SDVoyager: Meet Davin and Jessica Waite of Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub and The Whet Noodle

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Davin and Jessica Waite.

Davin and Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Davin has been a chef for almost 20 years. We met 6 years ago when he was leaving his last restaurant, and we had the opportunity to start Wrench & Rodent, which is a sushi and seafood concept. We opened Wrench in summer 2013, and have experienced organic growth ever since.

We both have strong beliefs in minimizing waste and respecting the whole plant and animal, and our menu features dishes that are somewhat traditional as well as those that highlight sustainability practices. Davin is known for his creativity as a chef, and we run a large daily specials menu that features locally sourced products. I believe wholeheartedly in this movement and do my best to support it through promotion and community engagement.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. Even though our two restaurants are successful at this point there are still struggles. We are adamant about not compromising when it comes to the quality of the product we source, and this can lead to higher costs.

It can be a bit more expensive to buy locally and from small vendors, but there are so many benefits, not the least of which is taste. There is also something beautiful about knowing the families that grow your veggies, and the people who bring in your fish.

There are always going to be the people that tell you, “you could make so much more money if you buy this, instead of that,” but that’s not even something we are willing to entertain.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, The Whet Noodle – what should we know?
The Wrench & Rodent team strives to provide a unique dining experience that is casual and accessible while also exciting and constantly evolving. We take pride in offering locally and responsibly sourced ingredients, and special care is taken to minimize waste. We offer a variety of options ranging from rolls and nigiri to elaborate sashimi plates and an unconventional Omakase. Our vegetables are given the same respect we show to fish, and we are very vegan-friendly.

We like to think of the Whet Noodle as a West Coast Izakaya. Davin’s take on ramen is analogous to his unorthodox interpretation of sushi. The rest of the menu, some of which changes daily, offers affordable, Japanese inspired and locally sourced sharable plates and entrees. Our house-made broths are lighter and healthier than most and include a fish tonkotsu that is made from bones and trimmings from Wrench & Rodent.

– Wrench is known for the omakase that is mentioned above, and for using the whole fish and plant. The concept is pretty chef-centric, as Davin has a reputation of being a bit of a mad scientist and has quite a following, but all of our chefs are highly skilled and creative in their own right, and each has their own following at this point. Diners can come to Wrench to enjoy a couple of rolls and a beer or can make a reservation to sit at the sushi bar and experience a 15-20 course omakase that will be a full-on dining experience.

– The Whet Noodle was created when space next to Wrench became available. We wanted to do something that would be a quick-casual, counter service compliment Wrench & Rodent. The Whet Noodle also gives us the opportunity to utilize some of the biproduct and offcuts coming from Wrench; for example, we buy whole fish at Wrench and use the bones to make broth at the Whet Noodle. The Noodle menu is created using the same local products that Wrench is, and we have a great team of chefs that create fun daily specials.

I love The Whet Noodle because it offers great quality food in a more casual setting, and those that are in a hurry can get in and out fairly quickly. The Wrench & Rodent / Whet Noodle combo offers something for everyone.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Davin and I are pretty driven and passionate. Because we are a husband/wife team I think it is important that both of us are equally invested in our work, and we really are. Davin is incredibly driven. He will be in the kitchen at 8am and sometimes doesn’t leave until midnight, and he is constantly creating. I am so passionate about our mission of sharing locally sourced and responsible food with our community, and this keeps me motivated and makes it easy to keep up the momentum.

We both work pretty hard, but understand the importance of staying inspired; we travel as much as we can and try to stay engaged in the local food community. I think passion and curiosity are two qualities that are pretty important. We need the passion to move us forward through the rough times, and the curiosity to keep us pushing boundaries and trying new things.





Image Credit:

Chase Life Photography

Farm to Fork Week- January 14-21, 2018

It's that time again! Let's celebrate our local farmers! 

San Diego Farm to Fork week is a celebration of our region's outstanding chefs and dining destinations and a chance to try new restaurants at affordable prices.  What sets Farm to Fork Week apart is our chefs' commitments to sourcing ingredients from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen who we know and trust, and our time spent verifying that participating chefs and restaurants are in fact buying from them. So when you choose to dine or drink at one of our partner restaurants, wineries or bars, you can rest assured that you're keeping your food dollars in San Diego, you're supporting farming and fishing families and their workers and you're reducing your contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the number of miles your food travels to your plate. - SD Farm to Fork website

Wrench & Rodent's January F2F offerings

Farm to Fork $40

January 14- 21, 2018

Plant based version available

Butter lettuce salad w/ Citrus guava vinaigrette, goat cheese & walnuts Sundial Farms

Honey sriracha greens Roadrunner Farms

Four piece local nigiri sampler

Petite fish market special w/ roasted vegetables, quinoa potato salad Assorted local farms

Bundt cake by Snopel’s

Food Waste Panel with BGFF and Kitchens for Good

The Berry Good Food Foundation (BGFF) has been hosting panels that delve into some of the most important challenges facing our communities. For their discussion on Reimagining Food Waste the BGFF teamed up with Kitchens for Good to create a menu focused on reducing waste in the kitchen. Students created delicious food for the event using fish "scraps" such as collars, egg sacs and ribs as well as "ugly" fruits and veggies that might have otherwise gone to waste. Davin helped out in the kitchen alongside rock star chefs Isabel Cruz and Joanne Sherif, and had the privilege to work with the  amazingly talented Kitchens for Good team. 

