West Hollywood Insider: Private Chef Stuart O'Keeffe

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Private, chef-to-the-stars Stuart O'Keeffe has been living in West Hollywood and cooking for Hollywood executives and celebrities for years. This Dublin-reared, Napa-trained chef shares with us how he enjoys the Village Idiot, proximity to Runyon Canyon and plethora of grocery stores in his area.

Name, Age, Occupation: Stuart O'Keeffe, 28, Private chef

Neighborhood: West Hollywood, Los Angeles

Abode: One-bedroom apartment

How long have you lived in West Hollywood?
Four-and-a-half years

What do you love most about your neighborhood?
That it's quiet. But there are other things, like there are lovely neighborhoods to walk around with your dog and it's safe, too. I don't worry about anything here. Plus there are lovely restaurants and everything is in walking distance. I really lucked out where I am. I didn't realize I moved into such a great area and then years went by and I thought, this is great, I can jog to Runyon Canyon in 10 minutes and there are dog parks. And as a chef, I love that I live around four great grocery stores. And of course I have my resident Coffee Bean.
Do you talk to your neighbors?
In my building and the building next door! Walking the dog, after you pass someone five or 10 times you strike up a conversation so they know you aren't a crazy person. Everyone loves living in the neighborhood, too. It's the epicenter of everything that goes on, everything is five minutes away: parks, stores, shops, restaurants.

Best kept secret in West Hollywood? A little restaurant called Galanga Thai, the best Thai restaurant in the city. It's this little, small place and you'd barely notice it. There is a cute little woman that serves the best food and it's reasonably priced. Two people can eat for 30 bucks. The quality is so good, it's definitely my place I to go chill on a Monday or Tuesday night. It's not crazy busy, it's got a nice crowd, but it never feels too intense, you know? I like that not everybody knows about it.

There is also VenoKado. It's a beautiful wine-and-gift store on Fountain Avenue right around the corner from where I live and has a great local neighborhood feel to it. I buy all my wine there for all my dinner parties, the prices are so reasonable and the wines are wonderful! The girls, Molly, Susan and Tracey are awesome and so knowledgeable about their wines... they always tell a story behind them!

Favorite way to spend a Saturday night in your neighborhood? I'd go to dinner with friends at Comme Ca on Melrose starting with cocktails at the bar first. They have a mixologist and I love the atmosphere. And then we'd head over to the Village Idiot for drinks. I love that bar, it reminds me of home. It's a very Dublin bar.

Any cooking tips for non-celeb types? L.A. is a town where people go out to eat a lot, but it's a lot of talent and artists who don't have crazy money to spend doing that. I suggest you start building a kitchen and pantry. Make sure you have a good chef knife, paring knife, a good non-stick saucepan. And then just get a recipe book and say, 'I'm gonna cook twice a week.' Then it will be simple for yourself and it will be enjoyable. I feel that people think I can't cook, I'm just gonna do a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and stick to what they know instead of branching out and failing -- one day you will succeed. People have a fear of food, I mean, don't get me wrong, cooking is hard, but you get used to the food and you come to know what a good piece of chicken or steak is and you start learning and it becomes more fun. And then it becomes addictive! Just get a simple cookbook or go to my website, I don't do complicated, I keep it simple. Just get in there! You will save a lot of money by learning to cook for yourself at home then going out to eat at restaurants. Honestly, 40 bucks will buy you a weeks worth of food if you go to the right stores and buy the right ingredients.

Being a Celebrity Chef, what's the strangest request you've received?
Doing a Botox party where there could be no dyed food, no beets. All the food had to have no major colors because they were getting their teeth colored. We came to the party with butternut squash soup and we had to ask are you getting your teeth whitened because if so, you can't eat it. Then it can also happen that at the last minute you are told there are some vegetarians that came and you have no veggie dishes so you have to improvise with what you have. It can get crazy and intense sometimes.

So you've gone Hollywood I hear?!

Yes. I'm going to be on this Food Network show called "The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills." It follows me and five other chefs showing our crazy lives and the people of Beverly Hills and Hollywood. After school and my training I wanted to find a way to cook but not be in a restaurant because it's really hard. You make the same thing every day and you don't get to be that creative, I found it monotonous.


Interested in living in West Hollywood? Check the West Hollywood rental listings here. Or read about other Los Angeles Insiders.
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