LOS ANGELES, July, 5, 2013 — An onstage kitchen anchors one end of the supperclub Los Angeles and, although the cooking takes place as guests dine, so much else to dazzle the senses takes place as well. Guests can be forgiven for only noticing how good their food tastes when it arrives. A “feast for the senses” describes the experience of supperclub, which has its seventh international location in Los Angeles. It is a restaurant, club and show with a variety of entertainment.
The white room — walls and Roman-style beds — provides a backdrop for thumping beats and sultry soundtracks, a dizzying whirl of lights, wall-projected film and live performers. A four-course prix-fixe dinner arrives as the troupe sings, dances, and performs acrobatic feats and other entertaining acts. The artistes move among the audience who dance along when inspired. More action takes place after dinner when the space turns into a club with more energized DJ’ed music.
Executive Chef Guus Wickenhagen’s dishes claim a right-sized part of the attention with superb flavor, graceful presentations and freshness. He changes the menu once a month along with the show so guests can return often. Originally from the Netherlands, Wickenhagen worked his way through top kitchens there before landing at supperclub’s flagship in Amsterdam.
He cooked for supperclubs in Rome, London and San Francisco. All of the supperclubs have a Dutch owner. The Los Angeles supperclub marks the first franchise location. “I met the owners from Los Angeles in San Francisco and they asked me to come open supperclub Los Angeles with them,” Wickenhagen says.
Interview with Chef Wickenhagen
1st cooking or food-related memory:
- Making cookies in school, I was like 6 years old; we made cookies for a Dutch holiday.
What first interested you in the hospitality industry?
- My brother was a chef and he told me stories about working in kitchens. As a kid I was really not interested in studies. I wanted to work with my hands.
What do you like best about being a chef?
- I love to make people happy with food. For our guests, it’s a night out and we try to make it the best one ever.
If not a chef, what would you be?
- A stockbroker. I really like numbers… and, of course, a rock star! Lol
What do you enjoy about cooking for a supperclub?
-We change the menu every month at supperclub. That means we do a lot of different things with cooking. We are not stuck with one type of cooking style.
How would you compare the food scene in Los Angeles to Amsterdam?
- I think in Amsterdam the guest is more open to new things so the menus are a little more global. But the Los Angeles food scene has changed a lot in the last couple of years. Look at Animal (a restaurant near West Hollywood in Los Angeles). They cook with a lot of organic meats. Five years ago that was a no go in LA, from what other chefs have told me.
Fennel seed, love the smell and the light liquorice flavor.
How would you describe your food?
- Fresh, seasoned and global.
Where/how do you find inspiration for your dishes?
- I find inspiration when going to farmers markets, talking with my suppliers, going out to other restaurants and researching on the Internet.
- Hiking, going out to restaurants and bars, playing golf.
- I don’t have one favorite, but a couple: Baco Mercat in Downtown LA, I’m a big fan of chef Jose Andres (The Bazaar, Jaleo, etc.) and De Librije in the Netherlands.
- Crispy veal sweetbreads with English peas, potatoes and veal jus.
Favorite Junk food?
- It’s called a frikandel. A deep fried Dutch snack with mayo and onions
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
- I like to go to hotel bars, especially something with a roof terrace.
What’s your go-to drink?
I’m a beer drinker.
Where was one of your most memorable meals?
- A 12-course meal at De Librije, one of the best restaurants in Europe.
What do you consider your most important accomplishment?
My life experience. I’m 31 years old and have worked in a lot of different countries and have seen a lot of different things. Nobody can take that away from me.
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