Karen Hatfield

Chef, Restaurateur

Los Angeles

After graduating from the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, Karen Hatfield became a pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago Hollywood and Spago Beverly Hills. The restaurants led Hatfield to her future husband, Quinn, and the two headed for New York to dive into the restaurant scene. There, she held positions at Café Boulud, Jean Georges and Gramercy Tavern. Then in 2002, the couple returned to California to open Cortez in San Francisco’s Hotel Adagio, where the chef also managed the front of the house. In 2006, they moved to L.A. and opened Hatfield’s on Beverly Boulevard. Three years later, they reopened in a larger space on Melrose Avenue, and continued to whip up stellar contemporary American cuisine. In summer 2012, they debuted The Sycamore Kitchen, a hip neighborhood restaurant with seasonally focused fare and plenty of sweet treats.

  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are the best neighborhoods in Los Angeles?

    L.A. is a little more difficult to travel in than some cities because we don’t have a downtown in the way that other cities do. I don’t think that there is a heart of L.A. I think there are tiny little pockets all over Los Angeles. One of the best ones to go to is Venice. Venice is pretty special. Also the Venice Pier — it’s not like the Santa Monica Pier; there aren’t any shops. I think everybody goes to the Santa Monica Pier, but I recommend the Venice Pier. Abbot Kinney is amazing, but then the beach is just two or three blocks away. Abbot Kinney got so big that now there are a couple surrounding streets around there that are starting to grow.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are the best hotels in Los Angeles?

    I would say there’s something about The Peninsula Beverly Hills. It’s not a hotel for everybody for every occasion. Over the years, so many high-end hotels have had their moment in the limelight, and that one has endured and has a loyal customer base. They have really set themselves apart.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are the best coffee shops in Los Angeles?

    Intelligentsia in Silver Lake is great. Even though Intelligentsia not a small company, there’s something about that one that has a great local flair. It’s in a great historic Spanish building. There’s always a line, but I think you get a sense of the people who live there as well as terrific coffee. Right next door is Cafe Stella, one of the best brunches in L.A. — very charming.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are the best bars in Los Angeles?

    The Roger Room on La Cienega is a bar with great cocktails. It’s new but feels old. It’s got an old-school sensibility, but it’s using the new-school mixology.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What does Karen Hatfield bring home from her travels?

    My husband and I are kind of coffee fanatics. So I suppose that would always be something on the list to check out: what the best coffee is in that city. We go to small local markets and hope that something catches our eye that we can take with us.

    Sometimes you’ll find other non-food-related items, like tapestries. Handmade local products are definitely a huge part of traveling to these places, besides seeing the landscape or the architecture. I think seeing what people are making there is really important, whether that’s food or clothes.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What does Karen Hatfield always travel with?

    An iPad, of course. Blow dryer. Great clothes. I do like to plan the wardrobe and the options. I just have it all pressed when we get there. I think that’s one of the biggest things for me to feel out of my element. You never know what the weather’s going to be like, and I think being able to dress myself for the occasion and the weather is so important to my comfort and feeling like I’m ready to take on a new city.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are Karen Hatfield’s favorite hotels?

    I think it’s different in every city. If I’m going to a really grand city like Paris, I think we want to stay in an amazing hotel — whether it’s a historic hotel or kind of a new hot hotel, I think I look for that more. Whereas if I’m going somewhere a little bit closer to home or if it’s more of a family vacation or something simpler, I might be looking for something more authentic to the area, maybe more of a bed and breakfast, maybe more of a rustic inn. But I don’t know that we’ve ever stayed in the same place twice. We like to try new things always — hotels and restaurants. As chefs, we don’t get to go to that many of the same restaurants twice. I think going to new hotels is so exciting and so much fun.

    I will say that I’ve been a few times to Hotel Costes in Paris. It was just the coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. This was a while ago, when I was going to Paris more. I felt like at the time it was a hotel that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world. I just couldn’t be there enough. It was original — the rooms, the food and the whole experience, whether you were in the lounge, anywhere there. It’s a great location, and that always counts. I couldn’t wait to go back there.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What are Karen Hatfield’s favorite cities?

    Historically, our favorite cities are usually big food destinations — Paris, New York. Those tend to be a couple. We have young children now, so in the past five years or so it’s been a little bit closer to home, so we’ve stayed in California quite a bit. There’s a lot in California, too. We’ve done more San Francisco or any of the outlying cities around here — Santa Barbara, Ojai — a little more in the area. We lived in New York for a while, so it was always easier to go to Paris.
  • On April 4, 2013
    Karen Hatfield answered the question: Karen Hatfield

    What is Karen Hatfield's ideal dining experience?

    I think innovation. It doesn’t have to be innovation on a large scale. There are times when you want to go out and have a more extravagant experience, and there are times that you’re looking for something simple. But I think you’re really looking to see the chef’s or restaurateur’s personality. I’m looking for something distinctive. And it can be subtle. More and more these days, you tend to see a lot of similarities with some restaurants. It’s great when you get to try somewhere and you really see something fresh, something with personality. I think that’s what we look for.