Let’s face it: hotel executive chefs don’t get the same attention that chefs of individual restaurants receive and, yet, they have so much more responsibility. Instead of just one menu at one kitchen, they’re in charge of multiple dining outlets, buffets, on-site catering, room service, and everything else that relates to a hotel’s F&B program.
At the Four Seasons Los Angeles (although it’s really in Beverly Hills), that job is even more difficult because the property is constantly hosting press junkets for films and playing host to Hollywood royalty, so the stakes are pretty high. Luckily, there’s a new man in charge and if my lunch yesterday is any indication, the entire hotel is in very good hands.
Cyrille Pannier is a French chef who has worked for the Four Seasons brand all over the world. Now he’s helming the operations at the Four Seasons Los Angeles and bringing with him a dedication to high-end food using only the freshest ingredients. At previous properties, Chef Pannier raised his own chickens, bees, and cattle, and while that may prove difficult on Doheny Dr., his welcome lunch yesterday proved that he has a deft hand with food no matter where it’s grown.
The first course was an heirloom tomato “tartare” with goat milk curd, black olives, and tiny slow-roasted cherry tomatoes that were bursting with concentrated tomato flavor. Swapping the tomatoes for the traditional beef made for a really interesting presentation and the creamy dollops of whipped goat’s milk played off of the acid tang of the tomatoes well.
The braised peach BBQ beef short ribs (see main photo above) were a nod to Chef Pannier’s time in Austin and brought a Texan touch to the table. Roasted corn, okra, and sweet potato rounded out the dish, but they all paled in comparison to the grilled peaches on the plate.
John Dory doesn’t show up in the US as much as in Europe, but it’s Pannier’s favorite fish and he served it Spanish style “a la plancha” (grilled/griddled) with a pepper-filled piperade and saffron braised fennel. A great light dish for a hot summer day.
For dessert, we had cherry clafoutis with vanilla bean ice cream and while the photo doesn’t do it justice, suffice to say that I could eat a bowl of cherries with vanilla ice cream for every meal.
With their new executive chef in place, I’m excited to see what the Four Seasons Los Angeles is going to be cooking up in the near future. Welcome to LA, Cyrille.