Click here to view the Reimagining Food Waste Panel! 

Wild Wonders & Sushi!

Wild Wonders is an amazing facility that works to educate the public about wildlife, as well as to serve as a refuge for rescued animals. The Wrench Team was excited to help support such an amazing cause. The Wild Wonders & Sushi event featured Wrench sushi offerings, musical talent by Celeste Barbier and Shane Hall, wine from Chris Lobo's Native Wines, desserts from Snopels, D'Armond Family Cheesecakes, and Cupcakes Squared. Thank you all for your generous donations! Not to be forgotten, the WW event featured an array of animal ambassadors ranging from binturongs and kinkajous to alligators and owls. For more information about Wild Wonders please visit their website

FEAST! Taste of Oceanside

Yet another well executed foodie event featuring Oceanside's culinary uprising! Oceanside is definitely a wonderful place to be for those who love food! 

North Eats 2016

This was our second year at North Eats and it was a blast! It is so exciting to see such an array of culinary talent from North County San Diego's emerging food scene. Wrench & Rodent and our sister shop The Whet Noodle joined forces to offer a cold noodle salad with yellowtail sashimi kombu vinaigrette, featuring event sponsor Baker & Olive's Baklouti fused chili oil. 

Cyclops Farms 'Water Bill Dinner'

Cyclops Farms is Oceanside's first certified organic farm. Luke Girling and his family supply fruits, veggies and produce to many local restaurants in addition to holding a weekly farm stand. To raise additional funds, Luke has been hosting monthly dinners to (you guessed it!) fund his significant water bill. Chef Davin kicked off this series of dinners, pairing courses with thoughtfully selected offerings from Chris Lobo, owner of Native Wines. There are no words to describe how special it felt to be a part of this night. Enjoying food created from Luke's produce and local fishermen, dining on a farm overlooking the Pacific... a revolution is truly underway. 

For more information about the weekly Farm Stand, follow Cyclops Farms on Facebook! 

Encinitas Foodie Fest 2016

We were so excited to be a part of this wonderful food event in North County! Founder and organizer Jolee Pink did a phenomenal job bringing together a wide variety of culinary talent and awesome sponsors for this fun-filled foodie event! Proceeds from the event were donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jessica, Chef Davin and Chef Michael served up seared albacore with a smoky BBQ sauce made with strawberries from Cyclops Farms. 

Check out this website for more information, and updates about Foodie Fest 2017: http://foodiefestencinitas.com/ 

Olivewood Gardens Seedling Soiree

What an idyllic setting, a beautiful group of people, and a wonderful cause! The Olivewood Gardens learning center (http://olivewoodgardens.org/) hosts this annual event  to fund their non-profit organization. Their mission is to  empower children and families from diverse backgrounds to be healthy and active through organic gardening, environmental stewardship, and nutrition education. Proceeds from the event benefit the kitchen, garden, and science programs offered by Olivewood Gardens to children and adults throughout San Diego County.

Eat. Drink. Read. 2016

Chef Davin and Jessica are happy to serve this dish, themed after one of their favorite childhood books. 

Chef Davin and Jessica are happy to serve this dish, themed after one of their favorite childhood books. 

W&R was excited to support the San Diego Council on Literacy’s (SDCOL) 7th annual “Eat.Drink.Read. A Culinary Event for Literacy.” The event raised funds to support the SDCOL’s twenty-six literacy programs, which provide free literacy assistance to more than 170,000 children, families and adults. Culinary offerings were inspired by the chef’s favorite books. Jessica and Davin chose to pay tribute to one of their favorite authors, Roald Dahl. New Zealand salmon with a roasted peach and walnut salsa? You guessed it! Who doesn’t love James and the Giant Peach! 

Mamma's Day 2016

W&R was once again honored to have the opportunity to help support Mamma’s Kitchen in their tireless efforts to help those in need. Mamma’s Kitchen delivers hot, nutrition-specific meals free of charge to local men, women, and children affected by AIDS or cancer.

Learn more about this amazing team at http://www.mamaskitchen.org/

Chef Davin and a volunteer chef working hard to make sure guests are well fed! 

Chef Davin and a volunteer chef working hard to make sure guests are well fed!