During the dark depths of the pandemic we had a rather interesting and hopeful idea. Rather than using our kitchen to produce a set menu with a single chef, we decided to turn control of the kitchen over to the Santa Cruz community in the form of a rotating Culinary Artist in Residence program. The program is intended to showcase the talents of a local chef looking to make a final push towards opening a restaurant of their own. For the duration of the residency (typically a year) the featured chef will have the opportunity to install their concept and serve their food in our one of a kind dining room. And of course we'll be modifying our natural wine list to best accentuate the cuisine of each up and coming culinary artist. Interested local applicants should reach out through our contact page.  

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Chef Lailita Kaewsawang is our current Culinary Artist in Residence. She and her Chef de Cuisine Mauricio Ortiz are the force behind Hanloh Thai, what Kaewsawang describes as "nostalgic cooking in the Thai tradition." At 13 she immigrated from Thailand, settling in Berkeley where she began working at a local Thai restaurant. Over the years, Chef Kaewasang worked alongside chefs from all walks of life in New Orleans, Nashville, Austin, L.A., Chicago, and New York. She came to Santa Cruz in 2014 after accepting a job at Manresa, the celebrated three Michelin star restaurant in Los Gatos. In 2017 she left to found Hanloh, a truly extraordinary presentation of Thai cuisine.

Lailita Kaewsawang

October 2022 to present

Chef Katherine Stern, a California native, took the lead as our first culinary artist in residence. After perfecting her craft cooking rustic, farm-to-table food in Tuscany, she was the longtime chef at La Posta in Santa Cruz. She went on to become a fixture at our local farmers’ markets, operating under The Midway banner. For a year Chef Stern and her fabulously talented crew made The Midway come alive at Bad Animal. We'll always remember the way her cuisine expertly and lovingly celebrated the best of what's grown, caught, cultivated, and raised in our region.  A virtuoso of the hyper-local and seasonal, Chef Stern will soon be opening her own restaurant in Santa Cruz.  

Katherine Stern

September 2021 to September 2022

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