New chefs at Church & State, WP24, Scarpetta and more

French Chef Tony Esnault has taken the reins of the kitchen at Church & State.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Former Patina executive chef Tony Esnault has taken the reins of the kitchen at the downtown restaurant Church & State. Owner Yassmin Sarmadi tapped Esnault to work at Spring, a new French restaurant slated to open on the ground floor of the Douglas Building on Spring Street in late 2013, but Esnault ended up stepping into former Church & State chef Jeremy Berlin’s spot. Esnault will still be the chef at Spring when it opens. Esnault’s menu additions at Church & State include a chicory and citrus salad, coq au vin and nettle soup. 1850 Industrial St., Los Angeles, (213) 405-1434,

Chef Alesandro “Alex” Stratta has signed on as the new executive chef of Scarpetta Beverly Hills. Stratta will work with principal owner and chef Scott Conant. Stratta is a “Top Chef Masters” Season Three alum and was previously the executive chef of namesake restaurant Alex, a French fine dining restaurant at Wynn Las Vegas. He and Conant plan to collaborate on new items but the menu will retain Conant’s signature dishes, including the spaghetti with tomato and basil and the creamy polenta with fricasee of truffled mushrooms. Scarpetta at the Montage Beverly Hills 225 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 860-7800,

Wolfgang Puck has appointed chef Michael Aguilar the new pastry chef at WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton. Aguilar has been a member of the restaurant team since 2011, and was just recently promoted to lead pastry chef. Aguilar has worked at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Club Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach, with Hubert Keller at Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas and at the Beverly Hills Hotel. His new WP24 desserts include the “liquid caramel” with Caramelia mousse, almond nougatine, chocolate sorbet and buttermilk chocolate cake, and the “kabocha cake” with pumpkin cream, cranberry ginger and maple bourbon ice cream. WP24 at the Ritz-Carlton at 900 W. Olympic Blvd., (213) 743-8824,


The Surf and Sand Laguna beach resort has hired Michael Reyes as new executive chef of the restaurant Splashes. Reyes has worked at the French Laundry in Yountville, the Sidecar in San Luis Obispo and Gotham Bar in New York. Some of Reyes’ new dinner menu highlights include the ballotine of Jidori chicken with ricotta gnocchi, carrot and apricot kefte with quinoa tabouleh and diver scallops with melted fennel and leeks and a caviar and Riesling emulsion. Splashes at Surf & Sand at 1555 S. Coast Highway, (949) 376-2779,

Chef Benjamin Dayag has been promoted chef de cuisine at Livello restaurant at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills. He started at the restaurant in June 2011 as the executive sous chef under Joseph Elevado. Dayag has worked at Nobu and Social House in Las Vegas. 9291 Burton Way, Los Angeles, (310) 278-3344,

After six years at Simon LA, Marius Blin has been appointed executive chef at the new Esterel restaurant at Sofitel in Beverly Hills. He has worked with French chefs Guy Savoy, Jacques Le Divellec and Guy Martin and also has experience working at the Berkeley Palace in Knightsbridge, the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas and the Regent Beverly Wilshire. Blin’s menu at Esterel includes French classics such as Niçoise salad and escargots and “De-Light 30-Minute Lunch” meals, four courses ($24) that are all fewer than 500 calories. 8555 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 278-5444,


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