Chef Dakota Weiss was born to take classic American dishes, implement a French twist, and hone praise by reviewers for her comforting and unpretentious plates of deliciousness. Blame it on her roots. Those roots are planted deep into American history from her mother’s Revolutionary War ancestors to the suffragist ancestor from Chef Dakota’s birth-father’s family line.
Adding Chef Dakota’s American travels during her career, well, her take on the ultimate Mac ‘N Cheese dish or classic hamburger was just meant to be.
“I thought I’d be an international club owner,” Chef Dakota explains when she recalls how her college career changed from international business studies to culinary student at Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, AZ (now Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School).
Chef Jeff Drew hired Dakota at Santa Fe’s legendary Coyote Café. She soon rose to the restaurant’s first female sous chef.
The American road called, and Chef Dakota spent a brief stint at Dallas’ Mansion on Turtle Creek until she was recruited by an Atlanta restaurateur to assist in his “southwestern-style” eatery.
Chef Dakota wished to add to her French training. Enter the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead in Atlanta, and world-class French chef Bruno Menard.
“Chef Menard taught me the finest elements of cooking which included using every sensory gland in my body to identify umami .”
The Ritz-Carlton tagged Chef Dakota as their chef de cuisine for their Sarasota private Ritz-Carlton Beach Club. Later, the Ritz-Carlton transferred her to her home state California and their Marina Del Rey hotel and the restaurant Jer-ne.
Foodies went wild. Angeleno Magazine named Chef Dakota as “Best New Chef” in 2006. Los Angeles Times food critic, Irene Virbila, said of Jer-ne while under Chef Dakota’s direction, “A little bit of whimsy and a lot of good cooking put this marina-side dining room on the map.”
This is when the Hollywood A-list dining room at the historic Sunset Tower called. Chef Dakota took the executive chef’s position.
“I loved the Tower,” Chef Dakota says. “But I felt like my skills need sharpening, so when Stephen Starr invited me to help open Parc in Philadelphia , I said yes.”
On the American road again, Chef Dakota stayed in Philadelphia and explored the Eastern Seaboard tasting and sampling all-American cuisine.
But once a California girl, always a California girl. “Los Angeles is part of my personal history, not to mention that I’m a fourth-generation Southern-California girl. I wanted to shop Farmer’s Markets all year long, and dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean.” Santa Monica’s Shangri-la reopened its doors and named Chef Dakota as their executive chef. Los Angeles was happy to have her back.
Virbila’s Shangri-la review, unbeknownst to anyone, predicted Chef Dakota’s future: The food comes out fast and well-executed. She’s not aiming for the stars or a shot at a “Top Chef” competition, just providing hotel guests and anybody else with accessible, heartwarming comfort food…
One year later Chef Dakota became a cheftestant on Top Chef Texas.
Since her Top Chef days, she has served as the executive chef for Nine-Thirty restaurant and The Backyard at the W Westwood for Choice Hospitality.
NEW and EXCITING well…NEWS! Dakota has some big plans for the remainder of this year! She has been working on a Poke concept which will be called Sweetfin and will be opening its doors later this fall in Santa Monica. This all raw fish casual dining spot is sure to please westside locals all the way to visitors from all over the world, which in some cases some would say is Downtown Los Angeles. 🙂
Even more exciting news is Dakota will be opening her first own chef driven restaurant this winter with her partner Alan Nathan.
Located off of the famous Sunset Blvd. in the newly remodeled IAC building. “This is going to be my baby, my pride and joy. I will be spreading my culinary wings here and simply can’t wait to share this with Los Angeles.” As of now the name is under lock and key but soon to be revealed. Stay tuned…