2021 Los Angeles Rising Star Game Changer Chef Ari Kolender of Found Oyster

2021 Los Angeles Rising Star Game Changer Chef Ari Kolender of Found Oyster

Found Oyster
4880 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029



Ari Kolender spent his childhood by the water: fishing, lounging, and surfing on the shore of Charleston, S.C. At 14, a family friend hired him as a host at the nearby Hyman’s Seafood. Kolender worked at the restaurant for a few years before he landed at Pasadena’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in 2004. He then nabbed an externship at Michael Cimarusti’s two-Michelin-starred seafood restaurant, Providence, where Kolender reconnected with cooking and butchering seafood.

In 2009, he became chef de cuisine of the cutting-edge Red Medicine and found a mentor in 2012 Rising Star Chef Jordan Kahn. Excited by the blossoming restaurant scene back in Charleston, Kolender returned to his hometown in 2012 to open Chef Mike Lata’s The Ordinary as sous chef, gravitating toward the expansive raw bar program. After opening Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop and Saint Alban, he felt ready to get back to the West Coast. 

Kolender jumped around Los Angeles with consulting and private chef gigs until opening all-day seafood spot and wine shop Hayden as executive chef. When Hayden closed in 2019, he partnered with Last Word Hospitality to fill a much-needed hole in the L.A. restaurant market: a sunny seafood shack and raw bar, Found Oyster. In addition to preparing sharp, bright dishes that highlight sustainable seafood purveyors, Kolender designs the Mexican menu at the new Red Dog Saloon in Pioneertown, Calif.