Humble. Laid back. Happy-go-lucky.
These words that aren’t normally used to describe an Executive Chef. Still, they certainly sum up the guy who’s now in charge of our kitchen, Christian Fiol. Born in San Diego, and raised in Tijuana, Christian’s love for America’s Favorite Past Time (baseball) pulled him state-side for high school and college.
“As a pitcher, I really felt like it was my responsibility to control the game,” said Christian. “So yeah, now as an Executive Chef, I feel that same pressure to manage the kitchen and the staff.”
But that’s not to say that Christian is all fun and games. After all, he came to Wheat & Water through a glowing recommendation from Mike Ground, The Patio Group’s Corporate Chef. These two have a long working history together, back when he worked as Mike’s Sous Chef at one of San Diego’s favorite restaurants, Cucina Urbana.
“Cucina Urbana is one of my favorite restaurants, and even though I had the right experience, it was still intimidating to apply. But I loved eating there so I thought, why not?” remembered Christian. “That’s where things really changed for me. I loved working there, and through being promoted each year, I got to learn and take on more responsibility. Every day I did something new, something interesting. That experience was one that made me grow as a chef.”
It’s clear that education, growth and collaboration are core concepts to Christian’s approach as an Executive Chef.
“He’s made it a point to take the time to teach and educate staff about what he wants to do in the kitchen,” said Wheat & Water’s resident jack-of-all-trades, Blake Bixel. “Christian doesn’t just tell people to do stuff, he explains why it’s important to do it that way.”
That statement really describes Christian Fiol in a nutshell. Someone who’s thoughtful, considerate and compassionate about the food he creates and the people, the customers, he creates it for.
“I want food to feel and taste familiar…comforting. That’s really the idea behind the (new) La Pitza and Potato and Leek pizzas,” explained Christian. “I really wanted to showcase my Mexican background, and experience from Galaxy Taco, in the flavors of the La Pitza. I wanted it to remind people of a really tasty burrito. And, with the Potato and Leek pizza, to make people think of a really tasty baked potato soup.”
When scanning through the small, preliminary changes Christian’s made to Wheat & Water’s menu, it’s easy to see his vision. One that balances both of his roots: Italian from Cucina Urbana and Mexican from his childhood and Galaxy Taco. All held together by the common thread of using simple ingredients to create bold, distinct flavors.
In the three short weeks that he’s been on staff, Christian’s already revamped half the menu. Introducing an exciting new grilled Spanish octopus starter, a handful of new salads and pizzas featuring house-made ricotta and mozzarella cheese.
“Christian showed Ted and I a sample that was exactly what we wanted…but took it one step further,” said Doug Ritz, Wheat & Water’s COO. “We knew that this was the guy to push the restaurant in the right direction.”
Christian, Ted, Doug and the rest of the Wheat & Water staff are eager for new and existing customers to taste the new, or reinvented, dishes. And hope that you’ll come back and try things as the menu evolves through the Summer and beyond.