James Montejano

"Treasure the farmer. Nurture the soil. Plant wherever you are. Cultivate your palate. Eat whole foods. Share the harvest." Alice Waters
scallop and uni crudo
11th Annual Chef Showdown: Our mission at Center for Community Solutions is to end relationship and sexual violence by being a catalyst for caring communities and social justice. This one-of-a-kind fundraising event is not to be missed! Chef James is a competing chef at Chef Showdown.
KAABOO Rock'n Chef Competition, September 19, 2015: Chef’s Roll has selected six chefs to participate in the inaugural KAABOO Rock'n Chef Competition. The chefs will compete in a “winner-takes-all” competition on September 19th, 2015 at the KAABOO music festival at the Del Mar Racetrack. Chef Montejano will be one of six competitors. #chefsrollkaaboo
Berry Good Night Dinner 2015: Now in its sixth year, Berry Good Night celebrates local growers, ranchers, and producers, along with championing the ideology of sustainable food. It unites kindred spirits—artisans, food activists, farmers, ranchers, winemakers, brewers, writers, chefs, restaurateurs and dedicated locavores—for an evening of conscious conversation over a sensory sustainable feast.
California Culinary Academy. San Francisco, CA
Aqua. San Francisco, CA
Sous Chef
Pampelmousse. Solana Beach, CA
Japengo. La Jolla, CA
Executive Chef
Black & Blue. Valley Center, CA
Executive Chef
Jade Theater. San Diego, CA
Executive Chef
La Papagayo. Leucadia, CA
Michael Mina. San Francisco, CA
Sous Chef
The Trident. Sausalito, CA
Executive Chef
La Valencia. La Jolla, CA
Executive Chef
Seaside Market. Cardiff, CA
Executive Chef
Kitchen management
Menu development
Food industry consulting
Product ordering
Food styling
Food/menu costing
Ingredient sourcing
Inventory control
Product ordering
  • 2016 Award Winner at the I Love Poke Festival
  • 2016 Taste of Cardiff - Best Taste
  • 2016 Berry Good Foundation Vegan Dinner
  • 2015 March of Dimes - Chef of the Fest
  • 2015 Wine Bay Fest - Best Seafood
  • 2014 Bay Wine Fest - Peopleschef
  • San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival 2014, "People's Choice"
James Montejano
James Montejano
Cardiff, CA
United States

Seaside Market
Executive Chef

A San Diego native, Chef James feels like his career path has been leading to La Valencia and its varied culinary opportunities. His first job after graduating from the California Culinary Academy was at Aqua in San Francisco where he trained under renowned chef restaurateurs George Morrone and Michael Mina, and was promoted to sous chef within just two years.

He then worked with Jeffrey Strauss at Pampelmousse in Solana Beach, which became one of San Diego's most popular dining destinations. His first Executive Chef position was in La Jolla at Japengo, where he spent three years and became known for his delicate and colorful Asian fusion cuisine. After winning two consecutive annual awards for Best Sushi from the California Restaurant Association, Chef James decided to widen his horizons. Over the next four years his experience included: heading a casino steakhouse in Valley View, launching Jade Restaurant in downtown San Diego, and introducing a sustainable, organic, farm-to-table menu at La Papagayo in Leucadia. He then grabbed an opportunity he couldn't resist - working with Michael Mina again as part of the reopening team of his Michelin Star Restaurant in San Francisco. Chef James relished the chance to prepare seasonal menus for such a food savvy clientele.

At The Trident in Sausalito - originally founded by the Kingston Trio in the 60's, his work focused on introducing a new seafood driven menu to this iconic Bay Area food & music destination. His menu featured local produce, sustainable seafood and artisan products and he remained deeply involved in the community through working closely with local farmers and vintners, through local events, festivals and of course, social media. "My mantra has always been that the art of successful cooking doesn't rely just on know-how." Montejano explains. "It comes from the heart. A good menu should challenge the palate and it needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life. "The words of Alice Waters really epitomize my approach to cooking 'Treasure the farmer. Nurture the soil. Plant wherever you are. Cultivate your palate. Eat whole foods. Share the harvest.'"

He then took over as Executive Chef of the iconic La Valencia hotel, making the hotel relevant for today's guest while still honoring the past and helping to take the hotel's eateries to the next level.

His next chapter just began at another iconic property - The Seaside Market in Cardiff!