Thursday, May 30, 2024

Some of Long Beach’s most respected chefs are teaming up for four one-off dinners

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Chef Philip Pretty of Heritage—the Michelin-recognized space that serves as a sandwich shop during the day before switching to a fine-dining, prix fixe dinner mode at night—has long been sitting on the idea of texting a few friends to do a handful of dinners to benefit the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at Miller Hospital in Long Beach.

And when you see the list of chefs and bakers he texted, you will not only be filled with jealousy that he has such culinary prowess at his finer tips but your stomach will happily grumble at the thought they these gastronomical masters will be sharing a kitchen and plates.

I mean, just look at this list:

  • Chef Melsa Ortiz of Rose Park Roasters in DTLB, a space that is not only one of the city’s most challenging spaces—she eschews all land protein and keeps a menu as minima as the space itself—but one of its best.
  • Chef Dima Habibeh of Ammatoli, a chef whose work I have long lauded as some of the strongest in the city and fresh off her inaugural listing on the 101 Best Restaurants in the region by the Los Angeles Times.
  • Chef Jason Witzl of Ellie’s, Ginger’s, and Lupes, is the chef who not only introduced the Westside bistro to Long Beach alongside Pretty when he operated Restauration but has built a food empire whose consistency and quality have made his work rightfully lauded.
  • Chef Jack Leahy of Little Coyote, the pizzeria was that was never really supposed to bebut has now become such a staple that it has an almost cult-like following—and rightfully so: it serves up some of the best pie in the region.
  • Baker Jesse Hellen-Lloyd of Hey Brother Baker, a pandemic-induced, boredom-turned-into-baking heaven that churns out of my personal favorite French baguette not just in the city but in the region. (Yes, it’s better than Pitchoun.)
  • Baker Kristen Colazas Rodriguez of Colossus, the carb master who worked tirelessly out Primal Alchemy’s kitchen late at nights to eventually built a carb colosseum with two shops, one in Pedro and one in the Shore.
  • Baker Arturo Enciso of Gusto, whose small 4th Street bakery has garnered national recognition as not just some of the best in California but the entire country.
  • And last but certainly not least, Avanthi Dev of Kala, whose popups in Long Beach and Los Angeles are now garnering some of the most dedicated crowds and recommendations. 

Pretty has been working on the concept of a charity-based, bring-the-best-together dinner for well over a year but didn’t want to speak it into existence until he had just who wanted “absolutely locked in.

“I come from the L.A. world where things are far more competitive in nature, you know, sometimes outright We Are Better Than Everyone Else while not really supporting one another. These are all chef-owners whom I not only respect and personally hand-selected but I feel are all at the top of their game right now.”

In that sense, the dinners could not be more Long Beach-y: Pretty’s array of choices show strong deviations from his own French and Californian-centric approach to cooking. From Habibeh’s Levantine style and flavors we’re talking dishes like malfouf and mans—to Ortiz’s absurdly wonderful takes on seafood—like fish nduja and “seacuterie” where she makes a sea fish-based mortadella of sorts…

The question is: What is he most looking forward to and was that done on purpose? And while Pretty can distinctly say it was done of purpose, the real answer remains unclear—which is why he is so excited.

“It is hard for me to answer that question—and it is also the question asked the most,” Pretty said. “But bluntly put: I chose these people because of that specific reason. We are all from very different backgrounds and this is a chance for us to get together in a way we otherwise couldn’t. If I can tell you one thing, it is this: The menus are going to be some of the best Long Beach has ever experienced.”

Tickets will be $100 per person, with the menus released the Tuesday before each dinner. Reservations can be made through OpenTable.

Heritage is located at 2032 E. 7th St.

Brian Addison
Brian Addison
Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 25 nominations and three additional wins. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.

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