Papilles’ executive chef Tim Carey: bistronomy and fishology

Last seen cooking in Patina, Tim Carey, Executive Chef of Papilles is part chef, part fisherman, and all Dodger fan. Working tirelessly to prepare for the opening, we were able to get in a quick word with Tim and discussed fishing, his culinary journey, and bistronomy at Papilles.


Before the mad rush of the kitchen, Tim shows us a picture of a 165 pound thresher shark that he caught in the past. While he doesn’t normally keep the apex predators of the ocean, he is proud that it fed many mouths for quite some time.

Chef is a fisherman with a dilemma, he hasn’t fished for over half a year! But he has fished for most his life in the local waters with excursions to the local islands and outer banks.

Early food

Like most chefs, food became important for Tim at an early age. He recalls early barbecues with his Dad where he would man the grill because “the closest one to the fire is the first one to eat.” But his first industry food moment was working as a fish monger at Point Loma Seafoods in San Diego. While working, he attended California School of Culinary Arts, graduated, and cooked for a living.

Working at Sbicca Bistro in Del Mar and Island Prime in San Diego gave him the groundwork of the chef that he is today. But home has that way of calling you back no matter where you are.

Patina years

Missing family, friends and his Dodgers, Tim made his way back to L.A. to work at one of its top kitchens. He received a job at Patina where he “really learned the respect for ingredients, respect for seasonality.” The Michelin starred restaurant honed his skills and technique even further, preparing him for the move to Papilles, a move that he says “is not a step-down.”

The move is a milestone for Tim, as he puts it, “time to grow up and take the lead.” He now serves as the Executive chef and creative force behind the menu of Papilles, commenting “it’s really exciting to be able to not lose the joy in cooking new things. I can create a menu on a whim. He’s behind me 100%.”

Bistronomique movement & Papilles

Tim’s control of Papilles’ kitchen and menu is based on the bistronomy concept. He describes it as “chefs without a master. Chefs who hone their skills in Michelin star or top rated kitchens and lose their ambition for the faceless drudgery that one takes on when cooking in a fine dining kitchen.”

Tim also says, “there’s a loss in the sense of family. These guys want to take the technique they learned, the approach to ingredients, and put them in a bistro environment.” Noting on the lack of pretense and focus on good, seasonal food.

Papilles’ concept is distinctly French in technique with local ingredients. Tim makes multiple trips to the local Farmer’s markets each week, speaks with the purveyors, and creates a menu based on the freshest seasonal choices, “what we’re doing here is running a small menu. The goal, which is entirely feasible, is to change the menu every week dictated by what is available in the markets. We’re going to offer a small menu, two appetizers, two entrees, cheese and or dessert.”

An esoteric selection of wines are paired by owner Santos Uy. The wine list follows the menu, meaning there really isn’t one.

In the kitchen

Check out Tim and team cooking and plating the entrees of the day.

Photography and video provided by Laura Izumikawa