Darren Weiss is the chef and owner of Darren’s in Manhattan Beach, CA, located just steps from the city’s iconic pier.
Weiss has always had a passion for cooking and has never let what some might consider a huge obstacle – Weiss has been deaf since birth – deter his career as a chef. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1996, Weiss began his career at David Paul’s Lahaina Grill, which has been voted the best restaurant on Maui for 21 straight years. Weiss then moved on to Mark Ellman’s Avalon before joining the kitchen staff at the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa. Weiss’ time in Hawaii and the exposure to the island flavors has had a long-lasting influence on his cooking style.
In 1998, Darren left Hawaii for Santa Monica and a position at Rockenwagner under the guiding influence of Chef Hans Rockenwagner. Just two years later, Weiss left Rockenwagner to open his own restaurant, Café Catalina.
Word quickly spread about Weiss’ unique creations at Café Catalina and in no time he had built a loyal following and critical acclaim from Los Angeles-area food writers.
Following Café Catalina’s five-year run, Weiss served as the Executive Sous Chef at the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas, overseeing 7 outlets within the resort, followed by a stint at the Ritz Carlton Dallas before opening Darren’s in 2007.
The opening of his namesake restaurant allowed Weiss to showcase his American fare with Mediterranean and Asian influences. In 2014, Darren’s underwent substantial renovations to both the restaurant and the menu. The reimagined Darren’s still features the warm atmosphere guests have grown to love, but with a reinvigorated spirit.
Weiss resides in Redondo Beach with his wife and young son. When not working, Weiss enjoys fishing, skiing, hiking, traveling and spending time with his family.
With more than twenty years in the industry, Darren’s General Manager Bart Thompson knows a thing or two about running a restaurant. His guiding principle of “only exceptional food, only exceptional service, only friendly, knowledgeable people,” has helped elevate Darren’s from a beach-side hidden gem to a must-visit destination for Los Angeles foodies and visitors from afar.
Thompson has been a mainstay at Darren’s since 2007, when chef-owner Darren Weiss brought him on board to help assemble a best-in-class wait staff and assist with the restaurant’s grand opening. Since then, Thompson and Weiss have developed a relationship that allows each to play to his strengths: Thompson runs the front of house, while Weiss focuses on what he knows and loves best – the cuisine. Thompson, alongside resident mixologist Jonathan Dahl, was also instrumental in building the popular pre-prohibition style cocktail program that has become part of the restaurant’s identity, and a draw for many patrons.
Thompson prides himself in creating a refined, friendly atmosphere by seeking out warm, personable servers with considerable expertise who genuinely love what they do. His goal is to create a memorable experience for every guest, every time they dine at Darren’s, without exception.