2017 Los Angeles Rising Star Chef Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by José Andrés

2017 Los Angeles Rising Star Chef Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by José Andrés
May 2017

Holly Jivin grew up in languid, humid Savannah, Georgia—and couldn’t wait to get out of town. At 19, she headed to Atlanta to attend culinary school at Art Institute and soon started her career at Cherokee Town and Country Club for an early mentor, Chef Kevin Walker. Jivin met her husband, Adam Cole, in culinary school, and the couple moved to West Virginia to work with Michael Voltaggio at The Greenbrier.  

In 2008, when the Greenbrier made a series of cutbacks, the couple followed Voltaggio to Los Angeles and The Bazaar by José Andrés. Jivin thought L.A. would be a pit stop, but, under the wings of Jose Andrés, Aitor Zabala, and Michael Voltaggio, she moved up the ThinkFoodGroup ranks and fell in love with the city. She earned the head chef position at Saam, a tasting room inside The Bazaar. 

In 2014, Jivin took over The Bazaar’s kitchen as chef de cuisine, running a brigade of 36 and pumping out whimsical, technically precise food for 400 covers each night. Jivin’s driving force is curiosity—whether she’s developing new dishes or finding ways to solve the labor shortage. Over the past few years of her CDC tenure, Jivin has developed a program to train and nurture inexperienced cooks and bring them up through.

Interview with L.A. Rising Star Chef Holly Jivin of The Bazaar by José Andrés

Caroline Hatchett: How did you get your start?
Holly Jivin:
I moved to Atlanta when I was 19 and started going to The Art Institute. Then I met my husband, who trained me on my first station. We moved on to The Greenbrier [in West Virginia], where we worked with Michael Voltaggio. At that point they were doing cutbacks, and Voltaggio wound up leaving and moving to Los Angeles for The Bazaar. We though that California would be a stepping stone, and we ended up loving it. I feel like I’m one of the more fortunate ones. At this property, I have a R&D chef, permanently. 

CH: How many covers do you do at Bazaar?
Four-hindred covers a night; people do 2 to 3 dishes. We have individual dishes and shared tapas. 

CH: Who's your mentor? 
Hussein Zoubi and Aitor Zabala, are my current influencers. My foundational chefs were Kevin Walker, Michael Voltaggio, and Kaui Stryhn.

CH: How are you involved in the local culinary community?
L.A. City Kitchen has been our biggest thing, giving back to culinary school students who are having a hard time finding a job. My husband says I’m also trying to rescue all the animals in L.A. county. 

CH: What's the biggest challenge facing your restaurant?
Consistency is the biggest challenge, but we do a good job of it. After being open eight years, consistency is one of my strong points and focuses. The guest who came here eight years ago and had the Caprese can have that same experiences. We have 36 cooks including prep staff, not counting Kriss [Harvey’s pastry] staff, 10 stations, plus Saam. We all try and help each other out. It comes down to a solid brigade team: myself, three sous chefs, two junior sous chefs, and six lead cooks. At the end of the day, what’s going into the dining room is consistent and honoring what José wants. We trust the cooks to put out the best dish possible.  

CH: Where do you find inspiration?
All over the place… from the people who come here while on vacation, going to the farmers market. I get so excited when tomatoes come in season. I’m also inspired by new concepts like Local Roots. They started farming in box cars with LED lights. It’s the coolest thing! They can customize vegetables for you. Based on light, they can make arugula more or less spicy. They can customize peppers for you, too. They’re in DTLA, also have moved into D.C. There’s only so much farmland.  

CH: What's your five-year plan? 
I would like to work with my husband again. He was working for a BBQ restaurant and was unhappy so he left. I thought we’d do something together. I love working for Jose. I’ve worked for him for 9 years. Going into research and development would be a really fun thing to do, taking away the extra admin stuff I have to do, and have my hands in food all day long.  

One of my goals that I have started on, and am working on for the long term is… Many chefs complain about how there are no more good cooks. When they graduate from college they think they’re ready to be a chef. We have to start training our young culinarians. We started a few internships here, and we give them books, and teach them knife cuts. We’re giving back because they don’t have enough experience. We’re teaching them the basics. They’re cooks with culinary degrees, but they can’t tell me a mother sauce. If we don’t teach young cooks, we’re not going to fix the problem. I started with a host at the restaurant and a polisher, whom the cooks told that if they were serious, Chef Holly would take them on. One guy applied at Melisse and all the other top restaurants, all of them. All of them told him no, and he had no experience. Now he’s about to go to D.C. to stage at all of Jose’s restaurants. We teach and mentor them.