Buttonwood Farm’s new assistant chef reveals his culinary journey | Eating
Buttonwood Farm’s new assistant chef spills the beans on his culinary journey
BY CALEB WISEBLOOD
What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Prolific chef Lee Gottheimer spent years perfecting his culinary skills in Sin City, Nevada, where he worked at a handful of prestigious restaurants after graduating from culinary school, before moving to Santa Barbara County in 2018.
Gottheimer, who recently took on a new role as assistant chef at Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard in Solvang, said that nearly two decades ago he would probably have been a desk job today had it not been for a fateful trip to a once-premier bookstore.
“That’s how old I am – sitting and reading on a Frontier that no longer exists. Kitchen HiddenGotheimer told me. “I think most people in the industry have a special, personal memory with Tony Bourdain.”
Gottheimer was working at a bank in Las Vegas when he bought Bourdain’s book. He had always loved cooking as a hobby and all of his previous jobs were in restaurants, starting with his first job at a pizza shop in his teenage years. read his copy Kitchen Hidden “It brought me back to high school and how much fun I had,” she said.
“I was always cooking and interested in food,” Gottheimer recalled of his childhood. “My mom always wanted me to help out in the kitchen. I remember peeling a carrot and helping him with dinner.
As an adult, she had not considered working for a full-time career in the restaurant industry until her bookstore-based enlightenment. Reading Bourdain’s words led to a resurgence of interest in cooking at Gottheimer, who later went on to take night classes at a cooking school while keeping his full-time job at the bank.
“That’s when I started drinking Starbucks Doubleshot,” Gottheimer says, which kept him sane and caffeinated through his longest nights of enrolling in the cooking program at the Las Vegas Art Institute. “I’ve never been into any of them until now. Then I realized why people drink them.”
After Gottheimer graduated, he quit his job at the bank for a kitchen job in Vegas, which sounded like gambling.
“I gave up my comfortable desk job for a late-night, minimum-wage salad station cook job on the strip,” Gottheimer said, moving up the food chain from there.
Gottheimer has dared to work at various Vegas venues throughout his career and held culinary positions at Bellagio Resort and Casino, Wynn Las Vegas, Vdara Hotel and Spa, MGM Grand Las Vegas and The Shops at Crystals.
One reason Gottheimer moved to California, and especially to the Central Coast, was his chance to work in kitchens that were much closer to food sources.
“Vegas is a great place to cook, but it’s a terrible place to grow food,” Gottheimer said. “It’s every chef’s dream to be where the food comes from. Career-wise, that’s what brought me here.”
After moving to Santa Barbara County, Gottheimer’s jobs included positions at Third Window Brewing, The Bear and The Star, and Alisal Ranch. During his time at the latter, he served as kitchen chef and mastered a variety of barbecue techniques, many of which he incorporated into some new food offerings at Buttonwood Farm Winery and Vineyard, one of his new employer-owned venues. Gleason family.
“The family is great. They have so much vision for their property,” says Gottheimer, who recommends the barbecue half chicken served with apricot barbecue sauce and coleslaw among the various comfort food options on Buttonwood Farm’s menu.
Above all, Gottheimer said his goal in cooking has remained consistent throughout his career: “Making food that gets people excited.”
Art Editor Caleb Wiseblood is a man half full, half chicken. Send your comments to [email protected]