Lodge Dinner 10 October 16th 2016
Chef Victor Totoris
Chef Victor Totoris’s passion for the dining experience started at a young age. His countless experiences of enjoying a meal at the family table included unique food, cheap wine, controversial conversation and a large dose of laughter. He realized that the dining experience was more than just eating; it was an experience that brought everyone together in good and bad times. Breaking of bread is the essence of bringing people together. Chef Victor received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design from California State University, Fresno, but his passion was always in the kitchen and found his true expression of artistry was the empty canvass – a plate. Chef Victor began his culinary education with Chef Jason Park at Maru and refined his technique working as a Sous Chef at AOC under the direction of Chef Suzanne Goin. He has now found a true mentor in Chef Antonia Lofaso at Scopa Italian Roots in Venice Beach.
Chef Victor’s style has evolved. The humble meals at the family dinner table have become more dynamic and sophisticated, but his goal of a memorable dining experience remains the same. The culmination of his experience and heritage has inspired his style of Japanese cuisine and an Argentinean open fire technique.
Lodge Dinner 9.0 August 21st 2016
Chef Alexandra Hall of Valhalla Orchard
Chef Alexandra Hall, originally hailing from Florida, began sharpening her knives after a family move took her to Colorado in 2006. At her orientation at the University of Colorado at Boulder she realized she was heading in the wrong direction, shelved academia, fed her wanderlust for a year, and eventually settled at an artist colony in Snowmass, working in the kitchen. The rhythms of the scullery came to her intrinsically and eventually she was attending Johnson & Wales University in Denver to study culinary nutrition. While a student, Alex began working at The Little Nell in Aspen and finally found herself at the Ritz. Her studies at JWU sent her Singapore and Malaysia where she studied the intersection of Southeast Asian cuisine and culture, invaluable lessons learned abroad continue to influence her cuisine to this day. While working the line at an Aspen Food & Wine event she caught the taste buds of rising culinary star, Ricardo Zarate. Food & Wine magazine had just named him one of their best new chefs and he was looking to build out his team for a new concept in Los Angeles.
After spending several years under his guidance at Paiché in Marina Del Rey Alex branched out and found herself working under Top Chef alum Antonia Lofaso, gradually climbing the ranks up to sous chef at Scopa in Venice. She began spending more and more time at Valhalla, her family avocado and citrus orchard in Ojai. Alex found quotidian farmlife to be far more satisfying than the constant demands of a sous chef and took over managing Valhalla full time. With great produce comes great responsibility. In addition to maintaining and improving Valhalla’s functionality, she works with vendors to get her produce onto an increasing number of dinner tables. It is with great enthusiasm that she presents her menu for the Lodge Dinner 9.0
Lodge Dinner 8.0 July 10th 2016
Chef Owner of Dudley Market
Straight out of culinary school Jesse Barber was recommended for an externship at The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro in Napa, California by one of his mentor professors who recognized his potential. There, he would refine his French techniques and experience the intensity and discipline required to run a restaurant. With the opening, and quickly closing, of Keller’s Per Se in New York in 2004, Barber found himself with, and quickly without a job, leading him back to Oregon where he was raised.
This move granted him with the role as sous chef of Marche in Eugene and positions with the highly acclaimed Bruce Carey Restaurant Group in Portland. While working at clarklewis restaurant in Portland, Jesse developed relationships that would take him to Los Angeles and open The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, in the trending Venice community. As CDC at The Tasting Kitchen, he lead his team to win many accolades including a spot on GQ Magazines “Best New Restaurants” list in 2010 and several JBF nominations.
After two busy years at TTK, chef Barber left to curate the culinary program for Summit Eden and host a series of his own pop-up dinners around LA with his wife, Celia. In 2013 they were hired to run all operations of newly opening Barnyard, again in Venice. Jesse was back in the community he loved and as Chef of Barnyard was praised for his “deceptive simplicity”, as LA Times critic Jonathan Gold put it. Barber’s food is honest, expertly handled and his ingredients are the best his farmers have to offer. With his classical French training, experience in Italian kitchens and love of Japanese cuisine, he’s found a voice that is both unique and clear.
His food shines at his current restaurant, Dudley Market, which opened in July of 2015, again in Venice. Here, he is giving the neighborhood an elevated version of the neighborhood bistro, serving all day and through dinner, with imagination and refinement to familiar classics.
