STEFAN’S AT L.A. FARM
NEW SUMMER MENU DELIGHTS
Charismatic celebrity chef Stefan Richter, a bulldozer of a contestant on Top Chef Seasons 5 and 10, is a lot like his much sought after food, engaging, bold and daring. Talk to Richter for a few minutes and you’ll be taken by his charm and brashness, just like dining at his popular Stefan’s at L.A. Farm in Santa Monica, celebrating three years this summer.
The Finnish chef has really hit his stride offering a lovely setting for a night of cosmopolitan dining or just drink with friends. The former L.A. Farm space on Olympic Boulevard had been re-imagined into a casual bistro where locals, celebrities and power brokers flock for a wonderful meal. Style and comfort glimmer in the modern dining room and in the charming patio, where guests can dine or unwind and relax around a fire pit on leather banquettes.
With summer upon us, Stefan’s at L.A. Farm has a summer menu that is sure to please. “I change my menu four times a year,” Chef Stefan explains. “I like to play with it. You have to be creative.”
Creative new dishes include Little Big Macs—Animal Style; Crab Salad; Truffle Arancini; House Cured Salmon; Chilled Cucumber Soup; Hummus with Heirloom carrots and Parmesan bread; and decadent Ice Cream Lollipops.
Ask Chef for the perfect summer dish and he answers “Vodka Soda” with a laugh. “Something light,” he continues, “a crab salad with arugula, lump crab and good mini bread.” That describes his new menu item, which also has mustard and fennel, aptly creating a savory yet filling dish—just like the Little Big Macs, which are an instant fan favorite.
There’s never a dull moment talking to Chef Stefan. Ask him what he thinks a popular dish will be this summer and he says, “I’m really into artichokes. A lot of people hate drinking white wine with artichokes but I like it, even that metallic taste.”
And what’s a must order item at Stefan’s at L.A. Farm for newcomers? You’d think that would be a simple question.
“The scallop is great,” Chef says. “I play a lot. I don’t do molecular bullshit. It doesn’t make sense to me. I always say, it looks like fish, tastes like broccoli, it’s creamy like ice cream and it’s actually quail. What happened to regular food?”
Now a fixture in Santa Monica, Chef also owns three cafes in the surrounding neighborhood. It’s his love for all things local that also lead to him only serving domestic wines.
“America has at least as good of wines as Europe has. Look at where we live. We have beautiful oceans and valleys and vineyards. My rule is $75 corkage for any European wine and $25 for any American [wine you bring in’. You live in America, come on! I don’t pick wines by labels or brands; I pick my wines because I like them.”
The fact that the former Top Chef is recognizable and beloved is a reason first visit Stefan’s at L.A. Farm but it’s the quality that keeps them coming back. “You have to have a fair price, good food and it’s not only food, people want to be entertained,” Chef Stefan explains. “If the service is good, the chef is funny, was on TV and he comes by and has a drink with you and livens up your day, that’s great. It’s the whole package. It’s not just about food. You can great food all around town.
Indeed, with delicious dishes and creative, cool cocktails there are plenty of reasons to visit Chef Stefan all summer long. And that is something not lost on Richter. He wants all of his guests to get lost in the cool, calming California vibe.
“I want people to just relax. We’re all part of the rat race and when you come for dinner, relax. Cab it here, kill a six-pack of drinks, eat some good food and enjoy yourself. That’s all I can ask for.”
Stefan's at L.A. Farm is located at 3000 Olympic Blvd in Santa Monica. Call 310-449-4000.
By: Jose Martinez
Photography by: Vivien Killilea