Meet Ironside’s New Executive Chef, Danielle Van Steen
CH Project’s maritime-themed Little Italy restaurant, Ironside Fish & Oyster – always on our list of the best restaurants in San Diego – has welcomed Chef Danielle Van Steen to serve as their new Executive Chef.
Originally from the north shore of Massachusetts, Van Steen boasts over 20 years of culinary experience dating back to when she was just a teenager. Bringing a worldliness, curiosity, and hunger to push boundaries to Ironside, Van Steen is introducing new dishes and philosophies to Ironside’s seafood-forward menu.
Right now, she’s most excited about the Bone Marrow with tuna tartare, salsa verde, sesame, and smoked trout, which was an original Ironside dish that she put her own personal spin on.
With a naturalist approach to cooking, holding the belief that something worth sharing requires integrity from start to finish, Van Steen’s putting sustainable and seasonal foods at the forefront on Ironside’s menu featuring dishes that utilize the whole animal to limit waste.
With Chef Van Steen at the helm, pulling inspiration from her East Coast roots, Ironside is reminiscent of her Massachusetts childhood, where she spent her summers grabbing snacks at seafood shacks and enjoying her father’s specialty of grilled swordfish with freshly squeezed lemon.
Competitive and tenacious
Having started her career at 15 making cakes at a local ice cream parlor, Van Steen first fell in love with cooking as a pastry chef. A self-proclaimed competitive person, Van Steen recognized as a girl that there was a dire need for female representation in many male-dominated activities and professions.
A star athlete and cross-country runner in high school, Van Steen thrived as the only female (at the time) on the all-boys team, inspiring her school to create a coed team to encourage more female participation.
Later in life, Van Steen’s same tenacity contributed to her career pivot away from being strictly a pastry chef after realizing the disparaging pay gap between chefs and pastry-specific chefs, as well as the unspoken yet blatant gender roles attached to women as pastry chefs and men as chefs.
Although it was bittersweet for Van Steen to stray away from pastry, this career shift helped expand her breadth of culinary knowledge, and allowed her to pave the way for other women in the industry.
Establishing herself first as a knowledgeable business owner, creating a successful farm-to-table food truck in Austin, Texas from 2016 to 2019, Van Steen has also worked as Chef de Cuisine at The Silver Bough and Executive Chef at Bettina, bringing a wealth of experience to her new role.
See you there
At Ironside, Chef Danielle Van Steen will continue to serve the classics, like the Lobster Roll and the Octopus a la Plancha, while simultaneously incorporating new menu items that highlight locally sourced seafood, produce and ingredients to bring out the highest quality flavors in each dish.
Ironside Fish & Oyster is located at 1654 India St, San Diego, CA 92101.
See you there, San Diego!