Wes Putimahtama began his career at Gunshow as a kitchen dude in March 2015 and was quickly promoted to sous chef three months later. An artist since he was a young child, Putimahtama naturally excels in the creative realm that Gunshow offers.
A California native, he began his formal culinary training in Paris and Bangkok through Le Cordon Bleu’s international program after a five-year career in advertising and marketing. Prior to his arrival at Gunshow, Putimahtama worked at Trois Mec and co-founded Medici Dinner Society, both in Los Angeles. At Trois Mec, he cooked modern, experimental dishes. It was there that he cultivated a desire to achieve the delicate balance between complexity and simplicity and to prepare food in a variation that his diners have never tried before. “I want guests to be surprised but also to find something familiar in my food that makes them want to eat the dishes again and again.”
Although serving as Gunshow’s sous chef is quite different from his previous restaurant experience, Putimahtama thrives off the opportunity to test his abilities. “You really have to drive your own recipes and plates at Gunshow,” he says of his new role. “Joey [Ward, Gunshow's executive chef] helps guide that process, but it’s amazing to be in a position that challenges me to constantly research and try different things.”
His goal is to have the entire kitchen staff pushing outside of their comfort zones to collectively elevate Gunshow to the highest possible level. “Creating new flavors is my pursuit,” he says.
Putimahtama’s influences stem from the Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese cuisines that he grew up eating. Now, he brings these flavors along with his classical French training and extensive experience with modern cooking to his dishes. “More and more I think about what my mom used to make and apply that to what I learned at other restaurants,” Putimahtama says of the inspiration for his dishes. “I find myself using different techniques with the food and flavors I grew up with.”
Gunshow patrons are familiar with Putimahtama’s ability to meld these childhood influences with his appreciation for comfort food and a passion for preparing indulgent fare. Case in point: his Thai pork larb stir-fry which features traditional Thai flavors of lime and fish sauce, but uses a Southern-style braised pork belly with maple syrup and apple cider vinegar.
Putimahtama lives in Glenwood Park with his girlfriend and enjoys applying his artistic talents to oil painting and decorative art installations for his apartment.