Playa’s Chef Creates Harmony in the Kitchen

THROCKMORTON AVENUE’S NEWEST restaurant is striking for a number of reasons. Playa’s modern indoor-outdoor space features both a colossal mural by Zio Ziegler and, from the kitchen, a blend of technique, ingredients, and presentation that highlight the malleability of Mexican cuisine. At the helm is chef Omar Huerta. A native of Jalisco, Mexico, Huerta was inspired watching his parents create recipes in their kitchen and then offer them on the menu at their restaurant, Los Compadres. He also credits veteran chefs Chris Fernandez (Oliveto, Poggio, Stars) and Chris Whaley (Picco, Zero-Zero) as mentors who helped him develop skills and techniques in Italian and California-Mediterranean cuisine. His prior training has included work at top Bay Area restaurants including Comal, Terrapin Crossroads, Zero-Zero, Picco and Marzano; most recently he’s served as chef de cuisine at Presidio Social Club and Credo in San Francisco.

Here, Huerta shares his take on the Caesar salad, a dish reportedly created in 1924 by Tijuana restaurateur Caesar Cardini when a Fourth of July rush depleted the kitchen’s supplies. “What’s great about being a part of the team at Playa is having the opportunity to work with successful restaurateurs and the freedom to create a menu that I’ve always dreamed of,” Huerta says.

This article originally appeared in Marin Magazine’s print edition with the headline: “Clever Caesar”.