Marie Petulla, owner of UNION in Pasadena, has coined Christopher Keyser, as her new executive chef. Chef Keyser brings a wealth of knowledge and experience specializing in rustic Italian cooking to his new position. Having worked with a number of highly talented chefs along the East Coast, including award-winning chef and restaurateur Marc Vetri, Christopher understands what it takes to execute exceptional seasonal menus as well as run a successful restaurant.
“We are so excited to have Chef Chris on board at Union,” says Petulla. “He possesses the perfect combination of incredible talent and experience needed to continue Union’s legacy. His ideology of Italian cuisine and respect for ingredients are showcased throughout his cooking and we can’t wait for all his dishes to debut on the menu.”
Chef Keyser started his career in fine dining in upstate New York. He’s worked at a number of well-known restaurants before joining the Vetri team in Philadelphia, where he quickly rose the ranks under Vetri’s wing working at Alla Spina, Osteria and Amis and later went on to open Lo Spiedo. Keyser eventually made his way to the West Coast, when The Vetri Group expanded to California to open their Palo Alto location. After a four year run with the Vetri Group, Keyser decided to head south to Los Angeles where he teamed up with the highly celebrated chef Akasha Richmond to head the kitchen at AR Cucina in Culver City. It was there that Keyser quickly won the recognition of local food critics and helped earn AR Cucina a spot on L.A. Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants list. Before teaming up with Marie Petulla at Union,
Christopher had the opportunity to stage abroad in Bergamo, Italy. He spent that summer splitting his time at prestige restaurants, including Michelin-starred Frosio. However, he credits his time at the highly touted Cucina Cereda for the deeper development of his style. Both his past training and stages abroad have been very influential experiences in his culinary journey. In addition to gaining great mentors, Chef Keyser has honed both his technical skills and his ability to cultivate and build strong, successful teams within a restaurant.
“I’m looking forward to this next chapter for myself and more importantly this next evolution of Union,” says Keyser. “The team here is strong and I’m excited to share everything that I’ve learned from my fine-dining experience to my training in Italy with the team as well as the city of Pasadena.”
Chef Keyser’s menu will continue to reflect Petulla’s ethos on cooking sustainability by utilizing root-to-leaf and snout-to-tail practices, as well as sourcing local ingredients and producing all pastas, cheeses and cured meats in-house. Highlights from his menu include handmade Stinging Nettle Cavatelli with baby artichokes, guanciale, ramps, and Pecorino, the Torchetti topped with Calabrese pork ragu, house ricotta, fried rosemary and pepperoncini, and Bucatini dressed in almond pesto, charred poblanos, and Parmigiano. For mains, the house-smoked Pork Chop with peperonata, pickled ramps on top a bed of Grist & Toll polenta should not be missed and the Lamb Al Latte, a milk braised lamb shoulder served with crispy roasted potatoes arugula and lemon will keep guests coming back for more.
UNION is located in Old Pasadena at 37 E. Union St. and is open daily for dinner—Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
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