Brian Malarkey's Herb & Wood Vaulted San Diego’s culinary reputation to new heights

Timeless yet approachable, celebrated Chef Brian Malarkey opened Herb & Wood to instant acclaim over four years ago.  

In that time, the restaurant has become an icon, a dining destination that has helped to propel San Diego’s culinary reputation to new heights. By focusing on rustic, wood-fired dishes, Chef Malarkey’s menu elevates humble ingredients such as carrots, beets, and chicken, incorporating Mediterranean flavors and a California ethos of seasonality and sustainability.

Designed by the collective’s co-founder Chris Puffer, the interior of Herb & Wood invites guests with an almost Southern charm while somehow feeling perfectly at home in Southern California. An eclectic study of contrasts, the space evokes the dual persona of the Gilded Age: lavish sophistication set against industrial simplicity. 

outdoor secret garden-like courtyard - San Diego, California

Open and airy, though layered in detail, a grand central bar anchors the space, resting majestically beneath a barrel-vaulted ceiling.

An outdoor secret garden-like courtyard with a two-sided fire place that is both lounge and dining room and the massive kitchen with gorgeous, store-front like glass windows for diners to see the action within.

Paying tribute to the beaches of San Diego, half a dozen oversized and ornately framed minimalist paintings of bathing beauties accent the walls, commissioned by Chris from local artist Johnny Lane.


Herb & Wood’s wine program, helmed by Beverage Director Brandon Lervold, includes nearly 150 bottles, each carefully curated to match not only the culinary program, but the design of the space as well. California wines are interspersed with Old World varietals, with whimsical, light-hearted and bright labels rounding out the offerings to create a program that’s familiar, yet surprising.


Brian Malarkey


Chef Brian Malarkey has created 15 wildly successful restaurants across the United States. He serves as the Partner of four concepts in Southern California, including San Diego's Herb & Ranch, Herb & Sea, Animae, and Orange County's Herb & Wood.

He was the founding executive chef/partner of Searsucker and Herringbone restaurants, which sold a majority stake to Hakkasan Group in 2014. Under his guidance, the brands expanded both across the country and internationally to 10 locations. Brian has been a contestant on Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars and past Top Chef finalist.

He has also appeared in Guy's Grocery Games, the Today Show, and Good Morning America.

He was a Top Chef season 3 finalist and winning mentor on ABC’s The Taste, which he co-hosted alongside Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre. Malarkey has judged a variety of television cooking programs, including Rachael vs. Guy: Kids Cook Off, Chopped All-Stars, and Cutthroat Kitchen, and can be seen headlining food and wine festivals around the country.


Carlos Anthony

Brian Malarkey’s right-hand man for over a decade, Chef Carlos Anthony has worked alongside Chef to conceptualize, launch, and oversee kitchen operations at all of Puffer Malarkey Collective’s restaurants since the group’s inception. Currently the Executive Chef of Herb & Wood, Chef Carlos has revived the storied Little Italy destination, re-imaging fan favorites in a modern, ingredient-forward style. 

While still a young line cook, and determined to grow under Malarkey’s umbrella, Carlos moved to Napa, where he worked at Michelin-starred restaurants and alongside storied chefs to learn the art of fine-dining. During his tenure in wine country, he developed a respect for quality ingredients and learned how simple, seasonally-driven food can be five-star quality. These skills helped hone his culinary voice, one that would eventually shine through at Herb & Wood. 

Seen as a rising star among those in the know, Chef Carlos’ television accolades include a stint on Cutthroat Kitchen, where he won his season. Producers sought him out yet again and cast him in Chopped: Next Generation, which is currently filming its 2021 season.

Striking out on his own while Malarkey was building Herb & Wood, Carlos opened Salt & Cleaver in Hillcrest. As a co-owner and Executive Chef, Chef showcased his dedication to the artisan techniques of charcuterie, re-imagining it to be modern and fun. His concept garnered national attention, landing him on Zagat’s 30 Under 30 list as a semi-finalist. While the restaurant ultimately closed, Carlos credits the venture as helping him hone his leadership and management skills, readying himself for his future with Puffer Malarkey Collective.

As the official culture guru of Malarkey's restaurant group, Carlos sees himself as an embodiment of the spirit and energy of Chef Brian, weaving his voice into every venue he's worked at. His hopes and dreams include impacting the industry in a positive way. He is driven by the success of others - building people up and making each individual on his team better, stronger, and more confident. Through mentorship and support, he believes he can help build a more positive industry for all who work in it.

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Serge Simonov

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A California native, Executive Sous Chef Serge Simonov has carved out a career focused on the Golden State’s unique bounty and techniques. With over a decade of experience working alongside industry leaders such as Jason Paluska and Brian Malarkey, this young gun has become a rising figure in the San Diego restaurant scene and has aspirations to push his adopted home city’s cuisine forward, one dish at a time.

As part of the opening team at critically-acclaimed The Lark in Santa Barbara, Serge worked his way through the ranks, eventually becoming Sous Chef to Michelin-recognized Chef Jason Paluska. Under his guidance, Serge learned how to harness the bold, bright flavors that have come to define his cooking style. Concepting new menu items, training kitchen staff, and learning the day-to-day tasks needed to manage a successful restaurant, Serge spent six years in the fine-dining establishment, helping to push the concept to new heights and solidify its status as a top culinary destination along the West Coast.

Ready for a change, and a chance to make his mark in a larger industry, Serge moved to San Diego, where the city’s growing culinary scene offered new opportunities and experiences. A connection landed him an interview with Celebrated Chef Brian Malarkey at his flagship restaurant Herb & Wood, where he impressed with his mastery of acid-forward, palate-pushing flavors Malarkey’s known for. 

As Executive Sous Chef, Serge brings a five-star restaurant ethos to the line, offering an infectious energy and passion to the team he manages. In his downtime, Serge can be found harvesting ingredients from his garden to craft artisanal-infused bottled cocktails, spending time with his girlfriend, and enjoying all that America’s Finest City has to offer.