Learn to cook opah
Opah are a culinary rarity with seven distinct cuts ranging in texture, color and fat content. San Diego’s chefs have been experimenting with opah and developing recipes to showcase the full culinary potential of this one-of-a-kind fish!
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating at least eight ounces of seafood per week, or about two servings. Eating seafood provides you with lean protein, healthy omega-3 fats like EPA & DHA, vitamins D & B12, and minerals like iron, selenium, zinc and iodine. Seafood promotes brain development, heart health, and has been linked to lower risk of depression.
Meet the Chefs
California native Davin Waite began his career as a sushi chef at Ichiban in Santa Barbara under the instruction of Chef Hiro, a local legend and master of sushi as well as French and Italian cuisine. He honed his skills at San Diego’s Café Japengo before returning to his home city of Oceanside to co-found The Fish Joint. Today Waite is the owner of Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, a restaurant created in his own image: scrappy, irreverent and constantly pushing boundaries. It began as a pop-up but has become a destination for those who appreciate Waite’s creative and delicious approach to minimizing waste and celebrating local and sustainably sourced products.
Davin’s opah recipes:
With a well-traveled upbringing and degree anthropology, Michelle Allen brings to the kitchen a diverse perspective and zest for knowledge. After moving to San Diego in 2010 and completing culinary school, she landed her first kitchen job at Cucina Urbana as a line cook and advanced to head pasta maker. Three years at Ironside Fish & Oyster revealed her aptitude for whole fish butchery, leading the restaurant’s management group to hire her in 2017 as lead butcher for its steakhouse, Born & Raised. She still holds the position today and is currently learning the art of charcuterie.
Michelle’s opah recipes:
A graduate of the Los Angeles Culinary Academy, Paul Arias’ resume spans France and both U.S. coasts. He landed in San Diego to work at Royale Brasserie and went on to open both A.R. Valentien and The Grill at The Lodge at Torrey Pines alongside his chef mentor, Jeff Jackson. After several years at The Lodge he moved to New England where he opened two seafood restaurants. Now at the helm of The Fishery in San Diego since 2008, his market-driven culinary approach is highlighted by his passion for sustainable seafood and using only the freshest seasonal ingredients.
Paul’s opah recipes:
Karen Barnett left behind a career in construction management to open her first bar and restaurant, Small Bar, in 2009. For nearly eight years following, she honed her skills while owning and managing multiple bars and a brewpub. By embracing every aspect from venue construction and operations to cooking, she has solidified her place as a respected and admired member of the California beer scene. In 2013 Small Bar was listed as one of Draft Magazine’s “Top 100 Bars in America” and in 2018, won Reader’s Pick for Best Beer Selection in San Diego Magazine. It continues to be a San Diego staple for quality draughts, inventive cocktails and excellent food.
Karen’s opah recipes:
Hector Casanova is a self-taught chef who is continuously inspired by his customers to create new combinations for his menu. He started his catering business, Casanova Fish Tacos, in March of 2009 after being laid off from the Probation Department, and it has since grown into his passion. Hector spent three and a half years perfecting his fish taco batter and has been providing authentic Baja-style cuisine around San Diego County to critical acclaim.
Hector’s opah recipes:
A San Diegan since second grade, Miguel Higuera has earned his stripes at some of the city’s most beloved restaurants. After completing culinary school, he landed at Farm House Café where he learned the basics of cooking in a real kitchen. He spent the next three years working at Nine-Ten, renowned for its California cuisine driven by seasonal produce and the freshest, regional ingredients available. In 2017, his culinary expertise enabled him to join the opening team of Born & Raised, where he started as a lead line cook and today is one of the steakhouse’s sous chefs.
Miguel’s opah recipes:
A San Diego native, Steven Keifer’s passion for food was inspired by the city’s multicultural flavors. After serving in the U.S. Navy he attended culinary school and became a chef. Following a successful 25 years in the hotel and restaurant industry, he landed at Father Joe’s Villages where he oversaw the preparation of more than a million meals and established a culinary education program. His commitment to helping others and running kitchens that embrace a teaching culture led him to Kitchens for Good where he presently serves as Executive Chef and General Manager.
Steven’s opah recipes:
San Diego native Tom Logsdon discovered his love of cooking at a young age, having worked in kitchens of many locally owned small restaurants. In 2012 he ventured into ownership with his guerrilla food delivery service, Doods Foods, followed by a brick and mortar partnership with The Tin Can Alehouse. In 2015 he took the reins and rebranded the small venue as The Balboa Bar and Grill, a neighborhood gem known for its burgers. In 2019 he partnered with Pizzeria Luigi on Sister Rays, a no-frills watering hole centered around chili, hot dogs and burgers. Most recently Logsdon expanded The Balboa Bar and Grill with a second location in his hometown of Chula Vista.
Tom’s opah recipes:
A San Diego transplant by way of San Francisco, Christina is a personal chef and food educator rooted in supporting local farms and California growers at every meal served. A graduate of the University of California, Davis, in the area of Food Science, Ng has worked in various arenas of the food service industry including grocery, catering, hospitality, and corporate kitchen positions, and today she draws on all of those experiences to drive her events and classes across San Diego County.
Christina’s opah recipes:
Self-taught and known for his modern takes on classic dishes and supporting local farmers, fishermen and artisans, Miguel Valdez is the Consulting Executive Chef for Liberty Call Distilling. Raised in the barrio amid gang violence, his life might have taken a different path. Prior to Liberty Call, he was Executive Chef of The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar, where he started as a dishwasher. In 2013 the National Restaurant Association celebrated his culinary ambition with a Faces of Diversity Award — an accolade bestowed upon only three chefs nationwide.
Miguel’s opah recipes:
A native San Diegan, Ryan Sharpe began working in local restaurants at the age of 15. He was introduced to fine dining during culinary school and progressed in this area after graduation by embarking on Charleston’s restaurant scene. Working under Craig Deihl, South Carolina’s “master of charcuterie,” Sharpe discovered his own passion for using the entirety of an animal. Upon returning to his hometown, he continued to fine-tune his skills at Heart and Trotter, a sustainable whole animal butchery. Today he heads the charcuterie program at San Diego’s acclaimed steakhouse, Born & Raised. Here he focuses primarily on beef and pork but also works with the chefs at its sister seafood restaurant, Ironside Fish & Oyster, which has inspired him to expand his charcuterie offerings. Seeking creative ways to maximize usage of their local fish, he has handcrafted fish salami as well as opah ham.
Ryan’s opah recipes: