Chantelle Marie/Chantelle Photography
Chef Brian Malarkey is looking for an "Asian cowboy" hat to add to his collection.
Just back from taping a guest appearance in Canada for Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag (for W Network), Chef Brian Malarkey of Searsucker is preparing to sack Del Mar in “Burlap” with a second restaurant due to open this summer at Del Mar Highlands Town Center.
The former Top Chef contestant promises an “Asian cowboy” theme across Burlap’s menu, as well as an elaborate indoor-outdoor design that will rival his spacious Searsucker. The Feast caught up with Malarkey to prod him about the intriguing concept as well as his rising celebrity.
You seem to have a love affair with cloth, first Searsucker and now Burlap. Do these fabrics hold any particular meaning to you?
I’m a little bit of a fashionista, but that’s not why we’ve gone with the fabric thing. I’ve had so much fun with the searsucker story; how that fabric was once used by the fringes of society and working class, and then adopted by the rich when it went along with lemonade and horseracing. With Burlap, we’re speaking to all of the people again, in a worn and rugged way. Also, rice comes in burlap bags, which reflects that we’ll be playing with Asian ingredients.
What will be the main differences between Burlap and Searsucker? The vibe will be very much the same, but the look will be worlds apart. Burlap will pop. It’s being designed by Thomas Schoos, who did Tao in Vegas and New York, and also Searsucker. Burlap will have fire pits and koi ponds and palapas to make you feel as though you’ve traveled to the other side of the world when you walk in, with Chinese and Mongolian influences going on. I said no Buddhas and no dragons, but we’ll see.
Explain the ‘Asian cowboy’ theme.We’ll have rotisseries and cleaver cuts of duck, leg of lamb, prime rib and lots of other big robust meats with touches of Asian ingredients and light marinades. We’ll also have sashimi but without being typecast as an Asian restaurant. Having grown up on a ranch in Oregon, I am a cowboy and I have a lot of buckles.
What prompted you to target conservative Del Mar for the new restaurant? I don’t think Del Mar is conservative. People up there want to get out and have a good time. A lot of our guests at Searsucker come down from there and they’ve been asking me to 'please open something in North County.'
How has serving as a contestant on Top Chef helped your career?
It exposed me to a massive market, and I took that as a good thing and have expanded upon it. It’s given me the opportunity to cook for a very vast audience. San Diego has adopted me.
Aside from your upcoming guest appearance on Anna and Kristina’s Grocery Bag, what has since boosted your celebrity the most?
Searsucker. We also had a couple shows on TLC, and a few months ago we did a segment for LXTV’s 1ST Look on new restaurants, which aired on NBC right after Saturday Night Live.
Does being a celebrity chef come with hassles?
A lot of people love ya and a handful of people hate ya. You have to have thick skin because the people who hate ya come a rippin'. [The Feast]
Related post on The Feast:
Does Starring on 'Top Chef' Guarantee a Hit?