Small Kingdoms: Inside Stephane Bombet's L.A. Restaurant Empire

Small Kingdoms: Inside Stephane Bombet's L.A. Restaurant Empire

By Allison Levine, Foodable Contributor

Restaurants in Los Angeles have been opening at an alarming rate. One of the people responsible for this is Stephane Bombet. Since 2010, Bombet has been behind some of L.A.’s most talked about restaurants, including Picca, Mo-Chica, Paiche, Faith & Flower, Terrine, Viviane, and Hanjip.

Bombet was born and raised in France. Though he grew up in the restaurant business — his family ran butcher shops and bakeries — Bombet studied journalism and worked in international politics and economics. In 1996, he opened a lounge/bar in Paris. He also started the VIP Room, a popular nightlife destination with locations around the world. But in 2011, Bombet sold his portion of the business and moved to Los Angeles after visiting a friend. He invested in a few companies but was in semi-retirement.

During his eight year break, Bombet noticed that L.A. was a city full of well-educated, well-traveled people with disposable income who enjoyed food and wine. There were only a handful of chefs of name in Los Angeles at the time, and Bombet felt it was a good time to open a restaurant. He was looking for a French chef, but was introduced to Chef Ricardo Zarate, who was behind Mo-Chica. Intrigued by his Peruvian cuisine, Bombet began working with Zarate to help bring his food into the city, and found the location that would become Picca.

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