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Chefs play musical kitchens

March 07, 2007|Leslee Komaiko

LUDOVIC LEFEBVRE, ex of Bastide, is cooking at Bin 8945. So are Sang Yoon of Father's Office and Sal Marino of Il Grano. Angelo Auriana, chef at Valentino, along with Josiah Citrin of Melisse, Christophe Eme of Ortolan and David LeFevre of Water Grill will all be cooking in Michael Cimarusti's kitchen at Providence. A month later, Cimarusti, Auriana, Citrin and LeFevre will invade the kitchen at Ortolan. Ready for the quiz?

It's musical chairs season on the L.A. restaurant scene as top chefs around town drop in at their colleagues' kitchens, mostly for, well, fun. Bin's inviting a different guest chef each month. The Providence chef-fest is the first of a series of five-way collaborations.

First up on March 25: Lefebvre, the 35-year-old chef whose cooking garnered so much attention, both positive and negative, at Bastide before it closed last January, prepares a six-course meal at Bin, the West Hollywood wine bar where chef Mike Bryant, formerly of Norman's, recently took the helm.

"The thought was that all these people whose food I respect can make this their home as well as challenge me to be able to pair wine with their food," says Bin owner and wine guru David Haskell of his guest-chef concept. "Also it's an opportunity for Mike to learn from them."

So how did Bin score Lefebvre, who is busy looking for a location for his own place? Turns out Haskell's parents were regulars at Bastide and became friendly with the chef.

"Mrs. Haskell asked me, would you do a guest chef at Bin?" says Lefebvre. "I said, 'Why not?' It's been a long time since I've cooked for the people in L.A. I need my public. When you're a chef you need that." What will he be cooking? Poached langoustine with udon noodles and vadouvan (an Indian spice mixture), and caviar panna cotta with caramel -- among other things.

On April 29, the Bin experiment continues as Yoon, more recently known for his food-beer pairings, takes over the kitchen followed on May 20 by Marino.

Meanwhile, the Four Tenors -- oops, Five Toques -- are teaming up to do a series of collaborative dinners beginning next month and continuing through August. Providence general manager Donato Poto came up with the idea. "When I was talking to chefs, mainly at farmers markets, one of their complaints is, 'We never get together,' " he says. Now they do.

The quintet reports planning the dinners over good cheese and better wine. When they met at Ortolan, Cimarusti brought along a six-pound Australian spiny lobster as a surprise. Eme, says Cimarusti, immediately created a "beautiful dish."

That's the kind of opportunity to share ideas and inspiration that participating chefs are looking for, along with the chance to hang out and spend time together.

So each meal will be truly collaborative with all the chefs on hand and in the kitchen. The host chef will be responsible for the amuse, dessert and one other course; each of the other chefs will contribute a course.

Dinner No. 1 is April 30 at Providence. Ortolan is next on May 23. Water Grill follows on July 1. The group heads to Melisse on July 29 and will be at Valentino on Aug. 26.

Reservations are made by the host restaurants; $130 per person; $190 per person with wines. A portion of the proceeds benefit Cure Autism Now.

Leslee Komaiko


Small bites

* Sid Krofft, known to many thirtysomethings as half the team behind "H.R. Pufnstuf," is one of the owners of the new restaurant cum nightclub Eleven. The chef is Vincent Manna, most recently of Maple Drive. His eclectic menu features dishes such as crispy duck confit salad and olive oil poached wild striped bass with homemade chorizo.

Eleven, 8811 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 855-0800.

* After the departures of chef Frank Fronda, now chef de cuisine at Blvd in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and manager Laurie Pesce, the new general manager at Wilshire, Cafe del Rey brought in chef Jason Niederkorn, formerly of Domaine Restaurants (Tim and Liza Goodell's restaurant group). And Michael Morrisette, previously general manager of Maple Drive, is overseeing the front of the house.

Cafe del Rey, 4451 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey, (310) 823-6395.

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