Lark x Cleobella x Chef Taylor Elam

Our last gathering of 2021 found us in a bundle of good energy as we came together to for a “private” pop-up dinner party.

We seldom do private events, but we can be convinced through sheer sincerity and determination.

Friday, December 4, 2021

Lark x Cleobella x Chef Taylor Elam

Here we gathered around the communal table to be inspired by the surroundings, enjoy an amazing chef crafted meal & partake in the (lost) art of conversation. 

Menu by Chef Taylor Elam of @merkato

Amuse Bouche

Charred Spanish Octopus preserved lemon + mint chermoula

Prix Fixe

Crispy Sunchoke / crispy sunchoke + pummelo + burrata + squash seed gremolata + fennel crudo

Chicory Greens  / chicory greens + beet + apple + pumpernickel crouton + ricotta salata + ash honey vinaigrette

Meyer Ranch Hanger Steak / meyer ranch hanger steak + winter squash + roasted maitake + carrot top salsa verde

Olive Oil Cake / olive oil cake w/lavender cream

We had such a good time collaborating with Chef Taylor Elam to create a special moment for our friend Angela — and we are thankful to @kathryncoblyphotography for capturing the moment. 

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!

Create. Collaborate. Elevate.

@letsgoonalark @merkato @cleobellaboutique @kathryncolbyphotography @lunareece.ceramics

Super fun & delicious times! We look forward to sharing more good vibes in 2023!

Lark x Merkatö

We love that lark has become a platform for talented people who are passionate about their craft. Hence, we are thrilled to introduce Chef Taylor Elam of Merkatö. We met pre-pandemic and reconnected on (nearly?) the other side as our first opportunity to create + collaborate arrives 12/2/21 in the form of a private pop, with equally passionate guests, at the super hip Cleobella Boutique in Sunset Beach. 

Here’s a fun Q + A to understand why our chefs always have creative control of the menu!

Where are you from and where do you live now? 

From : San Juan Capistrano, California

Current : Newport Beach, California

What is your earliest memorable culinary experience?

I was probably 4 or 5 years old. It was chopping vegetables with my grandma & mother for Sunday dinners. 

What drives you to create food?

To always be better than your last plate.

We feel there is an expression or feeling you want to share with your craft? Are we onto something?

Absolutely. The satisfaction I get when people tell me that was one of the most unique preparations of an ingredient they’ve ever experienced. Those compliments reassure that all those years of hard work have paid off. 

You’ve worked in a quite a few kitchens, can you drop some names or share some highlights (thinking style, pace, vibe, high/low)?

Fleur de Lys, San Francisco – Modern French, classic & fun.  At the time they had a Michelin star. It’s where I got my start as a prep cook during my externship upon graduating culinary school. It’s also the kitchen thats responsible for me growing up. Hubert Keller is one of the nicest French chefs on the planet. That’s saying a lot haha. 

Spago, Beverly Hills – fast paced, elegant & militant. Hands down the toughest kitchen I’ve worked in. 4-6 hundred covers a night. Celebrities & Hollywood socialites were the norm. Expectations were firing high on all levels daily. The hyper focus I learned on technique, balance, detail &  seasonality helped mold me into the chef I am today. 

What should people know about fine dining?

It’s a whole other planet. It can make or break a young cook in the best possible way. It takes a certain kind of person to dedicate themselves to that world. 

What is behind the name Merkatö?

Merkatö translates to market in the esperanto language aka “International Language”. Esperanto doesnʼt belong to a particular nation it belongs to a community of people.

It’s known as a supranational language. Like many others itʼs used to communicate its culture, literature & magazines. Unlike all other languages, Esperanto does not have its own country, nor its own people. Instead, it belongs to itʼs community. We belong to a community.

Merkatö is a new concept launched during the pandemic, can you elaborate on the concept?

Breaking bread will always bring people together. We endeavor to use that language to tell stories, share space, invite partnerships and raise awareness of the farm-to-table process. 

We approach our work and our community with humility. We believe in sustainability and infuse it in all that we do. We respect ingredients, in recipes and in people.

Everyone is unique and deserves a personalized experience. We foster transparency in our work because we are proud of our ingredients, our partners, our employees and our achievements. Everyone is welcome at our table. No exceptions.

Merkatö (and/or your culinary quests) also has had other twists & turns. We like to see you hanging in there, how do you visualize Merkatö evolving?

Merkatö is evolving every day. Food is still the focal point & always will be, but I envision it to grow to so much more than that. Education, product development & destination dinners are new ideas I’ve been working on this last year. I have a small line of products that were approved by the FDA. I see it becoming more of a lifestyle brand as well haha. That sounds funny to me when I say that, but it feels like it having so many layers & ideas. Exciting stuff for the future!

What is your most marked culinary characteristic? 

I am very lucky to work with & highlight some amazing products here in the golden state. I am not a plant based chef by any means. I do love opening peoples minds with vegetable cookery & treating them as you would your favorite wagyu steak. 

Who is on your food prep playlist? 

