6 Questions with Chef Warren Schwartz

Chef Warren Schwartz is getting back to his roots.  And we’re not referring to turnips and rutabagas (although he does plan on incorporating root vegetables in seasonally-inspired dishes).  Chef, who […]

Chef Warren Schwartz is getting back to his roots.  And we’re not referring to turnips and rutabagas (although he does plan on incorporating root vegetables in seasonally-inspired dishes).  Chef, who grew up in the Valley, is now returning to the neighborhood as executive chef at The Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood.  Schwartz—a graduate of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco—began his career working as Joachim Spichal’s sous chef at Patina, and previously worked as executive chef at Santa Monica’s Viceroy Hotel and Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas, as well as the managing partner at Westside Tavern.  He returns to this side of the hill with Warren’s Blackboard, an interim restaurant where he will be cooking and developing dishes built on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, before opening the Beverly Garland’s signature restaurant, The Front Yard, in the upcoming summer 2014.  We couldn’t be more excited about Warren’s Blackboard, so we got the scoop from Chef regarding his culinary plans.  He was also cool enough to give us advice on cooking for a last minute dinner party, along with a few tips in the kitchen.  Here are six questions with Chef Warren Schwartz.  Welcome back home, Chef. 

What sort of ingredients will you be featuring on your menu this winter?

Whenever possible I like to use ingredients that are in season and local. So during late Fall and Winter I use a lot of root vegetables, citrus such as meyer lemons, blood oranges, Satsuma tangerines, apples, pears and hard squashes such as butternut and kabocha. As for meats, winter is the time for braises and roasts. Shortribs, lamb neck, pork belly… The list goes on.  How wonderful is a perfect bowl of stew with root vegetables on a cold wet winter night??

What inspired you to open a restaurant at The Beverly Garland, i.e. how did this new chapter in your career come about?

I grew up in the Valley and have always found it curious that there are not more great restaurants. For quite some time I have been keeping my eye on Ventura Blvd and wondering when would be a good time to try out my food and approach to dining. When the opportunity at the Beverly Garland was presented, I thought, “Now is the time!” I am very excited to be back home and showcasing a cuisine that has been crafted through many years in the kitchen, travels and maturity.

You have 2 hours to cook for a last minute dinner party at your home. What do you make?

I will fire up my Weber Grill and usually lean towards Korean inspired bulgogi, skirt steak or whatever fish looks the best at the market. I love cooking over hardwoods such as mesquite and oak. Our pantry and fridge are always stocked with great extra virgin olive oil, soy, Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, kimchi, rice and the neighbor’s lemon tree hangs over just enough for me to feel like it is my duty to grab a few when needed. With two baby boys running around, food has to be simple and healthy. A quick trip to Whole Foods for the meat or fish, wine and a few vegetables, and dinner party on.

What is your favorite restaurant in the Valley?

To be honest, I am reacquainting myself to the dining scene in the Valley. As a kid, a good meal out involved a Mexican restaurant or Cupids hotdogs. In my late teens, my palate evolved to a point where all the great sushi restaurants came into play. All that being said, I will always hold a special place for Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas.

One of the most useful tricks I learned in the kitchen is… 

Whenever cooking something for a dinner party, cook a little extra so you can taste it before plating and bringing out to your guests. Often times I am cooking in a kitchen that is new to me and even though I have cooked that particular dish a 100 times, the environment is different and I can’t predict the final outcome. So, I cook a few extra pieces of whatever it is and just before I think it is finished; I pull the extra piece to the side and taste. That taste tells me if it is done, needs more seasoning, or possibly more sauce. Having the extra piece allows me to fine tune and then when I present the dish, everyone then wonders how I always get it right!

What is your favorite extra-curricular activity when you’re not cooking?

Not too many years back I would have said golf, traveling and anything Formula 1, but now, with two little boys ages 2 and 1, family is my favorite extra-curricular activity.

Warren’s Blackboard at The Beverly Garland Hotel, 4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood. (800)238-3759.

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