Top Chef Canada resident judge and über-successful restaurateur Janet Zuccarini’s L.A. hot spot, Felix Trattoria, is one of five finalists for The James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant Award, one of the most important culinary awards in America. Janet partnered with Chef Evan Funke to create a restaurant centered around authentic regional Italian cuisine, warm Italian hospitality and most importantly, exceptional handmade pasta. It’s been a success since it opened in April 2017 garnering accolades like “Restaurant of the Year” by Eater LA,  “#1 Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire magazine, and one of Los Angeles Magazine’s 10 Best New Restaurants of 2017.


photo credit: Alan Gastelum

Who is Chef Evan Funke?

Chef Evan Funke’s passion is handmade pasta, having studied in Bologna, Italy at the La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese. Before opening Felix with Janet Zuccarini, he helmed L.A.’s Bucato, an Italian restaurant (now closed) that also received culinary kudos for its authentic Italian cuisine and handmade pasta. His big culinary break came when he worked for six years for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his legendary L.A. restaurant, Spago.

Evan Funke will be a guest judge in an upcoming episode of Top Chef Canada, when the competing chefs will have to impress him and Janet, two experts in Italian cuisine, with a quintessential Italian dish. The episode was filmed late last year when this behind-the-scenes photo was taken; Evan is pictured with host Eden Grinshpan, Janet and resident judge Mijune Pak.


L-R: Eden Grinshpan, Evan Funke, Janet Zuccarini and Mijune Pak

Felix Trattoria, a Taste of Italy in L.A.


photo credit: Frank Wonho Lee

Felix Trattoria is located in L.A.’s Venice Beach neighbourhood on Abbot-Kinney Boulevard, a trendy hub in this thriving artistic community.  The dinner menu, written in Italian, features a wide range of antipasti, traditional pizze,  meaty secondi and their famous handmade pastas reflecting the different regions of Italy. Chef Evan Funke sources his ingredients from family farms throughout California.

Here’s a mouthwatering shot of the restaurant’s handmade pasta with a meaty ragu:

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And here’s a glimpse of the gorgeous handmade pasta produced in-house:

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2018 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant

The long list of 28 original nominees for this highly coveted award was first announced back in February and in March, the list was culled down to just five finalists, with Felix Trattoria making the final cut. This was Janet Zuccarini’s response when she found out her restaurant made it:

Winners will be announced on May 7, 2018 at The James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago.

Janet Zuccarini on Top Chef Canada


The judges for this season’s Restaurant Wars! episode: Mark McEwan, Mijune Pak, guest Ruth Reichl, Eden Grinshpan and Janet Zuccarini

This is Janet Zuccarini‘s second season as a resident judge on Top Chef Canada; she joined the series in its fifth season, Top Chef Canada: All-Stars.  Catch her next Sunday (April 29) at 10 E/P when she showcases her excellence as a restaurateur when she judges the chefs’ restaurant concepts and menus in this season’s Restaurant Wars! episode. The episode was filmed at Gusto 101, Janet’s acclaimed Italian restaurant in Toronto.

Related: New Season of Top Chef Canada Introduces Next Generation of Canada’s Culinary Elite