Jet Tila envisions ‘resident chefs’ at the Charleston
His new Santa Monica restaurant will have pop-ups galore and a Tony Abou-Ganim influence
Fri, Feb 17, 2012 (12:32 p.m.)
Photo: Sarah Feldberg
You know a dinner is well received when the restaurant has to borrow chairs from the pizza place next door. That was the scene at Origin India last week when former Wazuzu chef Jet Tila returned to Las Vegas for a sold-out, one-night-only pop-up dinner alongside “Modern Mixologist” Tony Abou-Ganim.
Guests didn’t know it at the time, but along with an insanely delicious Thai street-food dinner and elegant cocktails, they were getting a sneak peek at something much bigger. Tila has been busy since leaving the Wynn last summer, putting on pop-ups, traveling to Thailand and generally strategizing about what’s new and next in the restaurant industry. All of the above come together for Tila’s newest project, the Charleston, a Santa Monica “gastrolounge” that will celebrate its grand opening in mid-March.
- The Charleston
- 2460 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica
Tila says the 80- to 90-seat space with a “giant dancefloor” will host entertainment on weekends, along with culinary pop-ups from the likes of NPR’s Evan Kleiman (who recently closed her LA restaurant Angeli) and Tila’s own Bistronomics and Thai street eats pop-up, which will likely follow the same lines as his Vegas dinner last week. (Think: spicy mango, shrimp and coconut yum salad and crispy pig tails with herbs. Tasty!) When the Charleston isn’t hosting a one-off, Tila envisions a “resident chef” program that will bring in visiting chefs to prepare special menus regularly over a set period (yup, like DJs). And the Charleston’s regular menu—which should drop in the next week or two—will feature “edgy American comfort” food with a bit of global influence.
“I’m driving the bus and ideating the menu,” says Tila, who describes his role as managing partner and director of food and beverage. He’ll also be hiring a chef to run the kitchen full-time. “I’m looking at someone who’s young that can grow. I don’t need someone with a name.”
Still, there is one other name tagged to the Charleston: Abou-Ganim. The mixologist will contribute to the gastrolounge’s farmers market-inspired cocktail program. And if last week’s pop-up dinner was any indication, the two make one helluva team.