Gary Menes is leaving Palate Food + Wine to head the kitchen at Marche, a new market-driven restaurant that’s replacing Max in Sherman Oaks. According to Gary Menes’ Twitter account, “Just finished writing my last menu for palate as chef/partner. Off to Paris then back to open restaurant Marche in the valley. Stay tuned.”
UPDATE: On August 10, Andre Guerrero said he plans to devote the bulk of his time to BoHo and The Oinkster, but he will remain a partner in Marche. The concept should debut either on August 24 or September 1.
Why the transformation? “When I went over to BoHo, I just realized I couldn’t dedicate enough time to both restaurants,” says Guerrero. “Max started to suffer because I really didn’t have a chef over there. I was kind of calling in stuff. It just wasn’t working. I either had to let Max go or bring someone in.” He turned to long-time friend Gary Menes, who always wanted a restaurant of his own. Guerrero said the concept will be “very similar to Palate, but even more focused on the seasonal market idea.”
Menes and Guerrero aren’t touching the interior, but they will be changing some of the kitchen equipment to accommodate “some very modern techniques.” Still, their focus is squarely on the ingredients and how it’s treated. “We’re treating the produce the same way you would treat a piece of Kobe beef or a piece of line-caught fish,” says Guerrero. “We’re going to have the same care…It’s going to be very labor extensive and a crazy way of doing things because we have to shop so often to get the products and get it as fresh as we want to serve it.”
To supplement what they buy from small farmers, Guerrero will be growing specialty vegetables, fruits, lettuces and herbs. For example, he recently ordered heirloom seeds from Italy to produce “super sweet, buttery squashes” for ravioli and “delicate greens for garnishing or pairing with seafood.” Guerrero also has a 60-year-old sour orange tree from Spain and a fig tree that produces “100 pounds of amazing white figs.” These are all “things you wouldn’t normally find at farmers markets, and if you do find them, they’re very limited or very expensive.” Guerrero’s garden is nearly tapped out, so most of these finds won’t appear on the Marche menu until next spring.
Guerrero expects Menes’ menu to change about 40 times per year, most often from spring through summer. Looking forward, he anticipates different mushrooms and truffles in the fall and winter. Guerrero isn’t ready to discuss specific dishes, but nothing on the menu will top $20. The food will center on small plates, which he calls “small entrees. If you normally order two courses, you’ll have to order three courses to get the equivalent amount of food.” Menes will be making his own hams, including Serrano-type hams, salumi and lardo. They’ll even have a resident cheese expert and plan to feature tasting menus.
Guerrero anticipates an exciting wine program with assistance from a 600-bottle temperature-controlled storage area and advice from consultant Paul Wasserman. “His mother is Becky Wasserman, probably the most respected broker or negotiant,” says Guerrero. “She brings in some of the most rare Burgundies from France, some of the most coveted wines coming out of France.”