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Chef Tracker

Monday, March 31, 2014

Roast turbot at The Fat Duck - MIKE-FLEMING/FLICKR
Over the weekend, a new trend suddenly emerged: the temporary international restaurant relocation. As reported earlier, Noma will be relocating to Japan for two months at the beginning of next year. On the heels of this, Heston Blumenthal announced that he will close his lauded Berkshire restaurant The Fat Duck and take it to Melbourne, Australia for six months at the beginning of 2015. Practically overnight, it became the hot new thing for world-famous chefs to move their restaurants across the ocean.

It's an interesting development, and one that is probably only the beginning. As food becomes more and more a form of popular culture entertainment, what's to stop more chefs from taking the show on the road? How long  before restaurants go from static to continent-moving to full-fledged dining troupes that  tour the world? Dining circuses! God knows we're already close enough to circus-status with our food obsessions; we might as well make it literal. 

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A dish at Noma - CYCLONEBILL/FLICKR
Copenhagen's Noma, which has often been called the best restaurant in the world, serves local food, but not like a West Hollywood cafe serving $17 salads. Noma's teams of foragers scour the ample Danish countryside for scores of obscure herbs, greens, and berries to go with those horse mussels and musk ox slivers. The result is some magical, artistic, place-specific fare we wish we had the money to enjoy. The idea of Noma existing somewhere besides Scandinavia wouldn't make sense. The restaurant is inseparable from its setting.

Until 2015. For two months in the beginning of next year, Noma chef Rene Redzepi will be moving his restaurant to Tokyo's Kikunoi, one of three famous kaiseki establishments owned by Japanese celebrity chef Yoshihiro Murata.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Greenspan at the Foundry on Melrose - PHOTO BY FELICIA FRIESEMA
  • Photo by Felicia Friesema
  • Greenspan at the Foundry on Melrose

Do you, as many of us do, mark the passage of time by restaurants that have opened and closed throughout Los Angeles? If so, you may have been flipping through your calendar, trying to figure out when in hell Eric Greenspan's grilled cheese storefront is going to settle in for business. And now, with the Foundry on Melrose undergoing a months-long revamp, you may have begun wondering about Greenspan himself. Where is the man, so loud and confident on your television and with his cooking, hiding out? These days, Eric Greenspan is a man of many questions.

As Greenspan will be the first to tell you, he also has all the answers. From a corner booth at the chef's other L.A. restaurant, the Roof on Wilshire, he opened up about the past few months, his future expansion -- and a very personal reason for slowing down and doing things right.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

from left, Feuer, Witzl, Féau and Tea - COURTESY: LE KA
  • courtesy: Le Ka
  • from left, Feuer, Witzl, Féau and Tea

David Féau has been named consulting partner-chef at Le Ka, the downtown restaurant that opened last September. Féau was previously at the Royce in Pasadena, the fancy Langham Huntington Hotel restaurant that was reinvented earlier this spring as a steakhouse (a "wood-fired" steakhouse, no less) under chef Anthony Zappola, formerly of Craft.

Feau's estimable credits include corporate executive chef of Patina Restaurant Group and exec chef positions at Café Pinot, and the Lutéce in both New York and Las Vegas. (Matching up all those names? Keep reading; there's more.)

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Monday, February 11, 2013

oxtail ragu with tagliatelle - D. SOLOMON
  • D. Solomon
  • oxtail ragu with tagliatelle

The Lazy Ox Canteen is known for many things: The New American menu peppered with global influences. A soundtrack booming with The Animals and Soft Cell. The compact dining room outfitted with naked light bulbs and a pair of ox horns. Its unassuming setting -- a calm Little Tokyo street near Skid Row. Most notably, its creative kitchen that helped propel founding chef Josef Centeno to national acclaim.

When Centeno left in fall 2011 to open Bäco Mercat, L.A. newcomer Perfecto Rocher took the helm. He added dishes from his native Spain like paella and chef Andoni Luis Aduriz-style eggs to favorable reviews. Rocher cleared out last fall, hoping to launch a solo venture -- and may have garnered enough attention to succeed.

Other Oxers have also climbed the chef ladder. Original sous chef Mario Alberto opened the admired, if short-lived, Peruvian eatery Chimú and is now chef at Laurel Hardware. Another former sous chef, Kevin Lee, spearheads "Project Ivanhoe," the Korean-tinged dinner menu at Local. He plans to open his own restaurant in a few years. Outside of the kitchen, one-time Lazy Ox cook Ellen Bennett founded a chic apron company.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chef Tony Esnault at Patina - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Chef Tony Esnault at Patina

The downtown bistro Church & State has a new chef. Former Patina executive chef Tony Esnault took over the kitchen recently, succeeding Jeremy Berlin. The move came when Berlin, who had worked with Gordon Ramsay previously and had come to Los Angeles from England to open Ramsay's The London West Hollywood, was tapped by his former employer for a new Ramsay project in Las Vegas. Berlin departs on good terms with Church & State's owner, Yassmin Sarmadi, who hired Berlin to succeed Joshua Smith, who himself followed Walter Manzke behind the stoves.

