Executive Chef Levi Mezick’s career path is characterized by his extensive experience with the world’s best restaurateurs. Working under culinary titans such as Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, Mezick patiently perfected his craft before finally setting off on his own course. After collaborating with Michel Richard at Michel at The Ritz-Carlton, Mezick was finally tapped by Pebble Beach Food & Wine founders to become executive chef at their new concept – Restaurant 1833. Embracing Central Californian cuisine with a sustainable approach, Restaurant 1833 quickly exceeded expectations, recently semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best New Restaurant” in 2012. The accolades are no doubt a reflection on Mezick himself, which is why The New Potato was particularly excited to see just what this chef recommends…
What’s different about your food?
We put a lot of care into what we do. We are working with some of the highest quality produce and purveyors in the region and it shows on the plate. We also have a team that encourages creativity and it comes across in the food every day.
Are you constantly making changes? How so?
Yes. We change the menu with the seasons. We are also constantly testing new ideas and recipes.
What’s special about Restaurant 1833?
Restaurant 1833 is located in a historical adobe building that was built in 1833. We have built a team of the best people in the industry that have come together to bring their years of experience to this one concept and it shows. We were pretty lucky this year to be selected as a James Beard Award semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant” and it was such a cool feeling to see that a restaurant in Monterey, not necessarily thought of as a place to go for amazing cooking, was being recognized on a national level. We have one of the largest selections of absinthe in the country and that is served tableside. The overall experience and attention to detail is what makes this place special, whether it’s the menu, the wine list, the cocktail program or the service. We really work hard to make sure that the entire time a guest is with us, from the moment they enter the door to their last steps when leaving, that they feel like they are a part of our family and are experiencing something special.
What we all should know about the space itself…
The building was originally built as the home of James Stokes, the first mayor of Monterey and an English sailor that went AWOL before posing as a doctor. The adobe house has served as the first apothecary in Monterey, a printing press, a commercial pottery kiln and as the home of socialite Hattie Gragg (her ghost is said to still put salt into diners’ wine on occasion!) before it became the infamous Gallatin’s Restaurant – the French Laundry of its day. It’s a really amazing history and the perfect space for entertaining – from Hattie’s Room to Gallatin’s Room, from the Absinthe Bar to the Founder’s Balcony, and outside on the Redwood Terrace or by one of the fire pits, there are so many different opportunities to consume the 1833 experience. Scattered throughout the house are photos of parties from years past, featuring a variety of guests, from former presidents to Frank Sinatra!
What experience do you want your customers to walk away with?
We want people to walk away with an overall sense of satisfaction and a great memory.
How do your travels and experiences play into your restaurant?
The entire team’s experience plays into the restaurant and the menu. The kitchen team is always talking about their food experiences and we encourage them to use that to create something new for the menu or add an unexpected twist to a current dish.
Your go-to recipe when cooking outside the restaurant for family and friends…
Whole roasted chicken with vegetables that are in season.
Can you share some menu favorites from Restaurant 1833?
Charred octopus. Biscuits with Arbole chili butter, whole truffled chicken, gnocchi, bone marrow. Crispy pork.
What are your favorite cities to travel for food?
Italy and France.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I like to wander a city and see what it has to offer.