How To Make a Food Star

Jeff Mahin
Jeff Mahin Photo: courtesy Bullfrog & Baum

In the old days Hollywood had a publicity machine for turning a new face into a star everyone was talking about. There may not be anything quite as well-organized in the food world, but you can still tell when suddenly you start hearing a name everywhere, and Dish calls attention to the process this week by dubbing one 29-year-old chef “About To Go Supernova Chef Jeff Mahin.” So who is Jeff Mahin and more importantly, who is behind his impending astronomical event?

He’s a Lettuce Entertain You chef from California, with Nobu, L2O and The Fat Duck on his resume; he launched their much-admired Stella Rossa Pizza Bar and M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica. He’s teaming with longtime Lettuce pro Francis Brennan, sort of the Crash Davis to Mahin’s Nuke LaLoosh, apparently, to open a two-restaurant combo at 1952 N. Halsted— one side a version of Stella Rossa, the other a “California” restaurant, whatever that precisely is. He’s been named to both Forbes’ and Zagat’s 30 under 30 lists— and, last but not least, he’s quite good-looking, which we’re sure had nothing to do with being cast on the upcoming Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson ABC show The Taste, which premieres next week. In all, it’s a launch fit for a Grace Kelly, chef-wise— now we just have to see if it results in genuine stardom, or if it’s the chef-bad-luck equivalent of a singer-songwriter being dubbed “the new Dylan.” [Dish]