Lodge Dinner 7.0 January 31st 2016
As former Sous Chef at Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica, and former Chef de Tournant at Alma Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, Gary Nguyen has shown to be a versatile member and key aspect on any culinary team. Not only does he work diligently and meticulously in the kitchen, he also manages and maintains high quality standards in an innovative apron company that he co-founded, called Cork District.
After the start-up of Cork District in 2014, chef Gary traveled to Melbourne, Australia, in hopes of expanding his knowledge and creativity in the culinary world. Inspired by Australia’s food philosophy in using the best local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients toward substantial cooking, he was determined to make a name for himself back in Los Angeles by creating beautifully crafted food with texture, bold flavors and creativity.
Humbled by the opportunities that bestowed upon him and guided by his core values, chef Gary is currently operating a Vietnamese street food concept and is in the process of starting his next project as the executive chef for the restaurant Westbound in downtown Los Angeles.
Lodge Dinner 6.0 October 5th 2014
Francis Bassa has been working in the Los Angeles food scene for 6 years at some of the best restaurants in the country. Graduating Le Cordon Bleu in 2007, he began his culinary career at the Bazaar by Jose Andres. Francis is currently working at Alma in downtown Los Angeles. He has a passion for local ingredients, and pristine technique.
Taylor Persh started her culinary career at the age of 14 under Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo at the Blue Palms restaurant. Working under them for four years, she then moved to Napa to attend the Culinary Institue of America. While in Napa, she worked at Brix restaurant where she learned the ins and outs of a wood fire oven. This knowledge continues to shape the way she thinks about food and fire. She currently works at the Bazaar by Jose Andres.
Lodge Dinner 5.o June 8th 2014
Chef Alan Del Toro
Alan Del Toro is the chef de cuisine at the trendy, farm-to-table bistro, Barnyard in Venice, California. He reunited with long time pal and mentor, Jesse Barber, after a two year stint in Eden, Utah building and revamping culinary programs for Summit and Powder Mountain. Alan was a dedicated member of the team at Summit and was passionate about bringing fresh, healthy ingredients to table filled with equally passionate young entrepreneurs, artists, and innovators. After two years as executive chef, Alan decided it was time for a change of scenery and moved from the “snowglobe” vibed Ogden valley, back to sunny Los Angeles.
Alan joined the team at Barnyard Venice and fell right back into the rhythm with Executive chef, Jesse Barber. The pair worked side-by-side at restaurants including The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney which was named one of the “top 10 best new restaurants” by Jonathan Gold of GQ.
Currently, Alan and Jesse are planning for the future of culinary experiences in Los Angeles. Their partnership, Barber and The Bull brings their culinary and experiential expertise to a wide array of clients and venues.
Lodge Dinner 4.o March 9th 2014
Chef Owner of BierBeisl Restaurant
In 2012 at the age of 27, Chef Bernhard Mairinger brought Los Angeles its first taste of authentic Austrian cuisine with the opening of BierBeisl restaurant, his highly anticipated solo debut to LA’s dining scene. Zagat Guides was one of the first to recognize the young chef’s talents naming him to their 30Under30 list honoring the rising stars of the Los Angeles culinary scene. Rave reviews of the restaurant soon followed in the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and other local publications. BierBeisl was named one of the hottest new restaurants in Los Angeles by Gayot, Zagat, Los Angeles magazine and Angeleno Magazine. The LA Times included BierBeisl on their 101 Best Restaurants in Los Angeles list and LA Weekly selected BierBeisl for its annual 99 Essential Restaurant list. The Hollywood Reporter declared Chef Mairinger to be one of the Most Influential Chefs in Hollywood with an A-list clientele.
National recognition arrived when Esquire Magazine named BierBeisl one of the Hottest New Restaurants in the U.S. and Chef Mairinger was included on the James Beard Award shortlist. Chef Mairinger made his national television debut on The Food Network’s Iron Chef America’s Battle Oktoberfest in 2013 battling two popular Iron Chefs, Michael Symon and Jeffrey Zakarian.
Austrian born Mairinger began his formal culinary training at the age of 15 as the Commis de Cuisine at Austria’s Classic Hotel Aichinger, a four star resort & spa where he worked during his tenure at the respected culinary academy Höhere Bundeslehranstalt für Tourismus Bad Ischl.
He continued to work his way up the ranks at various restaurants and resorts throughout Europe, including Hotel Alex in Zermatt Switzerland, Ashdown Park Hotel near London, and Hotel Zürserhof, one of Austria’s top ski resorts of the Arlberg. This seven year journey led to Mairinger’s entry into the Michelin star world in his position as Chef Tournant for Da Gianni in Mannheim, Germany.
