Steve Samson, Chef/Owner
Steve Samson grew up spending summers in Bologna, Italy, his mother's hometown. Life in Bologna was centered around the dining room table. While cooking alongside his parents and grandparents, Steve realized a strong connection between food, family, and tradition. These early experiences have greatly influenced his point of view as a chef.
Steve started his professional career in New York and Maine after graduating from New York's Institute of Culinary Education. It was upon returning to his own hometown, Los Angeles, that Steve met his mentor, Piero Selvaggio. Steve spent six years working with Piero, the last two as executive chef at Piero's flagship, Valentino in Santa Monica. During this time, Steve did numerous stages throughout Italy, cooking at famed Michelin-starred restaurants such as Dal Pescatore, Il Duomo, La Torre del Saraceno, and Quattro Passi.
In 2009, Chef Samson realized his next career goal by opening the award-winning Pizzeria Ortica in Orange County. While at Ortica, StarChefs recognized Steve as one of Southern California's Rising Star chefs.
Wanting to return to his hometown, Samson partnered with his wife, Dina Samson, and Zach Pollack to open Sotto in 2011. Sotto achieved immediate acclaim, being named one of Esquire Magazine's “Best New Restaurants in America” and Los Angeles Magazines #1 “Best New Restaurant". After four years, Sotto remains as popular as ever, largely because Chef Steve has remained committed as ever to tradition and craft.
Craig Towe, Chef de Cuisine
Chef de cuisine Craig Towe has been cooking Italian food for over 8 years, but his passion for food and hospitality formed while working as a server in restaurants throughout high school and college in his hometown of Houston, TX. It was not until after graduating with a marketing degree from Texas State University and working a “9-to-5” that Towe realized he was happiest around food and restaurants. This led him back to school, enrolling at Le Cordon Bleu in Austin, TX. Towe’s first job on the line was at beloved culinary institution, Hudson’s on the Bend, where he stayed for two years. He would then move to the Philadelphia to help a friend open a restaurant, and eventually he made his way to New York City. Towe earned positions in notable kitchens, including A Voce under Missy Robbins and Hillary Sterling, and then Marea, Ristorante Morini and Osteria Morini under Michael White. Most recently, he studied the history and techniques of pasta at world renowned La Vecchia ScuolaBolognese, in Bologna, and upon return to the States joined the team at Sotto.
Christine Veys, General Manager
Christine Veys is Sotto’s general manager and sommelier. Born in Chicago but an Angeleno at heart, Christine hasn’t always worked in the restaurant industry. Rather, a passion for food and wine drove her to leave a career in advertising and start from scratch in hospitality. Entering the industry as a server, Christine worked her way through a number of LA’s restaurants before joining the opening team at Sotto, eventually climbing the ranks to the role of general manager. Since her entry into the field, Christine has earned her Level 1 certification in Wine Studies, allowing her to not only offer a superior service experience, but also a knowledgeable and approachable wine pairing suggestion for any dish. Christine possesses an ardent drive to create the best possible experience for every diner, to which any guest at Sotto can attest.
Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D., Wine Director
Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D. is a widely published wine and food writer and historian who writes mostly about Italian wine on his popular blog DoBianchi.com. A native southern Californian, Jeremy and Sotto owner and executive chef Steve Samson met more than 25 years ago when they attended their junior year abroad together in Italy on a University of California exchange program. In 2011, Steve asked Jeremy to create an all-southern-Italian wine list for Sotto, resulting in a wine program called "one of the most interesting in LA" by the LA Times and "one of LA's best Italian wine lists" by LA Magazine. Today, the core of the list remains devoted to the noble red grapes of southern Italy: Aglianico, Palagrello Nero, Casavecchia, and Gaglioppo, among others. But its focus is now shifting to feature unsung winemaking regions of Italy (beyond Piedmont and Tuscany). When not tasting and writing about Italian wine or traveling in Italy, you'll find Jeremy at home raising and writing songs for his family, Georgia P (age 4) and Lila Jane (age 3) and their mommy Tracie P.
Brynn Smith, Bar Director
Brynn Smith is Sotto’s bar director. Intrigued by a Craigslist ad offering applicants a way to learn new bar techniques, Brynn entered the world of bartending on a whim. Little did she know of the aptitude she would show for cocktail-making. Brynn learned her craft from Los Angeles cocktail legend Julian Cox, working under him in her first bartending job at Rivera. Brynn moved on to be a member of the opening team at Sotto, behind the bar from day one. She has since taken over as bar director, reinventing Sotto’s cocktail menu to feature innovative yet rustic recipes of her own creation. Brynn also relishes the opportunity to highlight Sotto’s extensive collection of Amari, and relishes the opportunity to share her knowledge of the underappreciated Italian spirit with patrons.