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Shirley Brasserie's Got All the Right Moves (and Plates!)

Updated: Jun 12

Named after one of the silver screen’s greatest stars, Shirley Temple, who famously mastered her stairstep dance routine with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on the hotel’s iconic Spanish-tiled staircase, Shirley Brasserie has had some big shoes to fill in the LA restaurant scene – and it certainly steps up.

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel Lobby. Photo Courtesy of Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Chef Mads Resflund X Chef Craig Hobson Wow at Shirley Brasserie: A Tale of Two Cities

Nestled in the heart of Hollywood inside the historic Roosevelt Hotel, Shirley Brasserie lives up to its illustrious namesake with a gorgeously orchestrated array of dishes and culinary footwork. At the helm is Chef de Cuisine Craig Hopson, who brings two decades of culinary experience from Michelin-starred restaurants such as Guy Savoy and Lucas Carton in Paris, as well as Le Cirque in New York. On an 'average' day, (which the restaurant is anything but), the beautifully designed space offers a comprehensive menu of classic hors d'oeuvres, raw bar selections, cheese and charcuterie boards, and butcher cuts hot off the wood-fire grill, all complemented by a world-class wine selection.

Photo Courtesy Shirley.

Last month, however, Shirley Brasserie launched its new dining series entitled "Tale of Two Cities," showcasing impressive culinary creativity and an array of top-notch chefs and dishes. The new dinner series brings together culinary maestros from around the globe to collaborate with Chef Hopson, and has now delivered two of the three best meals in recent memory—the third being a three-day pop-up where Chef Hopson recreated classic Le Cirque menu items at another favorite LAE eatery, Ella Beverly Hills.

Each meal in the series features five meticulously crafted courses: three from the visiting chef, two by Chef Hopson, culminating in a collaborative dessert. You may remember about a month ago when we dined with Chef Yuu Shimano of YUU in NYC—an experience we thoroughly enjoyed.

Last Thursday, we had the pleasure of dining at Shirley Brasserie at the Roosevelt for the second installment of the series. This time, we enjoyed dishes by Chef Mads Refslund—of both ILIS in Brooklyn and the world-renowned Noma fame. Just like our first visit, it was a meal to remember.

Still shot from the 1935 film "The Little Colonel" Via Daily Telegraph.

Chef Craig Hopson: A Modern Kitchen Maestro

Chef Craig Hobson. Photo Courtesy of Shirley

Chef Craig Hopson brings a wealth of experience and a rich culinary background to Shirley Brasserie. A native of Geraldton, Australia, Hopson's culinary journey began with an apprenticeship in his home country. His passion for cooking led him to Europe, where he trained at prestigious institutions, including the three-starred Restaurant Guy Savoy and Lucas Carton in Paris. Under the mentorship of the legendary Alain Senderens, Hopson mastered the intricate techniques of nouvelle cuisine, quickly establishing himself as one of our favorite chefs due to his attention to detail and culinary artistry.

Upon moving to New York City, Hopson ascended the ranks within Manhattan’s culinary scene, leading some of the city’s most prestigious kitchens, including Picholine and the critically acclaimed Le Cirque by Sirio Maccioni. His tenure at Le Cirque saw him open outposts in India, the Dominican Republic, and on Holland America cruise lines. Most recently, before joining Shirley Brasserie, Hopson served as the executive chef at The Strand House in Manhattan Beach.

With his extensive experience and a refined culinary vision, Chef Craig Hopson continues to elevate Shirley Brasserie, making it a standout destination in the LA restaurant scene.

Chef Mads Refslund: A Visionary in Nordic Cuisine

Chef Mads Refslund. Photo Courtesy of Shirley

Born in Denmark, Chef Mads Refslund has redefined modern dining with his innovative approach to New Nordic Cuisine. As a luminary in the culinary world and co-founder of Copenhagen’s legendary Noma, often called the "Best Restaurant in the World," he has consistently ranked among the best restaurateurs globally - and with good reason.

Way back in 2003 (Ugh I miss my blackberry™! ), culinary entrepreneur Claus Meyer was preparing to open what was initially intended to be a "Nordic Bistro," and he had commissioned Mads' best friend from culinary school and then roommate , René Redzepi, to be the Head Chef. René wanted Mads to join him in heading up the kitchen, and together they launched Noma. Noma’s groundbreaking focus on foraging and using local, sustainable ingredients quickly set a new standard in the culinary world, and served to make Refslund's name immediately recognizable to any food snob worth their salt.

After amicably parting ways with Noma some time later, Refslund had become a verified culinary superstar, and quickly opened up his own restaurant - the 4.000 sq ft MR Restaurant in Copenhagen to countless rave reviews. It was an instant smash hit, earning them their first Michelin star within the first year, and quickly becoming one of only two Michelin-starred seafood restaurants in all of Scandinavia. Unfortunately, after one of the most talked about openings and an excellent run came the economic crash felt around around the world - and MR was forced to close its doors in 2010.

Seeking new challenges, Refslund then moved to New York, where he served as the consulting executive chef at Acme, a restaurant that quickly became a hotspot for its unique approach to Nordic-inspired cuisine. His work at Acme helped cement his reputation as a chef capable of blending high-end dining with more casual, accessible concepts and allowed chef to firmly plant his flag on U.S. Soil.

