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Walter Manzke at Church & State? Nothing's been signed yet

December 2, 2008 |  2:42 pm

Walter_2Walter Manzke has had a frustrating day. Although reports have him already working at Steven Arroyo's downtown French bistro Church & State, Manzke said -- when reached by phone early this afternoon -- that he hasn't made any decisions or signed anything. Church & State has been without a chef since Greg Bernhardt left a few weeks ago. "I'm talking to him," Manzke said of Arroyo, with whom he had dinner last night, "but we haven't finalized anything." Manzke, who left the now-shuttered Bastide in May, stressed that he's currently in talks with people other than Arroyo. Manzke was rumored to have signed on at Celestino Drago's new downtown restaurant, Drago Centro, in June.  In fact, said Manzke, he'd had an offer in for his own restaurant, plans for which fell through in late summer, "just before the market crashed."

"It's been a very up-and-down ride ever since I've been back in L.A.," said Manzke.  The chef (whose wife, Marge, was Bastide's pastry chef before she also left) said he'd kept in touch with friends at Bastide, which owner Joe Pytka recently shuttered, at least for now. "I knew what was going on." What does the chef think of the up-and-down ride of Bastide? "Bastide had great quality, but never any consistency. It's been a great restaurant, no matter who was there. The problem is when you go from one extreme to another." As for where he'll cook next, Manzke said he'd like to be part of that decision. 

-- Amy Scattergood

Photo: Walter and Marge Manzke at Bastide. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times.