Top Chef's Stefan Richter Flavors LA Farm
by Sari Anne Tuschman
While LA Farm has been a Santa Monica staple since it opened in 1989 on the grounds of the Lantana Center entertainment media complex and became a regular stop for industry bigwigs who worked in the area, it has now been reborn as Stefan’s LA Farm under the leadership and culinary expertise of Top Chef runner-up Stefan Richter. The famously cocky Euro gave the remodeled space a loungy, but classy atmosphere, with a large bar and rich, dark-wood furniture inside and on the enclosed patio, which also boasts fire pits and black leather banquettes.
The menu is full of all-American classics (there are scrumptious sliders, appropriately called “Like a Big Mac”), which may come as a surprise to those who watched Richter proudly flaunt his half-German, half-Finnish heritage during his reality-show stint. But Richter says he is a devoted American and Santa Monica resident and his food reflects that. “We use only all-American products, because I love America; I’ve been here for 13 years,” says Richter. “We only serve American beers and wines. The economy is bad, why ship stuff in from Europe?”
While many reality stars seem to be famous for, well, nothing, this one proves his expertise in the kitchen with a variety of bold and perfectly complex dishes—Kumamoto oysters with absinthe Jell-o and fennel vinaigrette; tater tots with Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (seriously); sliced pig’s head with Champagne-chive vinaigrette, radishes and frisée; and braised pork cheek and caraway sausage with sauerkraut pretzel dumplings and beer sauce. Each decadent bite makes you excited for the next. And if you’re still wondering about those Big Mac-like sliders—we advise you to plan on having at least two orders of the tasty little gems. After a few bites of Richter’s food, you’ll know who the real top chef is. 3000 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-449-4000; stefansatlafarm.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE SCHMELZER
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.