Chef Diana Stavaridis began her culinary career at age six in Massachusetts, in her grandparent’s kitchen cleaning lobsters and harvesting tomatoes in the backyard, where her love of food was born. She spent her youth in restaurants and kitchens surrounded by food, honing her skills. After graduating with a BA in Business from the University of Massachusetts, Stavaridis moved to Los Angeles to pursue her formal Chef training at L.A. Trade Tech Culinary School. While in school, Stavaridis worked in the kitchen under prestigious Chefs including Joe Miller and Neal Fraser. Her relationship with Fraser was instrumental during her time at Grace Restaurant, as she was selected in 2006 to help open the acclaimed BLD Restaurant on Beverly Blvd, as Sous Chef. She became an integral part of BLD Restaurant and by 2008 was running the kitchen as Chef de Cusine.
After four years of successfully running the high-volume, seasonally driven kitchen of BLD, Stavaridis planned a culinary expedition in France, where she began mastering authentic regional French cuisine. During her time in Paris she staged under Michelin Star Chef Giles Epie at Citrus Etoile and renowned Chef Gregory Marchand of Frenchie’s. Her travels in the French countryside allowed her the opportunity to learn the art of cheese-making, as well as pressing her oils.
Stavaridis returned to the States, settling in the Bay Area, where she consulted local farms on sustainability cooking in the community, spending a great deal of time creating and cooking with Chef Jose Ugalde of Café Gibraltar.
She was then approached to consult Back on the Beach Café in Santa Monica. Hired by the owners to redesign the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus and implement house prepared, seasonal, local cuisine. Chef Diana successfully implemented effective systems and procedures in order to provide extensive vendor savings, reduced ticket times, and increased check averages. In addition she, was highly focused on reducing labor costs and providing the owners with documented training and prep procedures and a Back on the Beach House recipe book.
Her next calling was overseas to England at the River Cottage HQ where she staged with celebrity Chef and food sustainability pioneer Chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. On the farm she was able to participate with the team in many activities such as Nose to Tail demos, Mushroom foraging, soft and hard cheese preparations and the smoking of lots of game from the farm.
Diana was thoroughly inspired by the farm and its’ 100 acres of livestock, produce, fruit, and fish, she returned to Los Angeles, where she was tapped to create Manhattan Beach’s newest locavore concept, Manhattan House. Involved as a Partner from the start, she worked with the team to establish a business plan, design and develop the restaurant and managed the composition and construction of the kitchen renovation. At Manhattan house she and her team created an inventive Brunch and Dinner menu with a hyper-local focus that digs into her passion for farming & sustainability. From her community gardens at local elementary schools, and garden centers, to her use of humanely raised local animals, Stavaridis strived to support the South Bay community.
Stavaridis was also deeply involved with Growing Great, a non-profit that works to educate every child through healthy science-based gardening and nutrition. They collaborated to form the Junior Chef program where she ran focus groups for over 200 Elementary School students with the organization. The program allowed students to plant and harvest produce grown at their school, and ultimately design, develop, test and create a monthly dish for the Manhattan House dinner menu.
Stavaridis was awarded Rising Star Chef of Los Angeles by StarChefs, and has appeared on several television shows such as Food Networks “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, as a guest judge on “The Next Food Network Star,” and appeared on “A&E’s Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown.”
Currently Chef D is traveling, tasting, cooking and consulting.