A Closer Look at LA's Culinary Family Tree
Right now, LA is having a moment as a new culinary mecca, a magnet for the best and brightest talent from around the country. It wasn’t much different 30-plus years ago, when places like Michael’s, Spago and Patina were at the forefront of a new culinary world order. These restaurants helped launch the careers of many of today’s local, national and celebrity chefs. When people like Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton wanted to find their footing in the kitchen, they went to work for Michael McCarty and Wolfgang Puck, two of the most innovative chefs and restaurateurs of their time.
This is the base of our lush culinary family tree in Los Angeles, where patriarchs and matriarchs like McCarty, Puck, Silverton and Joachim Splichal are directly linked to the stars and hot spots of our dining scene today. Think of it this way: if it weren’t for Michael’s, we might not have Sang Yoon’s Father’s Office. Or if not for Spago, maybe Campanile wouldn’t have come to be, which would mean no Mozza, and no Cassia, Bryant Ng’s Singaporean-Vietnamese restaurant in Santa Monica. As different as they are, they’re all inextricably tied together.
Here are the restaurants that played an important role in the genesis of how we eat now — in the Southland and across the country — and the LA culinary scene that grew from each one, including many current hot spots. Note: we're just barely scratching the surface here. There are so many prep cooks, sous-chefs, pastry stars, bartenders and front-of-the-house stars that have cycled through many of these establishments, and those that came after them, along the way. Let's just look at the roots, trunk and big branches for now.