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Will Travel For Food to Top Chef-Led California Restaurants

California is renowned for its vibrant food scene making the most out of ingredients grown right here in the state. With its fertile land, favorable climate  and extensive agricultural infrastructure, California has established itself as far and away the leading agricultural state in the country. So it’s no surprise that California has also produced some of the most talented chefs in the industry, and many of these culinary virtuosos have gained fame and recognition through their time on the popular television show Top Chef. Let’s take a delightful journey through the state, highlighting restaurants that have been founded by Top Chef alumni.

California English’s popular oyster tray, with Richard Blais.

Richard Blais’ California English

Top Chef: All-Stars

Richard Blais, a Top Chef: All-Stars winner, opened California English in San Diego this past February and the restaurant already represents the ideal spot for whiling away a weekend afternoon. California English captures the effortless vibe of the golden state, with the classic charisma of the English countryside. Its cuisine combines Richard’s well-documented expertise in molecular gastronomy with plant-based ingredients. Try the beans on toast, where uber-fresh supporting ingredients avocado, jalapeno and smoked tomato let the beans shine.

Jackson Kalb’s Jame Enoteca

Top Chef: Houston 

This El Segundo strip mall restaurant is a hidden gem, serving fresh housemade pasta like capellini with a soul-stirring, 36-hour roma and San Marzano tomato sauce; and scarpinocc pasta filled with braised beef cheek. Jame celebrates the Italian ethos of using flour and water, the basis of peasant food, yet can just as easily be served to royalty. It’s a place that like so many restaurants and homes in Italy, makes meals based on whatever ingredients are available locally.

Playa Provisions in Playa Del Rey. With Brooke Williamson. photo credit: RyanTanaka

Brooke Williamson’s Playa Provisions

Top Chef: Charleston 

The 7,000 square-foot Playa Provisions by Top Chef season 14 winner Brooke Williamson houses four different concepts under one roof in Playa del Rey. Up front, King Beach Café and a small batch ice cream parlor sport sleek wood design with sea blue and bright green furniture. Dockside restaurant faces the water, and Grain Whiskey Bar ris tucked away in the back. King Beach features breakfast and lunch – try the biscuits with dulce de leche and sea salt; or a breakfast sandwich with turkey-bacon sausage, Gruyere cheese, over-easy egg, vinegar-cooked collards and avocado with house-pickled habanero hot sauce on ciabatta. Lunch brings sandwiches like the patty melt; or the Connecticut-style seafood roll with Dungeness crab, lobster and shrimp. And last but certainly not least, for dinner Dockside’s coastal menu includes a sustainable shellfish tower; yellowfin tuna and tiger shrimp ceviche; and squid ink rigatoni with shrimp sumo and bottarga.

Girl & the Goat in Los Angeles. With Stephanie Izard. photo credit: Anthony Tahlier

Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat

Top Chef: Chicago

Girl & the Goat is a celebrated culinary destination, making its mark on Los Angeles after planting its roots in Chicago. This West Coast expansion brings the bold and inventive flavors led by renowned chef Stephanie Izard – from savory small plates like the goat liver mousse with craisin relish; to hearty mains bursting with unexpected combinations, like the grilled whole branzino with mung bean apple pomelo salad. The menu embraces its California location, with a noticeable love of seafood plucked right from the Pacific ocean.

Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City’s Crispy Spring Rolls, with Antonia Lofaso.

Antonia Lofaso’s Black Market Liquor Bar

Top Chef: Chicago 

The trendy establishment in Studio City combines a lively bar scene with a menu that showcases Antonia’s culinary prowess. Guests savor delectable bites like chicken bao filled with pickled mushrooms, cabbage, fresno chili and scallion or crispy spring rolls; to the mouthwatering BBQ short rib with raisin, fennel, arugula, confit tomato and brioche that is only available on Monday – the restaurant’s slow day, if you can even call it that. If you’re not hungry but in the area, this is the place to go for late-night hangs and top-tier drinks.

Ms Chi Cafe in Culver City, with Shirley Chung.

Shirley Chung’s Ms Chi Cafe

Top Chef: Charleston 

Ms Chi Cafe is a showcase of Shirley Chung’s passion for progressive Chinese American cuisine alongside dishes inspired by the traditional and the authentic. There are takes on northern-style dumplings, noodle bowls and fried rice. But Shirley’s food shines through in the truly progressive options like the house-made Mr. Chi Chinese spiced pastrami and scallion pancake sandwich plus her Top Chef winning dish –jumbo cheeseburger potstickers with a tomato bacon jam.

Cascabel in Toluca Lake, with Alex Eusebio.

Alex Eusebio’s Cascabel

Top Chef: New York 

Alex Eusebio, the polarizing chef-testant, situated his chile-inspired Mexican restaurant between a dentist’s office and the 134 freeway in Los Angeles’ Toluca Lake neighborhood where ambitious dishes include hard-shell lobster tacos with crème fraiche and caviar; whole seared branzino in a tangy guajillo adobo; and braised chicken mole negro hit the mark. It’s well thought-out dining that only comes from years of experience, set in a dining room of a relaxed, communal feel.

The Charter Oak in St Helena, with Christopher Kostow.

Christopher Kostow’s The Charter Oak 

Top Chef Masters

Located in St. Helena, The Charter Oak is the brainchild of this Top Chef Masters winner. The Michelin-starred restaurant showcases Christopher’s culinary finesse while emphasizing seasonal ingredients and a farm-to-table philosophy where diners indulge in a menu that features dishes inspired by California’s bounty – from dry-aged duck to ember roasted beets – served in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Christopher craft dishes with plenty of bright, seasonal vegetables and fresh seafood taking the place of heavier meat and dairy plates.

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