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What made you decide to make the focus of your restaurant’s menu classic French food?
I lived in Paris for 17 years above a tiny bakery called Tout au Beurre. Lit-up brassieres lined the streets, and French comfort foods were a way of life. Living in the historic district of Le Marais—the sounds, the art and lifestyle—I absorbed it all. It’s what I know and love.
Cafe Stella offers an extensive wine list. Do you have a favorite label?
We’ve always looked for small-production, honest wines from wineries practicing sustainable agriculture. Recently we brought in a wine from Vacqueyras in southern Rhône called Roucas Toumba. That might be my current favorite.
What made you decide to bring a little taste of Paris to the Silver Lake district?
In Paris all your needs were met in your own neighborhood—you didn’t have to drive. I felt like LA was missing that. And that’s what Cafe Stella and Sunset Junction have become, a place where people stroll around and find themselves in connection and conversations with their neighbors. And without even knowing it, they get a glimpse of Paris.
3932 Sunset Blvd.,Los Angeles; cafestella.com
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Animal has received numerous accolades. Is there one in particular the restaurant is most proud of?
What really lightens our heart is the personal accolades we get from our community of cooks, chefs and managers.
What was the creative vision behind Animal?
When [owners] Jon [Shook] and Vinny [Dotolo] started, they wanted to create a restaurant that was simplistic in some ways but put slightly fearless food out there. The menu has the reputation of being “meat city,” but it’s more well rounded than that. Our walk-in refrigerator is packed with some of the most beautiful produce California has to offer.
Tell us about Animal’s dining philosophy.
I think what [Jon and Vinny] want in the dining experience is honesty. The space is really simple; it’s not about the chandeliers we have hanging; it’s about eating with friends or by yourself. I think we’ve really hit our stride, and the experience here has gotten better and better.
435 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles; animalrestaurant.com
SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR
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Tell us about your space in Malibu designed by Richard Neutra.
The original owner of Geoffrey’s Malibu, Harvey Baskin, was a nature lover. He fell in love with the architecture, design and the fact the restaurant’s built on the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean.
How would you describe the cuisine at Geoffrey’s Malibu?
Our cuisine is California cuisine, but we have an amazing international flair. We have an Asian influence, but there’s also a Mediterranean influence. Our chef has a unique lineage—he’s part Persian and part German. He’s an eccentric person, and you really feel that on our menu.
What are your favorite dishes on the restaurant’s menu?
The tuna tartare is nothing like I’ve tasted anywhere else. It’s topped with caviar and eaten with wonton chips, giving it a little crunch. Also the seafood paella is really unique; it’s a little more soupy and sweeter than the traditional dish.
27400 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; geoffreysmalibu.com