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Chef Claude Segal: The Next King of Spas?

Claude Segal, one of the more peripatetic of our local chefs (and one of the best), has left his latest berth at MaBe in West Hollywood to take over the kitchen at tennis guru John Gardiner’s new Rancho Valencia resort in Rancho Santa Fe.

“I was offered a great opportunity,” says Segal, who came to Los Angeles in 1982 when Patrick Terrail hired him to replace Wolfgang Puck. “The place just has so much potential. The resort is small, with only about 45 rooms, all of them individual bungalows, done in the Santa Fe style. There’s a beautiful dining room, with a lot of open patio space, and a perfect kitchen.” The dining room, which will function as an independent restaurant open to the public as well as resort guests, has just been given a name: Tapenade (the olive-and-caper puree popular in Provence).

“My first idea,” Segal says, “is to build the reputation of the restaurant. Then I’d like to develop a kind of spa, something like Michel Guerard’s place in southwestern France, where people could come and spend a week having very healthy food. And eventually, maybe by the beginning of next year, I would like to open a cooking school here.”

The food at Tapenade, Segal says, will be light and modern French in style, “more like what I used to do before MaBe.” He will try to use a lot of local ingredients. “You know,” he points out, “we’re just five minutes from Chino Ranch (the top-notch specialty produce farm). I can walk there almost.”

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Segal’s parting from MaBe was amicable, he says. He’s even retaining a consultant relationship with the restaurant, visiting the kitchen several times a month. Meanwhile, the establishment’s new head chef is Eric Cunin, who worked under Segal at Bistango and Wave.

LA BREA BREAKFAST: In the usual order of things, restaurants open for dinner at first and then, if business seems to warrant it, open for lunch. The popular Campanile on La Brea has done it a bit differently: They’re still considering lunch, but in the meantime, have opened for breakfast. The menu, says co-owner (and bake-master) Nancy Silverton, is “very simple, very limited, sort of like (Berkeley’s) Cafe Fanny.” Offerings include poached duck eggs with toast, Silverton’s granola, her own Bulgarian-style yogurt, walnut bread with warm goat cheese on top, and assorted other breads (toasted) from Silverton’s splendid La Brea Bakery next door. “You order at the counter,” says Silverton, “and we bring the food to you, either in the courtyard or the bar.” Breakfast is served Monday through Saturday, from 8 to 11:30 a.m.

ON THE FRONT BURNER: Sanwa Bank hosts the third annual Pasadena Pizza Expo, a benefit for the Boys Club of Pasadena, today from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Pasadena Convention Center. At least a score of restaurants and pizza parlors will participate--among them Domenicos of Duarte, Cabo Cabo Cabo, Picasso’s, Roxxi, La Grotta di Capri and (this I gotta taste) Kuala Lumpur. Live music and a pizza-eating contest are featured, and tickets are $12 at the door. . . . The Rangoon Racquet Club in Beverly Hills presents a multicourse Passover seder, beginning at sundown on Monday, April 9. “A heady mix of the traditional and the ritual” is promised. The fare is $50 per adult, $35 per child. . . . La Bruschetta in Westwood serves a kosher Passover seder on the 9th, conducted by Jerry Cutler and cantor Hale Porter of the Los Angles Creative Arts Temple. The cost is $50 per person, including kosher wine. . . . Koutoubia in West Los Angeles will be closed the 9th, but offers kosher Passover dinners in the Moroccan style for take-out that evening. For $35 per person, the repast includes assorted Moroccan salads, a choice of assorted chicken or lamb dishes (for instance, chicken with preserved lemon or lamb with fresh artichokes), and fresh fruit. . . . And New York’s Anne Rosenzweig, chef and co-owner of Arcadia and president and CEO of the “21" Club, both in New York City, will teach dishes from “The Arcadia Seasonal Mural Cookbook” at the Epicurean in West Hollywood April 12 and 13. The fee is $75 per class, each of which will feature different recipes. Call (213) 659-5990 for details.

ANNIVERSARIES: Knoll’s Black Forest Inn in Santa Monica celebrates its 30th birthday this month. It opened on Santa Monica Boulevard near Ocean Avenue, and then moved to its present location on Wilshire near 24th in the early 1980s (Knoll’s maintains an excellent German wine list, incidentally--easily the best in Los Angeles--for those who might like to sample these largely excellent but, in America, little-known vintages). . . . Another longtime Santa Monica resident, Ye Olde King’s Head Pub & Restaurant, is 17 this year. . . . And the St. Moritz in Studio City observes its 16th anniversary with a series of complete dinners for $18 per person, tomorrow through Friday.

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