Tara Monsod

ANIMAE - San Diego, CA

Tara Monsod, Executive Chef of Puffer Malarkey Collective’s ANIMAE and Le Coq in San Diego, brings to the table a decade of kitchen expertise, fueled by a lifelong passion and a unique Filipino American culinary perspective.

Her culinary journey began with notable positions at San Diego’s culinary hotspots, including a formative role on the opening kitchen team at Richard Blais’ Juniper & Ivy. Here, Monsod gleaned invaluable lessons on ingredient utilization and whole animal butchery, setting a strong foundation for her future endeavors. Subsequent roles at Brian Malarkey’s Herringbone, Burlap, and Nancy Silverton’s Mozza further refined her skills, leading her to join ANIMAE as Executive Sous Chef under James Beard Award Winner Nate Appleman in early 2021.

Under Appleman’s guidance, Monsod expanded her culinary horizons, blending fine-dining techniques with the familiar flavors of her Filipino heritage. Her elevation to Executive Chef in summer 2021 heralded a new era for ANIMAE, with Monsod’s innovative reinterpretation of culinary classics earning widespread acclaim. Dishes like Tuna Kinilaw, Dinuguan, and Kare Kare Short Rib showcase her culinary prowess and celebrate her cultural roots.

Tara Monsod’s dedication to her craft has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by her recognition as a James Beard Award Best Chef West semifinalist in January 2024. Yet, beyond accolades, Monsod is committed to fostering a supportive and positive environment at the restaurant, nurturing the growth of her team, and building meaningful connections with guests. Her warm hospitality mirrors the values of Brian Malarkey and Christopher Puffer, and she can often be found engaging with diners, sharing her passion for cuisine and inspiring aspiring Asian American and Pacific Islander cooks to pursue their dreams in the culinary world.


Backcourt BBQ

Royal Lahaina Resort & Bungalows

October 27, 2024

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