Success Stories | Brian Malarkey

Chef Brian Malarkey exudes passion for his profession and Le Cordon Bleu gave him the education to help him get there.

Graduated: 1994, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland (formerly known as Western Culinary Institute)
Degree: Diploma in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts
Current Position: Owner and Executive Chef, Searsucker, San Diego, CA and TV Personality

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A native of Oregon, Brian Malarkey grew up inspired by the cooking of his grandmother in her beach house kitchen, where she was often joined by her old friend James Beard. After being seduced all his life by all the fresh seafood and abundant produce that the Oregon countryside has to offer, Brian enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland (formerly known as Western Culinary Institute).

Upon completion, Brian set his sights on California, and sought the disciplines of the larger-than-life French Chef Michael Richard at Citrus in Los Angeles. After holding several positions in Chef Richard’s kitchen, Brian traveled abroad, eating his way through Europe and Northern Africa learning what food meant to different cultures.

Back in the states Brian followed his business sense to Minneapolis where he held several positions at prominent Twin Cities establishments including the Loring Café, and The Local before landing at The Oceanaire Seafood Room where he accepted the Sous Chef position. Brian returned to his beloved Pacific Northwest to open the Oceanaire’s Seattle restaurant in 2001 as Executive Sous Chef. Under the tutelage of Chef Rick Kimmes in Minneapolis and Chef Kevin Davis in Seattle, Brian blossomed into a promising young talent. In 2004, Brian and his wife Chantelle relocated to beautiful southern California to open The Oceanaire’s San Diego restaurant as Executive Chef and Operating Partner. Brian made it to the final four on Bravo Channel’s Top Chef®. According to Brian the best part of the reality show experience was the opportunity to grow as a chef. Many local and national TV appearances have followed including hosting a series of weekly episodes on for Top Chef Six Las Vegas called The Remix where he puts healthy and fast spins on winning dishes.

In spring 2010, Brian opens Searsucker in downtown San Diego. In this, his first restaurant concept for the year, he is partnering with San Diego restaurant and nightclub developer, James Brennan, owner of nationally acclaimed Stingaree Restaurant and Nightclub. Brian is also working on two cookbooks and writing a weekly blog on and where he dishes about all things culinary. At the same time as practicing marketing and public relations like a pro, Brian can almost always be found in the kitchen on any given day, doing what he loves best.

Follow Chef Malarkey on Twitter @BrianMalarkey. Visit his web page online at Read his Bravo TV blog at and his San Diego Magazine blog.

Career success will depend largely on the effort put into studies, job search efforts, experience and attitude. The experience of this alumnus is not representative of all students. This graduate story is unique and may not represent typical experiences or outcomes for our graduates. Graduates should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities in their chosen fields.