Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills
- 300 South Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, California, 90048, USA
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2010
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Chef de Partie, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
- Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village; San Ysidro Ranch, Santa Barbara, California; Spiritland Bistro, Santa Barbara; Sage & Onion Cafe, Goleta, California; Ye Olde Butcher Shop, Santa Barbara
- Bachelor’s Degree and Certificate, Culinary Arts and Hotel Management, Santa Barbara City College
- Thousand Oaks, California, USA
Change was on the menu at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in late 2021, and no one was in a better position to see it through than Mitch Austin. “We were basically reinventing our Food and Beverage program,” he remembers of the new and revised culinary concepts introduced under his leadership as newly promoted Executive Chef. “We recreated, rethought, re-staffed, restructured, and re-launched everything. It was a very exciting experience to be a part of.”
Hands-on, enthusiastic, and already a five-year veteran of the Hotel’s Food and Beverage operation, Chef Mitch had plenty on his plate at the time of his promotion and dug right in. As the calendar flipped to a new year, one of his first projects was a small bites menu to pair with floral-inspired cocktails by Ketel One Botanicals to be savoured in a new pop-up cocktail lounge arrayed with floral installations by an LA-based floral artisan. His goal, he recalls, was to “utilize local and seasonal ingredients for a fun and playful approach to California cuisine.”
Meanwhile, Chef Mitch’s broader role beyond menu development is to lead, inspire, and support each the Hotel’s dining and drinking outlets. He manages a team of five Sous Chefs that supports him in the day-to-day operation of multiple outlets within the Hotel, with a goal of ensuring that guests are provided a five-star culinary experience whichever they choose.
Chef Mitch also oversees the property’s Banquet operation, employee cafe, and wellness programs, with a team of dozens of cooks to make everything click. The key to his success is his “people-centric” management style: “You can’t do this job if people don’t believe in you, and the way to make that happen is for me to believe in them.” To that end, he walks the line in the kitchen every day just to check in and find out how people are doing. “Everyone has a story, but the only way to discover them is to listen,” he continues, adding cleverly, “It takes a village.”
It also takes the finest ingredients for people to perform at their best. Chef Mitch’s role in sourcing the best protein and local produce is about building relationships with vendors and purveyors. He can be found frequenting the many farmers markets around Los Angeles. “Meeting with local farmers and growers offers great insight on what is going on in the industry. It’s the most natural way to stay informed on the market and seasons.”
Born, raised, and schooled in the Los Angeles area, Chef Mitch got interested in cooking as a youngster helping out at mealtime at home. His mother and uncle both had a passion for cooking and drew upon their German heritage to grill meats to perfection for family gatherings. “The kitchen was the hot place to be for parties,” he remembers. “That’s where all the action was and where I wanted to be.”
Soon enough, Chef Mitch began coming up with his own recipes that elicited “ooos and ahhs” from his family. While in culinary school he got connected to some amazing chefs who helped get his career off the ground, including a culinary instructor who welcomed him to work in his butcher shop. After completing schooling in culinary arts and hotel management, he joined award-winning restaurants and then a luxury resort in Santa Barbara, where he delved into traditional California coastal cuisine.
At the encouragement of a friend, Chef Mitch headed south to join Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village and began working his way up the kitchen ladder. He participated in culinary projects at the California Health and Longevity Institute, taught wellness cooking classes, and introduced guests to healthy ingredients and recipes. “My Four Seasons career has connected me to so many chefs, and I have been able to grow and learn from so much talent,” he says, pinpointing studying Japanese cuisine and rolling sushi with Chef Masa Shimakawa as a highlight. “The skills and techniques I have acquired are very humbling. I am so thankful for my experiences with the company.”
In 2017, he headed for Four Seasons, Los Angeles and arrived with all of his experience, including a deep knowledge of wellness-focused cuisine. Indeed, among the first things Chef Mitch did upon joining the Hotel as a Sous Chef was to spearhead wellness programming including a pop-up vegan restaurant with celebrity chef Matthew Kenney.
Looking back on his career and the goals he has achieved, Chef Mitch says “every step has been exciting,” and that he is grateful to be working with “an amazing team that does its best every day.”
His enjoyment comes from the unique place that the culinary arts hold in the kitchen and in culture at large: “As an art form, it’s about creating memories at the table. It’s like putting a memory stamp on people’s palates one dish at a time. The plate is your canvas, and your work encompasses the time, place, and taste.”