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Nyesha Arrington

At her Santa Monica restaurant, Native, chef Nyesha Arrington is expressing the spectrum of what it is to be an Angeleno. She ought to know. Born and raised in southwest L.A., Arrington has Korean and African-American roots and an appreciation for the ethnic mix that makes her city a delicious and exciting place to live and cook.

Leona, the Venice restaurant that she launched in 2015, set the stage for Native, with her reverence for local produce and an experimental streak. She’d developed that at, of all places, the steakhouse Wilshire. She became more widely recognized from her appearance on Top Chef, in 2011, and a win on Food Network’s Chef Hunter, as well as Esquire’s Knife Fight in 2013. But it’s the food that Arrington cooks that keeps her reputation growing. Dishes like a kanpachi crudo with hibiscus and shiso, a braised rabbit with summer squash and spätzle, or a Japanese heritage breed Kurobuta pork chop with gochujang glaze and Abruzzi rye porridge.

She studied with the best. Having graduated from the Culinary School at the Art Institute of California in Los Angeles, in 2001, Arrington found a mentor in master chef Josiah Citrin at Mélisse, and worked with Joël Robuchon, at his Las Vegas restaurants L’Atelier and The Mansion. Now she does things in her own way, and as Los Angeles Times critic Jonathan Gold said in his review of Native, “Her style has matured and focused, but the emphasis is the same. She is a chef whose food tastes like L.A.”