Worn Out Wednesday – Chef Liran Mezan
Today we speak to STK Corporate Executive Chef and food maestro Chef Liran.
I was born in Israel and grew up in New York City. When I was 21, I moved to Napa Valley on a whim with absolutely no experience in the restaurant industry. It was intimidating for sure, but I felt like I needed to escape from the structure of college and the constant hustle of NYC. That’s not to say that life was easier in California. I was working 100+ hours some weeks, but the time and energy I put into my work was how I fell in love with the culinary arts. I worked alongside the future chefs, winemakers, farmers, mixologists, educators, and influencers that would eventually shape the industry. We were all young, ambitious, and like-minded. I feel nostalgic when I look back on those two years because they were the most formative years in my young adulthood and I consider them some of the best years of my life.
Traveling and opening restaurants as the head chef for a global company affords you a lot of opportunities. You can reach places, people and cuisines that you wouldn’t normally be able to. I travel quite a bit due to my position, but I also enjoy taking the time to travel for leisure. Over the years, cooking in restaurants has given me quite the adventurous palate. I love nothing more than trying the most obscure, spicy, esoteric, indigenous foods you can think of. In my opinion, you don’t understand a culture until you’ve experienced their food.
I love living in New York City because it’s the epicenter of culture. You have immediate access to the most diverse facets of culture ranging from food and music to all different types of entertainment. I played in a band early on in college so I was really into the rock and roll scene. I used to go to CBGB, and other places that have closed since then. Many of the greatest, most iconic restaurants and bars have also closed recently which is sad, but I still keep a few hidden, random spots as my go-to destinations for food and drinks. I’d rather support these places than have them go to the biz du jour.
Here Chef Liran speaks on his personal style:
I’m a Chef so it’s very easy to hide behind the white coat and not care about how I present myself. Now that I am a Corporate Executive Chef, half my time is spent in a kitchen but the other half is in meetings where presentation and impression management is key. I have developed a comfortable style that allows me to look professional in the office, but if I need to throw on a Chef’s coat, it’s an easy transition.
My office style is casual, but still put-together. I typically wear crisp dark jeans, soft cotton t- shirts (usually in neutral colors like gray, navy, olive or black) and a textured blazer. I’ll also throw a button down shirt over the tee with a blazer over it for a more polished look. For shoes, I go with suede or vintage sneakers, which sometimes make it into the kitchen and they definitely look a lot sharper around the office than kitchen clogs!
Jeans: I fell in love with Agave Denim when I lived in LA. I have a few pairs but my favorite is the Gringo. They also do these vintage salvaged types. They’re hard to find in NYC, but totally worth the search.
Shirts: I like t-shirts of all types and I’m typically seen with a v-neck. I’m not into any logos or prints, just plain t’s. When I do button downs I’ve warmed up to Steven Alan recently, but I still have some old favorites from J Crew.
Pants: Trousers and slacks usually aren’t a staple in my wardrobe mainly because they can get ruined after just an average day in the kitchen.
Suits: I hardly wear suits. It doesn’t fit my aesthetic or personality – I like the casual comfort of a blazer, t-shirt and jeans.
Shoes: John Varvatos suede chukkas for casual days and JV black boots for more formal meetings. For sportswear, I like vintage leather Nike sneakers and, almost always, I choose Sorrel boots in the winter.
Outerwear: Lots of blazers and light jackets from a few different spots – Zara, AllSaints, Rag & Bone. I also have a few vintage sweaters – favorite one I just bought last season is a dark, gray shawl sweater from Dolce & Gabbana.
Favorite cologne: I never wear cologne. When working in the kitchen, how I smell is the least of my concerns.
Favorite piece of technology: I’m really into audio and I discovered Sonos through one of our restaurants. I bought their sound bar for my living room and a couple of others for each room. All are connected to my WiFi and controlled through my iPhone. I stream Pandora and Spotify through it too.
Next tech purchase: iPhone 6 but not until they work out all the bugs and issues. Sony’s new A7 mirror-less camera is pretty incredible.