Legendary Michael McCarty, who pioneered California cuisine at his seminal Santa Monica restaurant, Michael's, has long had a keen eye for culinary talent. Over the restaurant's storied 32-year history, so many incredible chefs have flourished there, including Jonathan Waxman, Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton. So when a chef at Michael's moves on, one can't wait to see whom McCarty will anoint as his new executive chef. That, in fact, recently took place and the chosen one is 23-year-old John-Carlos Kuramoto.
A Southern California native, Kuramoto was heavily influenced by the cooking of his Japanese and Mexican grandmothers. This inspiration led him to the Culinary Institute of America and an apprenticeship at Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai's groundbreaking restaurant in Wellesley, MA. Heading back west, Kuramoto landed a job as appetizer cook with Michael Mina at the Bellagio Hotel.
Returning to California, he hit the trifecta, cooking at top-tier Providence, Animal and Mark Peel's Campanile. It was Peel who suggested to McCarty that he give Kuramoto a shot at the executive chef opening. McCarty agreed, but with the caveat that the young chef prepare a 12-course tasting menu for him. As you now know, his cooking won McCarty over.
Now that he's entrenched, Kuramoto is making believers of everyone with dishes such as Sweet White Corn Soup (grilled corn, lime aioli, chili salt and Parmesan crisp), Ahi Tuna Poke (apple, jalapeno, toasted pinenuts, ginger-soy, chili oil, crostini) and Spiced Sonoma Duck Breast (leg and thigh confit, chile pablano risotto, Bloomsdale Spinach, citrus jus). And the legacy of Michael's lives on.