California is the home to Hollywood stars so it’s no surprise that when chefs were elevated to celebrity status, that the state would draw the best of them.
Throughout the Golden State, visitors can dine like a star at these top tables run by the biggest names in the culinary world.
1. San Francisco Bay Area
Reality Rules: Chef Jen Biesty, a ‘Chopped champ and Top Chef’ contestant serves modern tapas at Shakewell. Elevated BBQ rules the roost at Chopped winner Chef Rashad Armstead’s pop-up Crave BBQ, while Top Chef contestant Tu David brings Banh Mis with a twist to his pop-up BanhMi-Ni. Chef Tanya Holland from Top Chef serves up Southern classics at Brown Sugar Kitchen.
Chef Michael Mina: 2020 marks Chef Michael Mina’s first foray into wine country with the opening of his Wit and Wisdom Tavern at the Lodge at Sonoma. The modern American eatery will focus on wood grilled meats and seafood.
Iron Chef Morimoto: Fans of the classic Iron Chef show can taste Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s genius at Morimoto Napa. The stylishly contemporary restaurant is a perfect backdrop for the exquisite sushi dishes coming out of the kitchen.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery: You can bet both his Nonna and his travels influenced the traditional Italian and international dishes that Francis Ford Coppola put on the menu of his winery’s restaurant, Rustic. The Sonoma eatery specializes in Neapolitan style pizza and wood-grilled meats cooked on its authentic Parrilla Argentine grill.
Chef Chris Cosentino: Winner of Top Chef Masters, Chris Cosentino brings his unique flair to Acacia House in St. Helena. Focusing on California cuisine, the restaurant offers approachable dishes that highlight the bounty of the state.
2. Central Coast
Clint Eastwood: The restaurant at Clint Eastwood’s historic Mission Ranch in Carmel will make your day with its focus on American cuisine and ambiance that includes views of sheep grazing on coastal meadows, stunning sunsets and a lively sing-along piano bar.
Hearst Castle: For a different spin on Hearst Castle, book a private wine-paired dinner in one of the property’s guest cottages, followed by a movie in Mr. Hearst’s personal theater. The ornate 50-seat theater was one of Hearst’s favourite rooms in the castle.
Chef Julien Asseo: After earning a Michelin star as Executive Chef of Guy Savoy in Las Vegas, Chef Julien returned to his childhood home of Paso Robles to open his own restaurant, Les Petites Canailles. The restaurant pays homage to his birthplace of France with French cuisine influenced by the cornucopia of ingredients from the Central Coast of California.
3. Los Angeles
George Lopez Brewing Co: Located in Torrance’s first multi-concept brewery and food hall, the George Lopez Brewing Co. serves authentic Mexican style beers, while the George Lopez Chingon Kitchen dishes up traditional Mexican eats and eclectic sides.
Wolfgang Puck: A celebrity chef before that was even a thing, Wolfgang Puck owns the famous Spago and his CUT restaurant in Beverly Hills recently earned its first Michelin star. The menu puts a spin on the traditional steakhouse with a variety of cuts of meat.
Chef Amar Santana: After finishing as runner up on Top Chef, Chef Amar Santana skyrocketed to culinary fame in Laguna Beach with the opening of Broadway by Amar Santana. The restaurant marries a New York vibe with the laid-back lifestyle of Laguna. The focus is on unexpected flavor profiles and artistic presentation.
Chef John Tesar: Multiple James Beard nominee and Top Chef alum, Chef John Tesar debuts Outer Reef in 2020. The restaurant, located in the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa in Dana Point, brings a new twist to surf and turf.
Bourbon Steak: Considered the second best restaurant in the OC, Chef Michael Mina’s classic Bourbon Steak in Dana Point puts a spin on classic steaks house fare paired with a cutting edge cocktail program and extensive wine list.
Tony Hawk: Skateboard legend Tony Hawk and former Playboy Playmate Nicole Dahm Kelly teamed up to bring GuacAmigos Tequila & Tacos to Newport Beach. The restaurant features top shelf tequila, tableside guac preparation and elevated Mexican dishes like Wagyu carne asada tacos.
4. San Diego
Addison Del Mar: Led by Executive Chef William Bradley, one of just 160 chefs worldwide to hold the title Relais and Chateaux Grand Chef, Addison Del Mar just received a Michelin star, making it the only San Diego restaurant to hold that honour.
Chef Ayesha Curry: This past spring Chef Ayesha Curry teamed with acclaimed Chef Michael Mina to bring International Smoke to the Carmel Valley area of San Diego. The globally inspired barbeque restaurant highlights unique dishes created by chefs across the Mina empire. Don’t miss the duck wings with jerk spice.