Warm, welcoming and hospitable
describe Chef Darren Weiss and his new restaurant, Darren’s
in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
“For me, cooking has always been about having fun
and being creative,” says Weiss. “It’s
also a very rewarding thing to do because when you cook for people,
you’re sharing yourself with them through different interpretations
of dishes and use of ingredients. In the end, it’s all about
making people feel welcome and making them happy.”
Weiss has always had a passion for cooking and has never let what
some might consider a huge obstacle (Darren is deaf) deter his
dream. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America
in Hyde Park, NY in 1996, Darren set out to put what he’d
learned in the safe confines of a cooking school environment to
the test. His first stop was at the Grand Wailea Resort &
Spa in Maui, Hawaii where sharpening culinary techniques against
the backdrop of time constraints provided him with a solid foundation
and valuable hands on experience. He also worked at David Paul’s
Lahaina Grill, Grand Wailea Resort and Spa in Wailea, Hawaii and
Avalon Bar and Grill in Maui.
In 1998, Darren left Hawaii and returned to his native Santa Monica,
securing a spot at Rockenwagner where he worked as both pantry
and line cook. At Rockenwagner, Darren enjoyed the invaluable
experience of working under the guiding influence of Chef Hans
Rockenwagner. Clearly, working for Rockenwagner was a turning
point for Darren, giving him the experience and the confidence
to open his own restaurant, Café Catalina.
The Redondo Beach eatery, which opened in 2000, had challenging
location issues as it was situated in a small strip mall. But,
the word started to spread about Weiss’s unique interpretations
of game, exotic fish and shellfish and in no time, Weiss had built
a loyal following and had earned some critical nods from Los Angeles-area
food writers. Weiss had a successful five-year run with Café
With stints at Villa Sorriso in Pasadena, Calif., I’Cugini
in Santa Monica and an
Executive Chef Position at La Bahia Restaurant at Horseshoe Bay
Resort, Darren continued his quest to continue learning, both
from a culinary and business standpoint.
Wanting to once again run his own show, Darren began looking for
a space where he could showcase his talent for creating American
fare with Mediterranean and Asian influences. In October, 2007
Darren found a new “home,” securing what was formerly
the home of Avenue.
“This is a very exciting time for me,” says the 40
year-old Weiss. “It’s good to be back in the South
Bay after a brief hiatus and I hope to see some old friends and
make lots of new ones. We want people to come in and feel really
comfortable and at home – regardless of whether they’re
wearing denim or velvet.”
Weiss resides in Manhattan Beach, California.
As General Manager of Darren’s Restaurant
in Manhattan Beach, Bart Thompson showcases his 10+ years experience
in the restaurant industry, which includes everything from food
and beverage manager to event planning, catering and management
Thompson has worked at some of the top restaurant chains in the
country including Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus where he
was food and beverage manager and oversaw inspections for both
front and back of the house. In 2004, he became food and beverage
manager at McCormick & Schmicks Seafood Restaurant, where
he was instrumental in streamlining food and beverage costs to
generate higher profit margins. Early in his career, Thompson
was voted Best Server in the South Bay in the 15th Annual
Easy Reader “Best of” poll.
In 2007, Thompson joined Darren’s Restaurant Owner/Chef
Darren Weiss in orchestrating and managing grand opening events
such as friends and family and special events for local business
owners. He maintains a close tie with the South Bay community
helping make Darren’s one of the most inviting dining establishments
in the South Bay and Los Angeles area. With a passion for the
service industry, it is Thompson’s mandate to make sure
that every customer feels special, enjoys their dining experience
to the fullest, and leaves with a smile on their face.
Thompson resides in Redondo Beach.