A landmark waterfront restaurant since 1989, the newly remodeled Top of The Market is still recognized as the premier destination for fresh seafood, with San Diego bay views from Point Loma to the Coronado Bridge. “Everyone from the design team, including the kitchen equipment and woodworking crews did an amazing job,” says Executive Chef Stafford Mather’s. “Our director of operations Dwight Colton and The Fish Market’s kitchen manager Tony Alvarez were here throughout the entire remodel, making it all happen.”
Mather’s is a self taught chef who learned from on the job training. He started out as a dishwasher in high school, then moved up to become a server and bartender. Once he made his move to the back of the house, he never looked back. He is committed to his work, loves what he does, and says he learns something new daily. “Chef and owner Jeff Olsen of New West Catering in Santa Barbara, California, is a mentor who gave me my start in a kitchen in Washington DC many years ago, as well as chef Ed Carew of Broken Spoke in New York City, whom I worked with in San Francisco. Both are the best dudes ever!”
At Top of the Market, Mather’s told me he works with a group of like minded people who want to put their best effort on the plate everyday. “We have the freshest seafood I’ve ever handled. Our fishmonger Darren Gorski and his team not only source interesting fish, but understand seafood at its highest level.”
Mather’s is passionate about cooking with seasonal ingredients, and changes the menu often. He believes nature should dictate what’s on the plate, is thoughtful in his purchasing decisions, and has developed good relationships with vendors who seek out the specific ingredients he desires.
Mather’s focus is on locally grown produce and hand-made pasta, as well as top of the line cheeses, vinegars, and olive oil. “As far as I’m concerned, there has always been a Slow Food Movement,” he explains. “It’s the people who grow, farm, fish, craft, create and cook for a living. It’s an honorable profession that we are all a part of!”
To support two very busy restaurants in the same building, Mather’s and his kitchen team have deep connections with local fishermen. “The Chula fishing boat is literally outside our building when it’s not out at sea,” he says. “In addition, we use local seafood vendors including Catalina Offshore, Santa Monica Seafood, Chesapeake Fish Co., Farallon Fisheries, and many others.”
When he’s not in his restaurant kitchen, Mather’s likes to spend time with his family, enjoys photography, ‘trying’ to play his guitar, reading mostly cookbooks, and eating cheese crackers and nori with his daughter.
©Written by Maria Desiderata Montana