The success of Patina, which consistently ranks on numerous critics' "best of" lists, has enabled the couple to open seven Franco-California bistro-style restaurants, four museum cafes, and a world-class catering division. Most recent ventures have included the successful reception of Nick & Stef's Steakhouse (named after their twin boys) in downtown Los Angeles and Manhattan. The new millennium marked an evolution in Splichal's restaurant empire with a partnership in the Patina Group by Restaurant Associates of New York. In spring of 2000, the Splichal's completed a total remodel of the flagship Patina in both the dining/bar areas and kitchen including an exclusive table for two in the kitchen. Also in 2000, Splichal renewed his consultation partnership with upscale cruise line Windstar Cruises.
Splichal is widely recognized for having helped establish Los Angeles as one of the world's leading dining capitals. California's bountiful resources and a receptive business community have provided Splichal with the ideal environment in which to perfect his playful, yet perfectionist vision. His instincts have helped create a new standard of dining excellence in his adopted city. Remarked Splichal, "I believed that my restaurant concepts would find an appreciative audience here and I'm gratified by the success I've been able to cultivate in this lively dining culture."
Splichal and his restaurants have been lauded the world over by the most discriminating restaurant and food critics. The New York Times describes Splichal's style as "clearly rooted in classic French cuisine, yet he adds a California sensibility that both lightens it and provides visual whimsy. If Mr. Splichal's cooking has a trademark, it might be called the 'crackerjack factor' - there is a little surprise every time."
Each of Splichal's restaurants has earned acclaim for their commitment to quality and for adopting the personality and charm that are unique to the particular communities in which they are situated.
A tireless worker, Splichal has the uncanny ability to recognize and develop young talent. This special capacity to mentor others has also become one of his trademarks and has enabled Splichal to continually staff his new ventures with only the most qualified personnel. Throughout his organization, one finds consistency in quality and service, another reason for his great achievements. Executive Chef Raphael Citron of Jiraffe (the former Chef de Cuisine at Patina); was a protege as was Tracy Des Jardins of Jardiniere restaurant and Scott Newman of Rubicon's both in San Francisco.
Splichal's considerable success can be traced to his humble roots. Born and raised in Spaichingen, a small village in Germany, Splichal traveled to Holland at the age of 18 to work in the hotel industry, first working at the front desk and then found himself in the kitchen. It was to be a life-changing experience for him as he began to discover his hidden talents. He moved on and his training in Switzerland gave him the solid basic skills, thus allowing him to travel around the world to such locales as Canada, Morocco, Israel, Sweden and Norway. Splichal perfected his culinary training in France, where he worked as chef saucier at La Bonne Auberge, a Michelin three-star restaurant in Antibes, and at the legendary L'Oasis in La Napoule. At age 23, he joined forces with Jacques Maximin, who became his professional mentor, when he worked alongside the master chef for four years at the Chantecler restaurant in the Hotel Negresco in Nice. Splichal states, "my training in France completed my education - developing my creative vision and artistry. "During his tenure as sous chef, Splichal accumulated numerous culinary awards, including first prize for "youngest" and "most creative" chef from the Cercle Epicurien Society.
Splichal arrived in the United States in 1981 to assume executive chef duties at the newly established Regency Club in Los Angeles. Word soon spread about the prodigious chef. His popularity grew when he later opened the wildly popular Seventh Street Bistro in downtown LA, a restaurant he developed from the ground up. In 1984, he went on to open Max Au Triangle, where his memorable meals were the talk of L.A.'s food aficionados.
His passion for preparing fine cuisine has taken him beyond the restaurant business to include consulting for numerous hotels and restaurants in California and beyond including the Highland Inn in Carmel, the Ventana Inn in Big Sur and the Canyon Ranch resorts in Tucson, AZ and Lenox, MA. His catering expertise has earned him repeat appearances at the Emmy Awards Dinners.
In 1994 he lent his talents to luxury cruise operator Windstar Cruises signing on as consulting chef. He created the line's new menu offerings of over 180 recipes for their Signature Cuisine program. One hundred new dishes were added to the Signature Cuisine offerings in 2000. The Patina Group and Windstar maintain an ongoing relationship with regularly scheduled cuisine crew training at sea and on location at Splichal's restaurants; and quality evaluation and new recipe implementation trips. Splichal has hosted several theme cruises treating Windstar's guests to cooking classes and personally prepared meals, his next theme cruise is scheduled for 2002.
Splichal has earned numerous awards and distinctions in his two-decade career. In 1995, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. The prestigious organization also named him Best California Chef in 1991 and twice nominated him "chef of the year" in 1991 and 1994. In 1996, he was named "Treasure of Los Angeles" by Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and the Central City Association, one year later, was voted "restaurateur of the year" by the California Restaurant Writers Association, and was named "restaurateur of the year" by the Southern California Restaurant Writers in 1999.
In 1995, Splichal published his first book, the well received "Patina Cookbook: Spuds, Truffles and Wild Gnocchi" (Collins Publishers), with text by noted food historian and Los Angeles Times staff writer Charles Perry. He has appeared on numerous local and national talk shows where he enjoys sharing his culinary skills and passion for food. Additionally, Splichal is planning to collaboration with his executive chefs in putting together a book of favorite recipes from his Pinot restaurants.
Splichal's drive, vision and his dedication to the culinary arts has earned him the respect of the restaurant and food worlds. His long-standing popularity with the general public continues to grow as he embraces and continues to develop his adopted country's multi-ethic influences. Truly, Splichal is a man ready for the millennium.Return to the Windstar Cruises Spotlight
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