What is in this article?:
- Triple threat: Trey Foshee
- How the business has changed
Forget the views. Creative ideas from Trey Foshee keep George’s at the Cove on the public’s radar.
Trey Foshee manages the demands of a high-volume restaurant complex.
Trey Foshee navigates a lot of waves as executive chef and partner at George’s at the Cove. This La Jolla, CA, seaside institution houses three restaurants: California Modern, Ocean Terrace and George’s Bar. Ever on the lookout for ways to keep George’s at the top of its game, Foshee most recently rolled out three new “dining experience” menus spotlighting local ingredients at the sophisticated California Modern. Foshee spoke recently about the demands of a high-volume operation and how the San Diego dining scene is evolving.
With three restaurants, you must be very organized.
We call it one restaurant, but it’s really three concepts with a fair amount of crossover. The upper floor and middle floor share the same menu, more California bistro, what you would expect for a restaurant on the water: entrée salads, a lot of fish, everything simple and seasonal, uncomplicated presentations. Downstairs is California contemporary cuisine, more plated.
We have about 380 seats. During the summer, we serve 1,000-1,200 meals a day.
• Kentucky Pye cocktail recipe from California Modern at George's at the Cove
How do you produce that kind of volume and keep the show running smoothly?
When you think in terms of overall volume, it seems super big, but it’s divided up in an intelligent way. And we have a good amount of management involved in operating each level. At the front of the house, for example, we have an assistant general manager for each level, and each of them has an assistant manager. There’s very little crossover, so they really take ownership of their floor. It’s the same way in the kitchen. We have a chef de cuisine on two floors. It’s really like running two restaurants under one roof.
George’s occupies such an iconic location. What are some ingredients that say “Southern California” to you?
What grows here also grows elsewhere, it’s just that we have a longer growing season. We have tomatoes, corn and zucchini, just like everywhere else. But here, all that produce is picked in the morning, brought to the restaurant and used that day. A lot of our stuff never sees the refrigerator. More than anything that has a huge impact on the quality of the product.
We have seasonal products as well. During the main season for California avocados, we use a lot of them. We have avocados everywhere on our menu. About 90 percent of the avocados grown for us are from California, a large number of them from nearby. The quality of California avocados is far superior to any that you get from elsewhere.
When it comes to seafood, in San Diego you think of spot prawns, sea urchins and spiny lobster. But Asian countries have been buying most of our product the last few years and pricing us out of the market.
Do you consider certain dishes on the menu essential to your identity?
At California Modern, not as much. We change the menu a lot and people expect to see new and seasonal stuff. Upstairs it’s a little different. We change a bit less often, and people get attached to certain items. For instance, when halibut is in season, we have people calling to find out when it will be on the menu. It’s a super-simple dish, but people do back flips over it. We serve it with local corn and cherry tomatoes. It’s the same with fish tacos. We’ve had them on the menu since before I joined the restaurant. We sell about twice as many fish tacos as the next highest selling item. I can’t imagine changing those or taking them off the menu.