Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenny Seliger.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Food has always been a part of my life in ways I never really realized until much later. I always enjoyed cooking with my mom and my Oma – I still can hear my Oma peeling the potatoes and those potatoes hitting the water. My mom would always let me mix the raw ground beef – I loved and still love the feeling of that. At the time, I had no idea how much these memories would impact me.
I began cooking professionally about a decade ago when I started culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena on Feb 16, 2010 – my 25th birthday. After culinary school, I worked with a catering company before taking over as Chef of a German Restaurant in LA called Wirsthaus. I ran that kitchen for two years before realizing I wasn’t really a good cook and needed to first learn how to be a cook before becoming a chef. After that realization, my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved to New York City where I started over, working as a prep cook in the Bouchon kitchen and also worked as a line cook at Breslin. My time at both of those kitchens changed me for the better and showed me what it actually takes to be a good and consistent cook.
We moved back to California and I was determined to run my own kitchen again. I took that time to focus on refining my skills, learning from other Chefs, working hard on bettering the things I was good at and obsessing about the things I wasn’t. This is what has led me to where I am today – here at Henry’s where I am able to showcase all that I have a learned. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that a Chef is nothing without a good team and at Henry’s I have the strongest team of cooks I have ever assembled. Everything we accomplish here is a representation of what the kitchen staff is doing together as a unit.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not – it would be difficult to find a cook that has had a smooth journey. In this industry you are pushed to your limits nearly every day and you have to have the mental strength to do it day in and day out. It’s very easy to feel defeated after your chef has torn you apart for a mistake and you have ruined dinner service because your station wasn’t set up. I’ve definitely had my fair share of those nights. As a cook, gaining knowledge every day is what kept me focused through the hard times – if you haven’t thought about quitting cooking at some point in your career, you’re not pushing hard enough. It’s a life of missing out on homelife and spending more time with your work family than your actually family, a life of pressure, a life of challenging and thankless work. However, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything else. Finding amazing ingredients still brings me so much joy – biting into the perfect apple makes me so damn happy. Being a leader in the kitchen and teaching young cooks now makes those tougher days more than worth it.
The struggles are still there, just a little different – instead of being chewed out by my chef, I now get to handle disgruntled guests and negative Yelp reviews that make you question yourself over and over again. Regardless, I love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else. At the end of the day, I get to play with food all day and that is just awesome!
Henry’s Ocean View Dining – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am the Chef of Henry’s Ocean View Dining in Huntington Beach; we sit inside the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort just south of main street. Henry’s specializes in Modern California Cuisine paired with an amazing wine list and cocktails. I am extremely proud of what we have managed to accomplish so far in regard to changing mindsets as to what food should be in Huntington Beach or even Orange County.
Building a place that isn’t your typical burger or taco place is tough in this area, but we have so far succeeded. Our approach is little different than most places. I change the menu pretty much every day or week – so far 85 times since we first opened on May 18, 2019. The reason behind this is to make sure what we are serving is always at its best. We never want to keep something on the menu simply because the dish at some point was good. When the ingredients on that plate aren’t at their best anymore, it’s time to move on and try something new. Change is what will help us keep up with times and remain in touch with what is going on around us.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
At this moment in time, my proudest moment or achievement is Henry’s Ocean View Dining – building this team of Sous Chefs and cooks has given me a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride. We are all extremely excited to see what the future holds for us and what else we are capable of doing.
- Address: The Waterfront Beach Resort: 21100, CA-1, Huntington Beach, CA 92648
- Website: https://www.waterfrontresort.com/dining/henrys-restaurant
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/henrysovd/
Anne Watson Photography (for some photos)