You can tell the impact a chef has made when even after departing Northern California years ago to decamp to Los Angeles, Bay Area diners still rhapsodize about the unforgettable meals they enjoyed at his hands.
Such is the case with Jeremy Fox, former chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos, who went on to head the groundbreaking Ubuntu, the Napa restaurant that became the world’s only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant.
Because the moment I posted a photo of a dish I relished recently at his Birdie G’s restaurant in Santa Monica, the comments started flooding in from folks about how much they miss and respected his cooking in the Bay Area.
Despite the torrent of praise for Ubuntu, diners didn’t consistently flock to this unique combination yoga studio/fine-dining restaurant at at time when the term “plant-based” had hardly become fashionable yet. That never-ending stress took its toll on Fox, who suffered through ADHD and depression. Finally, it became too much, and he left.
He eventually made his way to Southern California, to become chef of Rustic Canyon in 2012, leading to acclaim again, plus a fresh start in life. In 2019, he added to that, opening Birdie G’s, also for the Rustic Canyon Family group of restaurants.
Named for his young daughter, Birdie, and for his grandmother Gladys, it couldn’t be a more of a personal project. As Fox describes, the casual, fun restaurant embodies exactly who he is: An Eastern-European Jew who grew up in the Midwest and the Deep South, and then settled in Southern California.”