For those of you who keep a running tally of the chefs at Bastide, Joe Pytka's Melrose Place restaurant, you can now officially put Sydney Hunter III's name up next to the Michelin inspector's Post-it jigsaw of Joseph Mahon, Paul Shoemaker, Walter Manzke, Ludo Lefebvre and Alain Giraud.
Hunter, who previously cooked with Lefebvre at LudoBites and at Fraîche with Jason Travi, quietly took over the stoves shortly after Mahon left in December, but Dario Dell'Anno, Bastide's manager and sommelier, only just made the announcement. Joining Hunter in the kitchen, or at least the pastry kitchen, is Annette Picha, who previously worked at Fraîche as well. Hunter has completely reworked the menu in the last few months.
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If anyone needed more proof that the professional kitchens of Los Angeles form a tightly knit community, Hunter is that. The chef is also an alum of the late, lamented L'Orangerie, once helmed by Lefebvre. And between 2002 and 2008, Hunter was sous chef at -- are you annotating your menu yet? -- none other than Bastide. Thus it is a homecoming of sorts. At least Hunter knows what Life With Pytka is all about. Good night and good luck.