When CW Magazine reached out to award-winning Executive Chef Atticus Garant to request his participation in a feature on him and the recently opened Fairmont Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles, he replied, ‘I will happily participate but I would like the feature to focus mostly on my stellar team.’
Read on for the LA skinny on Chef Atticus Garant and how relies on his killer team of keystones to invigorate and reopen the icon that is the Fairmont Hotel, Century City.
The Fairmont Century Plaza was initially scheduled to open on April 20, 2021 and didn’t open until the following September.
Was there a silver lining to the delay?
I always say the journey starts with people. The greatest benefit to us having that time was that we were able to find incredible people. Having the time to work on menus and collaborate, has yielded a better product and also refined as a unit.
What is something essential that you have learned in this
experience of opening this particular property for the iconic
Fairmont Hotel brand during these unprecedented times?
I’m always learning. If we are not learning we are dead in the water, right? Of course, Covid has changed everything. Today’s chef is a lot different than the chef of a year and a half ago. We’re in much different waters. We’ve had to get really good at pivoting and adapting. That’s the new superpower chefs must have if they want to succeed.
Speaking of superpowers, tell us about your stellar team.
There are five divisions in what I call our ‘Keystone Team.’ If you’re not familiar with the term ‘keystone’ it’s the last piece that is put in an archway that locks the whole archway together. It is the crucial piece needed to complete it. The players we have here at Fairmont Century Plaza are truly keystones. Without them, we just would not be who we are.
The general public doesn’t truly understand what a steward does. First and foremost, without our Executive Steward Haydee Tapia and our Assistant Executive Steward Emmanuel Gomez, we would we have been nothing, we would be literally just a bunch of chefs running around the house. These two leaders have been pivotal in making sure that the systems that we put on paper have come to fruition.
Heart of House / Back of House
We call our back of house, the ‘heart of house.’ We have to keep our heart of house sparkling. We have a term we like to use within our kitchens and that’s ‘surgical.’ We want the kitchens to be stainless and the floors polished, the corners scrubbed, (i.e. surgical) so that we can make the magic happen. This is the superpower of the ‘heart of house’ team.
The Lumière Team
Our Executive Chef Ramon Bojorquez has worked in some phenomenal restaurants and has an awesome reputation. He’s brilliant at sourcing amazing local ingredients and has a breadth of knowledge about the LA food scene. He’s got a huge task as Century Plaza is not known as a dining destination, but he’s done a phenomenal job and is well equipped for the challenge.
Paul Quinn, The General Manager of Lumière at The Fairmont is an industry legend. Former GM of Quince in San Francisco, Daniel Boulud’s restaurants, and Service Director at Eleven Madison Park, there is no one better than Quinn for this position.
Ramon and Paul’s task is to bring the community and new
people traveling to LA to the Fairmont Century City to have dinner at Lumière. Lunch and breakfast business will materialize on their own because of where we are, but we really want to see how we can drive our dinner business.
The Three Pastry Chefs
Our Executive Pastry Chef Michael Aguilar (formerly of The Absinthe Group in SF, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Wolfgang Puck andThe Ritz Carlton, St, Regis Monarch Beach Resort) and his team. Chef Michael has been on board since November of 2019. He knows Southern California like the back of his hand and has a great pedigree here. Chef Michael and his pastry team including Nancy Guerrero and Lena Kim, are a bunch of ‘monsters’ are a bunch of ‘monsters’ at what they do, seriously incredible.
Recently promoted to Events Chef, Chef Jose Sanchez is the newest leader on our team, joining us back in August ’21. He will oversee all of the events and programming here at the hotel. Obviously, that’s a very long list of high-caliber events. Chef Jose is a pivotal team member and has also really helped get all the systems set up for the lobby and the bar for the great food program we have in those areas.
What is your superpower as Executive Chef?
I tend to always be looking to help everyone and to make sure that the flow of everything is under control. I look at everything that we do and judge it from a standpoint of ‘How can we do it better?’ ‘How can we show LA something that they’ve never seen or they’ve never had?’ I have this rockstar team that can help bring the vision to fruition.
Any words on The Chefs’ Warehouse?
I’m a huge believer in people and culture,. We can’t get anywhere anymore in this industry without a positive culture and strong relationships. Our CW Rep. Orazio Afrento has been unbelievable since day one. Not just about what he’s been able to get for us (we love Flannery Beef and the CW Farmer’s Market Program) but I’ve never felt like we are just customers. We’ve literally gotten rid of certain suppliers because the rep has just been awful or their delivery has been terrible or whatever the case might be. It’s the same message I share with every vendor. You sell apples, they sell apples. There’s a lot of people in the city who sell apples. It’s going to come down to how the rep handles our people. Orazio never, ever makes us feel like we’re a number. We never feel like we’re just account 42. You know? It’s a very personalized service. And that goes for everyone at CW.