Chef Nina Clemente's Amalfi Coast, Art-Inspired Menu at The Standard Plaza
Her First Act: Hollywood “By total chance, I ended up living in Venice, California just a block away from Lauren Hutton, who is like a godmother to me. I started cooking and telling people that I was her private chef, which in LA, you know—it did ‘the thing.’ I started booking work, and I basically took on any job that would come my way. I was 26. I was figuring it out, and doing something I really loved.”
The World’s a Culinary School: “I would cater and work as a private chef to make enough money to go work for free for a couple months somewhere in the world. I did that in St. Barth’s. I know it sounds so bourgeois, but it was really, really intense. Six days a week, long hours, no A/C, all French and Swiss men who were looking at me like, “What the fuck are you doing here?” Oh, and I didn’t speak French beyond some high school classes. I was working with European chefs who were dipping their fingers in the salsa.
And then I worked in Northern Italy in a restaurant called Piazza Duomo that just got its third Michelin Star. I worked under an incredible avant-garde chef named Enrico Crippa—a genius, but polar opposite to anyone I’d worked with before. It was a completely silent kitchen, as in you couldn’t speak. In the beginning, I’d be collecting the pots to bring to the dish pit, and without fail I’d drop them and make a huge racket.”
The Real Kitchens of Beverly Hills: “I’d have clients who would be like, “Oh, I’m only having this, or not eating that. I can only have 800 calories a day. Figure it out.” Some people would tell me I couldn’t cook with oil. I’m Italian. Olive oil is in my veins. So, you know, that’s where all the creativity happened. It forced me to try things I’d never done before.”
A custom designed scarf for The Standard Plaza by Nina's father, Francesco Clemente.
A Family Affair: “Having an incredible painter as a father, there was this feeling of, “Oh my God, how am I going to follow in those footsteps?” I found a creative outlet that’s very different from painting, but is my own artistic expression. My dad actually designed a beautiful scarf that the servers will be wearing, and my mom’s going to help design the menus. We’re pulling all of those elements from the family into this project, which is really sweet and exciting.”