Vartan Abgaryan has been executive chef at Cliff's Edge in Silver Lake since late last year when he took over the kitchen at the dreamy neighborhood spot on Sunset Boulevard.
Abgaryan, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, worked at Andre Soltner's Lutece in Las Vegas before returning to Southern California, where by the age of 25 he was chef at Red Pearl Kitchen, then A Restaurant in Newport.
He opened Public Kitchen & Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and in November took the reins at Cliff's Edge from Benjamin Bailly.
His menu at Cliff's Edge includes rack of lamb with favas, black garlic and lemon; uni with mango and Fresno chiles; and chicken liver terrine with candied kumquats and grainy mustard.
"I want to cook with flavors that evoke emotion," Abgaryan said.
What's coming next on your menu?
Now that we are in the heart of spring, I feel like I have been waiting forever for morels, ramps, favas and rhubarb. I just added an English pea agnolotti paired with Oregon morels, ramp tops pesto and Parmesan cream. I am now working on a fava bean hummus that I am going to pair with a tahini waffle. We sell a lot of dessert at Cliff's Edge, so I am adding a fourth one, a strawberry rhubarb crisp with pistachio and sea salt ice cream and nutmeg.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Has to be ramps. I have them pickled, poached; I made a pesto with the tops and an emulsion with the tops. Since it's such a short season and they are so good, I try to get the most out of them.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again?
Sri Siam, a Thai restaurant in North Hollywood. I am completely obsessed with their crispy rice salad!
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives?
I have to say, right now, my vacuum sealer, I do so much with it. Besides sous-vide, I pickle, compress, I make chicken liver terrine and use it to remove all the air so the mousse is perfect, I use it to remove air from purees, and that helps the consistency and the shelf life.
The last cookbook you read -- and what inspired you to pick it up?
The last cookbook I read was "Astrance, A Cook’s Book" by Pascal Barbot. I have heard so much about the restaurant and was looking forward to seeing his thought process when it comes to cooking.
Cliff's Edge, 3626 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 666-6116, www.cliffsedgecafe.com.
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