Sometimes, you have to change direction to get back to what's important. That’s the case for Chef Chris Watts, who recently left Carmel Valley Ranch for Salt Wood Kitchen in Marina. The restaurant's most recent executive chef was Paul Corsentino.
After just two weeks on the new job, a fast-talking Watts is nothing but positive about the opportunity, his team and the path ahead. After heading up the restaurants at Carmel Valley Ranch solo since Chef Tim Wood (now of Woody’s at the Airport) was kicked out of the nest a year ago, he’s ready for something new. “They’re just going in a different direction,” Watts says, of the ranch’s Hyatt leadership.
At Salt Wood, he says, he has both the ability and mandate to “serve the best-quality food.” Since its inception (by Chef David Baron, also someone who Watts has a history of working with) back in 2017, Salt Wood has been all about sourcing locally. That took a bit of a hit during the pandemic, but Watts is working to ramp it back up. He is also looking to reopen for brunch and lunch—the restaurant is currently dinner-only. “We just want to get it back up to par,” Watts says.
“I want to be more than just a little restaurant in Marina,” he adds. “That’s the ultimate goal.”