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Chef Wes Whitsell Walks Away From Arts District Favorite Manuela

The upscale casual restaurant has lost its Southern charm

Manuela restaurant in the Arts District, California.
Manuela in the Arts District
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.

Opening chef Wes Whitsell has departed from Arts District Southern restaurant Manuela. The chef opened the expansive project inside the Hauser & Wirth art gallery on E. 3rd St. last September, but is now stepping away entirely.

Whitsell tells Eater that the moment has come for him to move on from the opportunity, though he does not yet have a firm timeline for any other project. Instead, the Texas-born Whitsell will be traveling around, eating and possibly helping out other chefs for a time, before deciding on what’s next. That may or may not be in Los Angeles, though Whitsell has experience cooking at a high level on both coasts. In a message sent to Eater, he says:

I’m unbelievably grateful to have opened Manuela, my first restaurant. It has taught me many invaluable lessons about life, people, and this ever changing business. I’ll take these with me onto the next chapter of my career and life.

No word yet on what the loss of Whitsell will mean for the gorgeous Manuela, which is still up and running inside the Hauser & Wirth property. By all accounts the place has become rather popular in the 16 months since opening, so it’s unlikely there will be an immediate shut down of any kind. Instead, expect the restaurant to announce a new executive chef soon.

Update: The team behind Manuela sends in the following note:

Wes Whitsell has chosen to leave Manuela to pursue other opportunities outside of LA. Although the Company was interested into going into business with Wes in Texas, those plans didn’t work out – the Company is saddened to see Wes go, but wishes him the best and knows he will be successful in his next endeavor. Manuela’s talented and creative team, led by Chef de Cuisine Christian Truong, will continue to serve the restaurants distinctive and acclaimed menu of seasonal, soulful cuisine using the best locally-sourced ingredients.