Livin’ la vida local: Malibu’s "Kids Night Out"


“Eat. Drink. Be local.”

To chef/restauranteur Paul Shoemaker of Savory, this isn’t merely the tagline on his business card, but a distillation of his personal philosophy.

That credo prompted Shoemaker to not only cater/contribute to fundraisers (L.A. Food and Wine, Free Arts for Abused Children) but also launch a weekly philanthropic initiative at his Point Dume restaurant, “Kid’s Night Out.”

Every Monday from 2-6 p.m., parents and schools are encouraged to bring kids to Savory, where children can enjoy a fixed menu of $10 items (main course, snack, beverage). Entr/es include grilled salmon, mac and cheese, mini-pizzas and sliders while apple sauce, broccoli and cheese, corn on the cob and watermelon comprise the snacks. Fifty percent of “Kid’s” purchases go toward a local school.

“They’re getting quality food here,” Shoemaker said. Because it’s important to him that visiting kids learn about what they consume, placards explain, in simple language, the benefits of grapes and watermelon.

Shoemaker’s toddler, Guy, 3, already follows in his father’s footsteps.

“He knows how to juice,” Shoemaker said. “He loves cooking.”

On July 30, Savory’s second week offering “Kid’s Night Out,” Webster Elementary was the beneficiary school. Malibu dad Farshad Harandi brought his two sons plus a buddy, retired plastic surgeon Jerry Powell. His oldest son, James Harandi, 10, a recent Webster graduate entering Malibu High, enjoyed pasta off the special menu while his brother Nick, in the 3rd grade at Webster, gave the slider a thumbs-up.

“It’s wonderful,” Harandi said of the initiative. “We’ll be back every Monday.”

Located within Point Dume Village mall, Savory opened in 2010 on July 29. It’s a loaded date within the family; not only is it his wife Tina’s birthday, it’s the day they wed.

This year, Shoemaker, known to lose himself in the kitchen, let his venue’s anniversary party date slip by. What Shoemaker does not let slide past is his business’ charitable component.

“Everything starts in the community you live in and it grows out,” Shoemaker said. “We want to give back to the community and keep the circle going.” The three-star Michelin chef’s challenge to restaurateur peers: give back to the community bringing them business.

Originally, Shoemaker aspired to be a pro surfer.

“Dad didn’t support it,” he said with a soft smile. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a surgeon.”

Or a Nissan executive like his father. Of Sicilian and Mexican heritage, Shoemaker grew up in San Diego with an affinity for fusion cooking, later paying his dues at Parisian brasseries.

“If I surf,” he said, “I surf with the best surfers. If I cook, I cook with the best chefs.”

Shoemaker refused discussing his resume’s bullet points, but in 1997, while a teen at Pasadena Culinary School, he was hired as chef de partie at downtown’s Water Grill, eventually becoming Chef de Cuisine. By the mid-2000s, Shoemaker worked at Alain Ducasse in NYC, French Laundry in Napa-area Yountville and San Diego eateries.

In 2005, he and Michael Cimarusti founded Providence, off Melrose. However, when chef Walter Manzke walked from the critically acclaimed yet embattled Bastide, Shoemaker left to become the West Hollywood establishment’s chef. After Bastide closed for the umpteenth and final time in 2011, he invested time and money in the Point Dume space previously occupied by Point Dume Chinese Restaurant.

Patrons originally met Savory’s menu with resistance .

“It took a long time for them to trust me,” Shoemaker said.

Paul and Tina, a Beverly Hills wealth manager, moved to Point Dume seven years ago. Their son, a Malibu Methodist Preschool pupil, will be joined by brother Rocco in October.

“Zuma,” Shoemaker explained, means “Land of Plenty,” and he utilizes local agriculture, such as Zuma watercress, “that’s in season. I don’t put it on the plate unless it’s right.”

That extends to fennel flowers decorating the tables. He also hand-picks employees like sultry jazz singer Jacqui Hylton, who performs every Thursday evening.

Shoemaker can cook French and Italian at his intimate digs, but never with great fidelity to those genres.

“Once you reach a certain level, you mix in elements from different cuisines,” the pan-ethnic chef explained.

Whatever his recipe for success, Edible Westside spotlighted Shoemaker while Zagat named Savory Best Newcomer ‘11. Adam Sandler, Daniel Craig and Tom Hanks reportedly frequent Savory. Pop star Pink tweeted a shout-out to Shoemaker’s establishment after a rollicking December night when she and her husband dined there with rocker Beck. By evening’s end, the two Grammy winners reportedly led diners in some impromptu Christmas caroling.

When the $40-million Taste Fig@7th complex opens downtown this fall, Shoemaker—known for signature entr/e the Wolfmother, a mouthwatering burger topped with blue and brie cheeses—will launch the cheeseburger-centric Juicy Lucy. And with Savory’s business end falling into place, Shoemaker can now comfortably focus on his craft.

“That’s what I love the most,” he said. “When I’m in the kitchen, all that stress melts away.”