Expect ‘light, bright and punchy flavors’ from Herb & Sea’s new executive chef

Aidan Owens, Herb & Sea's new executive chef,
Aidan Owens, Herb & Sea’s new executive chef,
(Matt Furman)

Herb & Sea has found a new young and up-and-coming chef to lead its Encinitas outpost.

The recently appointed Aidan Owens will be the modern seafood and oyster bar’s first executive chef in nearly two years. Open since 2019 on D Street, Herb & Sea is the Puffer Malarkey Collective’s companion restaurant to Herb & Wood in Little Italy.

Owens brings a passion for farm-to-table dining, having grown up on a small farm in Australia where he and his mother raised chickens and ducks and grew vegetables to sell at local farmers markets. From Australia he moved to California where he developed his culinary craft in the kitchens in San Francisco. After re-locating to San Diego, he has worked at hot spots such as Kettner Exchange, The Lion’s Share, Fort Oak and, most recently, at Trust, where he was the chef de cuisine.

At Herb & Sea the young chef will work alongside Executive Sous Chef Marissa Williams.

Introducing Executive Chef Owens:

What excites you most about taking over at Herb and Sea?
I’m excited about the potential of Herb & Sea. There’s this yearning within the restaurant that you can feel wanting to grow, it’s hard to explain but being able to grow and build on the foundation is what I’m excited about. I’m looking forward to nurturing our relationships with local fishermen and farmers, and partnerships with WILDCOAST and the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

What can people expect from your menu? What’s a standout dish?
People can expect light, bright, and punchy flavors incorporated into the menu. Also, be on the lookout for veggie-forward dishes, such as the Embered Beets which is my mom’s recipe for cooking beets. They’re sweet, delicious, good for you, and have a low impact on the environment. The Fresh Catch Dish (proceeds donated to WILDCOAST) is our standout dish. This season we’re acquiring beautiful, local Bluefin Tuna and different types of fish that many diners have never heard of, giving us a chance to experiment with different fish and their unique flavors, while educating diners on lesser-known, sustainable fish species.

Herb & Sea in Encinitas.
Herb & Sea in Encinitas.
(Dustin Bailey)

What do you love most about the location and restaurant?
I love the team, from the management team, to the line cooks, and the front of the house. Everyone is happy, bright, dedicated to our mission toward sustainable seafood, and it truly fits the tone of the restaurant. Being a couple blocks from the beach is special. I grew up in Byron Bay, a beach town in Australia known for its surf and community. Encinitas reminds me of home. Thus being a no-brainer, I love working here.

Chef Owens will team up with Chef Brian Malarkey at The Rob Machado Beach Clean up and Seafood Brunch on Sept. 10, an event that is part of the Del Mar Wine & Food Festival. Participants will clean up at Cardiff State Beach from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. before brunching at Herb & Sea with wine pairings from Daou Vineyards. The clean-up is free to participate but tickets for the brunch are on sale at Herb $ Sea is located at 131 W D Street, Encinitas. Visit