Oh man hahah. I love everything. Really depends on the menu. Some of my cooking favorites the Grateful Dead, muddy waters, the Allman brothers, Skinshape, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Wilson Pickett, toots & the Maytals, Iggy Pop, Wu Tang, Bobby Womack, Social D. I could go for ever haha.

What ingredient can you not live without?

Quality olive oil.

Culinary school, yay or nay? 

Yay,  City College of San Francisco.

What not so obvious thing should people know about pursuing a career as a Chef?

It’s not as glamorous as the media portrays it. It has its glamorous moments, but there’s typically many years of sweat & tears before applause.

For those who cook at home, what is one easy must do tip you can give them?

Don’t compromise quality. 

Who are your heroes?

Anthony Bourdain

Jeremy Fox 

Paul Bocuse 

Andy doubrava 

Thomas Keller

David Chang

Alain Ducasse

Charlie Trotter

Huebert Keller 

Chris Consentino 

Brandon Jew

Sean Brock 

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!

Although this lark is a private pop, we invite you along through our images & stories.

Lark + Cleobella + Chef Daniel Perlof | Making the Magic Happen in Sunset Beach, California

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

We can’t think of a better way to spend an warm and balmy August evening than breathing in the salt air and soaking up the good vibes of this gorgeous and fashionable space known as CLEOBELLA in Sunset Beach.

Thanks to all the adventurous people who gathered to make this a night of delicious food, wine, laughter and conversation. This was Chef Daniel Perlof’s lark debut – and he (and his sister) put all their love into the menu, which found its way to the communal table. Special thanks to Jim & Angela–and their amazing crew–of Cleobella, French Buckets, Andrea Luna Reece, The Urban Spring, Jaxsea, Southern Scribe, Kayleen Perlof, Mayson Hauck and Stephanie De La Riva of SDLRmedia.

We are so fortunate to have this free spirited opportunity share all things that we love with friends-old and new. We can’t wait to do it again! 

Menu by the up and coming Chef Daniel Perlof:

1/Chilled spring pea soup, bacon, parmesan. Skewer of grilled mushroom, blistered grape tomato, smoked gouda. Hold the bacon for veggie option.

2/Slow roasted herbed lamb, sprouted quinoa with sliced almond and dried cranberries, crunchy green beans. Mushroom zucchini egg-white crustless quiche for veggie option.

3/Semi-pickled garden salad. Cucumber, shallots, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, black olives, feta, partially pickled in lemon herb vinaigrette atop fresh baby spinach.

4/French toast sticks, buttery bacon date syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, mint sprig. Champagne.

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lisa Martinez + Jacquelyn Wallace on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Chef Daniel Perlof on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Practicing the art of conversation on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Organic. Modern. Inspirational. Social Dining.

Come on a lark with us!

Next lark Friday, August 31st with the talented Chef Kyle Powers at our favorite designer playground in East Long Beach known as Urban Americana ~ good {& delicious} times ahead!

Guerrilla Lark at Casa Blanca | The Dog Days of Summer in Long Beach, California

Let’s go on a lark!

It’s official, the dog days of summer are here! Our super hot guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca in downtown Long Beach took this fashionable crew on an adventure in style, food and conversation.

This fast, fun and unpredictable style of setting communal tables and sharing meals allows our crew to express themselves, generate ideas and inspiration, create beautiful imagery, highlight and thank our collaborators and dream of future larks.

We are grateful to all the beautiful people who gathered to make this a memorable experience – no doubt, a precursor to our upcoming lark communal dinner party at the super hip Cleobella Beach Bungalow in Sunset Beach.

Organic, modern. inspirational communal dining.

Come on a lark with us!

Open invite, limited seats.


16792 14th Street
Sunset Beach, CA 92651
(Cross streets: PCH & 14th Street)

+ + + + +

Friday, August 17, 2018, 6:30pm-9:30pm
$125 per person, all-inclusive good vibes, four course menu & wine pairing
Purchase tickets*: Let’s Go On A Lark!
*Non-refundable/absolutely transferable

Images feature:

Beautiful pots + plates by @lunareececeramics
Gorgeous (& fun) fashion + bags by @cleobella
Delicious food by Chef Dan Perlof @rhymeandreasoncatering
Stunning Floral by @frenchbuckets
Conversation and creativity by all, including: @laurabrophyinteriors @jaxsea @billyaloha
Location, cocktails and photos by the talented Mitch Maher of MBMaher.com

On a super fun (and hot) guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca!

Having fun in fashion on a guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca!

Good (& delicious) times on a guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca!

Going for the grilled artichoke thanks to Chef Daniel Perlof!

Grilled lambs “pops” hit the spot, compliments of Chef Daniel Perlof who will be crafting the menu for lark #39 at Cleobella on Friday 8/17/18.

Elevated table scape thanks to French Buckets!

Good times & good vibes on a guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca.

Creating and sharing on a guerrilla lark at Casa Blanca.

Luna Reece Ceramics meets French Buckets, once again!

Cheers! Something about creating fills you up in so many ways. Thanks for coming on a lark with us!

Lark + Cleobella! Because we like their style!