This year marks two decades since Andy Pavicich, Jr. and Chef Jim Stump became partners in one of our favorite local dining spots, . In 2012, they will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the restaurant’s opening.
I asked Chef Stump what he attributes the restaurant’s longevity to, especially in such a tough business, not to mention the past few years’ bad economy.
“Consistency, evolution, changing the menu through the economic downturns and changing the price points,” he said. “And realizing our weaknesses and correcting them. Having a great staff and a great clientele.”
And of course, the excellent food that comes out of his LG Brewing Company kitchen.
Stump has built on his experience and expertise since he began his food service career at the age of 15 in his native Utah. After moving to California in 1980 and graduating from the California Culinary Academy with “Outstanding Merit,” his career took off.
He worked at such famed restaurants as San Francisco’s Blue Fox (now closed) and Fleur de Lys (where he was chef’s assistant to the man himself, Hubert Keller), and Birk’s Restaurant in Santa Clara (where as executive chef, he doubled the restaurant’s business). At Le Mouton Noir in Saratoga (also now closed), his talents as executive chef won the restaurant the DiRōNA award, making it one of the top 300 restaurants in the U.S. and earning Stump a four-star rating from the San Jose Mercury News.
Wow, after all that, what inspired Chef Stump to partner with Pavicich and open Los Gatos Brewing Company?
“After working with Andy for six years, I realized what a great opportunity there was to become his partner,” Stump said. “I was fortunate because Andy had the financial ability to build beautiful restaurants.”
To LG Brewing Company, Stump brought techniques picked up from his amazing background and his classical chef’s training.
“My goal is when diners come to Los Gatos Brewing Company, they will find what they are looking for on my menu,” Stump said. “I hope there will be something for everyone. I want to make sure I do not look like a Brew Pub, but that I look like a restaurant.”
And as Los Gatos Patch food writer Dawn Wright says in her , LG Brewing Company is “not your average brew pub.”
Chef Stump explained, “There is no set format or style of food we have to cook. The possibilities are endless. I like that it is casual and fun.”
Some of those “possibilities” include starters of piquillo peppers stuffed with Manchego cheese with a drizzling of pumpkin oil and toasted pumpkin seeds, and house-made sausage with roasted fingerling potatoes and whole grain mustard aioli.
Pastas such as linguini are tossed with caramelized cauliflower, garlic mint, chili flakes, basil, extra-virgin olive oil and grana parmesan or fusilli with shredded chicken, Italian squash, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and a white wine cream sauce.
For entrées, you might choose pan-seared ahi served with roasted broccoli, crispy onions and potatoes, red pepper aioli and lemon oil or a red wine braised lamb steak served with chard, carrots, soft polenta, goat cheese, citrus gremolata and braising jus.
Beer is obviously an important component to LG Brewing Company, and brewmaster Kent Wheat heads up the restaurant’s brewery. A graduate of the American Brewer's Guild's Craftbrewers Apprenticeship Program in Vermont, Wheat has been brewing beer for more than 15 years, professionally for three.
Stump met Wheat at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver where, Stump said, “everyone’s true personality comes out and he was a great guy.”
“Kent gets to brew whatever he wants because he is a great brewer,” Stump continued. “We talk about what he wants to do. However, he is the decision maker in this area. This is the only area of the restaurant that I do not get involved because Kent is so self-sufficient and gifted.”
Two gifted professionals working together equals one great restaurant in the Town of Los Gatos, which, according to Stump, is “the greatest town in the SF Bay Area.”
One last question for Chef Stump: Do you have a favorite restaurant in Los Gatos where you like to eat on your ‘chef’s night off’?
“Yes, I like ,” Stump said. “But my girlfriend is a great cook. So I would rather stay at home.”