Chef Nick Barainca, who most recently was hired by PB Hospitality Group to oversee the restaurant and lounge menu at Liaison, is moving forward with his own project in Santa Monica. Baranica has taken over the kitchen at The OP Cafe (which currently serves breakfast and lunch) and will be operating his own pop-up dinner series called g a r g a n t u a. Baranica and his team will operate the kitchen from Thursday to Saturday and serve a 5-course tasting menu for $47.

For those familiar with Baranica will remember him from his time with the Four Seasons Group and most notably as Chef de Cuisine at Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos. After working in the Santa Barbara area for some time, Nick found himself back in Los Angeles to consult on the latest PB Hospitality project, Liaison, which opened earlier this year in Hollywood.

Baranica is now using g a r g a n t u a as a place to explore the raw materials and landscape of California. He will be showcasing what California and it’s climate truly has to offer by using produce strictly from this region and from farms no farther than Santa Barbara County.

“Gargantua started from the idea of cooking within a new set of boundaries, really getting back to an understanding of why I started cooking in the first place. This was an opportunity that came out of frustration and pure necessity to do something totally uncontrived. Setting up shop at OP cafe seemed impossible at first glance, but as time went on it really posed a lot of new challenges that have inspired us creatively in the kitchen,” Baranica says.

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