Karen Hatfield on the Los Angeles Restaurant Scene and the Move Toward Casual Dining
The co-Chef and Owner of Hatfield's and Sycamore Kitchen gives her take on what is new in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles dining scene has exploded in recent years, and few have seen it from both the fine dining and casual perspective quite like Karen Hatfield. Hatfield believes that fine dining restaurants like her own Hatfield's still play an important role in the city, but like other parts of the country there is also a distinct move toward casual dining. "I definitely think there’s been growth and enthusiasm for the dining scene here," she says. "I’m from Los Angeles, and I’ve lived in a few other places but I’ve spent most of my time here and it’s definitely changed so much even when I started out cooking 15, 20 years ago... I think that like most places in the country we’ve hit some rough times so it’s not surprising that the fine dining restaurants have dwindled a little bit. I think there will always be a demand for them, I just think it’s diminished a bit right now."
But like her more casual Sycamore Kitchen, Hatfield believes that it has been to the city’s advantage to see a growth in higher-quality casual restaurants. "There are a huge number of these kind of casual but chef-driven restaurants opening... That’s an area of the market that people were able to slip by like, 'Oh, our food isn’t very expensive so it doesn’t have to be exceptional.' And that’s where we are coming in."