executive chef Chris Keyser

Chris Keyser was in his early twenties when he started his career with Marc Vetri.   He  quickly rose through the ranks, working at Alla Spina, Osteria and Amis and was part of opening for Lo Spiedo.   “I thought I would be there for only a year to see what I can learn, but every year there were a ton of reasons to stay… we were always doing new things.”

For Chris, California was love at first sight.   He opened Vetri's West Coast restaurant in Palo Alto and then moved to  Los Angeles to work with Akasha Richmond at AR Cucina . It was there that Keyser quickly won the recognition of L.A. food critics and earned AR Cucinaa spot on LA Weekly’s “99 Essential Restaurants” list. 

Chris' passion lead him to Italy.  He  spent the summer splitting his time at prestige restaurants including Michelin-starred Frosio. He credits his time at the highly touted Cucina Cereda for the deeper development of his style. “They showed me new possibilities with cooking. They could take two ingredients, cook each one in different ways, put them together, and create something highly complex.” 

As the new executive chef at Union Pasadena, Keyser combines the influences from his vast experiences with Union’s signature sustainable practices. His simple, yet refined style lays on a foundation of the ethos of Italian cooking. “It’s about the core ideologies of Italian cuisine; the simplicity of using quality local ingredients to create flavor.  California offers endless opportunities to develop flavor – subtle and bold – complex and simple –by reaching out to our local growers, foragers, fisherman, farmers and millers.”