Coronado resident Patrick Erskine has been busy with both worldly and local aspirations since he graduated from CHS in 2012. The former water polo player and cousin of URT Clothing owner Ian Urtnowski traded in his Speedo for a chef’s toque when he left Coronado for the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City, where he received an associate’s degree in the institute’s culinary program.
Intent on gaining more knowledge in all aspects of the culinary world, after graduating from the CIA, Erskine embarked for France, where he worked as a low-level paid intern at the very haute 5-star Hotel du Palais in Biarritz, situated on the Basque coast. After learning from France’s finest chefs, he returned to San Diego, where he was hired as a sous chef at Eddie V’s in La Jolla.
He recalls that while he was in charge of 135 employees, he was the youngest employee in the restaurant, and jokingly noted that at the age of 22, he had to lie about his age to the other employees who worked under him. Though he remained with the restaurant for only a year, during his tenure there, Eddie V’s became the second most successful restaurant in the entire Darden Restaurant group, which also owns The Olive Garden, The Yard House, and the Capitol Grille, to name just a few.
When Erskine left Eddie V’s in 2015, he joined up with Blue Bridge Hospitality (BBH) as part of the team which opened the popular and successful Liberty Public Market in Liberty Station. Wanting to learn first-hand all aspects of the restaurant industry, he stayed with BBH for several more months, working as a waiter at Leroy’s, right here in Coronado, where he gained knowledge and insight into front-of-the-house operations.
While still at Leroy’s, Erskine launched his own You Tube channel, where he created simple, entertaining, and useful cooking videos. His video series Pat’s Entrée covered dishes such as restaurant mac & cheese, juicy chicken breasts, and my personal favorite, making the perfect, velvety omelet, with the use of chopsticks. It’s a technique I adopted and still implement every time I make eggs.
While putting out these helpful videos, Erskine was contacted by a woman from southern China, who had seen his instructional videos. She offered him a job opening a restaurant. He jumped at the opportunity to experience the food and culture of yet another country, but, while he loved the work and the cultural experience, he noted that he was watched constantly, and had to check in regularly with the Chinese police, which made him just a bit anxious. He returned to Coronado after his month-long tenure there, and worked with cousin Ian, growing the URT business as something of a product manager.
It was at Urtnowski’s Imperial Beach home where Erskine began experimenting with coffee roasting, using a tiny testing roaster, which held only 8 oz of coffee beans. After smoking up Urtnowski’s residence, he spent the next 18 months refining his skills, learning as much as he could about coffee and the art of roasting in the well-ventilated back yard. As word got out, his product became locally popular in the neighborhood, and Erskine realized that he needed both a bigger roaster and a bigger space. In mid 2019, he found the perfect location in a small Chula Vista industrial park, just off Main Street and I-5, and the Jetty Bay Coffee Company was born. A nod to the Coronado jetty and the San Diego Bay, Erskine’s brand thus far boasts three distinct blends, developed with his knowledge, research, and chef’s palate.
His beans are selected and roasted with the home coffee drinker in mind, rather than the café or drive-through customers, who often order drinks where coffee is a more of an ingredient, rather than the headliner.
On my visit, he offered to make a cup for me, with my choice of Blonde, Blue, or Black roasts. As someone who typically thinks of coffee solely as a vehicle for delivering caffeine in the mornings, I opted for the medium-roast Blue, which he described as “smooth, and created to be used without cream or milk.” The idea of drinking coffee without cream was something of scary concept for me, but when he delivered the freshly brewed cup, with a chocolaty aroma and silky body, I was an instant convert. I drank up the whole thing, sans cream, and loved it. This is Sunday morning coffee, and it’s perfect for leisurely moments where one has time to enjoy the depth of flavor and smoothness that Erskine has developed in his uniuqe roasting process.
Erskine is currently working with some area cafes and coffee shops as well, and has a small line of shirts and adorably quaint blue-speckled mugs. He eventually hopes to add a coffee-house, with coffee tastings and music in his space, where he is the sole proprietor, but for the time being plans to focus on honing his roasting skills to create the perfect coffee for every customer.
Jetty Bay Coffee is currently available online at https://jettybaycoffee.com/.