In 2023, Refslund opened Ilis in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. Ilis represents a culmination of his culinary philosophy, combining the best of his Scandinavian roots with global influences from Japan, Mexico, and beyond. The restaurant’s name, derived from the Danish words for "fire" and "ice," reflects its innovative menu that offers diners both hot and cold preparations of dishes. The space itself is designed to enhance the dining experience, with an open kitchen at its center and a flexible menu that allows guests to choose from five to twelve à la carte dishes.

Refslund’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and local sourcing is evident in every aspect of his work. His menu frequently features foraged and hunted ingredients like bison, eel, and wild duck, alongside locally sourced produce. His approach ensures that the ingredients tell a story, connecting diners to both the land and the seasons -transforming his plates from a simple, delicious, and vibrant dish into a multi-sensory journey. This dedication to sustainable practices and creative culinary techniques has made Ilis one of the most talked-about new restaurants in New York - and cemented the chefs place as a boundary breaking culinary innovator.

Despite the pressure of a one-night-only event, Chef Mads somehow even managed to find time to graciously introduce himself to our table of friends during our recent visit. While I may-or-may-not have been a bit starstruck, absolutely shoveling the delicious meal in front of me into my face at the time, and a little buzzed from our second bottle of magnificent wine from Shirleys expertly curated wine list; I sincerely hope my stunned (and satiated) silence - a rare ocurence - accurately translated as deep appreciation, and a high honor to who I feel are two of the most innovative chefs - and gourmet artists - of our time.

Not just a dish - a dialogue: A Fusion of Cultures and Flavors:

Shirley Brasserie Interior. Photo Courtesy of Shirley

Shirley's "Tale of Two Cities" dinner series is a testament to the harmonious blend of local and seasonal ingredients from California with traditional flavors and techniques from the visiting chefs' homelands. The French influence, a hallmark of both Shirley Brasserie and Chef Craig Hopson's signature styles, weaves through each dish, creating a tapestry of flavors that transport diners from the bustling streets of Hollywood to culinary capitals like New York City, Copenhagen, Brazil, and France.

Each menu is a collaborative culinary narrative that tells the story of both chefs' journeys, cultures, heritage, and personal identities. The April 24th and 25th dinners featured Chef Yuu Shimano from Restaurant YUU in New York, known for his delicate and precise Japanese-French fusion cuisine. His dishes reflected a meticulous balance of tradition and innovation, seamlessly merging the refined elegance of French techniques with the nuanced flavors of Japanese cuisine.

The May 30th dinner saw Chef Mads Refslund's New Nordic creations taking center stage, showcasing the best of Denmark's culinary traditions. Refslund, co-founder of the world-renowned Noma, brought his philosophy of sustainability and foraging to the forefront, offering dishes that celebrated the purity of local ingredients. His inventive use of seasonal produce and foraged elements created a dining experience that was both grounded in nature and elevated by sophisticated culinary artistry.

At the heart of the "Tale of Two Cities" dinner series is the idea that sharing a meal transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. It is through these shared dining experiences that we connect with one another, understand diverse traditions, and celebrate the rich tapestry of human culture. Each dish crafted during this series is a dialogue between chefs, ingredients, and diners, creating a communal experience that resonates with the timeless tradition of gathering around a table.

Suffice it to say, while we've had the pleasure and privilege of enjoying fine dining experiences around the world—be it by happy accident or dumb luck—we don't fancy ourselves as experts in much of anything. However, we do know a thing or two about the courage it takes when people offer up a real, authentic part of themselves for public consumption and commentary. It is a worthy pursuit, and one that is all too often met with uncertainty. In this case, I can say with certainty that this experience—and all of the incredible dishes that come with it—feels more like a love letter to the diner from the creative minds who prepared them. (And you know how we love a love letter.)

With such a delicious concept and promising start, the "Tale of Two Cities" dinner series leaves diners eagerly anticipating the next culinary adventure.

I wonder what they'll do next!

What's next on the Menu? : A Visual Feast & Edible Artistry!

As the "Tale of Two Cities" dinner series continues, each event promises to be a culinary journey that celebrates the diversity of flavors and cultures from around the world. With upcoming dinners featuring chefs like Thomas Troisgros and Sylvestre Wahid, LA food enthusiasts have much to look forward to.

Reserve your seat now and join us at Shirley Brasserie for an evening of unparalleled culinary excellence, where history, culture, and gastronomy converge in the heart of Hollywood. The next round of “Tale of Two Cities” is just around the corner, and it promises to be an unforgettable experience.

If your mouth is watering - here's the upcoming schedule for the rest of the series!

  • October (date + time TBD): Chef Thomas Troisgros (Toto, Brazil)

  • November (date + time TBD): Chef Sylvestre Wahid (Restaurant Sylvestre, France)


While this pictures can only partially capture the beauty of the dishes, they hardly do justice to the culinary artistry on display. Each course was a visual and sensory delight, a testament to both of the chefs' skill, creativity, and acute level of attention to the finest of details on each plate.




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