Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
- 9500 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California, 90212, U.S.A.
Chef de Cuisine, CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2011
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Sous Chef, CUT by Wolfgang Puck, Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
- Wolfgang Puck the Source, Washington, DC; The Boat House, Martha’s Vineyard; Le Pommier, Pittsburgh; The Greenbrier, White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia
- Charleston, West Virginia, USA
- Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Administration and Management, Art Institute of Pittsburgh; studied Business and Managerial Economics, Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina
The talent and passion Hilary Henderson brings to her role as Chef de Cuisine of CUT by Wolfgang Puck at Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel started at a young age. “I was always curious about fine dining,” says Henderson. “Where I grew up there wasn’t anything gourmet which of course piqued my interest even more.” For some light reading while growing up in Canvas, West Virginia, she would thumb through her mom’s cookbooks. Her curiosity took over and she started experimenting in the kitchen, as well as frequenting the grocery store with her mother to cook dinner for her family. Willing to try anything at least once, she’d grill lamb T-bones, create a light and refreshing grape salad, and even made her own whipped cream with black pepper and strawberries for dessert. And it probably helped that her family had a garden in the back yard, admitting she has always been fascinated by the whole growing process: from planting the seed, to nurturing and watching the vegetables grow. So it came as no surprised to her family when she enrolled in the culinary program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Not long after completing the program with a bachelor’s degree, she started working at the then Le Pommier in Pittsburgh, a fine dining restaurant where there were only four staff members: the chef, sous, cook and Henderson as a line cook. “We executed everything, right down to the dishwasher.” This is where she built the respect for all positions in a restaurant, claiming no job is too small when you’re part of a team, something she’d continue to bring with her throughout her impressive career.
She then left to intern at the famed Greenbrier, prior to accepting a line cook position at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. On her way back home to West Virginia, she stopped in DC to visit her sister who suggested she send out some resumes. She immediately received a call from Wolfgang Puck’s The Source. In the interview, the chef at the time told her she was too green, but would give her a shot. And that’s all Henderson needed. With her foot in the door, she quickly sought to prove herself in the competitive environment. After working at The Source for a year, she was promoted to sous before a position as sous chef at CUT opened in 2011. “I bought a one way flight to LA, landed and took a taxi over to Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. And I’ve been here ever since!” Among early restaurant developments following Henderson’s promotion to Chef de Cuisine in summer 2016 was the opening of Petit CUT, an intimate private dining room sized for 20 guests for special occasions, power dinners, executive meetings and more, as well as achieving a coveted Michelin star in 2019 upon the Guide’s return to California in the inaugural statewide guide.
Now as the face of the restaurant’s open kitchen for guests and the media, she creates the tantalising steaks the restaurant is well known for, as well as beautiful seafood presentations and standout specials from seasonal California produce and other ingredients. Henderson’s favourite duty is making weekly trips to farmers markets in Santa Monica to handpick “the best of the best ingredients” to transform into off-menu specials. “The produce here is just unbelievable,” she says, claiming each season brings new exciting flavours. “It’s funny. Everyone says SoCal doesn’t have seasons, but I know the seasons here because of the produce.”
Henderson has long since warmed up to her interactive role with CUT’s high-profile clientele. “I’ve always been kind of shy, so creating food for others to enjoy became my way of engaging and interacting with guests in my most vulnerable way possible.” Getting the hang of it was an important part of advancing in her profession, saying “A lot of chefs start, thinking they won’t have to talk to people, but then you grow as a chef and find how much capacity you have. The job takes on a whole new role as you take every component you’ve learned and put it into leading a team.” Further emphasising that it takes a team to execute what they do on a daily basis, she says, “What we do is simple. But in executing simplicity, it has to be perfect. Which is something I take pride in.”
Another important part of Henderson’s role is educating the next generation of culinary talent. “When I started with Wolfgang Puck, I noticed there weren’t many young adults in management roles so I set my sights on running a top restaurant.” Which she achieved in record timing. She is quick to acknowledge what a rewarding experience it is to see the landscape of the culinary industry shift as more young leaders rise through the ranks. “It’s empowering and inspiring. The biggest piece of advice I give young cooks is that teamwork truly is the key to executing simplicity. I of course want them to learn the intricacies of day-to-day operations, as well as expressing their creativity through a dish, but the ingredients on the plate is only one part of your job. No matter your upbringing, culture or background, when you join a team – you join a dynamic force whose main goal is to execute a dish at the highest quality.”
When not in the kitchen, Henderson enjoys getting the most out of her adopted California lifestyle. She loves visiting the beach, as well as dining around town to see what’s new, usually posting up at the bar so she can make a personal connection with the bartender. She lives with her boyfriend Craig, cat Dodge, and dog Carver.