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Former Kettle Black Chef Sydney Hunter Steps Into Downtown LA’s Testa

The South Park newcomer gets a new kitchen name

Hamachi crudo at Testa
Jakob Layman
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.

Things change quickly at Downtown’s Testa. The South Park restaurant opened just a few weeks ago, but opening chef Marty Shield has already left the kitchen. The next chef up is Sydney Hunter III, a longtime local who first earned a name at Fraiche Santa Monica and Petit Trois before moving on to the Superba world for a moment. More recently he’s been overseeing things at Silver Lake’s Kettle Black and Sawyer, but now jumps to shiny new digs just blocks from Staples Center.

A rep for Testa says that ownership has given Hunter the keys to the castle, letting him craft the menu as he sees fit. That means basically an eventual full overhaul, away from straight casual Italian fare to something more fitting California’s sunshine. Hunter says they’ll probably continue to have pastas on the dinner menu, but otherwise he says to look for takes on everything from Japanese and Italian fare to French, Mexican, and Mediterranean food.

Sydney Hunter III has already been installed as the new chef, which means he’s down in South Park cooking nightly. It’s a nice get for the neighborhood too, considering all that’s been happening in the construction-heavy corridor. Barcito and Broken Spanish have become anchors for the neighborhood, while others like Mikkeller Bar, Prank, Mega Bodega, Gresescent ice cream, and even Cow Coffee are helping to give newly-arrived locals a place to drink and dine.