Chef Wes Whitsell doesn't want you to call his new restaurant "Southern." Manuela, inside the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel arts complex in downtown Los Angeles, is expected to open this summer.
"I'm from Texas, but I don't want it to be a Southern restaurant, or be labeled Southern," said Whitsell, who worked at Gjelina shortly after it opened, and has cooked at Osteria La Buca and Soho House in New York City. "I can't help but bring in my roots, and it will be heavily influenced by the South, but utilizing SoCal produce, meat and seafood."
This will be Whitsell's first restaurant, which he co-owns with art world power couple Iwan and Manuela Wirth (for whom the restaurant is named). The Wirths opened the original Hauser & Wirth, an international gallery in Switzerland, in 1992 with Ursula Hauser. The couple also owns a restaurant called Roth Bar & Grill in Somerset, England.
"The food is basically things that I like to eat," said Whitsell. "And those things are smoked elements like brisket and smoked sausages. I will ferment all our own pickles, there will be oysters, lots of salads, lots of vegetables and then a lot of the things I grew up with like fried pies, biscuits and gravy — things that are rooted in the South."
Whitsell says the name evokes a bit of Spanish influence, and he says the menu will also be influenced by Mexican culture, so expect different types of quesadillas for brunch and house-made tortillas.
Manuela will be adjacent to the complex's central courtyard, and will have its own garden, where Whitsell will grow his own herbs and vegetables for the restaurant. The idea is to have the restaurant surrounded by glass doors, all intended to be kept open.
Designer Matt Winter has signed on to design the 5,000-square-foot space and plans to incorporate plenty of refurbished materials and art commissioned or chosen by the gallery.
Look for an opening sometime this summer. Although the gallery will be open six days a week, Whitsell plans to have the restaurant open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
909 East 3rd St., Los Angeles.
For the record
March 4, 9:33 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said Hauser Wirth & Schimmel was founded in 1992. The correct name is Hauser & Wirth.
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