They say women are the best cooks ... and that's proving to be true at Los Gatos' two-starred Michelin restaurant where kitchen whiz Jessica Largey has been promoted to chef de cuisine and Stephanie Prida has become its new pastry chef.
Few people can say they started cooking at the age of 5, but Largey can trace her culinary roots back to her childhood making scrambled eggs with mom and learning kitchen secrets from grandma.
A Southern California native, Largey’s first position in the culinary industry was in 2005 as an intern at the award-winning Providence restaurant in Los Angeles. Largey was soon promoted to line cook.
In 2007, she worked at Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck in England where she prepared savory and pastry dishes at the world renowned restaurant. She also worked as a garde manger during her stage.
In 2008, she returned to Los Angeles, accepting the role of opening chef at LAMILL Coffee Boutique, a stylish coffee house opened by the team behind Providence offering gourmet brews, café menu and unique wine selection. Largey was responsible for all aspects of the kitchen and staff including recipe development, ordering, scheduling, and training.
It was not until a special event at Providence in early 2008 that Largey, 26, was introduced to
Largey’s task was to support Kinch during his guest chef appearance at the restaurant, helping him prepare and execute an mussel dish that she describes as “natural and simple,” an approach to cuisine that she truly respected and admired.
Largey and Kinch stayed in touch after the event and in the fall of 2008 she staged at Manresa where she learned more about Kinch’s philosophy and discovered one of the main sources of inspiration for his menu—Love Apple Farms, the restaurant’s exclusive farm partner.
She returned to Los Angeles following her stage to work at Bastide Restaurant in West Hollywood. Here she managed the fish side of the line in the kitchen and also got involved in sourcing ingredients from the farmers markets and collaborating with the chef on menu development. While she continued to work in this role, Largey felt a strong desire to go back to Northern California, and specifically Manresa, to resume working with Kinch.
By March of 2009, Largey, who lives in San Francisco now, returned to Manresa accepting the role of Chef de Partie. She was promoted to Sous Chef in April 2011 and to Chef de Cuisine in early 2012.
Manresa's pastry chef Stephanie Prida grew up in San Diego. She received an associate degree from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. She interned as pastry cook at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas.
She also worked as pastry cook at RM Seafood and Tableau, in Las Vegas, and later at Georges at the Cove Restaurant in La Jolla.
Her desire to learn more about food on a global scale led her to Italy for four months, working in the kitchen at Nogarazza in Vicenza, Italy.
She also spearheaded the pastry program at One Sixty Blue Restaurant in Chicago and worked as pastry sous chef at Blackbird in Chicago, where she earned the Jean Banchet "Rising Pastry Chef" award in 2009.
Prida then moved on as pastry chef at the Elysian Hotel in Chicago where she oversaw the pastry and bread program for RIA, the hotel’s two Michelin-star restaurant, and Balsan Restaurant as well as in-house dining and events.
She later accepted the role of pastry chef for the Michelin-starred L2o Restaurant.
After nearly four years in Chicago, the California native was drawn back to the West Coast, joining Manresa as pastry chef.
“I love the fact that the restaurant truly lives off the land of California,” says Prida. “The style, food and environment are so unique – you can’t help but be inspired here,” she said.