chef shuffles

Jamie Lauren Bails Beechwood After Six Months; Roy Choi to Tackle The Menu

Chef Jamie Lauren at Beechwood

Chef Jamie Lauren at BeechwoodPhoto: Tatiana Arbogast

The recent reboot of Venice Beach gastro-pub Beechwood has hit a big snag, Eater reports. After nearly seven months, Top Chef vet Jamie Lauren has officially (and, according to Beechwood, "amicably") left the restaurant to pursue other projects. Beechwood management mentions that it is honored to have had Lauren make it her first L.A. home, giving us some indication that she's not fleeing very far if there's to be a second. While her Kobe beef cheeks are still remembered fondly, we won't particularly pine for Lauren's pronounced "white trash" theme here, and can hardly contain our glee at the prospect of her replacement: Kogi founder Roy Choi.

Choi and Beechwood owner David Reiss have a history that has long found the chef's famous Korean tacos prepared and sold in Reiss' lounge The Alibi Room. Choi showed L.A. he was much, much more than a one-truck pony with his own casual concept Chego, which was quickly followed by A-Frame, Reiss' Culver City tavern serving communal-table-friendly picnic foods that unite cuisines from the two Pacifics, with various spicing from the SoCal diet.

For Beechwood, a much-needed remodel is planned ("tear down the wall!," we say), while Choi will also offer a new direction to the restaurant, which has noticeably been in need of such a move since chef Brooke Williamson severed her ties here. Kogi's Alice Shin promises in a statement: "This will be Roy Choi's most American menu to date," and foretells plans to honor both the Venice lifestyle while making room for the chef's imagination. Here's hoping this means even more novel takes on seafood like the peel 'n eat shrimp, fried Dungenness, and Thai clam chowder that we've enjoyed at A-Frame.

In any case, with Choi's cuisine coming to Beechwood, this would officially put four of the chef's restaurants within a single four and a half mile stretch. If the trend continues, Culver City and its surrounds are well on their way to becoming "The City of Choi."

Jamie Lauren Departs Beechwood, Remodel Planned, Roy Choi Takes Command of New American Menu [Eater]

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