“Cooking is an art, but you eat it too,” Italian cookbook writer Marcella Hazan once said.
That’s what makes it, perhaps, the finest art of all.
Nestled in the curves of Admiralty Way, it can be easy to miss Cast & Plow at The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey. But there, around the grand winding driveway and straight back through the front doors of the luxury hotel, executive chef Umit Kaygusuz cooks and plates dishes so artistic they could be on display at a museum or hanging in a gallery. His culinary masterpieces are colorful and emphasize seasonal flavors: spice-rubbed duck with plum salad, for example, or an avocado toast with grilled corn, cotija cheese and pea tendrils.
The son of architects, Kaygusuz was bred with a flair for presentation and even studied architecture for two years before shifting into the culinary arts.
“I grew up in a family always looking at things from a different perspective — not seeing a building as a building, or a yacht as a yacht, or a lawn as a lawn,” he says. “Whatever you do — the way you dress, the way you put pots and pans together in your home, how you arrange your office — affects the way you look at things.
Kaygusuz draws from international influences in equal measure. His father is Turkish, his mother is Dutch South African, and he’s worked in kitchens around the world: Dubai, Singapore, London, New York City and Cape Town, to name a few.
From street food in Asia to spices from Africa to whatever’s fresh at Santa Monica’s Wednesday farmers market, Kaygusuz mixes it all up to create dishes that make jaws drop and mouths drool. …
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