10 Questions with chef Gordon Smith


Chef Gordon Smith first came to Encinitas in 1973 and has been cooking and catering in the area ever since — at Paradise Cove Café, Talbots, Pirets, Kipling’s, Albatross, to name a few.

He opened his own restaurant, Gordon’s Basil Street Café, which pioneered organic cuisine. Chef Gordon was a founder of the Slow Food movement in Southern California, worked various Farm Aid events feeding the artists back stage and was executive chef at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Later in his career he worked as a private chef for such high-profile clients as Betty Ford, Michael Eisner, James Garner and others.

A specialist in healthy menu creation, he worked with Deepak Chopra setting up the Wellness Center kitchen in La Jolla. Now, Chef Gordon is sharing his expertise in his “Save the Males Cookbook: The Stress-Free Guide to Set Up Your Kitchen and Use It Like a Pro.” (

Currently President of the Encinitas Community Garden, Gordon is proudest of helping initiate its launch. The garden gives residents a place to grow their own food and be part of a supportive, like-minded community. It was a long process but with the talents of an incredible board, that dream is now a reality and is “growing more awesome every day.” For more information, visit

What brought you to Encinitas?

I’m a California native and moved South to go to San Diego State. I got married and lived out in the Village Park area, where my son was born, before it was Village Park. I was a chef up and down highway 101, finally opening my own restaurant in Leucadia, Gordon’s Basil Street Café. I’m in love with the community of Encinitas. After traveling the world, I realized there is no place I’d rather be!

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

I would cut the city red tape that is imposed on new businesses, nonprofits and community projects to make it easier for them to start up. I would like to see the old Beach House restaurant remodeled and become a local hot spot again.

Who or what inspires you?

My grandsons, Kai Gordon and Riley Russell.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

This is a great question for someone who loves to entertain. As a chef I could cook for a lot more folks but if it’s only eight, here are my guests. Good conversation and a lot of laughs…a perfect dinner.

George Carlin, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, John Lennon, Stephen Colbert, Author Tom Robbins, philosopher Don Miguel Ruiz, (The Four Agreements) and Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement. If someone can’t make it, my buddy Franko can join us. Tina Fey can help me in the kitchen.

What are your favorite movies?

So many to choose from, but here are some of mine: “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Big Lebowski,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “ Lonesome Dove,” “The Shootist,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “All of Me” (Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin), “Alice in Wonderland,” the original “Cyrano de Bergerac” with José Ferrer and “Vatel.” Recently “Chef,” “The Revenant” and “The Martian.”

What is your most prized possession?

My silver ring designed by James Hubble.

What do you do for fun?

Riding my electric chopper around the city and going to the Rancho Coastal Humane Society thrift store to check out their bargains. Live music at The Kraken. I love to travel to see new places and meet new people.

What is it that you most dislike?

Negative and dishonest people. Traffic.

What would be your dream vacation?

I would take friends and family to my favorite place, Far North Queensland Australia, and sail the Great Barrier Reef, dive at Osprey reef, then get campers and drive all over the country.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

We only get a little time…use it for a purpose greater than yourself.

10 Questions is an Encinitas Advocate feature that spotlights interesting people in the community