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?


Kathleen Wise

Chef,  Starlite,  http://www.starlitesandiego.com/
Live: Logan Heights. I love this neighborhood, there are a lot of families on my street and everyone looks out for each other. I’d say it’s more neighborly than any other place I’ve lived.
Work: Mission Hills
How Long: I’ve happily worked at Starlite since we opened, 5 years ago in June. I love it! The owners really respect my decisions, and I feel good about supporting local farms and using their produce and meats to make unfussy, delicious food.

What kinds of meals do you cook at home?
I generally cook from scratch at home. I love making a giant pot of soup and having it all week for breakfast. I have a pretty big garden, which is filled with greens right now, so those have been a large part of my diet. I also have some laying hens and I try to keep up with their eggs. And I really like to entertain. It’s nice to cook for loved ones and actually get to sit down and enjoy it with them!

When you’re out of the kitchen, where do you like to dine out? Any favorites?
My favorite restaurant is Okan, a tiny Japanese place in Kearny Mesa. The food is delicious, it’s really special. I also love Farm House CafeThe Lion’s Share (they have a great late night menu),Himalayan Cuisine in La Mesa and the taco truck on 21st and Imperial. Spicy House in Kearny Mesa is great too, I crave their vegetable dishes. I love meat, for sure, but I really crave vegetables more than anything else and it’s amazing how hard it is to find a good plate of them.

Where do you go for a drink?
I do enjoy a drink, I guess most chefs would say the same! I usually go to Hamilton’s or Monkey Paw. I like nice beer, the sours especially, and Hanna, a bartender at Hamilton’s, knows my tastes and is always making suggestions. I also think Starlite has such an amazing selection of liquor, it’s hard to find a reason to go anywhere else!

How do you like to spend your days off?
On my days off I really enjoy working in my garden and doing things around my house. I bought a house a year and a half ago in Logan Heights and have been putting my heart and soul into fixing it up ever since. I put in raised garden beds, I’m building an outdoor oven out of mud, I put up a chicken coop and built a couple of rabbit hutches. I like to hunt on Craigslist for materials and solve problems with creativity as opposed to running to the store and spending money. After a hard day’s work definitely comes a relaxing dinner and a drink with friends!

What would you do if you had a whole weekend off and it wasn’t a holiday?
When I take time off I like to get out of town. I’m from Wisconsin and I usually get back there for a couple weeks in the summer. I also enjoy little road trips around here, I have a thing for weird dessert culture. Ocotillo in the middle of summer is more fun than a person would think. If I just had a random weekend off? Huh, that doesn’t really happen that often so I’m not sure! I would definitely hang out with my 9 to 5er friends!

What made you decide to become a chef?
My love of cooking definitely comes from living with my grandmother and great aunt. Verona and Adeline were the sweetest, most awesome women. At breakfast we’d be at the table talking about lunch, at lunch we’d be talking about dinner, and at dinner the price of groceries and who had the best of whatever was in season. We had crushed summer strawberries that were stocked in the freezer at almost every meal, delicious farmer’s cheese, summer sausage and always a card game to conclude. They definitely instilled a love for food and mealtime in general. We sat down, ate, laughed and shared our days.