With restaurants named Searsucker and Herringbone (as well as past restaurants Burlap and Gabardine), you might think Chef Brian Malarkey and business partner Jim Brennan have a thing for fabric. Which they do, but it’s what they call the fabric of social dining, the gathering together for classic good food. (The “sear” in the unique spelling of Searsucker is Malarkey’s cook’s twist.) Opened in 2010, Searsucker was an instant hit, with dishes like pork chops and cheddar grits, duck pot pie, and scallops with preserved lemon. Herringbone is about the sea and dishes such as Baja amberjack crudo, whole-fish ceviche, and mussels tikka masala. Now Malarkey’s stable of restaurants stretches to locations in San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Austin, to name a few. His latest ventures are casual sandwich and salad joints called Green Acre, and an Italian fine-dining spot, Herb and Wood. He has won the Diners’ Choice Award from OpenTable and has been named Chef of the Year by the California Restaurant Association, San Diego Chapter.

Originally from Bend, Oregon, and a graduate of Portland’s Le Cordon Bleu, Malarkey perfected his craft under chef Michel Richard at Citrus, in L.A., then racked up solid views at Oceanaire San Diego. He burst onto the national scene as a finalist on Top Chef Season 3, in Miami, and has gone on to many more TV appearances, as a host on TLC’s Mega Bites, and as a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off, Chopped All-Stars, and Cutthroat Kitchen, as well as ABC’s The Taste.