Big changes are afoot at Ray’s & Stark Bar at LACMA, with news bubbling up last week that put executive chef Viet Pham on the outs.
The Patina-backed coupling of restaurants at the popular Miracle Mile art museum have been something of a revolving door over the years, with Pham stepping in after Kris Morningstar departed back in May of 2014. There was also Jason Fullilove, who was the chef at LACMA proper (not Ray's & Stark Bar) but similarly left in 2013. And now comes word that Pham has been pushed out.
Fernando Darin, who was chef de cuisine at the Hollywood Bowl and also did stints at kitchens like The Foundry over the years, will take over with plans to overhaul the menu once again. Though unconfirmed by Patina, an insider also reports that bartender Evan Charest will be redesigning the cocktail menu, while longtime GM Martin Riese — he of water sommelier fame — is also out, with no new named replacement as of yet. That last one seems pretty amicable, as Riese will continue to work with Patina in one capacity or another as he focuses on a television show about, you guessed it, water.
When asked about all the change-ups, this is the official line from the Patina folks:
Patina Restaurant Group is excited to welcome Executive Chef Fernando Darin into the kitchen of Ray’s and Stark Bar. Brazilian-born, Darin, has an extensive culinary background with an education at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, followed by stints at The Foundry, Kitchen Table and Harlowe in West Hollywood. Darin is excited about this opportunity and will soon be fully supporting LACMA with his new role.
So if you’ve got reservations already or were hoping to grab a bite while checking out the new Rain Room, expect things to be a little bit in flux.
Update: An earlier version of this post has Weston Ludeke also leaving with Pham, but Ludeke will be staying on after all.