mouth-watering descriptions of the dishes making their way to us. Amuse bouche for days. Heaven.

I can’t remember the last time a pop-up went so well. The quality, the quantity, and the flavor were up to par – sentiments shared by all of us. I think every dish was licked clean and left us wanting the next.

The Dishes

Food 5
Sea Bass Tartare – Scallions / picled ginger / white soy ponzu / sesame oil & Beef Heart Tartare – Capers / Fine herbs / Cornichons / Dijon mustard / Chili oil / Olive oil
Food 7
Pig Ear Salad – Pan roasted scallops / frisee salad / lime vinaigrette / pickled fresno chili
Food 6
Tuna Carpaccio – Foie gras torchon / Brioche bun / Octopus / Chives / Lemon wedge / Sea Salt
Food 8
Pacific Opah – Oxtail croquette / Wine braised onion / Brussel leaves / Thyme roasted b-nut / Celery root puree
Food 9
Pavlova Dome – Lemon curd diplomat / Pandon Sugar glass / Tropical fruits

Throughout the night you could see Chef DJ was as excited as we were. He made the rounds ensuring everyone was satisfied. Mission accomplished. But don’t take my word for it. Go and see for yourself. They have a Chef’s Tasting Menu at JRDN, which I’m looking forward to trying as well.

p.s. Make sure you follow him here and keep and eye out for the next event!!

More info on The Feast with Friends Series here!

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