testing

Where Chefs Audition For L.A.'s Big Roles

But does Feniger have her own casting couch?

But does Feniger have her own casting couch?Photo: Susan Feniger's Street

Chefs in Los Angeles turn out to be no luckier than Hollywood's actors, as up-and-coming toques are now found auditioning for the town's best restaurant roles. The L.A. Times looks at where these try-outs are taking place: a state-of-the-art test-kitchen built at the home of restaurant recruiter Brad Metzger. As restaurant owners often require discretion and don't have the time to muddle through hundreds of mendacious Craigslist applications, Metzger employed the designers of Huckleberry's facilities to fashion him a test kitchen where chefs like Susan Feniger and Evan Funke could quietly appraise new talent and where restaurant concepts like Red O could test dishes while their own kitchen was being constructed. How does Metzger play matchmaker here?

Dinners are typically arranged when investors or owners are sussing out an applicant or seeking to evaluate a restaurant's food or concept. Metzger makes his kitchen available, often with the invited friends of a restaurateur, at an informal half-dinner party, half reality-show challenge. Cameras capture the cooking action and relay the action to a massive video screen in Metzger's living room, allowing the gathered to watch and discuss the proceedings as critically as they desire.

Metzger plays both headhunter and matchmaker in this equation, successfully enjoining managers and kitchen talent to Red O, BP Oysterette, Wilshire, Bar Pintxo, Jose Andres' ThinkFoodGroup, and a new West Hollywood Asian restaurant called Fresh East. In addition to his test-kitchen, Metzger is distinguished for thoroughly investigating applicants before they get to audition, warning potential Craigslist recruiters, "You wouldn't believe the B.S. artists out there." Alas, Hollywood and L.A. restaurants have yet another thing in common right there.

The ultimate test kitchen, where top chefs and restaurants connect [L.A. Times]

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