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Tuesday, September 06, 2011 

Former Spiritland Bistro Chef working at a Top Chef's Chicago Restaurant

Norbert Moniz, former chef at Spiritland Bistro here in Santa Barbara, is now working at Top Chef Stephanie Izard's restaurant in Chicago.
How did a vegetarian from Canyon Country end up as the butcher for one of the nation’s hottest restaurants?

If you’re Norbert Moniz, who graduated from Canyon High School in 2007, you follow your heart and your taste buds wherever they may take you.

For Moniz, that’s meant the beaches of Santa Barbara, the mountains of Mammoth, and finally, the city streets of Chicago, where he now works at the highly acclaimed Girl & The Goat, owned and operated by Stephanie Izard. Izard is the fourth-season winner of Bravo television’s Emmy Award-winning reality competition program “Top Chef​.”

“I love the intensity you get in the kitchen, with everyone breathing down your neck, trying to be as fast as you can. Everyone is so different, you just get the most insane people working by your side,” Moniz said with a laugh. “It’s just a blast.”

His start in the culinary world was humble. Moniz’s first job was as a dishwasher and busboy at Farrell’s in Saugus, where he eventually became a short order cook.

Still, Moniz was inspired enough to enroll at San Francisco’s Le Cordon Bleu, where he graduated in 2008.

After a brief stint in Ventura, Moniz moved to Mammoth, where he worked at the Whitebark restaurant.

....In 2009, Moniz headed to sunnier climes, landing at Spiritland Bistro, a vegetarian restaurant in Santa Barbara, where he spent six months as the sous chef, and six months as the head chef.

“That was pretty cool, at age 20. The owner let me have my own kitchen and bring in my own staff. It was fun trying to figure out how to make things work. There was a lot of trial and error,” Moniz said.

Spiritland Bistro had a basic menu, to which Moniz added weekly specials, new lunch dishes and a monthly chef’s dinner.

“We also started a once a month raw menu, which they’re still doing. It’s four courses, all raw food,” he said. - The Santa Clarita Valley Signal

And speaking of Spiritland Bistro, don't forget their next BYOB event on September 28 - "New World Grenache" with Drake Whitcraft

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