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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, stephanie.ghiya@latimes.com

McCarty also mentored Bashan in the tenets of California cuisine, greatly influencing his culinary perspective. Every Wednesday and Saturday, Bashan walked the block from the restaurant to the Santa Monica farmers market, building relationships with growers and learning the art of shopping California’s freshly-picked produce.

After staying on at Michael’s for seven more years as executive chef, Bashan sensed that his career had plateaued. A new restaurant named Providence had just opened in Hollywood and Bashan found himself seeking out renowned chef and restaurant owner Michael Cimarusti and following his culinary dream of working under a master chef. Cimarusti did not have a chef de cuisine or sous-chef position available and felt skeptical, according to Bashan, that an executive chef could fit in on the cooking line.

“I proved to him that I really just wanted to work under him and I didn’t care about position. It was really still about learning,” said Bashan. “I think he really appreciated that and he hired me as a lead-line cook.”

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Though Bashan took a demotion and significant cut in pay to cook for Cimarusti at the Providence, he felt compensated with the greatest culinary experience of his life.

After working for a top chef and hitting this milestone in his career, Bashan knew the time had come to venture out on his own and open a restaurant. After an attempt at a fine-dining Mexican food restaurant disintegrated in development, Bashan happened upon a for-sale listing for Bistro Verdu on Craigslist.

“My wife and I had eaten there before and remembered the small, quaint, you know, neighborhood-vibe-type restaurant it is and I was like, ‘This would be perfect.’”

Bashan said he and his brother drove to Bistro Verdu on Verdugo Road the next day, bumping into the owner and nearly striking up a deal that afternoon. With just himself, his father and his brother as the restaurant’s sole investors, him cooking and his wife running the dining room, Bashan is among that dying breed of mom-and-pop, chef-driven restaurants where classically prepared food showcases ingredients direct from California’s farms and the Pacific Ocean.

“It really is a labor of love,” Bashan said.

Infobox

What: Bashan Restaurant

Where: 3459 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale

Phone: (818) 541-1532

Dinner served: Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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