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.
How the business has changed
For California Modern, you created a deconstructed version of that taco that has generated a lot of attention. What inspired that idea?
The restaurant community has grown a lot since I arrived in San Diego. But many people still say that when they think of San Diego, food-wise, they think fish tacos. That is something we should be celebrating. We are in San Diego. It’s fish taco land. So I looked at the grilled fish tacos that we serve upstairs and started thinking about an upscale version.
I was working on it without success, but then I went to Baja California. Eating fish tacos down there, traditionally they batter and fry fish. I started thinking about a Baja-style fish taco and taking the elements apart. I looked at the list and said we can put all these things on a plate in a variety of ways. Why not turn the fish part into a shell? What about using corn nuts instead of the corn tortilla? So I turned raw yellowfin into the “tortilla” and crusted it with corn nuts. Then I figured we needed something breaded and fried, and the avocado was missing, so we said let’s bread and fry that.
You’ve been here since 1999 and before that at a number of prominent West Coast restaurants. How has the business changed?
One big change is the area of sustainability and the responsibility that chefs have to understand where their products are from and how they are raised. When I was a young cook we didn’t need to know anything about that. We were concerned about what tasted great and what fit the style of the restaurant, and that’s it. Now you are forced to ask whether you are using that beef just because it tastes good or because it’s a healthy, well-managed product. I think that’s a positive.
The second thing I’ve seen is a change in the type of people looking at the kitchen as a career. It sounds cliché, but when I was younger, this was not a profession that was highly respected. Maybe if you got a job at certain restaurants people would say “wow!” But with the media attention, and with people genuinely more interested in food, there’s a big difference. People coming into the business sometimes have a less clear understanding of what the industry is. Some people think it will be all about creativity, and they kind of glorify it. Then they see the reality of it. Other people see it as a brutal business and take pride in it and see it as an art form.
There are a lot of hard-working young cooks out there. I think they are more knowledgeable and more educated about what’s going on in the industry. They come into it with an agenda and know they need to develop certain skills. When I was coming up I happened to find myself in a good restaurant. I didn’t know what I was going to do in five years.
With a spectacular location like yours, many operators would go on culinary cruise control. But you haven’t.
I am one of three owners, and we are constantly trying to improve what we do. Yes, we have a location that would allow us to pretty much rest on our laurels and not work that hard. But we are constantly trying to improve the service, food, beverages, where we get our products. It’s something we think about every day. George’s has been around a long time, and it keeps getting better.