THE ULTIMATE WEDDING COLLECTION | Chef James Montejano Ultimate Wedding Collection
The Ultimate Wedding Collection's Chef James Montejano of La Valencia in La Jolla offers gourmet food for your wedding celebrations.
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Meet Chef
James Montejano

Meet Chef
James Montejano

chef james

When it comes to celebrations a few things come to mind. The design, the music, the venue and of course the food. Enter James Montejano, La Valencia’s Executive Chef and master of fresh, bright flavors. James, a native San Diegan, was recently plucked out of one of Michael Mina’s San Francisco kitchens and into La Valencia historical kitchen. With his massive level of enthusiasm, creativity and excitement in all he does, you can see why La Valencia and it’s esteemed patrons are so happy to have him at the helm. When your wedding chef has cooked for The Rolling Stones and Steven Tyler you know you’re in good hands.

 

With some of the best organic farms in San Diego’s valleys and fresh caught seafood right in front, the opportunity for fresh California cuisine is endless.  James melds his classical culinary training in French cuisine with fresh California flavors. We are more than fans and so fortunate to him on the team for The California Experience at La Jolla.   Not limited to the wedding day, Chef James and our planners will work you to create culinary experiences throughout the wedding weekend. Welcome drinks and some fresh ahi poke upon arrival? Maybe an organic juice and smoothie station every morning? Late night brick oven pizzas are a definite must. Or how about a beautiful al fresco brunch served on the bluff overlooking the La Jolla cove? Whatever we can help you dream up, Chef James can execute it.

 

We got to ask James a few question as to what he feels luxury is, his defining moments and what inspires him… Read below as well as enjoy the beautiful images we captured of his work we styled on luxurious 24k gold china by L’Objet.   Photos by Scott Clark.

What is your definition of luxury? How does that translate to your food?

 

Time spent outside of the clocked hours, traveling and hearing music is what really inspires me. Dining at other hotels from 5 stars to street food, I find energy in other peoples’ love of food and places. After hearing a great song, or going to an amazing place, I want to then weave that emotion into what I cook. That is why I love cooking for people, because they when I meet them, they are experiencing us…….and then they carry their time spent back to their home and become energized from me. Kind of like the circle of life………but more like paying a good spirit forward through great food and memories.

 

Gourmet Wedding Menu: Summer Honeydew Gazpacho with lobsterSeafood layered cocktail stack Crab Avocado Grapefruit

 

 

What has been your most defining moment as a chef so far? 

 

When I got to cook with Jean -Louis Palladin, Executive Chef at the D.C. Watergate hotel, and the rock star of chef before the Charlie Trotters & Michael Minas –my pinnacle was cooking with him at Aqua. To work side by side with such a great chef, inspired me to reach my top level, a milestone in my personal growth, knowing that you can go anywhere and create as an artist.

Gourmet Rawbar in L'Objet for La Valencia

Does traveling inspiring your craft? Where in the world do you want to travel to for inspiration? How would you relate that inspiration into what you do?

 

Definitely Japan, to be able to experience the culture of food and design, the finesse they bring to their cooking – it is amazing to see their culture blend with classic French influences. The best products they search out to use – all of that transcends so much culinary art. To see that fusion, is what keeps a chef inspired, to take that inspiration home and use those memories to push to you to new limits.

Gourmet Sashimi with Caviar on Gold l'objet

Toro sashimi with Caviar in silver L'Objet

Who are your icons that you look up to? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

 

Chef Morimoto, to really talk and ask what keeps him motivated – where does he draw his creativity from? How does he keep that energy flow?

 

Million Dollar Wedding Food Menu - black truffles in Gold L'Objet

 

 

What has been your most challenging request of a past client and how did you accomplish this? Give us details! 

 

When I was chef at Café Japengo, I had a VIP guest with so many dietary restrictions, 10 of the top things that are allergies, this poor guy was just so restricted on his diet– how to make great appetizing food that fit his need. How to design a culinary masterpiece for a VIP with 10 super restrictions, and make art…….each designed menu item had to be tested and tweaked till perfect. I was pretty happy that when the party was served that he was just as wowed by his dishes as everyone else – you have to make people feel special, that is what it is all about. On another note, I did cook for the Rolling Stones which was pretty cool; music is such a part of my soul.Toro and Salmon Sashimi with Truffle salt and caviar

 

Million Dollar Wedding Menu Oyster Caviar Quail Egg

What are your favorite trends and flavors of the moment and how are you adapting to that? Do you follow, avoid or lead these trends?

 

Trends in music inspire me, I follow what our guests want – what they want to eat, what designs are out there that appeal to me. I keep it simple and always fresh as my base, not scientific. I am not a fan of molecular…..I am the true farm to table heart, I want to know where my ingredients come from, that they are the best and the freshest. Everything stems from great food – not from adding a chemical or acid to change the molecules!Seabass with Octopus and brasied vegetables - Million Dollar Wedding MenuMiso Cod with broth consomme Million Dollar Wedding Menu

Who would be your dream client (past or present) to cook for and what would you make them? 

 

John F Kennedy, such an icon in history, so much the People’s President. To cook a meal for him, oh and of course Jackie as I am also a fashion fiend and she and I have that in common, and then gather around a table and talk. That would be momentous, just two guys talking the night away over great food. I’m kind of like the Peoples Chef – I love going out into the restaurant and talking with guests, connecting – really being a part of the dining experience. Just like him, I roll my sleeves up each day andgo to work and give it all to make it a great day. It’s easier with food than politics though, I can win everyone’s vote!Gourmet Sushi for Ultimate Wedding Collection La Valencia Hotel

If money were no object, what would your ultimate service look like? What would you want to cook to show off your talents, as only you know you’re capable of?

 

Oh, without a doubt I would search out the best ingredients all over the world, access to all the best wines, items – paired with the best service – a chef’s dream. I can only dream of the delivery trucks brining the best from faraway places, fish caught in the morning on another coasts and land flying first class to get to me! That is a chef’s dream – no worries on cost – only on taste, quality and best of the best of all things.

Abalone, White Truffles from France, Kobe beef, Fugu from Japan, Black Watermelon from Japan, Lobster and all seafood……..fresh, just out of the water.  Handpicked Saffron……….the best spices from the markets. The list is endless. And of course, wines from around the world to pair – vintages we can’t even touch now..

 

 

 

Kobe Beef and Foie Gras with Black Truffle Million Dollar Wedding

 

 

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