Best chefs of LA taking the city to new culinary heights


L.A. native Govind Armstrong began his career at the age of 13 working for Wolfgang Puck at the original Spago. His culinary philosophy is to bring out the best in each component and keep the food seasonal, which worked out for him, even getting Oprah's attention with his short-rib grilled-cheese sandwich. You can taste his fresh comfort food at Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills. [Watch video]

Chef Ricardo Zarate is at the forefront of L.A.'s newest dining trend: Peruvian food. With his popular Picca cantina, a celebrity favorite, and his newest venture Mo-Chica, both in downtown, Chef Zarate is introducing Peruvian flavors and putting its culture on a pedestal in Los Angeles. Every dish served has a personal story behind it. One of the dishes Chef Zarate is most proud of is a blend of history and culture -- La Causa -- or The Cause. For the story behind the dish, stop by Mo-Chica.

Suzanne Goin, also a native of L.A., is no stranger to "best of" lists and other top chef honors, including the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award. Her first restaurant, Lucques, has become a favorite among Los Angeles foodies. Her latest honor was cooking for President Barack Obama and wife Michelle at her Brentwood restaurant, Tavern.

Goin is also the co-founder and host of L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade, a cookout featuring tastings of dishes by top chefs and mixologists from across the country. The yearly event is held on the lawn of the Culver Studios Mansion to raise funds and awareness for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which helps to fight childhood cancer.

One of our favorite pastry chefs in L.A., Zoe Nathan, is taking her oven-inspired creations to the next level. Her Huckleberry Café and Bakery Huckleberry Café and Bakery is as popular as ever, and she recently added Milo and Olive, a California wood fire oven pizzeria and bakery, to her slate of restaurants in Santa Monica. [Watch video]

Remember when gourmet cupcakes first became all the rage? Well, the woman behind this sweet trend is Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson. Now, a few years later, this hot trend is cooling -- figuratively speaking -- with handmade ice cream. Candace's newest concept is Sprinkles Ice Cream in Beverly Hills, conveniently right next door to Sprinkles. And in between the two shops you can find the world's first 24-hour cupcake ATM machine to satisfy your after-hours sweet tooth.

Chefs are trying different things to set them apart in their restaurants, bringing fresh ideas and eatery concepts to the culinary scene in Los Angeles. One place quickly embraced by Angelinos are Gastropubs, casual everyday bars serving gourmet food. And shaking things up is the mixology trend, where cocktails are just as fancy and creative as the food, making for a better dining experience with great food-and-drink pairings. The return of the supper club is also taking foodies to unconventional new places. Avant-garde chef Craig Thornton, also known as Wolvesmouth, hosts underground dinners for a lucky few of his online followers. To submit your name for a special invitation to the next Wolvesmouth dinner, you can visit the Wolvesmouth website.

Known as the "Rock n' Roll Chef," Kerry Simon has not only cooked for Rock n' Roll royalty, he also had the distinction of being the youngest and first American chef at The Plaza Hotel in New York, hand-picked by Ivana Trump herself. Today, Kerry has mastered the art of gourmet comfort food and he's known for his famous "Junk Food Platter" dessert, which comes complete with cotton candy. [Watch video]

When you first meet Jared Simons, you might expect to see him working in a body shop, not the kitchen. This gourmet chef's blue denim apron, tattoos and combat boots are as much a part of his personality as they are a reflection of his unconventional cooking. For his most recent dining project, Jared teamed up with restaurateur Steven Arroyo to create an East L.A.-inspired menu at La Otra Escuela Taqueria.

In their West Hollywood studio kitchen, "Spork Food" sisters, Heather and Jenny are all about showing students how to cook delicious vegan cuisine. Their Los Angeles food company offers vegan gourmet cooking classes and teaches easy-to-make-at-home meals. The "Spork Food" sisters also have a new cookbook, "Spork-Fed," that's filled with flavorful vegan recipes. Check out their website to order a copy.

If you're ready to relax and grub, Chego is your place. Master Chef Roy Choi is the man behind the Kogi Korean BBQ food truck, which kick-started the food truck revolution in L.A. Now he's opened Chego, a sit-down restaurant in Palms, Los Angeles. The unique food creations fuse Asian and Latino flavors, making traditional rice bowls and French fries into dishes that reflect a melting pot of cultures. Check out the "King of Kogi" on this month's cover of Los Angeles magazine.[Watch video]

See the complete list of all of the places featured on this week's episode.

[Original air date: Aug. 25, 2012]

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