Food, Love, and Happiness
Love is in the air and kitchen at Oceanside restaurants run by husband-and-wife teams. These dynamic duos share their passion for all things gourmet at work, home, and play. Learn about the personalities behind top powerhouse food-couples and the secrets to their success below.
Davin and Jessica Waite
Davin and Jessica Waite own Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, The Whet Noodle and Pickled Ginger Catering. Chef Davin works his magic in the kitchen creating trendsetting Japanese cuisine while Jessica manages the front of the house and marketing.
Jessica met Davin when she worked for him at The Fish Joint. After spending half their lives in the industry, Jessica explains why they opened a restaurant, “Davin was running his catering business but wanted a creative platform. I was finishing up my undergraduate science degree and deciding what to do next. We love working together and tend to spur each other on. The restaurant business can be all consuming yet to be completely honest, we both love it. It’s not for everyone, but we couldn’t imagine any other life.”
On working together Jessica adds, “When we disagree, we throw everything on the table and work through it. We don’t hold on to anything. The fact that our ultimate goals are aligned gives us strong motivation to find solutions that we can both stand behind.”
And what does the couple eat at home? Leftovers! When not working, they love to indulge in food from the other amazing restaurants in town.
Mario Jimenez and Thanh-Thanh
Coffee and beach lovers Mario Jimenez and Thanh-Thanh (T2) Dang opened Banana Dang in the surfing mecca of Rincon, Puerto Rico before relocating to Oceanside in 2015. T2 is the general manager and marketing director. Mario is the operations director/Eco Warrior managing composting, recycling and utility usage on a daily basis.
T2 recalls meeting him, “In the mid-90s, Mario sang in the rock band, Stanford Prison Experiment. We met at a show in Los Angeles. I was a fan and music journalist at the time, so ended up writing a piece on them. However, we didn’t go on our first date until 2004!”
On working together T2 notes, “There’s an “industry” joke — “Why should couples never work together in Coffee?” Answer: “Because it’s grounds for divorce.” We laugh at this all the time. Humor is what keeps us going. We take our coffee program seriously, but not ourselves.”
At home, the couple maximizes family time by subscribing to the convenient Home Chef delivery service.
Mark and Kim Millwood
Hospitality veterans Mark and Kim Millwood own the popular That Boy Good (TBG) Southern BBQ Joint in downtown Oceanside. Chef Mark met Kim in Vail, Colorado when they both worked on a team opening a luxury hotel called The Arrabelle. Mark told Kim about his lifelong dream to open his own restaurant and she replied, “You’re crazy, but I’m up for the challenge.” They opened the now hugely popular TBG in 2012.
Kim points out, “Our key to working together is patience, as well as trying to keep TBG out of every conversation we have. Separating business and personal life is a challenge.”
Meals at the Millwood’s home usually include fresh veggies with some sort of pasta dish.
Roger (Roddy) and Aaron Browning
Groundbreaking hospitality gurus Roger (Roddy) and Aaron Browning own the Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen specializing in farm-to-table fare. Back in 2010, they saw the necessity to open a local neighborhood pub because of the disparaging lack of options. Now they own a second location in Vista and plan to open a microbrewery. The Browning’s met at a restaurant in Tucson called Fuego. Roddy quit shortly after they became romantically involved.
At work, they share many roles. Roddy is more hands on during the week when Aaron cares for their daughter, Josey. Aaron comments, “We respect one another. We have different styles and ways of doing things, but they go together pretty well and usually if I’m at one (restaurant) he’s at the other.”
Normally, the Browning’s cook lots of grilled chicken and veggies at home although each family member has a favorite meal: Josey loves meatballs, Roddy savors Aaron’s Bolognese with chicken livers and Aaron craves Roddy’s Chicken Saltimbocca with caper butter sauce.
About the Author
Jolee Pink is an Oceanside-based writer, designer and artist. She runs the popular Eat Drink SD Facebook group and is also the organizer of North County’s premier, annual culinary arts event: Foodie Fest. Her Wabisabi Green lifestyle blog focuses on art, design, food and travel. For more information, please visit wabisabigreen.com.