By Diane Y. Welch
When it comes to fine cuisine in San Diego there’s a lot of competition and the demand is often high to produce constant updates to menu choices. But sometimes even discerning customers just want things to stay the same.
Executive Chef Jamal
Chef Jamal knows this well. As executive chef for Poseidon Restaurant his favored dishes have many of his clientele advising him, “Don’t change the recipe, keep it the same. It’s perfect!” he said.
These popular signature dishes include cioppino, an Italian seafood stew that’s made with a variety of seasonal seafood prepared in a tomato, lobster broth; pan-seared sea bass; and Loch Duart organic salmon imported from Scotland. “It’s top quality, very sweet, and we prepare it coated with pistachios, and served with garlic mashed potatoes and citrus-pomegranate beurre blanc sauce,” explained Jamal.
The fine Mediterranean cuisine attracts tourists and locals. Both are also drawn to savor the sunsets on Poseidon’s patio which opens up during the summer months.
“It’s a critical point for us because we have to be sure that everyone gets seated in time,” said Chef Jamal. “There is often a line of people waiting but we try to accommodate everyone.”
Another aspect that has not changed about the long-time restaurant located on Del Mar’s beachfront is its ownership. Tom Ranglas Sr. was living in El Cajon in 1968 and was looking for a coffee shop to purchase and run when a real estate agent told him that “The Fire Pit” — as it was named then — was for sale. With $48,500 borrowed from his mother, Ranglas was able to purchase the Del Mar restaurant business but not the property.
The following year Ranglas took the opportunity to purchase the properties of both the restaurant and the adjacent Del Mar Motel, which were being sold as package deal, for the princely sum of $300,000. Ranglas joked that as a Greek immigrant he couldn’t even write that number, let alone fathom how he was going to pay for it. But discovering that the price was actually low, compared to other beachfront property, Ranglas took the financial risk. And the rest is history.
Today his son, Tom Ranglas Jr., and daughter, Nikki, run the business but Ranglas Sr. still supervises everything and goes to the restaurant every day, said Jamal who has been executive chef since 2009.
Jamal was attracted to Poseidon because of the reputation of the Ranglas family. “They are very generous, nice people,” said the Moroccan native who has his own interesting history.
“Cooking has been in my blood ever since I was little,” said Jamal who was born in 1981 in the small town of Oujda. Growing up in a family that loved to cook Jamal was working in local restaurants by age 16.
After two years of studying French literature Jamal quit and enrolled in culinary school to study French Classic Cuisine instead. When he graduated Jamal had the highest score in the entire country for his combined classes.
Jamal mastered the art of classic French and Mediterranean cuisine techniques when he studied in Southern France with the country’s top chefs, and after receiving his degree was admitted into the prestigious High Institute of Culinary Arts in Casablanca. He graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Food and Tourism Management.
Through the International Chef’s program Jamal was hired by Disney World, which brought him to the USA. He then helped his friend, Chef Jake Brenchley, reopen the Scholars Inn Gourmet Café in Indianapolis, Ind., which was voted “Best New Restaurant” in town in 2008.
Tired of the cold weather Jamal took a leap of faith and relocated to San Diego. He soon found his footing serving as executive chef at Del Mar’s Sunset Bar and Grill, after working under Justin Hoen at the Epazote Restaurant just prior to being hired at Poseidon Restaurant four years ago. It was a move that he will never regret. “Here it feels more like home,” he said.
Visit the restaurant’s website —
— to learn about Happy Hour specials, to book group events and to see Poseidon’s full menu of seafood and farm fare.