Blu Jam Café founder and Executive Chef, Kamil Majer, is the epitome of the American dream.
Kamil grew up in the small spa town of Carlsbad, in former Czechoslovakia, where he developed his strong passion for the culinary arts at a young age. He fondly remembers watching his mother in the kitchen, as well as hand-picking fresh, seasonal, local ingredients such as wild mushrooms, hazelnuts, and seasonal fruits.
“Every great dish starts with high quality ingredients,” he explains. “There is only so much salt and sugar you can put in a low-quality dish to make it taste ok.”
Presentation plays a large part in Chef Kamil’s food philosophy, which he also learned from his dear mother.
“I am keen on presentation, as well, simply all because of my Mom. When she made a simple lunch at home for my sister and me, she always made it look like it was meant for royalty. It was the same when she had friends over— a simple sprig of parsley on a slice of lemon goes a long way,” he jokes.
Kamil’s journey from an Eastern Block country to Los Angeles was a long and intense one. After dropping out of Hotel and Business school in 1979, Kamil left his home to escape persecution from Communism and to seek a better life for himself and his family. He traveled through Hungary and landed in former Yugoslavia, where he was detained in a refugee camp for almost a year while waiting to be accepted into the United States.
After a long delay, Kamil finally crossed the Atlantic and landed in New York. His next stop was Boston, Massachusetts where he secured his first job in America washing dishes at the acclaimed Colonnade Hotel. But Boston was just a start. Kamil’s dream was to live in California.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles in 1983, Kamil started out in kitchens and dining rooms at the famed Century Plaza Hotel, where he quickly worked his way up. The five-star experience he gained from the “White House of the West Coast”— a nickname the hotel earned because the first family would stay there several times per year— led to even bigger and better opportunities. It wasn’t long before Kamil was chosen to be part of the team tasked with opening The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
His experience at The Four Seasons Hotel opened more doors for Kamil. But following several incredible stints working in prestigious hotels, such as the famous Biltmore and Bonaventure Hotels in Downtown Los Angeles, he decided it was time to move on professionally. The hotel business felt too corporate, and his Bohemian side craved more creativity, so Kamil left the industry and began working in high-end restaurants throughout Los Angeles and Tokyo.
“I wanted to experience and learn different cuisines, service trends and all the day-to-day operations because I wanted to open up my own restaurant one day,” he explained. “To be successful in today’s restaurant business, it’s not good enough just to be a great cook. You need to know about your kitchen, food costs, accounting, service, wine, PR, local laws and health regulations… sometimes my head spins!” Kidding aside, he still loves cooking and entertaining for friend and guests alike.
“I have been really fortunate to work with some great Chefs and some
fantastic Maitre D’s, so I observed, I asked questions, and learned from the best.”
Today, Kamil is involved in all day-to-day operations at all Blu Jam Café Locations, and can be seen shaking hands and socializing with guests. He routinely conducts menu taste tests with his management team to make sure his customers are treated to the best dining experience possible.
“We have local produce delivered six days a week, we have no freezers. I have decided to make a lot things from scratch— granola, pancake mix, dressings, jams, ketchup, mayonnaise, aiolis— just to name few. This way I can eliminate the use of high fructose corn syrup and other unwanted ingredients in your food. If I can’t pronounce it, I will NOT eat it and neither should you!”
Kamil resides in Los Angeles with his lovely wife, Ilona, and their two adorable daughters. In his spare time Kamil enjoys creating new recipes, and writing children’s books, as well as an upcoming cookbook. He can also be seen and heard cheering for his beloved Manchester United and LA Kings.
Beyond food, Kamil’s wine knowledge (and personal wine collection) is extensive. He enjoys sharing wines with his wife and friends over home cooked meals, though there is less time for that these days, since the Blu Jam Brand is rapidly growing and expanding throughout the Southland and abroad.
“I really want to bring the Blu Jam experience— high-end, homemade food— to every neighborhood in Southern California.”
Kamil is currently preparing to open his fifth and sixth locations in Los Angeles.
“Wait, what am I doing to myself,” he laughs.