It was early morning and pitch black save for the faint orange rays of the streetlights. I emerged from my car into the chilly morning, shoved my hands in my jean pockets, and started walking south down Morena Boulevard. My destination was a block away and, as I got within several dozen yards, I spotted a youthful pair standing outside the door of the facility I was headed for.
One was a fairly tall male clad in loose jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. As I proceeded, perhaps hearing my footsteps or simply sensing the presence of an unknown entity approaching in the darkness, he spun around to face me. Soon, the three of us were face-to-face, forming a triangle of unfamiliarity I ventured to dissolve.
“Are you two here for the tour?” I asked.
Turns out, they were, indeed, part of the assemblage of Cooks Confab chefs I’d be tagging along with for a tour of Brandt Beef in Brawley. One of them, chef Amy Dibiase, then of Point Loma’s Roseville, was someone whose name and food I was already a fan of. The other, he of the hoodie and denim, I’d only heard great stories about.
So, when he introduced himself as Nathan Coulon, I was sure to tell him how much I adored the woman who’d told me all those stories—his mother, La Jolla dessert maven Michele Coulon of Michele Coulon Dessertier. As I found out over the course of the tour, he was every bit the upstanding young man she’d billed him as. Just as impressive, I later learned, were his cooking chops.
Over the next year, I had the opportunity to taste a number of dishes from him. First, at a chefs-meet-brewers grand scale tasting event I helped organize with the Confab—to this day, nobody has so elegantly incorporated hoppy beer into a sauce as he did with Green Flash’s IBU-rich Le Freak—and then at Quarter Kitchen. He put out some fantastic food while helming that luxury downtown restaurant, which resided in the space now occupied by new arrival Katsuya.
I wasn’t the only one sad to see him pick up unexpectedly in 2010 and head out of town to take a job with http://www.truefoodkitchen.com">True Food Kitchen, a chain of healthful restaurants in Arizona and California. Yet, the road he took is leading him back home.
True Food Kitchen is opening a fifth location inside Fashion Valley Mall in June, and Coulon will serve as its executive chef. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, and brunch on the weekends. The menu will feature global fare turned California thanks very much in part to incorporation of ingredients from the SoCal foodscape, including produce from Crow’s Pass and Suzie’s Farm.
True Food Kitchen is taking over the space across from The Cheesecake Factory that was previously occupied by Bing Crosby’s. It’s 8,200 square feet in total area and will be outfitted in True Food’s trademark yellow and green color palette, and include communal tables, a full bar, and shaded patio seating.
It will be interesting to see what Coulon’s been up to the past couple of years. More than anything, it’ll good to be have a native son with firm roots back in town. I wonder how Green Flash Le Freak fits into the True Food Kitchen food pyramid?
True Food Kitchen will open to the public on July 2 and be located at 7007 Friars Road, Suite 394.