Christopher Kufek is executive chef of Saddle Peak Lodge. After knocking on a back kitchen door every two weeks for three months, Kufek's perseverance and determination to work in fine dining finally paid off when he was hired to make the amuse-bouches at Saddle Peak Lodge. And from there, the 27-year-old West Hills native and former carpenter climbed the culinary ladder.
What’s coming up next on your menu? Ostrich, buffalo ribs, quail, squab, soft-shell crabs and halibut.
Latest ingredient obsession? I'm using tarragon quite a bit. It works well with so many things like grapes, sweet corn, fish, tomatoes or in a sauce. I consider it my workhorse herb.
Favorite day off away from the kitchen? I don't get many, but the next one will most certainly be spent with my brothers playing golf.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can’t live without, other than your knives? A dishwasher (not an interesting chef answer, but a practical one). You have to be practical as a chef.
What's one restaurant you go to again and again? Like most chefs I don't get out much, but I do love the Foundry on Melrose. Chef [Eric] Greenspan has amazing refined comfort food. Last time I was there I had the Foundry tater tots, grilled cheese with braised short rib and a side of creamed corn. Really tasty stuff and I'm a jazz fan so the musicians that he has play in the lounge were a great added bonus.
Saddle Peak Lodge, 419 Cold Canyon Road, Calabasas, (818) 222-3888, www.saddlepeaklodge.com.
-- Caitlin Keller Photo: Christopher Kufek. Photo Credit: www.Saddlepeaklodge.com