We recently sat down with Chef Jonathan Hiller and talked about his path in the culinary world, what led him to the famed Beverly Hills Hotel, and his newest venture into private cooking experiences.
1. What was your path growing up in San Diego to becoming a renowned Beverly Hills chef?
I started cooking at a small pizza restaurant in Encinitas called Olyo’s. My friends parents were the owners of the restaurant and I was lucky enough to find myself a spot on the team. I learned kitchen basics such as making dough, pizza sauce, prepping toppings and even working the ovens. This is where my curiosity for cooking all started. Directly across the street was a very authentic Italian restaurant called “When in Rome.” My good friend Joey and his family owned this popular restaurant. We would spend our summers hanging out at Moonlight beach and then skateboard up to the restaurant for family dinner before the restaurant opened for service. Having family dinners with Joey’s family was extremely impactful.
This is also my where I had my first interaction with a “Chef”. The Chef was always there making pasta and cooking amazing food. When ever we came into the kitchen he would take great care of us and even taught us how to make a beautiful Italian salad. At this point I knew that I wanted to continue down this path of cooking and being part of restaurant life, I was hooked. I continued to cook locally learning and growing. Each place I cooked at would give me more experiences and introduce me to more amazing people along the way.
The Cardiff Chart House, Delicia’s in Rancho Santa Fe and then The Four Season’s Aviara are all places that truly shaped my career path. I spent 6 years at the Four Seasons Resort. This opened many doors and even introduced me to my wife Suzie. It allowed me to travel and cook internationally. It educated me not only with food but cultured me and taught me about bespoke hospitality. I added more experience to my resume by cooking in Vail Colorado and then the amazing Grand Del Mar. My wife was also making a name for herself with the Four Seasons and landed a fantastic opportunity in LA at the Beverly Wilshire. This was what brought us to LA and how I began to next step as a “Beverly Hills Chef.”
2. Did you know you always wanted to work in the Beverly Hills culinary community?
YES! I would always taking trips to LA from San Diego for food experiences. The restaurant scene was cutting edge! The best chefs, the best dishes and it was very inspiring. I would go to restaurants like Nobu, Cut, Bazaar, and Osteria Mozza. Each time a would come back to my kitchen in San Diego and share new ideas and recipes with my fellow cooks.
3. What has been your favorite accomplishments or moments at the Beverly Hills Hotel?
My experiences at the Beverly Hills Hotel were absolutely remarkable. Working there for 8 years introduced me to many great cooks, chefs, restaurant workers and hotel staff. There were a few chefs I was able to help develop and encourage. Seeing people believe in themselves and accomplish things that didn’t think were possible is definitely the most satisfying moment of my career. Another highlight would be building customized events. Everything from weddings to mitzvahs. I was was fortunate enough to build strong relationships with so many great people, making their dream event come to life!
4. Where do you find inspiration for your legendary dishes?
My favorite place to go is the Santa Monica Farmers Market on Wednesdays. This is an incredible platform for chefs. I become “A kid in a candy store.” Farmers travel long distances to showcase their hard work. Each farmer has something special to share and its extremely inspiring. “Wiser” brings amazing potatoes, “Garden of” has the best lettuce EVER, “Harries Berries” has unmatched strawberries, “Garcia” has the juiciest citrus and “Valdivia” grows beautiful tomatoes from my home town! The list goes on of farmers and the amazing produce they grow. Its a good recipe to walk the market in the early mornings talking to all the farmers and other chefs. Doing this consistently helps keep your finger on the pulse and create delicious fresh food.
5. What have been some of the highlights working with O’Gara?
I’d have to say that anytime O’Gara unveils a new car its pretty darn exciting! Seeing the beautiful cars parked on the Red Carpet creates a “pinch me” moment, every single time.
6. Can you tell us more about your new business?
My favorite part of cooking is creating delicious food that ties into great experiences. I’m cooking privately currently in LA and focusing on fun engagement and real hospitality. Using all my experiences from legendary hotel brands, I’m able to set myself apart from the pack and be someone that you will welcome back.
7. Any goals for your future food endeavors?
I’ve worked for big brands for the past 15 years which has been great, but I’m excited about switching gears and paving my own path. I’m interested in educated myself more on nutrition and healthier diets. I’m also looking forward to do some more traveling and exploring new opportunities, restaurants, chefs, and ingredients.
8. How can our clients book you for a private experience?
Send me an Email and lets get connected! Socalchef@gmail.com