Library using celebrity chefs to become destination dining spot

Library using celebrity chefs to become destination dining spot

Border Grill and Blue Window chefs get artsy with The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens dining.

Salad with arugula, watermelon radishes, grana padura, and edible flowers. Photo courtesy of Bon Appétit

Restaurant chefs are increasingly making the move into onsite foodservice, and two more are joining the bunch: Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill and Blue Window.

Feniger and Milliken are joining forces to help make The Huntington Library Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena, Calif., a dining destination.

Feniger and Milliken are planning a “mini Border Grill” outlet in the Huntington’s main café, called 1919, serving dishes from their iconic restaurant.

In addition, chef Kajsa Alger, partner with Feniger at the recently closed restaurant Mud Hen Tavern, will bring her dishes to the Huntington’s Chinese Garden tea shop.

The restaurants will be operated in partnership with newly appointed foodservice contractor Bon Appétit Management Co., which is known for its 650-plus foodservice outlets within corporations, universities and museums, as well as stand-alone restaurants.

Bon Appétit replaces Sodexo as the onsite provider, and the new concepts will replace existing outlets at The Huntington to usher in a new era.

For The Huntington, the goal is to create a hub of culinary innovation that will showcase cooking classes, dinner salons and catering for special events, as well as serving the roughly 750,000 who visit each year, officials say.

“We see the introduction of world-class dining at The Huntington as a natural extension of who and what we are,” Laura Skandera Trombley, The Huntington’s president, said in a statement. “We are home to a 6,500-volume historic cookbook collection, including the first known printed cookbook, dating to 1475. Specially prepared, good food beautifully matches our commitment to authenticity, quality and culture.”

The Huntington Library is an education and research institution founded in 1919 on the former estate of railroad and real estate mogul Henry E. Huntington, who also collected art and plants from his travels around the world. The site is also a popular tourist spot with stunning gardens about 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

The café 1919 is scheduled to open Nov. 2 featuring dishes from Feniger and Milliken’s Border Grill restaurants, like tacos with handmade corn tortillas, quesadillas, ceviche and seasonal agua frescas.

Also within the main café, Alger will create a small-plates sushi bar.

On Nov. 9, the Chinese Garden’s Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House will open with dishes by Alger and Feniger, drawing from the regions of China, Nepal and Mongolia.

“The Huntington has always been this little oasis within the city, a place where you can come and feel tranquil among the chaos,” Alger said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be at the center of the Chinese Garden and to offer the simple dishes and flavors that I grew up with, spanning the regions of China.”

On Nov. 12, the Patio Grill adjacent to the property’s Shakespeare Garden will open for weekend guests with seasonal menus developed by Feniger and Milliken.

Another menu for the Huntington’s Rose Garden Tea Room is also planned, but details were not yet available.

Earlier this month, Feniger and Milliken closed their iconic Santa Monica location of Border Grill. Feniger and Alger also closed Mud Hen Tavern and the original location of its side takeout concept Blue Window.

However, in addition to The Huntington, Feniger and Milliken are planning another Santa Monica restaurant that has not yet been revealed, and Border Grill locations remain in downtown Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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