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From Madison Avenue to Margaritas: Meet Ian Tenzer, Puesto’s New R&D Chef

Tune in to episode 239 of the Happy Half Hour podcast

Welcome back to Happy Half Hour! We are sorry, the audio quality this week isn’t fully up to par. You can blame David for being in Las Vegas for a heavy metal concert. This week our special guest is Ian Tenzer, the executive research and development chef at Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar. Ian joined the company last fall, which started in La Jolla and now serves its popular tacos and micheladas at nine locations in Southern California. Ian moved here from New York, where he worked with acclaimed chef Daniel Humm for several years and as sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, which has three Michelin stars and was named the World’s Best Restaurant in 2017. In his current role, Ian creates new menu items for all of Puesto’s locations, which he calls a “dream position,” and he’s working on making their operations completely environmentally sustainable. We chat with Ian about what it really means to be a “zero-waste” restaurant and how he’s doing it, what it was like to cook at Eleven Madison Park, and the new fall/winter menu we can expect at Puesto. He also shares details about their newest restaurant, Marisi, which will open in La Jolla early next year. And if you want to experience more of Ian’s cooking, he’ll be at a new local chef dinner series at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel on September 14.

In Hot Plates, Tahini is expanding its shawarma restaurant in Kearny Mesa, and is also opening a new Middle Eastern coffee and dessert shop. Chula Vista Brewery is opening its second location soon in Eastlake; the new tasting room will also feature Texas barbecue from Oak and Anchor BBQ. In case you missed it, a local chef based in San Marcos is competing on Christina Tosi’s new Netflix show, Bake Squad. We also have a call for pitches for an upcoming issue of San Diego Magazine—tune in to find out how you can contribute if you have a story to share with us!

In Two People, $50, Ian’s recommendation is the Spam musubi from Leilani’s Cafe in Pacific Beach (which I was thrilled to hear!). Troy says to try the lamb meatball with ras el hanout (a North African spice mix) and naan at Arlo in Mission Valley. My pick this week is the shrimp tempura udon at Musashiya in Kearny Mesa.

Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at [email protected]. See you next week!

Ian Tenzer

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