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In the 1980s, at the height of the California cuisine revolution, Michael’s was the place to go. Over time, it aged into a culinary landmark whose food seemed like an afterthought. But the buzz for Michael McCarty’s famous restaurant has returned, thanks to the arrival of an innovative young culinarian.
“At this age I expected to still be a line cook, or at best a sous chef…. I never thought someone would take a chance on me so early in my career,” says Michael’s chef John-Carlos Kuramoto, 25. Describing his food philosophy, Kuramoto says, “I’m a huge fan of familiar junk food but also a proponent of using the best ingredients in the most appropriate ways.” The chef points to his Jidori “chicken and waffle” wings as an example of his youthful, fun approach to cooking.
Kuramoto credits Ming Tsai as a major culinary influence, from his days at the celebrity chef’s Blue Ginger restaurant outside Boston, but says it was McCarty who showed him “what it is to be a chef.”
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity that I have been given that I’ll never squander it,” says Kuramoto, who says many guests are unaware of his youth. “And I love nothing more than to surprise them.”
Michael’s Santa Monica, 1147 Third St., Santa Monica, 310.451.0843