Before reality TV, talented chefs were recognized more for their names and signature dishes than for their faces. But thanks to hit cooking shows, chefs have been coming out of the kitchens and reaching a new type of celebrity status. And there’s no better place for an up-and-coming chef to be seen and tasted than in Los Angeles. Finally, diners are able to put a face with the food. While some chefs’ appearances match their avant-garde plates or perhaps look nothing like what you’d expect, here are five local chefs you’ll definitely want to see and taste.
Nine Thirty – The W Hotel
930 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Edgy “Top Chef” alumni Dakota Weiss’ future was written in the stars the day she was born. Her mother’s astrologer was bedside at the time of her birth and predicted she would be an artist but “not in the traditional sense.” Originally from Lancaster, Weiss lived in many parts of the country and studied under influential chefs like Bruno Menard and Jeff Drew before landing at the W Hotel. Her passion for fresh produce and bold flavors, yet simple and light creations makes every plate an exciting experience. Just ask anyone who’s had her pan-roasted wild salmon smoked with tomato horseradish grits, warm tomato and arugula salad, grilled chicken paillard with butter lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, lardons and smoked paprika vinaigrette or slow-braised pork belly with whole grain mustard, goat cheese polenta, baby carrots and black olive oil.
5907 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028
In a city saturated with trendy restaurants, sometimes even the long-standing need to revamp once in a while to stay in the running. La Poubelle implemented its own overhaul which started with the kitchen. Enter chef Johnny Zone. Having studied under celebrity chefs Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsey, Zone’s youth and enthusiasm breathes new life and flavor into the 33-year-old French eatery. While Zone may be up-and-coming, signature dishes like gnocchi with chanterelle and button mushrooms, shallots, parmesan and chives, scallop carpaccio with Nantucket Bay scallops, grapefruit confit, Meyer lemons and black lava salt and striped bass with grilled fennel and oyster mushrooms are sure to pave the way to a seriously delicious career. And while he may not be a TV star yet, you can see his good-looking, boy-next-door mug on youtube.com showing you how to flash-fry Brussels sprouts.
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8360 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Winner of “Top Chef” season six, Michael Voltaggio has gone on to live the culinary dream of owning his own restaurant. Ink opened in late 2011 and in March of 2012 was named America’s best new restaurant by GQ Magazine. However, as demonstrated on “Top Chef,” Voltaggio is full of surprises and quietly opened a sandwich shop, Ink Sack, around the corner just a month before the restaurant’s opening. While he’s proud of everything on both menus, the one item he would personally recommend is the beef tartare (hearts of palm, rye, sea bean chimichurri and horseradish). It is, in a word, perfect. And for the Ink Sack, the banh mi (pork butt, pork belly, chicharrónes, pickled vegetables) is the must have. Because Voltaggio is a perfectionist, the menu is subject to change as he’s always experimenting and pushing culinary boundaries.
755 N La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
California native David Gussin is on a culinary rocket to the top of his field. After eight years of studying food in some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles, Gussin has landed the premier position of executive chef at one of LA’s trendiest, see-and-be-seen restaurants, STK. The restaurant powerhouse, The ONE Group, is excited to have Gussin in its west coast STK kitchen because along with him comes his influences of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Spanish, New American, Latin and Caribbean flavors. With that kind of background, Gussin’s assistance with STK’s recipe development can only result in greatness. From the porterhouse to the broiled Maine lobster and the organic half chicken, Gussin’s talent shines through. And let’s not forget about the sides of mac and cheese, parmesan truffle fries and creamy Yukon potatoes.
Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse
330 S Hope St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Despite the fact that she looks more like she belongs on a surfboard than in a kitchen, Megan Logan is one of the hottest chefs currently heating up the LA food scene. While at Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, the former vegetarian ditched the greens and began an externship at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse without ever looking back. By age 28, she became the only female executive chef in Patina’s California restaurants. As a master of age-dried meats, her perfectly-seasoned, pan-seared, broiled and buttered château sirloin and bone-in New York will melt in your mouth. While she’s got the chops for the industry and the talent in the kitchen, Logan’s also got the kind of face people like to see. It won’t be long before you see her on the small screen.