After a two-year hiatus, Michelin Guide announced 27 newly-starred restaurants across the state of California.
Eight of those are right here in Los Angeles, sprawling from downtown to Beverly Hills to Hollywood. Perhaps even more of a feat is the achievement by chef and business and life partners Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee to have not one, but two restaurants on the list. Pasta | Bar in Encino and Sushi | Bar Montecito each received one star.
“It was just unreal to me because for the longest time, for the last 12 years, Phillip and I have been working toward this dream no matter what got in the way,” Kallas-Lee said.
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Out in the San Fernando Valley, Pasta | Bar is California-inspired and rooted in Italian tradition, as made clear through its 13-course tasting menu. Just north, Sushi | Bar Montecito presents a 17-course Omakase dining and speakeasy experience through its personal take on the traditional sushi counter experience.
“If it weren’t for the pandemic, Pasta | Bar wouldn't exist,” Lee explained. “Pasta | Bar was put together in about four days… The reason was they had just shut down dining I think for the second or third time [and] we were going to have to lay everyone off unless we figured something else out.”
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Fueled by the mission to keep operating and make sure their staff stayed employed, the effort proved to be a success.
“Since the pandemic started, I feel like Phillip and I have worked even harder to keep the doors open because unfortunately so many amazing and great restaurants closed,” Kallas-Lee said. “For us, that was really important [to] provide jobs for our team and make sure our team can afford food and a place to live.”
Now Michelin-star restaurants, Lee and Kallas-Lee hope to be sold out every night. But more importantly, they hope their staff feel at peace with knowing their jobs won’t just suddenly be at risk.
“We’re the only chefs in Southern California to be awarded a star at more than one restaurant simultaneously,” Lee said. “It’s damn near impossible for any restaurant to get a Michelin star, but to get one [and] at the same time during the hardest year in the history of the world, I think getting that makes me more proud.”
“It’s definitely a testament to our team who stuck through and had faith,” Kallas Lee added. “I’m just so grateful for the team.”
Also born in the pandemic is newly-starred restaurant Phenakite, which is housed in Second Home in Hollywood. Under Chef Minh Phan, the modern Angeleno restaurant promises a redefined fine dining experience through a menu that takes guests on a journey of the land, sea and air.
"Minh Phan is part of a movement of socially responsible entrepreneurs that are changing the way business is done in America,” Second Home CEO Rohan Silva. "Second Home exists to support creativity and entrepreneurship - and we're so proud to have incubated Phenakite and played a part in their well-deserved success."
See all the new Michelin star restaurants in California below.
Hayato (Two Stars- Downtown)
Mélisse (Two Stars- Santa Monica)
Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura (One Star- Beverly Hills)
Phenakite (One Star- Hollywood)
Pasjoli (One Star- Santa Monica)
Sushi I-NABA (One Star Manhattan Beach)
Pasta | Bar (One Star- Encino)
Morihiro (One Star- Northeast)
Bell’s (One Star- Los Alamos)
Sushi | Bar Montecito (One Star- Santa Barbara)
Six Test Kitchen (One Star- Paso Robles)
Orange County and San Diego
Addison (Two Stars- San Diego)
Knife Pleat (One Star- Costa Mesa)
Jeune et Jolie (One Star- Carlsbad)
Soichi (One Star- San Diego)
Sushi Tadokoro (One Star- San Diego)
Bay Area and Wine Country
Birdsong (Two Stars- San Francisco)
Avery (One Star- San Francisco)
O’ by Claude Le Tohic (One Star- San Francisco)
The Shota (One Star- San Francisco)
Marlena (One Star- San Francisco)
Niku Steakhouse (One Star- San Francisco)
Sushi Shin (One Star- Redwood City)
Adega (One Star- San Jose)
Selby’s (One Star- Atherton)
Harbor House (Two Stars- Elk)
Barndiva (One Star- Healdsburg)
Photography by: Katrina Frederick