Sarmadi has been working with Esnault on Spring, a French restaurant going into the ground floor of the Douglas Building at the corner of Spring and Third streets in downtown Los Angeles. Since that project is still some ways away -- target opening date is late 2013 -- Sarmadi told us yesterday that Esnault decided to fill in at Church & State. And Esnault had so much fun cooking the bistro cuisine of his native France that he decided to make the move permanent.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chef Tracker

6 Things We Learned From the Roy Choi + Ludo Lefebvre Talk

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Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM
Lesley Bargar Suter, left, Roy Choi and Ludo Lefebvre - G. SNYDER
  • G. Snyder
  • Lesley Bargar Suter, left, Roy Choi and Ludo Lefebvre

As part of the ALOUD series at the L.A. Central Library, two of the L.A. dining scene's most controversial and beloved figures got together on Wednesday evening to finally set the record straight about their respective unorthodox paths through the culinary world during a program titled "Taking the Kitchen to the Street: Experiments in Flavor and Form." Roy Choi of Kogi, Chego, A-Frame and Sunny Spot, got to set the record straight on his supposed "conversion" to vegetarianism back in April, while chef Ludo Lefebvre opened up about the rampant speculation about the future of his pop-up LudoBites and his upcoming restaurant collaboration with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo of Animal. Los Angeles magazine dining editor Lesley Bargar Suter played host for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles event, which lasted just over two hours. We break down some of the highlights for you:

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baja

Baja Chefs Coming to Playa This September

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Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 8:12 AM
La Guerrerense's sea urchin tostada, in Ensenada - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • La Guerrerense's sea urchin tostada, in Ensenada

Baja cuisine is habanero hot right now, with food personalities like Anthony Bourdain (who said the region "feels like Tuscany") and Andrew Zimmern elevating the area's chefs to national prominence. If you've been stuck salivating stateside, unwilling or unable to make the jaunt south of the border, then consider yourself in luck, because some of Baja's top talents are bringing their skills to Los Angeles.

Starting Sunday, Sept. 16, John Sedlar will be inviting three Baja chefs to Playa to debut a series of unique a la carte dishes, with ingredients sourced from his brand-new rooftop garden, Cielo Verde. The first guest (at Playa from Sept. 16-18) will be Sabina Banderas of La Guerrerense, a seafood restaurant near the Sea of Cortez which cleaned up at this year's LA Street Food Fest, winning the "Best in Show" award for her tostadas topped with sea urchin, clam and sea snail and slathered in her super-hot homemade salsa.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yassmin Sarmadi and Tony Esnault - A. SCATTERGOOD
  • A. Scattergood
  • Yassmin Sarmadi and Tony Esnault

When Church & State owner Yassmin Sarmadi and former Patina executive chef Tony Esnault got to chatting at the March of Dimes charity event in Los Angeles last year, and then again at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, who knew that a new French restaurant would be the result? Yet that is the happy outcome of hanging out at fancy food events (it's good to know they can actually have a tangible purpose). Yesterday Sarmadi and Esnault confirmed that they've partnered in Spring, a French restaurant set to open next summer on the ground floor of the Douglas Building at the corner of Spring and Third Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Chatting at a wine bar next door to Church & State, Sarmadi's downtown French bistro, yesterday evening, the two discussed their plans for the restaurant -- what they both describe as something that will be "between a bistro and fine dining." And what at first seemed a somewhat unlikely partnership began to make a great deal of sense.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Michael Voltaggio serving sandwiches - GUZZLE & NOSH | FLICKR
  • Guzzle & Nosh | Flickr
  • Michael Voltaggio serving sandwiches

Not only will the LA Film Festival feature prominent cinematographers, directors and movies, but the annual week-long string of events will celebrate other art forms -- like food. To that end, Los Angeles chef Michael Voltaggio (Ink, Ink.sack) has been chosen to be an Artist in Residence for this year's festivalT.

On June 20 at 7:50 p.m., Voltaggio will present a screening and discussion of Dinner Rush (2000), an independent film directed by Bob Giraldi that follows one evening of a New York restaurant whose staff works both in the kitchen and with the mob. Voltaggio will discuss how films like Dinner Rush inspired his work as a chef.

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