Get To Know Darren Weiss
1) How long have you been doing business in Manhattan Beach?
I opened Darren’s Restaurant in 2007, so I have been here for almost 8 years now.
2) What made you choose Manhattan Beach?
I chose Manhattan Beach because there was an opportunity to create something special. It was the perfect place and environment to open up a fine-dining restaurant that still had a California beach culture feel to it. I think that the ever-evolving Manhattan Beach culinary scene is a testament to what a unique environment this is.
3) How could we make doing business here easier?
I think that the Chamber is pretty well integrated and does a fine job of engaging with both existing and new businesses. I would love to see more parking spaces!!
4) How did you engage the community when you first started?
We did smaller scale events and little things like offering happy hour to our guests when we first started. Things have really changed over the past few years. There are so many great restaurants and talented chefs in the area, so it is helpful to have the support of the MB Chamber when engaging with the members of the local community here.
5) What would you recommend for prospective business owners?
I would recommend joining the Manhattan Beach Chamber to new businesses. It has wonderful benefits for business owners such as planned events, marketing, and promotion. They really care about the local businesses in Manhattan Beach. I would also recommend offering anything and everything that MB doesn’t already have yet—art stores, grab n’ go meals, stores and business that educate, partnering with a local charity to raise funds and impact the community in a positive way. I also think it is very important to engage the younger generation and show them the importance of taking care of the environment and helping their local community.
6) What’s your take on the evolving chamber?
It’s exciting to see the changes and growth of the chamber! We are so grateful for what they continue do for Manhattan Beach to make it the amazing community that it is.
DARREN WEISS, EXECUTIVE CHEF AND OWNER OF DARREN’S IN MANHATTAN BEACH
With its fusion of new American, Mediterranean, and Pacific Rim flavors, Darren’s Restaurant is a personal statement for Chef/Owner Darren Weiss, an elegant expression of his own unique culinary journey. The acclaimed chef is passionate about food, and his newly reimagined menu, with its locally sourced ingredients and world flavors, speak to his decades of experience cooking in California and Hawaii, as well as his appreciation for culinary traditions from traveling around the globe. The restaurant is a must-visit destination for food lovers near and far.
Raised in Santa Monica, California, Weiss’ love for food began in his early childhood, when attempts at recreating his family’s home cooking earned rave reviews around the dinner table. These early experiences inspired him to enroll in the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York, where he acquired the technical foundation of his refined, flavorful cooking. After graduating in 1996, Weiss honed his skills at places like The Grand Wailea Resort and Spa and David Paul’s Lahaina Grill in Maui. Here the chef developed a love for fresh, local seafood and the dynamic flavors of the Pacific Rim, elements that are reflected in Darren’s menu today in dishes like his sweet and spicy Lobster chowder.
Weiss returned to California in 1998, serving as a pantry chef and line cook at Rockenwagner, the Santa Monica eatery by acclaimed chef Hans Rockenwagner. Here Weiss flourished, and the experience gave him the confidence to launch his first chef-owned venture two years later, the celebrated Café Catalina in Redondo Beach, California, which enjoyed a successful five year run.
Spurred by recognition at Café Catalina, and hungry to once again put his own creations center stage, Chef Weiss opened Darren’s Restaurant in 2007 to showcase his Pacific-tinged take on new American dishes, and the restaurant quickly became a standout in the vibrant Manhattan Beach food scene.
In early 2014, Weiss reinvigorated his original vision for Darren’s with a new look, feeling, and approach. He pared down the original menu to its most celebrated dishes, then added new seasonal selections, as well as small plates and gigantic, family-style dishes. The newly renovated interior provides a more open, contemporary ambiance, with a community table at the center and a floor-to-ceiling glass exterior that engages passersby. And the pièce de résistance – a pre-prohibition style cocktail program and in house sommelier provide the perfect libation for Darren’s inspired cuisine.
Despite the changes, Darren’s primarily remains a labor of love, a way for Weiss to share his passion for food with the community that inspires him daily. Born hearing impaired, Weiss’ accomplishments are a testament to the obstacles that can be overcome by a life lived passionately. The warm, hands-on chef can often be seen conversing with guests, serving cocktails, or taking in the sunset over the Manhattan pier, which, in his words, “never gets old.”
Weiss resides in Redondo Beach, California with his wife and son.