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Duplex Hosts 'Homeless' Chefs for Charity

September 05, 1993|KATHIE JENKINS

Lately, restaurants have been closing at a record rate in Southern California. Mark Carter's Duplex in Los Feliz is the latest casualty--it's in the process of being bought by chefs Fred Eric and Robert Gadsby. But before Carter joins the growing ranks of L.A.'s chefs without restaurants, he plans one last blowout--a dinner to raise money for St. Joseph Center, a shelter that feeds the homeless and provides kitchen training and job placement through its Santa Monica cafe, Bread and Roses. Carter had no problem lining up some of L.A.'s restaurant-less top toques to cook for the event, to be held sometime in early October.

To date, the roster includes Laurent Quenioux (former chef/owner of the former Seventh Street Bistro, who is currently cooking at Dodger Stadium); Thomas Keller (who has been occupying his time writing a cookbook and making olive oil since he left Checkers a year ago); Tommy Harase (who did great things at Cafe Blanc until it was closed by the Los Angeles Department of Health Services last year for operating without a health permit), and possibly Roland Gibert (former chef/co-owner of the dead Tulipe), if he returns in time from a vacation in France. Each chef will prepare a favorite course.

Also, Perry Van Hook, who ran the wine and spirits department at the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, will come on board for the evening as the "homeless" sommelier.

"It's homeless chefs cooking for the homeless," says Carter, "an opportunity to eat some of L.A.'s finest food that hasn't been available for a while--something other than, 'Gee, what's Wolfgang cooking today?' "

After the 5-year-old Duplex closes--when the liquor license transfer is complete, probably mid-November--Carter and his wife, Stephanie, plan to leave Los Angeles for Northern California.

"It's a chance to make a major lifestyle change," says Carter. "Stephanie doesn't have any fondness for Los Angeles and after 43 years, I am beginning to agree with her."

One thing is certain: Carter will not open another restaurant. "If I do," he says, "please send a psychiatrist."

MORE CLOSINGS: Il Giardino, the place to get great Italian food at ridiculously high prices. Sources say that entertainment mogul David Geffen, who owns the property, plans to build an office building on the space. . . . Tuttopasta, in downtown Los Angeles, has closed. Sister restaurant Bellapasta on Figueroa remains open.

OPENINGS: For late-night snackers, Elio Cavallari, who managed Bice restaurants in Chicago and New York, plans to serve free midnight pasta at his Mezzomondo Cafe Trattoria, opening next month in the Studio City space that was until recently Pesto. . . . Brio--no relation to Brio restaurant in Tarzana--is due to open in the Monarch Beach Plaza in Laguna Niguel next month. The European-style cafe will feature seven herb gardens, an outdoor patio and live music nightly. Nino Chirico, who recently opened the Beverly Hills Armani Express, is executive chef. . . . Purple Rose, a giant California bistro in Redondo Beach, is scheduled to open in early October. . . . A second Valley branch of the Daily Grill opened at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura in Studio City.

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