Cooking Italian food comes naturally to Brent Jaegar, executive chef at The Palm restaurant in West Hollywood. From a young age, Chef Jaegar recalls being interested in food, growing up in the kitchen with his Italian mother, watching her make everything from scratch, including homemade pasta and his favorite chicken parmesan. A native of Riverside, Chef Jaegar started his first restaurant job at a young seventeen years old, starting as many chef do, washing dishes.
His big break came after moving to San Diego where, in search of a job, he happened to walk into Bully’s East Steakhouse shortly after the chef had fallen off a ladder and was looking for some extra help. In this way, he became the default prep person. From that relatively low rung, he worked his way up and says, “I made a point of learning every station within every kitchen I worked in.” Over the course of three and a half years, with hard work and dedication, Chef Jaeger eventually became Bully’s Executive Chef. For Chef Jaegar that was a busy and challenging time in his career, as he was working full time at Bully’s while simultaneously attending culinary school full-time at the Art Institute of California in San Diego. For twenty-one months, he worked all day at the restaurant and attended school at nights, eventually earning his A.S. in Culinary Arts.
After Bully’s, Chef Jaegar moved onto the Italian restaurant A Taste of Florence, where after just eight months, he was again promoted to Executive Chef. The young chef remained in that position for two and a half years, learning the ropes of his favorite cuisine. After some time as Executive Chef at A Taste of Florence, Chef Jaeger was able to obtain a position combining both major influences in his culinary experience, the steakhouse and Italian food, at The Palm in San Diego. True to his record, Chef Jaegar impressed his supervisors as Sous Chef at The Palm and was offered the position of Executive Chef at The Palm’s prestigious West Hollywood location within a short year and a half.
Though he’s been in the L.A. scene for a year and a half now, Chef Jaegar says that the transition from relaxed San Diego to West Hollywood still feels a little chaotic. Nonetheless, he appreciates the fact that The Palm West Hollywood is such a well-established restaurant. The restaurant has a core group of regular customers whom Chef Jaeger has come to know and value. Some of these “regulars” have been coming to The Palm for over thirty years. These, and all, customers are especially important to him, and he does his best to cater to any special requests they may have.
Though much of the menu for each of The Palm Restaurants comes from The Palm corporate office, Chef Jaegar does get to express his own culinary style via the restaurant’s nightly specials. For these, he incorporates local and seasonal ingredients, frequenting local farmers markets for farm-fresh produce. Though his specials are sometimes inspired by favorite family recipes, some tidbits still remain family secrets. When asked about his favorite dishes, Chef Jaeger admits that aside from his mother’s chicken parmesan, his Grandmother’s homemade raviolis are a lifelong favorite. Filled with ricotta, parmesan, and cinnamon, as well as some other secret ingredients, these are a delicious reminder of home. The raviolis are a specialty of the family, and his grandma is very particular about making them. Chef Jaeger claims “She doesn’t have a recipe written down; it’s all in her head. In order to get the recipe you have to actually go down and help my grandma and grandpa cook.” For those who can’t do that, we’ll have to wait until he puts them on the menu at The Palm.