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  • Writer's pictureJarnard Sutton

In the Kitchen with executive chef John Schwartzkopf of Tavern at the Beach

John Schwartzkopf, executive chef of Tavern at the Beach, created an unique and tasty version of the traditional ahi poke by adding a sweet chili sauce to the recipe. Ahi poke is the best introdcuctory dish to eating raw fish. He shares his recipe with In the Kitchen.

Ahi Poke


Tell us about this dish?

It is sushi grade ahi tuna tossed with a house-made sauce that is made of soy, ginger, sweet-chili

sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, diced cucumber, sliced green onions and lots of love.

What makes your ahi poke unique? Is this a traditional way of making ahi poke?

The sweet chili sauce makes it unique. Most poke recipes are a mixture of soy sauce and fish.

Describe the taste to someone who haven't had this dish?

It has every texture imaginable, with a great umami taste, and yet subtle enough for people

who do not normally like fish to enjoy this dish.

What's a good beer and/or cocktail to pair with this dish?

Joe’s 10 Barrel IPA pairs very well with the dish, as well as Kona Big Wave.

Watch as John Schwartzkopf, executive chef of Tavern at the Beach in Pacific Beach, shows you how he makes his signature semi-traditional Ahi Poke dish.

What kind of experience will a diner get at Tavern at the Beach?

A contemporary bar feel with a beach atmosphere. Great food, great drinks and always the

life of the party.

About John Schwartzkopf

Are you from San Diego?

No, I was born in the Midwest, but moved to San Diego at the age of 2, and grew up here, so I

consider myself a native San Diegan.

Did you always want to be a chef growing up?

No, after working in restaurants after high school, I realized this could be a great path, so I left

to attend culinary school before going back to San Diego to launch my career.

What motivates you as a chef?

Seeing people happy after enjoying my food.

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

Trying to create new dishes, while staying relevant to the customers’ desires, because at the

end of the day, if they don’t like the food, they will not buy it.

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

Yes, we will be launching a new menu in a month that is very burger centric, because we are

the two-time winners of Bub’s Burger Brawl and we have the best burger in Pacific Beach.

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

Trying to relax, but when I’m not relaxing, I love to hunt fish and camp, as well as enjoy the outdoors.

Tavern at the Beach

1200 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach. (858) 272-6066 or

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