• Jarnard Sutton

In the Kitchen with executive chef Julian Quiñones of TWENTY/20

Every year, TWENTY/20 Grill & Wine Bar at Sheraton hosts its Tapas Thursday during the spring and summer. To make each event unique, executive chef Julian Quiñones comes up with fun and fresh tapas dishes. TWENTY/20 Grill and Sheraton Carlsbad were both selected for the TripAdvisor 2016 Certificate of Excellence.

Chef Quiñones shares a couple of his favorite tapas dishes with In the Kitchen.

Tell us about Tapas Thursday.

Tapas Thursday is a weekly event held in the spring and summer at the TWENTY/20 Grill located at Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa. Each Thursday, we offer a different tapas menu with fresh new dishes and a few of our signature dishes as well.

What's unique about the tapas at Twenty/20?

Tapas Thursday is the perfect way to kick off summer and enjoy the breathtaking sunset views from the highest bluff in Carlsbad on which TWENTY/20 Grill is located. We even have a live Spanish acoustic guitarist as well that creates an atmosphere perfect for a romantic night out. There aren’t many places in Carlsbad where you can enjoy quality tapas each week with live Spanish music, sunset views and a resort atmosphere.

How did you season the scallop tapas?

We take a simple approach by sautéing the scallops in olive oil and lightly seasoning them with salt & pepper so that their true flavors shine. Then we pair it with sautéed heirloom tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, Frisee, Haricot Vert, Basil Cream and Citrus Vinaigrette.

How did you season the lamb tapas?

We marinate the lamb first in a mixture of guajillo and ancho chilies, crushed pepper, fresh thyme, cumin, red wine vinegar, orange juice, blended with extra virgin olive oil. Then we sauté in olive oil until seared medium rare. The lamb gets drizzled with a coriander-yogurt vinaigrette and finished with orange zest and cilantro on top.

What's a good beer and/or cocktail to pair with the tapas?

With so many local San Diego beers on tap in our bar, it’s hard to choose just one, but I might recommend our Mother Earth Honcho Hef because it’s light enough to mesh with many of our dishes. To keep with the tapas theme, it’s a good idea to pair your meal with our Spanish Margarita (contains Azunia Blanco tequila, fresh lime juice, brandy-blackberry muddle, jalapeno-infused Agave Nectar and Torres orange liqueur).

Executive chef Julian Quiñones of Twenty/20, located inside Sheraton Carlsbad, talks about their Tapas Thursday and what to expect this year.

What kind of experience can a diner have at TWENTY/20?

The Tapas Thursday menu offers something new and exciting each week, so your experience will never be the same, but it will always be enjoyable. We also offer our full dinner menu on Thursdays so there is always something for everyone. Anyone who comes to dine at TWENTY/20 will be treated to resort-quality service and food in a relaxed and happy atmosphere.

About Julian Quiñones

Are you from San Diego?

Yep! I was born and raised here. Originally from Paradise Hills.

Did you always want to be a chef growing up?

My parents were restaurateurs and dad was a chef, so I was always around the kitchen at a young age. My first paying job was at La Valencia Hotel at the age of 14. I worked the summers with my dad and that’s when I really started to get into food. Those were some memorable summers.

What motivates you as a chef?

This industry is always evolving and it is exciting to try new combinations and watch people enjoy my cooking.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge when it comes to creating new dishes?

TWENTY/20 is located at the Sheraton Carlsbad, which attracts a pretty diverse group of guests. Creating dishes that will appeal to such a broad audience can be challenging, while staying true to our core inspirations of using fresh, local and cutting edge dishes. But it’s a labor of love!

Are you planning on creating any new items for the menu?

We offer new Tapas Thursday dishes each week in addition to a few signature plates including our Shrimp & Chorizo and Pork Belly tapas. A few of the all-time favorites have been incorporated into our regular menu. Also, we just launched our new summer menu; and I’m very excited about the Pork Duo (Pork Belly and Pork Tenderloin) and the Lamb Chop Double (Poblano Pavé, Ratatouille, Rosemary Chimichurri, Red Wine Reduction)

When you're not coming up with delicious dishes, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time?

Fishing, golfing and any activity on or around water.

What's next for you?

This June we will launch our Summer BBQ Series. It is a five-event series featuring guest chefs from across San Diego. More info, click here.

[RELATED: How to make the maple bacon bourbon from Twenty/20]

TWENTY/20 Grill & Wine Bar

Sheraton Carlsbad, 5480 Grand Pacific Dr., Carlsbad. (760) 827-2500 or twenty20grill.com

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