At 23, Mairinger was recruited by the Patina Restaurant Group to serve as Chef de Cuisine for Patina at the Hollywood Bowl, Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse and, most recently at Patina, the company’s Michelin star flagship restaurant, which was also rated four stars and named Best Restaurant of Los Angeles in 2010 by the Los Angeles Times.
In Spring 2014 BierBeisl will re-open in a larger location that will include a restaurant, pastisserie, and beer garden.
Lodge Dinner 3.0 Jan. 19th 2014
Being born and raised in Virginia most people think that I grew up strictly on southern food which wasn’t the case. You were just as likely to see homemade lasagna and garlic bread on our table, just as much as cornbread and country ham. Growing up in this environment, where my parents weren’t afraid to try new things, helped shape the way I view food and life in general.
I’ve always loved cooking from as far back as I can remember, but I never thought it would become my career. It wasn’t until I got my first kitchen job at a hotel in 2004 that I started to ponder a career in the culinary industry. I would end up working for Shamin Hotels for six years becoming the youngest executive chef in the company. Even though being with that company gave me access to a wealth of knowledge and experience I knew that it had to be more in the industry than what I was seeing there. So by late 2010 with the goal of expanding my technical and cultural knowledge of food I left the company to attend school and start over in Los Angeles.
I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with high honors and during my time there I most notably represented the Western Region in the 2012 San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition, where I won the People’s Choice Award.
My next step brought me to Savory in Malibu where I worked for a short time for Paul Shoemaker and Chris Gore. Working there showed me a different level of quality and care that goes into cooking that I had never experienced before. Upon Savory’s unfortunate closure I wanted to push higher and was able to obtain a position at Mélisse in Santa Monica where I continue to push my culinary skill to the next level.
I look forward to giving you an unforgettable dining experience.
After culinary school, I began working for a catering company where I realized the importance of producing food with quality rather than quantity. This became my philosophy and stepping stone toward another chapter in my life–entering the world of fine dining. When I first entered the realm of fine dining, I did not have the slightest idea of how to execute a simple purée, however, now I see myself composing some of the most complicated and intricate dishes, with poise.
I believe that being a great chef requires drive, ambition and goals, which are instilled upon me. My main purpose is to create a memorable meal that everyone will love; and I plan to do so vigorously with passion. So please, embark on this journey with me and let’s share an amazing dinner together.
Lodge Dinner 2.0 Sept. 22nd 2013
When people find out that I grew up in and around Fall River and New Bedford, MA they usually ask “Are you Portuguese?” I’m not, but I grew up surrounded by the Portuguese culture in southeastern MA. Chouriço, linguiça, massa and malasadas on Sundays were part of my childhood. Since then I have travelled through Lisbon, Anlentejo, and the Algarve and have come to love the food, wine and people of this wonderful country.
The only real jobs I have ever had have been in restaurants. I’ve held every position from dishwasher to bartender to executive chef. Outside of the restaurant I’ve pursued my passion for food and wine through hosting dinner parties large and small, catering friends’ weddings and studying with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
I look forward to sharing a wonderful evening of food and wine.
Lodge Dinner 1.0 June 9th 2013
My culinary journey goes back as long as I can remember. You see, my first job in a kitchen was, tasting for salt for my grandmother. Those family meals were memorable… always the highlight of any holiday, where we all got together to share stories, ideas, laughs and memories. As the centerpiece of these events, were the Mediterranean masterpieces my grandmother lovingly put together. It was at that young age when I started to see that food brings people together, across generations and time apart.
Growing up I did every job you can imagine in local restaurants on the North Fork of Long Island. Seafood was king, and the fresher the better. That never escaped me, and continues to be the driving force in my kitchen philosophy. After moving to Los Angeles in 1999, I began to work in the entertainment industry. Cooking continued to be a source of joy in preserving my grandmother’s tradition by bringing my friends together with wonderful evenings full of food and laughter. In 2009 I decided to pursue my passion a little more seriously and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Pasadena. While at school I was hired by Casey Lane at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice, CA, where I honed my skills and was introduced to a culinary style, which has shaped the way I cook today.
Following graduation from the Cordon Bleu with high honors I had the opportunity to work at El Celler D’el Aspic, a Michelin rated restaurant in the Priorat region of Spain, about 90 minutes southwest of Barcelona. Having spent 6 months in Spain getting back in touch with my culinary roots I decided to come back to L.A. After a year at the Tasting Kitchen I branched out on my own doing private dinners and events, where I look forward to running into you and your friends for an evening of food, wine, and memories in the making.