Micah Wexler discovered his passion for cooking at the mere age of 15 – when he worked for the iconic Chef Gino Angelini at Vincenti Restaurant in Brentwood. Little did he know his career was only just starting. After studying at the Hotel School at Cornell University, Wexler went on to work in a number of iconic restaurants including Melisse, Patina, Le Atelier Robuchon and Craft. Now, Wexler helms the kitchen at Mezze – a Californian restaurant with eastern Mediterranean influences. Wexler mixes local ingredients with flavors from Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Morocco and Turkey – making the restaurant a global gem. We here at The New Potato were excited to see what exactly this Los Angeles chef recommends…
What’s different about your food?
The style of food itself is different. We are an Eastern Mediterranean restaurant, which means we use a lot of spices and flavors of the Middle East that people find exotic and are not used to seeing in a restaurant of this caliber.
Are you constantly making changes? How so?
We cook with the seasons, so change is inevitable. We wait for things to get to their peak before we start using them. When they start to decline we move on to something else. I also think that restaurants are a constant improvement project. No dish on the menu is ever perfect, so it requires re-examining and fine tuning.
What’s special about Mezze?
Mezze is a space that provides a convivial atmosphere centered around sharing and a communal dining experience. The food is constantly walking a line between rustic and refined, which keeps the kitchen on their toes and our guests intrigued.
What experience do you want your customers to walk away with?
I want my guests to feel they had a unique dining experience both in terms of what they ate and the way in which they ate it. My favorite moments are when I check in at a table and people tell me how different and exciting their meal was and how they’ve never experienced anything quite like it.
Can you share some menu favorites from Mezze?
Sea Urchin Cous Cous. Braised Tripe with Falafel. Cauliflower Flatbread with Feta, Moroccan Olive, Golden Raisin.
If you’re going to eat in Los Angeles besides at your own restaurant, where do you go?
What are your other favorite cities to travel for food? What spots do you go to there?
In New York, there are so many incredible restaurants. Where do you start?
I went to Genova, Italy last summer and found this incredible hidden restaurant down a back alley called Il Galeone. An old man and his wife are the whole team.
Chicago is a great food city. You have some of the best restaurants in the country next to some of the grubbiest eats. Superdawg is my favorite.
Where do you go for inspiration?
Nature. I get inspired when I’m on farms, and when I go fishing and hiking.
Where would you like to travel for inspiration that you haven’t been to yet?
Asia. I haven’t been there at all. I think I need three trips: one in China, one in Japan, and one in Southeast Asia.
What wines go best with your menu?
Middle Eastern. We are trying to put wine from Israel, Lebanon, and Morocco on the map.
The best time to come to Mezze…
Sundays. It’s a great vibe and we serve pastrami sandwiches in addition to the regular menu. We make everything right down to the pickles and mustard.
The perfect way to end a meal at your restaurant…
Everyone gets sesame/rosemary brittle on the way out.
What ingredients couldn’t you live without in your cooking?
Lemon, Olive oil, Zatar, Labneh
You’ve been in many incredible kitchens. Who’s the Chef you’d like to work with, that you haven’t gotten to work with yet…
Victor Arguinzoniz from Etxebarri
The Chef/restaurateur whose career you’ve always followed and looked up to…
And most importantly…how do you feel about new potatoes?
Love them. My mom used to make them when I was a kid, steamed and then dressed with butter, dill, and salt.
*To view Micah’s recipe for Roasted Beet Salad, Click Here
*To view Micah’s recipe for Hashweh Risotto, Click Here
*To view Micah’s recipe for Lettuce Fatoush Salad, Click Here