Meet Florent’s New Chef, Abe BotelloEat + Drink There's a renaissance going down in the Gaslamp, and it starts with great food!
TheresSanDiego.com was fortunate to sit down with Florent’s new chef, Abe Botello, to get the scoop on his decision to head to the Gaslamp from North Park, and his plans for Florent’s menu now that he’s running the kitchen.
TSD: Congrats on your new position with Florent! Tell me about your new adventure in the Gaslamp.
CHEF: Correct yes, I’m excited to say that I’m going to the Gaslamp for the first time. I have never worked in this area in my ten years in the field, so it’s an exciting change. I’ve always been in North Park, so this is something different for me.
TSD: Well, change is usually good. What prompted the change for you?
CHEF: Well the opportunity just kind of presented itself, and I felt like it was the right one for the next step in my career. I’m not the kind of person that jumps around from place to place – I’ve actually had just two jobs prior to this one over the last ten years.
When I graduated I started with Urban Solace – I started as a prep cook and worked my way up to a line cook and then sous chef. When Matt Gordon (the owner) opened up the second location in Encinitas, I moved up there to help open and run that location.
And then I was at West Coast Tavern in North Park as Executive Chef, where I stayed for five years.
But this was the right move at the right time for me.
I’ll be working directly with Florent as Operational Executive Chef, and I’ll be working to shape the kitchen operations of a few of the other businesses they are associated with as well.
TSD: Sounds like a very cool opportunity! Tell me a little bit about your background; how did you get into this field?
CHEF: I come from a restaurant background, so I was born into it [his family owned Los Pinos in Imperial Beach].
I was alway wanting to change things and implement new items to the menu, but I was too young. My parents would tell me that maybe one day I could have my own restaurant so I could use my ideas.
But when I graduated high school, I was interested in becoming an architect, and I attended City College and the New School of Architecture for a while. I was young and wasn’t paying too much attention to school, so that didn’t pan out too well for me.
After that I went into the Art Institute’s culinary program, and the rest is history.
TSD: It seems like the Gaslamp is drawing a lot of talent down there right now; do you feel like it’s going through some sort of – I don’t know – renaissance or something?
CHEF: Yes, I would agree with that. When I was in North Park, I got to see a lot of talent and a lot of really great restaurants pop up in that area over time. It’s a neighborhood with a really strong reputation now.
And I feel like for a long time the Gaslamp has sold itself on its party scene, but now I’m starting to see new restaurants pop up with great chefs, and the style and the service that they’re offering is top notch, so I feel like it it is going through a revamp.
The team at Florent is committed to that, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
TSD: Yeah, I only moved here three years ago and, having lived in other major cities, I feel like what’s happening right now with the Gaslamp will give locals a whole new set of reasons to go down there, which will be great for the city.
CHEF: Exactly. You know a lot of locals have historically stayed away from downtown because it’s a tourist attraction, but that’s changing.
TSD: Yeah, I agree and I think that’s good. Anything that adds to the character down there, and makes it a more well-rounded neighborhood, I think is good for everybody.
Well, I’m sure you have plans already in mind for what you’re going to do at Florent when you arrive… Can you tell me about your ideas so far?
CHEF: Well, today is actually my first official day, so…
TSD: Oh, congratulations!
CHEF: Thank you! I’ll be launching the new menu in October, but I can you some some insights on what you can expect.
We want to stick to a kind of ‘Modern Americana’ with our menu. I come from a background where food was sourced directly from the local farmers and vendors, and that’s what we want to bring to downtown.
I’m planning on a really nice pork shank… we’ll have a short rib entree on the menu… and we’ll have corn bread with smoke tomato jam that’s very tasty.
And we’ll have a lot of options that are very shareable for people to come here and have a drink and socialize over good food.
My goal is a menu that both tourists and locals will be excited to come back for over and over.
We were lucky to get an early taste of a few of Chef Abe’s menu items, and we can say for sure that the menu will be a big hit. Keep an eye out for the new menu’s release in October!