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Plan B pays off for chef

Fresh ingredients and hard work are key ingredients at this new eatery.

September 02, 2011|By Stephanie Ghiya,
  • Chef Nadar Bashan holds a blue crab salad in his kitchen at the back of his restaurant Bashan Restaurant on Thursday, August 25, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Chef Nadar Bashan holds a blue crab salad in his kitchen…

When Chef Nadav Bashan’s boyhood dream of firefighting didn’t pan out, he went to plan B: the Southern California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena.

Bashan, whose cozy north Glendale restaurant bears the same name, cooks by a simple philosophy of salt and pepper, no marinades or rubs, only the finest local ingredients prepared simply and let the ingredients shine on their own. His work ethic? There’s no way to wing it. You have to work hard and pay your dues.

Bashan began paying his dues on just his second day of culinary school, when he landed an internship at Lobster, a new restaurant in Santa Monica, under celebrity chef Allison Thurber (The Water Grill). As a rookie chef, Bashan recalls the sink-or-swim environment of a high-volume kitchen serving 200-300 plates for lunch and 400 for dinner every day.

“Allison really took me under her wing,” said Bashan. “I learned how to make dressings for 300 people and make soups for 400 people. It was a really great place to start.”


Bashan worked his way up the ranks at Lobster, doing the lunch shift from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. before commuting to culinary school in Pasadena every day for almost two years. Despite feeling burned out at the program’s end, Bashan stuck to his career decision.

About two years after starting with Lobster, a busboy told Bashan about an opening in the kitchen at Michael McCarty’s Santa Monica restaurant named Michael’s. Bashan got hired on, again starting from the bottom, peeling potatoes as a prep cook.

“I wanted to start at the bottom,” said Bashan, “so when I got to the chef level I would know exactly what’s required of every single position.”

After peeling potatoes and prepping onions — 100 pounds a day — for stocks, Bashan spent two years learning each station of the kitchen, moving to pastry, pantry, sauté then grill and eventually sous-chef.

Five years into his cooking experience, Michael’s promoted Bashan to executive chef.

“I think I moved up a little too quickly,” Bashan said. “I’m kind of an old school chef. I think that you need years and years of experience before you get to the chef level and I stayed there a long time.”

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