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Chef Brian Malarkey‘s rise to culinary fame started when he was a finalist on the third season of Top Chef. After that, he went on to become the winning judge and mentor on The Taste (Season 1), and since then, he’s created more than a dozen successful restaurants, including four Searsucker outposts and three Herringbone locations, and authored the cookbook Come Early, Stay Late.

Since its opening in 2015, the Santa Monica Herringbone (managed by the Hakkasan Group) has become a brunch mainstay. The 7,400-square-foot, beachy-chic restaurant conceptualized by acclaimed designer Thomas Shoos features large outdoor dining patios surrounded by lush greenery and wood planters bursting with fragrant herbs. A living wall at the entrance helps to bring the eatery’s locally-sourced and coastal California aesthetic to life.

We chatted with Malarkey to learn more about the restaurant, his daily routine, and his favorite brunch recipes on the menu.

Who is someone that inspires you in the culinary world?

Mario Batali! I love his simple Italian approach and rustic nature to his restaurants. You can feel his energy and style in all of his restaurants—having multiple restaurants myself, I know how hard that is.

The best part of what I do is…

Bringing people together over food to break bread, share stories, and recall or build memories.

My lunch routine consists of…

A giant salad with a small piece of protein to build my energy for the afternoon.

If I wasn’t a chef….

I would be a jockey at a horse race in Del Mar.

I’m 10 times more productive when…

I have an incredible team surrounding me.

Favorite cold-weather dish:

Braised pork and beef stew with mashed, beat up potatoes.

The best thing I’ve ever eaten:

Lately I’ve been going to Hawaii a lot to start building the Herringbone Waikiki, and I’ve been loving the dead-end back alley udon and ramen places I’ve discovered.

Where do you seek inspiration for the things you make?

From fellow chefs in our group, at food and wine events, as well as the Instagram world. It’s constantly giving me inspiration to do new things.

Describe a typical day in your life:

Three rambunctious kids wake me up at 6:30 a.m. every day. I help them get ready for school and go over homework. Once the kids are at school, I read emails, catch up with my wife, go to one of my restaurants around lunchtime to check up on things. If I’m lucky, I’ll have time to stop home to play a quick game of baseball with the kids, and then I’m off to another one of my restaurants for dinner service.

French Toast

Ingredients Brioche bread, 1 inch thick 2 tbsp. mascarpone cream 1 tbsp. mixed berry jam ¼ cup fresh berries 1 tsp. powdered sugar, for dusting

Brioche Bread Batter

Ingredients 3 large eggs 2 tbsp. bourbon maple syrup 1 tsp. granulated sugar 1 cup heavy cream 1 zest of whole orange 1 tsp. vanilla extract


Mix everything together with a whisk in a dish large enough to fit a slice of bread.

Mascarpone Cream Mix

Ingredients 2 cups mascarpone 2 cups ricotta cheese


Whip together until smooth.

Mixed Berry Jam

Ingredients 10 oz. mixed berries ¼ cup sugar 2 tbsp. lemon juice 2 sprigs fresh thyme


Mix everything together and let stand for 1 hour at room temp. In a heavy large pot, slowly cook for 1 hour on low heat. You want a thick consistency.

Directions for French Toast

Dip the slices of brioche bread in the egg mixture. In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter, and then add your bread into the pan. Cook on both sides for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Remove and smear with the mascarpone cream. Add the berry jam on top. Repeat process with next slice of bread. Garnish with berries and powdered sugar.

Crab Cake Benny

Ingredients 2 2-oz. crab cakes 2 oz. spicy hollandaise 1 tsp. minced chives

Spicy Hollandaise

Ingredients 10 egg yolks 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 2 cups clarified butter 1 tbsp. red hot sauce


In a high speed blender, blend the egg yolks on high speed for 3 minutes. Slowly add the clarified butter to emulsion. After, add the lemon juice and hot sauce. Set aside in a warm area.

Crab Cakes

Ingredients 1 lb. lump crab meat 2 tbsp. diced onion 2 tbsp. diced celery 1 tbsp. diced red bell pepper 1 tbsp. diced and seeded jalapeno ½ cup mayonnaise ½ cup bread crumbs 2 tbsp. chopped chives


Sweat onions, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until translucent. Let cool on a sheet tray. In a large bowl, mix the cooked vegetables with the rest of the ingredients by hand. Season with salt and pepper.

Poached Farm Eggs

Ingredients Farm eggs Salt White wine vinegar


In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the vinegar and salt. Then, turn down heat to steady rolling boil. Crack the eggs in the water and cook for 3-4 minutes until your eggs are poached.

Plating of Crab Cake Benny

Pan-sear crab cakes to golden brown. After place on a large plate. Top with poached eggs and pour over hollandaise and garnish with chives.


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