The Four Seasons Gets Spicy

October 1, 2005

British chef Ashley James shakes up hotel dining with cross-cultural flair.

Things at the four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills just got a little spicier. With the recent additional of Executive chef Ashley James, formerly of The Four Seasons Buenos Aires, the hotel's menus are getting a zesty infusion. Chef James, a 37-year-old Brit who draws influence from Paris to Punta Mita, brings a global perspective to this SoCal destination - and has attracted a new flock of foodies to the hotel's three beloved restaurants.

"For me, cooking is about passion and love," James says. "If you don't have that, forget it." That passion began for James in the kitchen at age 12, making Beef Wellington and souffl's for his parents' dinner parties. Today, James can sound like an eager teen delighting in discovery. "What is so important - big time! - is respect for ingredients and flavors," he says. James has already tweaked some of the restaurant's standards (Fish n'Chips, for example), but the big changes are reflections of the chef's travels, where he picked up chimichurri recipes from Latin America and flavors like chile and cilantro from Southeast Asia and Mexico.

"I love that 'wow' effect," he says. But at the end of the day, James never forgets his top priority; "What I like to do most is make people happy; that's what it's all about."

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