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Bastide Countdown Part II: Manzke Talks Joe Pytka, the Process, and Can We Get an Opening Date, Please?

In part one of the Bastide Countdown, we met executive chef Walter Manzke, who's taking over the stoves at Joe Pytka's still shuttered restaurant. Manzke found a lot of success in Carmel at three high-end restaurants, and now he's back in LA after five years. Why now? Joe Pytka, natch. Read on for the the chef's thoughts on what gap Bastide will fill, his new boss, and the responsible-yet-vague response to our question: When. Will. Bastide. Open.

How did this partnership with Joe Pytka come about?
I didn't know Bastide was closed, didn't hear much about it. But I was curious. I knew Joe from Patina, he was a regular. I contacted him. I knew Bastide was a beautiful spot. What Joe does and is willing to do, there aren't too many people out there that will support that. It all started as a conversation; we went out to eat a couple of times. I got really excited about it.

What a table to wait on. Where did you eat? Did you two critique everything?
We went to Spago, Providence, All' Angelo. Great meals. What's great about Joe is he loves to eat, and everyone in town knows that. He loves to dine out. Going to restaurants is one of his passions, so he doesn't get overly critical when he's there. He just tries to enjoy it. He notices everything, but he's not a difficult customer.

Is the staff in place at Bastide yet?
We have most of the key staff, but we haven't finalized everything yet. That's a detail we'll get to when we're ready. We still have some creative things we need to settle.

Tell us about the menu.
Definitely won't be French. The restaurant has a lot of French elements to it, but when it comes to the cooking, I don't like to call it French because I’m not French. I worked in France, I love France, I use a lot of French technique. I'm from California, I was born here, been here most of my life. My cooking was developed here. And I have much love for Japan, Thailand, Italy, everywhere.

That's pretty vague.
Well, we're not saying too much yet.

So, July. Happening?
We're still working on some important aspects, so we don't want to talk too much about it. The truth is, it's not going to open until it's ready to open. But I don't want to guarantee anything. If it opens in July, it won't be until the end of the month. I hope it's not too much longer than that. We're trying to do some new things, trying to bring back the great things that were here before, and add some new. We're still working on some creative elements.

Will the new Bastide fill an empty gap in the dining scene?
Something great always fits. We're trying to make something great, something exciting and special. And I'm sure it will fit. Just like it did before.
· Bastide Countdown: Introducing Exec Chef Walter Manzke [~ELA~]