Stephane Bombet, a Los Angeles restaurateur who operates Faith & Flower and Nic’s on Beverly, and is a partner at Ms. Chi in Culver City, wore blackface at a Halloween party at his restaurant Picca in 2011. The photographs, which was previously posted on a local photographer’s Facebook album, show Bombet wearing blackface, with fake gold veneer on his teeth, and a hat with faux dreadlocks. The after hours party was attended by local restaurant industry professionals, food media (including this writer) as well as Picca’s staff.
In response to a questions about the costume, Bombet stated:
I am a fan of Lil Wayne, and have for many years. In 2011, Lil Wayne released his ninth album, Tha Carter IV, which I thought was amazing. At a Halloween party, two months after the album was released, I dressed up as my hero, Lil Wayne. This is my statement, and please run it in its entirety.
As protests against police brutality and the forces that contribute to systemic racism have swept the country in the past few weeks, calls for change have moved throughout American life — including in the restaurant industry, which has long dealt with issues of racism, stereotyping, and discrimination. Food media has also begun to have a reckoning.
Earlier this week, Bon Appetit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned after numerous staffers publicly accused him of fostering a racist culture at the brand. The exposure of BA’s treatment of its BIPOC staffers occurred shortly after a now-deleted Instagram photo of Rapoport dressed in a costume that appeared to appropriate Puerto Rican culture was surfaced by food writer (and Eater contributor) Tammie Teclemariam. Announcing his resignation on Instagram, he wrote in part: “From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I’ve not championed an inclusive vision. And ultimately, it’s been at the expense of Bon Appetit and its staff, as well as our readers. They all deserve better.”
Bombet has been involved with numerous other restaurants in LA, starting with Picca in West LA, followed by Mo-Chica in Downtown and Paiche in Marina dey Rey — all with chef Ricardo Zarate, and all of which are now closed. Bombet went on to open Faith & Flower along with David Bernahl, getting into a legal dispute that left Bombet in primary control of the Downtown LA restaurant. Bombet also opened Hanjip in Culver City with chef Chris Oh (now closed), Viviane in Beverly Hills (which Bombet is no longer affiliated with), as well as Terrine with Kris Morningstar. Terrine eventually closed to turn into The Ponte, a collaboration with NYC chef Scott Conant. The Ponte closed in 2018 and became Nic’s on Beverly, a vegan restaurant done in conjunction with Nic Adler, the founder of Monty’s Good Burger. Bombet is also partners with Top Chef contestant Shirley Chung at Culver City’s Ms. Chi.
In his email to Eater Bombet also pointed to the below mural that he commissioned for his restaurant Nic’s on Beverly: