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Evan Funke Talks Bucato, LA's Dining Dominance, and the Sad State of Culinary School Grads

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The chef goes deep.

Evan Funke at Bucato
Evan Funke at Bucato
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Following his surprise departure at Bucato, not much has been seen or heard from Evan Funke, other than his plans to make for Italy to immerse himself further in the world of handmade pastas.

Now Funke has finally spoken out — quite candidly, as is his way — to First We Feast, in what amounts to a lengthy diatribe on the state of L.A.’s restaurant scene (and its diners), what it means to go to culinary school, and why his story of separation from the ownership behind Bucato is, ultimately, a familiar one.

Here are the five best lines from the interview:

  • He’s not going anywhere. "My story is not unique in the restaurant business. I had irreconcilable differences with the restaurant, that’s all I can say at the moment. But I’m not going away anytime soon."
  • There’s a cultish culture to the restaurant world out here, and that’s not always a good thing. "Everyone is waiting for what’s new, what’s hot or controversial, what celebrity chef is cooking at this place. I love this city to death, but I do feel that the dining public is fickle and doesn’t necessarily invest in restaurants…"
  • You gotta love the Santa Monica Farmers Market. "Santa Monica is the premier market in the country. It crushes the NYC Green Market because of the sheer bounty and diversity available. It’s a chef’s wet dream."
  • On L.A.’s coming dominance. "This is going to be the dining mecca of the next decade. Mark my words. It will literally change dining in the U.S., and I can only hope to be a part of that."
  • Strong words for one of the country’s biggest culinary school names. "I’ve been outspoken about Le Cordon Bleu and how they have done a horrific butchery of teaching people how to be cooks… What I saw there frightened me. They’re not even being taught etiquette or how to sharpen knives. What’s flooded the market the past 12 years has been atrocious—under-qualified, under-motivated, and under-educated cooks."


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