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Three great L.A. chefs and what they feed their dogs and cats

Three great L.A. chefs and what they feed their dogs and cats
From left, chef Steven Fretz and his Devon Rex cat Lil Chef, chef Dakota Weiss and her French bulldog Chaplin and chef Josef Centeno and his Brussels Griffons Winston and Bear. (Left: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times; center: Claire Hannah Collins / Los Angeles Times; right: Christina House / For The Times)

Picadillo with sweet potato, squash and braised venison, Japanese rice cakes, roasted chicken. This is what you eat if you're an L.A. dog or cat and your owner happens to be one of the best chefs in the city.

Chefs Josef Centeno (Bäco Mercat, Bar Amá, Orsa & Winston, P.Y.T., Ledlow and BäcoShop), Dakota Weiss (Sweetfin Poké chain) and Steven Fretz (corporate chef for Michael Mina and managing partner and corporate chef for Top Round Roast Beef) are just as obsessed with their dogs and cats as the rest of us.

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They post too-cute Instagram pictures of them wearing mini-sombreros, take them on beach dates and dress them in Halloween costumes. Their pets probably eat better than most humans. Here's a look at these three L.A. chefs, their pets and what they feed them.

Josef Centeno, Bear and Winston
Chef Josef Centeno with dogs Winston and Bear are photographed at home in Los Feliz.
Chef Josef Centeno with dogs Winston and Bear are photographed at home in Los Feliz. (Christina House / For The Times)

Dog breed: Bear and Winston are Brussels Griffons, named for the Belgian capital where the breed originated. Bear and Winston are from California breeders, Bear from the Central Coast and Winston from Sacramento.

Centeno described both as the "runts of their litters."

"Bear was always kind of an intense dog, but we fell in love with her right away because of her spunkiness," Centeno said.

What's behind the names? "Winston always kind of looked like he had a Winston Churchill persona, and Bear, we were calling her Orsa [a derivative of bear in Italian]," said Centeno. "Bear just kind of stuck, because she looked like a little bear."

Centeno's Orsa & Winston, his fine-dining restaurant in downtown, is named after the dogs.

"When we were deciding on a name for the restaurant, we thought 'Bear and Winston are like our kids' so I thought it would be an appropriate name to call it Orsa & Winston," Centeno said.

Dog food: Let's start by saying Centeno describes his dogs as "very spoiled."

For dinner one night, Centeno may cook sweet potato and ground venison. The next night it may be picadillo and squash.

If he uses dehydrated food, it comes from Just Food for Dogs, and he mixes it with sweet potato. His fiancée's mother also makes treats for the dogs such as Japanese mochi balls, rice balls and peanut butter balls.

Follow the adventure: Centeno has a separate Instagram account for the dogs @BearlovesWinston. There, you'll find photos of the dogs with their tongues out, hair in the wind or lounging around on the couch. They also make frequent appearances on Centeno's account @chefjosefcenteno.

Dakota Weiss, Captain Chaplin and Evil Costello
Chef Dakota Weiss lets her dog Chaplin walk around the roof of her apartment in Los Angeles.
Chef Dakota Weiss lets her dog Chaplin walk around the roof of her apartment in Los Angeles. (Claire Hannah Collins / Los Angeles Times)

Dog breed: Both are French bulldogs, also sometimes referred to as Frenchies.

Captain Chaplin, seen above, and Evil Costello are half brothers from a breeder in Riverside. "I was living in an apartment and I didn't want a really big dog and I was told they were really good cuddlers," Weiss said. "They're ugly cute, and they really do just have funny personalities."

What's behind the names? While trying to decide on a name, Weiss said she sat on her bed and screamed "Chaplin" to see whether it sounded weird. When it "rolled off her tongue," it stuck. The chef said "Costello" just seemed to fit with "Chaplin," so that stuck.

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As for the "Captain" and "Evil" part of the names, Weiss came home one night and found the two dogs sitting next to each other, surrounded by chaos.

"There was stuff everywhere and even a painting thrown off the wall," Weiss said. "They just kind of looked at each other like 'We got each other's back.'"

That episode paired with Chaplin's captain-like attitude and Costello's tendency to follow Chaplin like a doting sidekick led to the addition of Captain and Evil to the dogs' names.

Dog food: Weiss frequently posts photos of the dogs on Instagram, helping her taste test items for her restaurants. When she was deciding on a tuna to use at her Sweetfin Poké restaurants, the dogs helped with the selection process.

As for cooking for the dogs, Weiss said she used to go to the grocery store three times a week to buy ingredients to make their dinners. She set up a meal plan that included quinoa, ground lamb, turkey, beef, salmon, trout, sweet potatoes, spinach, apples and watermelon.

When her restaurants started to pick up, she had to abandon cooking for them and chose Hill's Science Diet prescription dog food from the vet.

But occasionally, she still prepares gourmet snacks for the dogs, including plates of apples, cheese and bacon. "You can't help it, because they look so cute, and they are surrounded by food," Weiss said.

Follow the adventure: Weiss has an Instagram account for the dogs, @captainchaplin_theevilcostello. You can watch them napping, taking walks — Chaplin, seen above, uses wheels following an accident — or taste-testing lamb shanks and tuna for Weiss' restaurants. Weiss also likes to post a lot of Chaplin and Evil pictures on her account @dakotalovesbonemarrow.

Steven Fretz, Delilah and Lil Chef
Chef Steven Fretz is photographed with his Devon Rex cats -- Lil Chef, left, and Delhlah -- at their home in Los Angeles.
Chef Steven Fretz is photographed with his Devon Rex cats -- Lil Chef, left, and Delhlah -- at their home in Los Angeles. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Cat breed: Delilah and LIl Chef are sibling Devon Rex cats from a breeder in Glendale. Fretz, who describes himself as a "crazy cat guy," said he waited for months on a list before he got his pets.

"They are like cats in monkey suits," said Fretz, who added that he walks his cats on a leash.

"They are mischievous and like to [mess] with you. They hate it when you drink beer and will knock over the bottle as soon as you open it."

What's behind the names? "My godfather wanted to give me a dog and said I should name it 'Chef' since I call everything chef," Fretz said. "I didn't get a dog, but when I got Lil Chef, I finally had something to call Chef.

"Delilah was named by my stepdaughter Lea and her mother."

Cat food: Fretz feeds his cats Royal Canin food, which he enthusiastically endorses.

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Twice a week, he also gives the cats roasted chicken. He mixes the chicken jus with canned pink salmon and canned tuna for another meal.

When it comes to water, Fretz uses only filtered water. And the cats don't get any treats.

"I don't believe in treats," Fretz said. "They eat so well already."

Follow the adventure: You can see plenty of pictures of Lil Chef and Delilah @cheffretz on Instagram.

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