Puck’s Gang of Ex-Chefs

Wolfgang Puck can’t be everywhere, but his ex-chefs seem to be. Lisa Stalvey, who was chef at Spago for a time and more recently cooked at Rebecca’s and Baja Beverly Hills, will be in charge of the kitchen at Alligator Alley, scheduled to open in early November on the site of the old Dominick’s in West Hollywood.

The menu, she reports, will feature Southern food--"the food of Tennessee, Alabama, the Carolinas, and so on, and not Cajun-Creole food.”

Among the dishes will be salmon cakes, a macaroni-and-cheese of the day, linguine with homemade chicken sausage and bacon, sauteed shrimp with fried grits and cabbage, and Stalvey’s own version of chili. Owners are former New York restaurateurs Allen and Art Davis.

And Hiro Sone, who shares cooking chores at Spago with Anne Gingrass, has given notice. He and his fiancee, pastry chef Lissa Doumani, are moving to St. Helena in the Napa Valley to take over Duckworth--a beautiful “California regional” restaurant opened only months ago by a pair of talented Texans, John Makin (ex-chef at the Remington Hotel in Houston and the Crescent Court in Dallas) and Bill Shoaf (former food and beverage director at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas), both of whom have since decamped. A change of name and food style is anticipated for the restaurant.


A FENIX ON THE RISE: Earlier this year, Ken Frank, owner-chef of La Toque on the Sunset Strip, announced plans to close his sophisticated French restaurant and replace it with a more casual, more reasonably priced establishment to be called Fenix (French for phoenix , as in something that rises from the ashes).

The change was originally to have taken place this fall. Now, Frank says, he’s decided to keep La Toque open in its present form at least until January. A new menu will be introduced on Nov. 1, with substantially lower prices.

“We’ve incorporated some of our most popular lunch dishes into the dinner menu,” he says, “and our entree prices now start at $15. Two people can have a complete dinner here, with wine, for $75 or so, which didn’t used to be the case.”

Frank also notes that his restaurant is now officially out of bankruptcy, a state in which it found itself for several years following financial reorganization.


WHAT’S NEWS: The Fred Sands realty office in Brentwood hosts “Great Tastes of Brentwood” this afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m. on San Vicente Boulevard between Bringham Avenue and Darlington Avenue. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children from 4 to 9, and free for under-4, with profits benefiting the Brentwood Public Library Expansion Fund. Among area restaurants offering food samples are Spangles, Berty’s, Chin Chin, Mason’s, the California Pizza Kitchen, Central Park Cafe, Mom’s Saloon and Ping Pong. . . . Madame Wu’s Garden in Santa Monica celebrates its 28th anniversary Monday through Friday with a Peking duck banquet at $35 per person. There will be two servings of the meal nightly, at 6 and 8 p.m. . . . Phoenecia in Glendale has announced two special events: Next Sunday, Oct. 30, the Wine Reserve will offer Taittinger champagne, a selection of Burgundies, and Dow 1972 Late-Bottled Port alongside a five-course dinner for $60 per person; and Vern Lanegrasse “The Hollywood Chef,” cooks a full-scale Southern country-style dinner Sunday, Nov. 9, for $55 (wines included). . . . City of the Angels Brewing Company in Santa Monica hosts beer-tastings and seminars on the subject at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. The fee is $25.