Guest: Chef Mario Christerna of The Briks Restaurant
About: Chef Mario Christerna personifies passion and perseverance. Born in East Los Angeles, Christerna describes his many years of culinary training as “manifested from his dreams.” Encouraged by the daily presence of iconic TV chefs, Christerna grew up sneaking into cupboards in search of hidden spices to improve the family’s meals, launching a desire to one day open his own restaurant.
Christerna’s unique journey included serving as a tour manager for several of the world’s leading bands and DJ’s. He became a favorite of many of these celebrities for his ability to cook and create lavish meals during long, exhausting road tours. Christerna was among the first to bring various forms of DJ-driven dance environments to downtown Los Angeles and large r events throughout Southern California. As well, a talent and love of art was blossoming, with his travels allowing for extensive immersion into painting, art, culture and foods around the world. Following years of travel, Christerna was encouraged to focus his sights upon his childhood dream of cooking. He returned to the U.S. and entered culinary school. His graduation was dependent upon a successful externship. Not afraid to take on a challenge Christerna set his sights upon mentoring with a master that he had long admired. The restaurant that he sought did not accept interns or apprenticeships, but Christerna was not to be sidetracked from the vision before him. Christerna sold his possessions and departed for Spain with no contacts and no prospective employment. Through a series of introductions and sheer determination, Christerna eventually earned a meeting with acclaimed Chef Martin Berasategui at Barcelona’s 2 star Michelin Restaurant Lasarte, laying his dreams and passions before the skeptical chef. The meeting led into a test, which led to a stage, which led to a long and invaluable culinary mentorship and life lessons on the pursuit of perfection and the rewards of hard work and determination.
Christerna returned to his native Los Angeles in 2014 to build his own downtown restaurant. The 1111 Hope Street address brilliantly characterizes this very charismatic young chef and the realization of his lifelong dreams. His first restaurant - The Briks - offers an explosion of flavor and a nuanced balanced of the culinary influences gathered during those early years of world travel. The physical space was built over many months with his own hands; the vast offering of artwork on walls, tables, bar tops, and doors the gift of his own talents. Included among Yelp’s most popular dining destinations in Los Angeles, the passion of this young chef is perhaps most in evidence while generously giving back to his community. Christerna returns often to his old neighborhood to speak to impressionable youth about the power of dreams. In this incredible tale of success, Christerna proved to himself, as well as to those hundreds of school kids that tentatively walk the same streets that he walked years before that dreams really do come true.
Contact: 213.746.7766 1111 S. Hope St.LA90015