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Founding Chef Brian Dunsmoor Steps Away From Hatchet Hall After Six Years

Chef Wes Whitsell (Manuela) is now on to run things, while Dunsmoor makes new plans

An overhead shot of rustic country plates filled with Southern cooking and grilled items.
A bounty at Hatchet Hall
Ashley Randall Photography
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.

It’s shaping up to be a whole new summer at Hatchet Hall, one of the greater Westside’s most popular dining spots. The Southern-inspired restaurant would have been celebrating its six-year anniversary under the stewardship of chef Brian Dunsmoor this summer, but instead, he’s moving on for new projects further east — and that means a new chef for the star spot at 12517 Washington Boulevard in Culver City.

First up, the newcomer for Hatchet Hall is none other than Wes Whitsell, the Texas-born chef who founded Arts District staple Manuela in September of 2016. He and Dunsmoor have similar culinary backgrounds, infusing Southern flavors and lots of live fire with with California ingredients and plenty of sunshine. Whitsell had (after leaving Manuela in 2017) been in and out of LA, and most recently was attached to a West Hollywood project, but now he’s secured the lead role at one of LA’s busier restaurants instead.

A chef in simple whites with a facemask cooks inside of a Southern restaurant at night.
Whitsell in the kitchen

That doesn’t mean things are going to dramatically change at Hatchet Hall, at least not right away. Reps tell Eater that Whitsell is committed to continuing the lineage already put in place there — and some of the key menu items like the cornbread and potato rolls that are so popular — though a seasonal and rotating menu update is all but inevitable. Whitsell has been quietly cooking for a couple of weeks now, turning out a new Baja kampachi crudo and a chilled wild Mexican peel-and-eat shrimp dish, for example.

The loss of Dunsmoor is the latest (and perhaps largest) changeover at Hatchet Hall since its inception in 2015. Jonathan Strader previously left that restaurant to open Little Coyote in Long Beach a while back (and it’s now perhaps the busiest place to dine in all of Long Beach), and more recently Hatchet Hall’s Martin Draluck moved on to run the kitchen at Post + Beam. Dunsmoor hasn’t publicly announced his next project in the greater Eastside area yet, but the longtime Highland Park resident does say he’s eager to cut down his commute and open something personal that’s also closer to home. More on that front as it comes, but in the meantime diners eager to catch the new mood at Hatchet Hall can head over to Culver City to catch Whitsell in action.

Hatchet Hall

12517 Washington Boulevard, , CA 90066 (310) 391-4222 Visit Website