In sad news for the city’s pasta lovers, the Los Angeles Times reports that Evan Funke has left Bucato. The chef of the Culver City restaurant, who also co-owns the spot with Ed Keebler, cited “unreconcileable differences” as the reason for his departure earlier this week. His next step, he says, will be a trip to Italy.
Funke came to culinary fame in L.A., working in the kitchens of Spago and Rustic Canyon before debuting Bucato in 2013 at the Helm’s Bakery complex. Upon opening, the restaurant quickly earned rave reviews for its handmade pasta (Funke learned his technique at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese) and Italian dishes, like fried squash blossoms and spaghetti cacio e pepe along with one of the best focaccias in town.
Giving Bucato three stars, Los Angeles magazine restaurant reviewer Patrick Kuh called Funke’s celebrated Bolognese sauce “a gorgeously nuanced showcase of the acidity and flavor of good tomatoes” in his review of the restaurant. Bucato also made Los Angeles magazine’s Top Ten Best New Restaurants of 2013 and L.A.’s 75 Best Restaurants list in 2014.
Along with the accolades, Bucato also got a little taste of infamy when Funke and Keebler banned phones and photography in the restaurant much to the chagrin of the city’s Yelpers and various fooderati.
“Here’s my thinking: First, my cooks, my servers, everyone here takes a lot of care to get the food to you hot and perfect. By the time someone has taken a photo of it and posted it online, the dish is already cold and not perfect. So I wanted to tailor the experience as much as possible. I want the diner to eat the food upon its arrival to the table,” said Funke at the time.
When asked for comment, Bucato management directed us to a press release on their Web site, which states that the restaurant’s executive sous chef Colin Akiyama, who previously worked at Mori Sushi and Providence as well as Alain Ducasse and Picholine in New York, has been promoted as Funke’s replacement. He’s been working with the Bucato team since 2013.
The release also included this statement: “While no major changes are planned for Bucato, the entire team is looking forward to this next phase. Bucato is focused on remaining true to its original set of vision and values: a market-driven, neighborhood restaurant where inspiration is drawn from both seasonal availability as well as the bounty of California’s best farms and ranches.”
The future of Funke’s new diner Thoroughbred, planned for The Platform development in Culver City later this year, is unclear at this time.