Carolynn Spence, the executive chef at Chateau Marmont and Bar Marmont, already has big plans for summer produce. Expect to find cherries and peaches working their way onto her menus at the swank Sunset Strip hotel and its sister bar down the street.
Spence, a New Jersey native, went to culinary school in Boston, then worked with Chris Schlesinger at East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Mass.
"He and his team of chefs really set the tone for me and the rest of my career," she says. She was opening sous chef at the Spotted Pig in New York before she landed in Hollywood, where she's injected the food with big flavors and European flair. Some of her dishes include chickpea panisse, kale, quinoa and walnut beet vinaigrette; aged strip steak Bourguignon with fries; lamb shepherd’s pie; and branzino with beluga lentils and salsa verde.
What’s coming up next on your menu?
I oftentimes fixate on an idea, and currently it's terrines. I'm working on a pork cheek terrine with pickled peaches, chiles and grilled baguette, which we will add soon.
Latest ingredient obsession?
Peaches and cherries have just kicked into season. I love watching the evolution of these fruits. At first they are crisp and tart, but as the season goes on, the fruit becomes rich, sweet and velvety. They do very well in sweet or savory cooking, which makes them very fun to work with.
Favorite kitchen soundtrack?
A perfect blend of '80s punk, '60s garage, old ska and some modern indie rock.
What’s your favorite breakfast?
A pint of juiced vegetables such as kale, carrot, beets and parsley, along with a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with chia seeds, local honey and some salty skin-on Spanish peanuts.
The last cookbook you read, and what inspired you to pick it up?
Martin Picard's "Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack" cookbook. He’s a genius and a bit of a crazy artist with an over-the-top vision on how to use his local offerings. His books are art.
Chateau Marmont, 8221 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 848-5908; Bar Marmont, 8171 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 650-0575; www.chateaumarmont.com.