Chef Evan Funke's headshot

Meet the Speaker: Chef Evan Funke

Photo by Eric Wolfinger

ICE’s Los Angeles campus welcomes the West Coast’s pasta master to speak at our 2024 commencement ceremony.

A self-described “culinary storyteller and custodian of Italian tradition,” Evan Funke’s name is synonymous with elaborate hand-rolled pasta in the American culinary scene.

With four restaurants, two James Beard Award nominations, two cookbooks and an eponymous documentary (produced by Tastemade, now streaming on Peacock), Chef Funke has built an empire through his commitment to classical pasta preparation.

One of the five children of Oscar-winner Alex Funke (for Best Visual Effects), Chef Funke spent his formative years in Southern California, trying out various potential career paths, including art school and joining the Marine Corps. Chef Funke eventually realized his love of cooking and headed off to culinary school. 

After graduation — and a short stint as a culinary school instructor — Chef Funke started to make a name for himself in the kitchen of Chef Wolfgang Puck’s long-heralded Spago.

It was at Spago that Chef Funke started his journey with pasta, which would soon become his obsession. As a result, he set out to Bologna, Italy, and the school of master pasta maker Alessandra Spisni, La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese.

This experience of becoming a sfoglino (or maker of sfoglia, a sheet of hand-rolled fresh pasta) was a turning point for Chef Funke's career. His return to LA brought with it his first time helming a kitchen at the ever-popular Rustic Canyon. From there he opened the instant LA sensation, Bucato. This would be the first but certainly not the last time one of Chef Funke's restaurants featured a dedicated pasta lab. 

After the closure of Bucato in 2015, Chef Funke stepped away from the restaurant scene before joining forces with Gusto 54 restaurant group founder, Janet Zuccarini, to open Felix on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, one of greater LA’s hottest strips of real estate just off Venice Beach. Felix was an instant success. Within a year of opening, it was named Eater’s Restaurant of the Year, Esquire Magazine’s “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” and was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s coveted Best New Restaurant Award.

Since then, Chef Funke seems to be unstoppable. The success of Felix, with its star-studded clientele (including Beyoncé and the Obamas), catapulted the chef into the upper echelons of Los Angeles food and beverage tastemakers. In relatively quick succession he opened Mother Wolf in LA’s West Hollywood neighborhood to instant acclaim, and most recently opened Funke, a three-level, 10,000-square-foot Beverly Hills culinary destination. The restaurant opened in May of 2023 and has already nabbed itself a place in Michelin's California guide.

In addition to his family of Los Angeles-based restaurants, Chef Funke has lent his expertise and brand to hotel restaurants across the country. Spin-off locations include Mother Wolf Las Vegas in the Fontainebleau resort and casino, and most recently Tre Dita in the St. Regis Chicago. The latter having just opened last month (March 2024) was named one of Michelin Guide’s “most anticipated new restaurants for 2024.”

With this bevy of experience in both the art of cooking and the business of restaurant management, ICE students at our 2024 Los Angeles commencement have much to learn from Chef Funke.

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