Each month, we ask one of San Diego's chefs:

What do you do and how do you eat when you're out of the kitchen?

Johan Engman

Owner of Rise and Shine Hospitality Group,  Fig Tree Café, Breakfast Republic,  http://figtreeeatery.com

What kinds of meals do you eat at home?
I rarely cook. I usually get takeout from either my own restaurants. Also Thai or sushi.

When you’re out of the kitchen, where do you like to dine out? Any favorites?
I like to find little neighborhood eateries. I like Piacere Mio in South Park, Brazen BBQ in Hillcrest or Big Front Door on Park Blvd. for sandwiches.

Where do you go for a drink?
Seven Grand in North Park is great if you want a cocktail made by a true artist. I also like Prohibition in the Gaslamp.

How do you like to spend your days off?
I love, love, love to travel. In a couple weeks I’m going on a two month long trip: Italy (wine tasting in Tuscany for 10 days); Corfu, Greece (workin’ on the ol’ tan); Bucharest, Romania (visiting Dracula in Transylvania); Östersund, Sweden (visiting friends and family in my hometown); Nairobi, Kenya (five day safari); Dubai (gotta see this city at least once!); Chiang Mai, Thailand (Going trekking in the jungle); Burma (off the beaten path traveling); Cebu, Philippines (Snorkeling!); Hong Kong (food, gadgets, etc).

What made you decide to become a restaurateur?
I sort of fell into the industry in a way… When I was 17 I moved out on my own while still in high school, and needed a job to pay rent at my tiny tiny studio in North Park (about 3 blocks from Breakfast Republic). I got a job as a dish washer, and was then promoted to a bus boy, then server. When I was 24 I started saving money and had enough to open Fig Tree Cafe’s PB location on a shoestring budget when I was 27.

What is your favorite thing about the San Diego culinary scene?
Its current growth – lots of exciting things are happening. I’m opening two new restaurants within the next 12 months 🙂

What kind of change do you hope to see?
The “bar” has been raised significantly in the recent years and I look forward to seeing it continue to rise, and being part of raising it higher!