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At Firefly Bistro we strive to create exciting and memorable parties with food that is both comforting and delicious.
Chefs/Partners Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh Teamwork has multiple definitions for chefs Monique King and Paul Rosenbluh. Not only are they married to each other and the parents of three daughters, they also join forces in the kitchen to fashion Firefly Bistro's original and outstanding culinary creations. In fact, it was cooking that brought the two chefs/owners of the new South Pasadena hot spot together.
Monique King has been a chef for over a decade. After graduating from Pitzer College in Southern California, the Los Angeles native started working with two of the best in the business, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, at City in 1989. It was here that King began to develop her unique style and perfect her trademark Ethnic Cuisine. In 1991, King was anxious to branch out on her own and moved to Chicago. She opened Soul Kitchen in 1993. With the opening of her own restaurant, King started to attract major attention from numerous movers and shakers in the culinary world and established herself as part of Chicago's vanguard wave of young chefs who also owned their restaurants. Described by Travel and Leisure Magazine as "the Lauryn Hill of New American cuisine," King enjoyed tremendous success with her Chicago eatery and was featured in articles in Food & Wine and in Nation's Restaurant News' Culinary Currents in section in February 1999. Enter Paul Rosenbluh.
Rosenbluh joined the Soul Kitchen staff as sous chef in 1997, bringing with him a wealth of experience acquired at some of the country's finest dining establishments. Paul received his training at California Culinary Academy in San Francisco where his externship included work at Palomino and Cypress Club. He then moved to Austin, TX where he served as sous chef at Coyote Café until it closed.
After Rosenbluh had been working at Soul Kitchen for a short time, it didn't take long before he and King realized they had more in common than a mutual interest in cooking. They got married and had their first daughter, Jula. However, they decided to move back to Los Angeles where King grew up and Rosenbluh had some family. Feniger and Millikan heard about King's exodus from Chicago to Los Angeles and immediately hired her to be the Executive Chef at Border Grill in Santa Monica. From 2000 to 2001, King's culinary expertise wowed everyone at Border Grill--from serious foodies to dabbling diners--and she began to develop a loyal following.
Meanwhile, Paul worked at several high-end restaurants, including Granita, Joe's and Campanile, in order to get a feel for Los Angeles tastes.
In September 2001, the two welcomed their second daughter, Riley, and began to put their creative minds to work to develop their own restaurant. They joined forces with King's stepfather, actor Carl Weintraub, who is their partner and the restaurant's maitre D'. With South Pasadena as their location preference, the three waited patiently for the right spot to open. The 1009 El Centro location they found formerly housed another restaurant, Nicks. But, with some savvy design modifications to the space and tempting menus in place, King, Rosenbluh and Weintraub opened Firefly Bistro on July 18, 2002.
Since then, Firefly Bistro has been receiving critical nods from the Los Angeles Times (** Review), Los Angeles Magazine, the Los Angeles Times 2003 Top 300 Restaurants issue and Angeleno Magazine. The couple's third daughter, Quinn, was born in 2003.
Partner Carl Weintraub Carl Weintraub brings several unique attributes to the Firefly Bistro table with his theatrical flair, the gift of creating fabulously ambient surroundings and his warm and magnanimous personality. As partner and maitre D' of Firefly Bistro, Weintraub is responsible for making sure that Firefly Bistro guests get extra special service and VIP treatment in order to enhance their Firefly Bistro dining adventure.
Weintraub has several years of experience in the restaurant business at numerous establishments including Great American Food and Beverage Company and Poppy's Star (where he was the manager and ran the show). He is also a veteran actor and the founder, manager and artistic director of the 21-year-old "We Tell Stories," one of the nation's most esteemed theaters for young audiences, reaching hundreds of thousands of children every year. In fact, the majority of the wait staff at Firefly Bistro are actors from the theater company and refer to Weintraub as "dad."
Carl is probably best known for his work on stage and television. He was Cagney's blue-collar boyfriend on "Cagney & Lacy." He also starred with Barry Bostwick on the sitcom "Dads," among many other roles on TV, stage and in the movies. In 2001 he had a nine-month stint as a mob boss named Vincent Moroni on the soap opera "Day's of Our Lives."
Weintraub loves the restaurant business but also notes that the real reason for being part of Firefly Bistro is that he is very proud of his daughter. And he likes that the restaurant is a family affair because he believes that "food tastes best when it's prepared with love, and there's a whole bunch of love floating around this family-run restaurant."
Sous-Chef Amber Clark Amber Clark, sous-chef at Firefly Bistro, finds herself at home in the prevalent family atmosphere in the restaurant. Employed by Paul and Monique since before it opened, she helped set up operations at Firefly, and in the intervening years she has enjoyed familiarizing herself with every station--and every dish--in the kitchen, finally settling into the position of sous-chef. She thrives on the daily challenge of coming up with specials, particularly Thursday's tapas menu. She frequently gets the inspiration for these dishes from the farmers' market, which assembles itself outside the restaurant's front doors every Thursday afternoon.
Amber has been a South Pasadena resident since 1999, and has worked at several local restaurants and cafés. She found her love for cooking while working as a barrista--one day the cook failed to show up and Amber stepped up to the plate (literally) making sandwiches and pizzas. From then on, cooking has been in her soul. As sous-chef at Firefly Bistro, Amber feels she has come into her own as a cook. This central--and essential--position in the busy kitchen brings her great satisfaction.
Amber loves trying new foods and exploring different cuisines. She scours the local ethnic markets for exciting new ingredients. Her epicurean tastes drive her all over Los Angeles--and even farther afield--seeking new foods and revisiting the old standards. Amber finds herself constantly dreaming up new dishes. "Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a dish, and I have to write it down." Keep that notepad by your pillow, Amber--we're enthralled.